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      We're in Ontario at the Stratford Festival.

      We're in Ontario at the Stratford Festival. It's an experience to which I always look forward as it offers an opportunity to go somewhere else, and I don't have to drive or cook or make my bed or answer any phone or email, and I get to experience four plays of incredible quality.

      I'm writing this on Saturday—though you won't read it until Sunday—and have experienced two top-notch productions. Treasure Island and HMS Pinafore. Treasure Island was a bonus optional play that some of us attended on Friday afternoon, shortly after we arrived in Stratford. (We leave Wellsboro at 5:30AM so it makes for a long day.) The theatre (on the steps of which Justin Bieber used to perform as a kid growing up in Stratford) was filled with kids, with a sprinkling of parents and what appeared to be grandparents. What kid can resist pirates? What is it about pirates that kids enjoy? The last pirate thing I saw was Tom Hanks as Captain Roberts, and they were no fun.

      Stratford knows how to appeal to particular audiences and they nailed it with this one. The kids were mesmerized and participated by shouting out to young Jim that there was a strange creature hanging from vines behind him. Long John Silver was dashing and clever and exotic...though never really dangerous.

      It was great fun and the sets and costumes are always amazing. Oh, to have Stratford's budget!

      In the evening was Gilbert and Sullivan. I don't think that I have been necessarily enamored of Gilbert and Sullivan works. Maybe because I think they are tough to pull off well. First you have to have some darn good singers. Remember these guys were working off opera standards of their day. And then it would be helpful to have some really good dancers...yep the same folks who can sing really well. And because the cast has to be large (a whole ship of sailors and a whole gaggle of “sisters and cousins and aunts”) it would be great to have costumes that all match (sailor outfits and those elegant classy Edwardian dresses.) Maybe an orchestra would be helpful, as well.

      We've only produced one G&S: The Mikado, years ago. And as I recall, we had a blast. We did have some darn good singers. Our dancing in that show...hmmm...I don't recall much dancing. We made a whole bunch of cool costumes (Michelle Jayne could do wonders with bed sheets!) I think the best way to pull off a G&S is to jump in, think outside the box, look for the wildest funniest gags you can insert, and have a blast. (Was that a distinctly-styled orange wig the narcissitic 'monarch of the sea' had on?)

      Both shows were great fun. I hadn't realized but we're seeing all comedies this year. School for Scandal, and Twelfth Night later today, after a morning of walking around this charming town. Maybe comedy and some swashbuckle (whatever that is) is just what we are need ing at this point.

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