Stratford News

The Last Confession – World Tour


The Last Confession


The Last Confession delves into the most highly guarded institution in the world to explore the mystery shrouding the sudden death of Pope John Paul I in 1978.

Found dead just 33 days after being elected, suspicions are aroused when it is revealed that, on the evening before his death, the new Pope had warned three of his most influential but hostile Cardinals that they would be replaced. The Vatican refuses to conduct an official investigation into the death. Cardinal Benelli is the only one to challenge the dead Pope’s enemies.

Starring David Suchet (Agatha Christie’s Poirot) as Cardinal Benelli and eminent British actor Richard O’Callaghan as Pope John Paul I,  Roger Crane’s thriller comes to Toronto following sold out runs at the Chichester Festival Theatre and the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London.

Also starring Roy Lewis of Stratford, Ontario!



April 19 – June 1, 2014


Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King Street West
Toronto, ON, M5V1H9
416 872-1212
Seating Chart

Performance Schedule:

Tue – Sat 8PM
Wed, Sat & Sun 2PM

No performance on Sat April 19 at 2PM

Running Time:

2 hrs 30 min includes intermission

Stratford’s Spring Swan Parade Celebration Postponed to April 12-13, 2014.


Stratford, ON
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cold temperatures delay Stratford’s spring Swan Parade weekend celebration to April 12 & 13.

The festivities traditionally held on the first weekend in April have been challenged this year with unrelenting winter weather. As a result, organizers have decided to move the celebrations by one week to April 12 & 13. “The swans need open water on the Avon River before they can be released and it wouldn’t be a proper spring celebration without the swan parade.” remarks Cathy Rehberg, marketing manager, Stratford Tourism Alliance. “People really look forward to this event as their sign that spring has arrived.”

Weekend festivities will continue beginning Saturday, April 12 with the Swan Quest, a search for decorated topiary swans in Stratford’s heritage district; free horse-drawn carriage tours; photos with BJ the swan mascot and a swan inspired children’s book launch. The highlight of the weekend is Sunday’s Swan Celebration, one of Canada’s most unique events announcing the arrival of spring. Free family entertainment, street performers and food trucks will be presented from 12 noon – 3:00 pm along Lakeside Drive (between Waterloo St. and Morenz Dr.). The Swan Parade, marking the return of the swans to the Avon River begins at 2:00 pm on Sunday and is organized by the Civic Beautification and Environmental Awareness committee. Listen for the sound of the Stratford Police Pipes and Drums who lead the parade.

Free parking is available in the Stratford Festival parking lot, corner of Lakeside Drive and Queen Street and along Lakeside Drive east of Front Street. People are encouraged to walk or ride their bicycles to the event.

For more information, a Swan Quest Ballot and a video clip of the swan parade, go to, call 519-271-5140 or 1-800-561-7926, or visit us at Stratford Tourism Alliance, 47 Downie Street, Stratford.


Christopher Leadership Course, Stratford – starting Jan. 30, 2014.

Terrified of public speaking?

Want to improve your leadership skills?

 Christopher Leadership Course – Level 1

The CLC Level 1 course is a 10 week course based on adult learning principles. Each week, instructors present a different area of focus. The learned skills are then practiced in a positive and supportive workshop setting. In CLC courses, you learn by doing!

Presentation Types
  • How to organize a talk – Learning how to organize and deliver dynamic and memorable presentations
  • Speech reading – Practicing the dos and don’ts for reading
  • Speaking with an exhibit – Learning how exhibits can enhance your presentations
  • Introducing and thanking speakers – Setting the stage and make a presenter feel welcome
  • Presenting and accepting gifts – Making the recipient feel honored at their next retirement, going-away, birthday, anniversary, or other special event
  •  Impromptu speeches – Using techniques to speak effectively with little preparation
Presentation Techniques
  • Memory techniques – Ways to remember key presentation points, and people’s names
  • Eliminating “hems and haws” from your speech – Becoming a more polished professional
  • Effective delivery – Learn how to use eye contact, gestures, posture and vocal intonation to enhance your message
  • Adding KEY ingredients to your talk – Making your talk come alive!
Leadership Techniques
  • Realizing your leadership talents by focusing on these attributes:
    • Courage
    • Listening
    • Openness
    • Uniqueness
    • Being Positive
    • Being Involved
    • Embracing Change
    • Taking time to celebrate life
Upcoming CLC1 Class

The next 11-week Christopher Leadership Course will be held at Spruce Lodge in Stratford on Thursday evenings from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM starting January 30th.  For more information, call 519-273-6535 or visit their website Huron Perth Christophers.

“The Christopher Leadership Course has changed my life not only by teaching me public speaking skills, but also by helping me find the courage and confidence to use them! Thank you so much!” Teresa Coulthard, CLC grad 2012.

Unsavoury Weather Spurs Food Fest Change

Herbs and Spices is a 1000 piece puzzle from Ravensburger. It is available at the Book Vault in Stratford, Ontario

Savour Stratford Perth County culinary festival moving to July

Credit: Laura Cudworth, The Beacon Herald

Monday, December 9, 2013 3:54:41 EST PM

Savour Stratford is moving to a warmer climate — on the calendar at least.

The annual culinary festival has run in September since it started in 2008 and Mother Nature has dished up a steady diet of poor weather.

“There’s only been one weekend where it was relatively warm and there was no rain. It’s been a major issue,” said Eugene Zakreski, executive director Stratford Tourism Alliance.

As a result, the Savour Stratford Perth County culinary festival will be held in July this coming year.

However, the STA’s mandate is to market Stratford year round with particular attention paid to the non-summer months. Zakreski said moving Savour Stratford doesn’t go against that policy.

The alliance did a great deal of research and consulted the restaurant and accommodations industries and discovered September is one of the best months for visitors but July was soft, he said.

“In September there’s no problem selling rooms. The demand for theatre in September is very, very high.”

Savour Stratford had been running the same weekend as the Stratford Fall Fair. The effect on the Farmer’s Market and Fall Fair will be negligible, predicted Pam Riehl, secretary/treasurer Stratford and District Agricultural Society.

“I don’t think it should make any difference. It’s a different crowd who went to Savour Stratford.”

Savour Stratford won’t be replaced by another festival but plans are in the early stages for a mini festival at the end of October. Zakreski wasn’t prepared to provide more information yet.

Marketing resources — 80% — will still focus on January to June and September to December with Savour Stratford the lone summer event, he said.

One of the first campaigns after Christmas will be “Stratford is for Lovers” to attract tourism in February.

The STA will also be working with Blues & Rib Festival organizers to complement that event, he said.

Stratford Beacon Herald Website

Thanks for the tip, I’ll get it on Amazon


Christmas shopping in Stratford, Ontario

by Brian Bethune on Saturday, November 30, 2013 5:00am

Independent booksellers have taken a lot of body blows in the last two decades—from the coming of superstores such as Indigo, through the real behemoth on the block, Amazon, to ebooks—to the extent that some indie stores in the U.S. have donation jars beside their cash registers. But nothing has gutted the indies, emotionally as well as financially, as the practice known as “showrooming.” Prospective buyers come into bookshops, wander the stacks, peruse the artful displays and even—unkindest cut of all—seek the advice of staff. Then they leave, those who bother to do so first, and order the books they want online, where prices can be up to 50 per cent cheaper. “That is so hard for us to take,” says Eleanor LeFave, owner of Mabel’s Fables children’s bookstore in Toronto, “especially the abuse of our staff’s time and expertise.”

Showrooming is widespread. Surveys in the U.S. and Britain reveal nearly half of book-buying decisions are still made in bookstores, a percentage far higher than actual sales. (Amazon alone accounts for about 40 per cent of American book purchases.) Still, booksellers’ laments elicit little sympathy in a price-conscious commercial society. Internet commentators tend to shrug. If you can’t compete on cost, you can’t compete, end of story—just as it has been for 300 Canadian bookstores in the last decade, perhaps a fifth of the total.

But the issue is not that simple. The services, if not the products, of bookshops are still in demand: No one has yet found a substitute for browsing in them. The reasons why bricks-and-mortar booksellers, especially independents, can’t compete with online retailers, particularly Amazon, are numerous, occasionally complicated and always venomously disputed. If the indies can’t compete on price, it’s equally evident the online sellers can’t (yet) compete on guidance and immersive experience.

The indies’ main competitive edge can actually add to the booksellers’ frustration over showrooming, according to Tracey Higgins, co-owner of Bryan Prince Bookseller in Hamilton. “All we have is our knowledge—the books we’ve read, our ability to tell someone, ‘Yes, I know that’s an awful cover, but it’s a really good book’—so you have to invest the time. And when you never see them again, it really, really drives me bananas.”

What to do about the situation—how, depending on perspective, to either bolster or replace bookstores—is a huge dilemma in the trade. There have been moves from each side. Last summer, Amazon bought GoodReads, the social reading network with more than 10 million titles under review. It was clearly an attempt to create a virtual browsing experience, even while online evaluations were coming under more scrutiny than ever. Last month, New York state regulators fined 19 companies $350,000 for posting their own fake reviews.

In France, on the other hand, where it has been illegal since 1981 to discount a book more than five per cent from its cover price, the government is poised to ban any discounting of books that are shipped to buyers, effectively making online stock more costly than a bookstore’s. Quebec is considering a quasi-fixed price for books in the first nine months after their release, limiting discounting to 10 per cent in that period. Both measures are aimed at Amazon, which European critics accuse of dumping—providing goods and services below cost in order to capture market share—and its offer of free shipping.

In the more robustly capitalist Anglosphere, though, it’s doubtful the French and Québécois plans will fly, nor anything at all that smacks of price-fixing. And that goes for Higgins’s observation that if the major publishers, “who give those humongous discounts to Amazon in the first place,” stood unified against the practice they wouldn’t have to do it. Nor is there reason to expect virtual browsing to capture readers’ hearts, minds and trust like actual browsing. Here, then, the existential issue remains: Everybody loves bookstores, but nobody wants to pay the prices that keep them alive.

Link to original article

Comfort & Joy Christmas Concert AND Sing-A-Long


Stratford’s Victorian Christmas Trail


A Wind in the Willows Christmas December 14-29, 2013

FRONT Flyer Wind

Performance dates and times:

Saturday, December 14 – 2 pm & 7 pm
Sunday, December 15 – 2 pm
Wednesday, December 18 – 7 pm
Thursday, December 19 – 7 pm
Friday, December 20 – 7 pm
Saturday, December 21 – 2 pm & 7 pm
Sunday, December 22 – 2 pm & 7 pm
Friday, December 27 – 7 pm
Saturday, December 28 – 2 pm & 7 pm
Sunday, December 29 – 2 pm – Closing


Adults – $20 + hst + handling
Children – $15 + hst + handling (includes mouse mask!)

Available at:

Stratford Tourism Alliance
47 Downie Street, Stratford.


or available at the door (cash only)

Area libraries launch Perth County Reads program


A Place of Her Own by James Christensen is a 500 piece puzzle from Sunsout. It is usually available at the Book Vault, but it is on reorder and will be back in stock soon.

Laura Cudworth, The Beacon Herald
Monday, November 25, 2013 11:44:15 EST AM

Meet other Perth County residents between the pages of a book.

The first Perth County Reads program hopes to connect all corners of the county and different generations. There will be book discussion groups and other events at each Perth County public library throughout 2014.

“One book, one community event such as this help build a sense of community” said Robyn Godfrey of Stratford Public Library. “This is your chance to vote on the title for the first ever Perth County Reads for 2014.”

Readers are invited to vote on a book from a selection of shortlisted titles:

The Carnivore, by Mark Sinnett

Emancipation Day, by Wayne Grady

The Lives of Girls and Women, by Alice Munro

The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick DeWitt

Things Go Flying, by Shari Lapena

Voting can be done by paper ballot or online and is unlimited and open to all Perth County residents. Voting ends Nov. 30. The winner will be announced Dec. 2.

Perth County Reads is an initiative by the Perth County Information Network which is made up of North Perth, Perth East, Stratford, St. Marys and West Perth public libraries.

Link to original article on The Beacon Herald’s website

Stratford Festival sees largest jump in attendance since 1999


Shakespearean Fantasy by James C. Christensen is a 1000 piece puzzle from Sunsout and is available at The Book Vault

November 20, 2013… With a ticket sales increase of 11% – the largest since 1999 – the Festival regained valuable ground in 2013, exceeding the season’s goals. Attendance reached more than 480,000, generating revenue from ticket sales of $29.7 million. Though it’s very early days, the trend seems to be continuing with advance sales to Members up 11% for 2014.

In addition to being a smashing success at the box office, Antoni Cimolino’s first season as Artistic Director was also a huge critical success, winning acclaim from critics almost across the board. Five of the season’s 12 productions were extended to meet the demand for tickets, including Mr. Cimolino’s sold-out production of Mary Stuart, which was extended an unprecedented four times.

“We feel we’ve made a great start in turning things around,” said Executive Director Anita Gaffney, reflecting on her first season as the Festival’s top administrator. “Antoni programmed an amazing season featuring repertoire with great appeal to our audiences and we implemented a number of initiatives to encourage longer visits, draw new audience members and bring back lapsed patrons. I’m relieved and delighted these initiatives resonated with people and succeeded on so many fronts.”

The new Forum was enormously popular, attracting nearly 30,000 people to the 150 events held throughout the 2013 season. The Forum was conceived to make a visit to the Festival a more immersive experience, giving theatregoers an opportunity to more deeply explore and discuss the themes of the plays. Figures show that 47% of those who attended The Forum bought more performance tickets than they did the previous year. In addition to accomplishing its goal of solidifying the Festival’s relationship with existing patrons, The Forum also attracted a new audience, with 13% of overall attendance coming to the Festival expressly for Forum events. (As The Forum was designed to enhance the Stratford experience, it was budgeted as a break-even project. Neither the $340,000 it generated in revenue nor its attendance numbers are included in the figures quoted above.)

“We are so pleased to see attendance growing once more,” says Mr. Cimolino, “but what has been even more gratifying is our audience’s response to the season. Time and again, people have come to me to thank me for creating an experience that stimulates them not just emotionally but intellectually and spiritually as well; for presenting plays they aren’t able to see elsewhere; and for providing them with a place to discuss the productions through The Forum. To hear that we’re heading in a positive direction and then to see that reflected at the box office makes our work all the more rewarding as we prepare for 2014.”

Growth was seen across the board, with the following notable increases:

- Lapsed patrons (who have not attended in five years) up 76%.
- New customers up 46%.
- School sales up 20%.
- U.S. attendance up 8% – the first increase since it began to decline in 2003.
- Canadian attendance up 13%.

In 2013, a number of new initiatives were introduced to make the Festival more accessible to a broader section of the population and to allow a greater number of people to see multiple performances, giving them a richer experience.

“We wanted to make the Festival as accessible as possible,” says Ms Gaffney. “To that end, we introduced the bus between Toronto and Stratford, which not only brought more people to the Festival but also made it easier for people to make multiple visits.

“We also extended special ticket savings as soon as our box office opened rather than waiting to offer last-minute discounts. As a result we saw an increase in the number of shows patrons were attending, as well as an increase in the number of new and returning patrons. There was also an additional benefit: in recent years we had observed a trend toward last-minute ticket purchases, but this year we were encouraged to see slightly earlier buying behaviour. We will be adding to our incentives to bolster these trends.”

The new Stratford Direct bus service running twice daily from Toronto at a price of just $20 round trip was a huge success. Roughly 15,000 people used the service, and they bought $1 million worth of tickets. As hoped, the bus helped attract new patrons – 53% of those riding the bus had not been to the Festival before. It also lured a number of patrons back to the Festival: 13% of riders had not attended in two or more years. Inspired by this success, the Festival is launching a bus service from Detroit three times a week in 2014.

The Festival introduced two-for-one Tuesdays in 2013. This incentive provided an opportunity for almost 12,000 additional people to attend a performance at the Festival, and 32% of people who took advantage of the two-for-one offer were first-time visitors. The offer drove a 30% increase in Tuesday attendance, along with a 6% increase in Tuesday revenue over 2012. As a result of its success, the program will be extended to include Thursdays in 2014.

The Festival also started a loyalty program in 2013, which featured special acknowledgements, perks and selected incentives for its best customers. People targeted by the program purchased $3.7 million more in tickets than they did the previous year.

Meanwhile, existing incentives also saw increased sales, including Play On, which offers 16- to 29-year-olds $25 tickets to selected performances – up 57% – and the Family Experience, which offers $36 tickets to children 18 and younger attending with an adult – up 39%.

In addition to extending two-for-one Tuesdays and adding the Detroit bus, the Festival is introducing the following programs and incentives:

- Playcare, a weekend afternoon babysitting service for children 4 to 10 years old, offered through the Stratford Y at just $15.
- A family concierge in the Avon lobby to assist with children’s needs.
- Sundays with the Bard, $45 tickets for Sunday matinées of King Lear and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Festival Theatre.
- The Dream Deal, a $99 advance purchase package with tickets to both Chris Abraham’s and Peter Sellars’s versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
- The Lucky 29 ticket lottery, sponsored by Sun Life Financial, offering $29 balcony seats to non-musicals at the Festival and Avon theatres.
- Teacher Ticket Deals, offering discounts for teachers to preview plays for student attendance or enjoy a performance on their own.

The 2013 attendance figure of 480,232 represents an 11% increase over 2012’s attendance of 432,240. In 2011, attendance dipped below 500,000 for the first time in almost 20 years, hitting 455,044.

Tickets for the 2014 season went on sale to Members of the Stratford Festival on November 11. Sales to the general public begin on January 4. For more information, or to place an order, visit or call 1.800.567.1600.

The 2014 season runs from April 21 to October 12, featuring King Lear; Crazy for You; two versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; The Beaux’ Stratagem; Man of La Mancha; Alice Through the Looking-Glass; Hay Fever; King John; Mother Courage and Her Children; Antony and Cleopatra; Christina, The Girl King; and more than 150 events in The Forum.

link to original article on the Stratford Festival’s website