Stage & Screen

At 60 Years Old, The Shaw Festival Can Still Hit A Home Run!

At 60 Years Old, The Shaw Festival Can Still Hit A Home Run!

By Jenifer Cass

Photo’s by Michael Cooper, Slider by Michael Cooper

It was opening weekend at The Shaw Festival, now celebrating their 60th Anniversary of theatre in Niagara on The Lake, and they knocked it out of the ballpark! The three opening shows (Gaslight, Damn Yankees and Too True to Be Good) are all relevant, spectacularly entertaining and will make you feel that things are getting back to normal - whatever that is!

The first three shows included Gaslight at the Royal George, Damn Yankees at The Festival Theatre and the George Bernard Shaw classic Too True to Be Good premiered at the now named Jackie Maxwell Theatre. Here’s a rundown of what you can expect:

GASLIGHT (Royal George Theatre)

Gaslight is based on the Patrick Hamilton play Angel Street which was seen in America in the mid 1900’s. A movie, starring Ingrid Bergman, was made that followed the same story and debuted in 1944. It’s a classic mystery with all the right elements. The opening scene is a turn of the century sitting room in London, England. A nervous wife is chattering with her housekeeper until her husband arrives home.   She is tense and upset, she is hearing noises and losing things constantly. Her husband seems loving and kind, at least for the moment, but as the play progresses, we soon see there is something amiss.

It is said that in 2022 the world is full of narcissists, and one of the prime characteristics of narcissism is gaslighting. Gaslighting, by definition, means to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity. Is that what is going on? It doesn’t take long to become fully enveloped into the characters, Bella, the wife, played by Julie Lumsden, Elizabeth the housekeeper played by Kate Henning, Jack, the husband played by Andre Morin and Nancy, the maid played by Julia Course all turn in stellar performances.

The show is directed by Kelli Fox, a long time Shaw alum who has doffed her acting credentials for the director’s chair. Fox has presented us with an intense and riveting portrayal of Hamilton’s play. Put it on the calendar – it’s a must see!


DAMN YANKEE’S (The Festival Theatre)

Damn Yankee’s will be the Shaw’s flagship show for the 2022 Season! It’s light and fun entertainment, sometimes campy Americana, but is sure to provide fun for all ages because of it’s great acting, costumes, choreography, set design and live music provided by Paul Sportelli and his orchestra.

Damn Yankee’s ran on Broadway for decades in varying iterations from 1955 to the late 90’s, there was a film version of it that featured Tab Hunter in 1958 and critics deemed it “risqué”.

The plot is simple, middle aged baseball fan Joe Boyd is frustrated that his Washington Senators baseball team just can’t get past the New York Yankee’s. Joe’s wife is even more frustrated as she lament’s she is in for another 6 months of her husband’s frustration.   While Joe is up late one night wishing his team could just get a good “long ball hitter” he is met by a charming fellow named Applegate. Applegate cuts him a deal telling him that he will make him the next hero, a player named Joe Hardy, one the Senators need to win against the Yankee’s. Joe eagerly agrees but he adds he wants an escape clause in this deal in case he changes his mind. Applegate agrees but says you won’t be able to play in the final game on September 25th if you want to go back to being Joe Boyd and could leave your beloved Senators vulnerable.

What ensues is a Faustian storyline of music, song, dance, the Devil and yes Lola!! Lola being the sexy friend of Applegate who he uses to keep Joe Hardy away from the wife that he is missing so badly.

Outstanding performances include Joe’s wife Meg played by Patty Jamieson, Lola played by Kimberly Rampersad and most notably Applegate played by Mike Nadajewski.

Damn Yankees will be at the Shaw Festival til October 9th, you should go!!!


TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD (Jackie Maxwell Theatre)

George Bernard Shaw penned the comedy Too True to Be Good in 1932 and the original was written at a time when Britain was recovering from WW1. It is uncanny how relevant this play is today with post pandemic stress, war in the Ukraine, and uncertainty plaguing the world.

The first scene opens with a sick girl, Miss Mopply, played by Donna Soares, Mrs Mopply, her worried mother played by Jenny Wright, a doctor played by Martin Happer and a microbe played by Travis Seeto. The microbe is telling us that he is indeed feeling sicker than the patient he infected as he too has contracted her disease. Mrs Mopply is lamenting that the “virus” has taken all of her children except this one and she doesn’t want to lose her too. Moments later a care nurse, Marla McLean and her shady accomplice, Graeme Somerville, enter the scene planning to rob the young women of her jewellery and make off to parts unknown. Literally dying to leave her sick bed, the intended victim soon joins the duo and off they go on their trip of personal discovery.

The characters are all extremely well cast, and despite the serious nature of some of the topics Too True delivers lots of laughs to the audience. Too True to Be Good has a running time of 3 hours with two intermissions. It is on at The Shaw til October 8th.

For tickets and showtimes visit