Every winter, theatregoers in Canada fight off the blues the same way gardeners do: Riffling through gorgeous catalogs about their favorite subject.
The sumptuously-designed Shaw Festival brochure is as bright and eye-catching as the blossom-and-seed catalogs distributed in January and February.
Hot off the press, the Shaw Festival 2000 season guide is in the hands of North American theatregoers, and the box office phone lines for the spring-to-fall season in Ontario opened Jan. 17. Call (800) 511-SHAW for tickets or a guide.
The festival that celebrates the work of Bernard Shaw, his contemporaries and works about the period in which he lived, is located about a half-hour downstream from Niagara Falls, in picturesque Niagara on-the-Lake, on the lip of Lake Ontario.
Festival spokesperson Odette Yazbeck told Playbill On-Line sales are already brisk, due to the good economy, and she encourages early booking for the 11 mainstage shows on the fest's three stages. The new 2000 guide, with a nautical theme and a steamship "flicker page" novelty (a boat moves across a map as you flip the pages), is conceived by David Cooper, Scott McKowen and Christina Poddubiuk. Art direction and design is by McKowen, with photographs by Cooper.
The 2000 Shaw season stagings include Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma, Noel Coward's Easy Virtue, William Golding's Lord of the Flies, Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker (all at the Festival Theatre), Wilde's A Woman of No Importance, Shaw's The Apple Cart, Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, and Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author (all at the Court House Theatre) and J.B. Priestley's Time and the Conways, Bock and Harnick's She Loves Me and Coward's Still Life (all at the Royal George).
For the past two years, the Shaw brochure (affectionately called "the handbook") has won the gold medal for design from the International Society of Performing Arts.
Visit the Shaw Festival website at www.shawfest.sympatico.ca.
-- By Kenneth Jones