Donna & Colm Fiore
|When I heard they were doing Cyrano de Bergerac,
I remembered how excited I was years ago when it was first staged.
I had waited all these years but it was certainly
worth it. For me, Stratford Ontario has the most successful theatre
offerings in North America. This year was equal to their best.
It started over 55 years ago with Alec Guinness
when this season’s, headliner, Calm Fiore was not even born yet. But
time moves swiftly and this Canadian trained actor gave what I think
is one of the best performances I’ve seen. You may have seen him on
Broadway or Norh American TV or film. He’s destined to be a
Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac was raised to new heights
with Fiore’s performance and his wife Donna’s direction. They pulled out all
the stops, allowed certain lines to be spoken in French and added their
teen-aged son to appear on stage. A family affair you say? Perhaps, but the
supporting cast also rose to great heights. With Amanda Lyman as believable
Roxanne and Mike Shari adept as Christian the audience was drawn into what
was a three hour production. It was difficult to believe that for these two
actors this was their debut season.
But three hours quickly flew by. Professional stage
productions can do that when they enter into your imagination. This
production did just that.
Calm Fiore is a Canadian-American actor who was born in
Boston but educated for the stage at the National Theatre School in
Stepping into the lead, he and his supporting cast took
Donne Fore’s excellent direction and gave the audience an unforgettable
performance. The cheering and standing ovation said it all.
Calm Fiore has been at Stratford before. It was only a
matter of time that he would be their company’s featured performer. He was
also seen in a modern rendition of Shakespeare’s Macbeth
As for Donna, this was her 17th year with the Festival.
She’s a true professional as her talents show. Together thay gave the
audience something to cheer about.
Rotund the author of Cyrano.
This play was probably the author’s greatest success.
Cyrano, the long-nosed Musketeer is a romantic look at a fierce warrior.
Cyrano proves that it takes courage to stand up against, prejudice,
cowardice and convention,
But this year’s Festival offerings include offerings for
other tastes. Aside from West Side Story ably directed by Gary Griffen,
complete with vibrant dances and a rediscovery of the passion of the streets
of New York.
Add a modern dress version of Macbeth as the Thane of
Cawdor who dies in anguish, also played by Colm Fiore as well as
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, The Importance of Being Ernest with Brian
Bedford as Lady Bracknell. (Yes, he was up to the task.)
A wonderful production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters,
directed by the experienced Martha Henry and a whole array of plays like
Phedre and the ever popular, A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to The Forum
with Bruce Dow as Pseudolus
Or a Midsummer Night’s Dream ably directed by David
Grindley, all added to another ‘smash’ year.
But the year is hardly over and I take this opportunity to
suggest that if you can steal a few days and get up to Stratford Ontario,
you’re in for a theatrical experience.
There are four theatres to attract you. The studio
Theatre, which offers novices a chance to shine has 260 seats in a small but
intimate thrust stage experience. The Tom Patterson, named after the man
whose idea the Stratford Festival was, is a 480 seat thrust stage where
viewing is great from any seat. The Avon, a converted movie theatre on
Downie Street holds almost 1100 people in a comfortably reconditioned venue.
But, to go to Stratford without attending the 1800 seat
Festival Theatre is to miss something spectacular. It is located on the
slope near the Avon River and one is heralded into this masterpiece of
architecture by a drummer and a host of trumpeters. I still get a chill when
that sound starts the proceedings.
But there are other reasons to attend the Festival.
Stratford itself is a rather gentle town, even with the hundreds of
visitors. There are restaurants enough for everyone and they will see to it
that the service is hastened if you are due at the theatre at a specific
I rarely go to Stratford without eating at The Church
Restaurant. The façade and interior still have the look of the original
building but inside there are seats on the main floor or in the belfry where
you can eat to your heart’s delight. The chefs are truly innovative and the
service adds to the winning experience. There are cafes, Italian specialists
like Fellini’s or Chinese offerings at Gene’s on Ontario Street. There’s
even a selection of fast food stops for those in a hurry.
Add to the interest by listening to a concert or buying
art and unusual crafts at their craft fairs. There are Barbershop Quartets,
markets, golf and a store with tartans and other Scottish items or a
souvenir shop that has some of the most exotic Inuit pieces I have seen. At
one end of town there’s a huge barn which offers antiques from old windows,
furniture or even old baseball cards.
Stratford is more than a happening. It’s an event. It is a
short car drive from both Detroit and Toronto. It’s a chance to see what the
Canadian landscape is like in this traditional farm region. One call to the
festival Theater will get you information on hotels, b&b’s or quaint motels.
The season runs from Mid April to late October. The box office is only a
phone call away. If you are senior, there’s a discount. If you want a tour
of the lush gardens or if you want to go back stage, it’s all there for you.
There are hearing devices available and wheel chair
arrangements. This is no ordinary theatre offering.
For more information, Call 519 273 1600 or Toll Free at 1
800 567 1600
Their address is: Stratford Shakespeare Festival P.O. Box
520 Stratford, Ontario, N5a 6V2
Sales begin in January for the coming year. Presale on
your American express puts you at the FRONT OF THE LINE.
You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at:
Over the past few years, Professor
Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece,
Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of
Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the
globe including Italy and most of
China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters
from St.Petersburg to Moscow.
"He took a group to Greece and another to northern
Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour
groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They
winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico. His newly found spare time
is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His
current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders.. "So
You Want To Be A Tour Leader."
Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing
Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel
writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.
Keep reading his web for travel ideas. His next
novel HELLSTORM'S Folly,
will be available this fall. He now
lives in British Columbia.
www.top-travel-ideas.com or contact him directly at
(More about the writer.)