What’s On This Summer: Live Theatre in the Golden Horseshoe

by Michael Bedford

Published at 2023-08-01

The Stratford and Shaw Festivals’ 2023 seasons are both well underway and providing some excellent options for summer theatregoers. Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto continues to offer up ground-breaking productions, and the Mirvish productions of Hamilton and Hadestown, both wrapping up on August 20th, continue to draw large crowds of satisfied patrons. In Hamilton—the city, not the musical—another successful fringe festival has just come to an end, but there’s still plenty of live theatre to see.


The Stratford Festival

With a big name like Paul Gross in their production of King Lear, the Stratford Festival’s competition has its work cut out for it this season. Other Shakespearean fare on offer from Stratford include a production of Much Ado About Nothing and Brad Fraser’s adaptation of Richard II, which sets Shakespeare’s play in the decadent world of the late 1970s and early ‘80s. Or, for those looking for some non-Shakespeare content at Stratford, Alice Childress’s Wedding Band provides a unique perspective on the evolution of race relations in the American south.


The Shaw Festival

With four different performance venues plus some outdoor performances, Niagara-area theatregoers have the pleasure of taking in a number of plays at the Shaw Festival this year. Among the Sondheim, Stoppard, Wharton, and Coward entries that make up the 2023 season are Village Wooing and The Apple Cart, written by George Bernard Shaw himself, the Irish playwright for whom The Shaw Festival is named.

As a play, Village Wooing is a bit of an outlier for Shaw. The quick one-act play tells a somewhat farcical love story of two characters known only as A and Z. The Apple Cart is more in line with what one might expect to see from a Shaw play, a dystopian “political extravaganza” that shows a king arguing with his elected Prime Minister over the king’s right to influence public opinion. Although getting to see any play performed at the Shaw Festival is usually a treat, it always feels a bit more special to see one of Shaw’s own plays produced there.


Soulpepper Theatre

There are only eight more chances to see King Gilgamesh & The Man of The Wild, a “hybrid music-theatre production” created by Ahmed Moneka, Jesse LaVercombe, and Seth Bockley that celebrates Moneka’s personal artistic journey by layering in elements of the Epic of Gilgamesh. After King Gilgamesh & The Man of The Wild closes on August 6th, the Soulpepper stage will host Detroit: Music of the Motor City, part of Soulpepper’s concert series, which runs until August 20th.


The Brott Music Festival

Performing for one night only at the FirstOntario Concert Hall, Alain Trudel will conduct the National Academy Orchestra as they accompany Director Lou Zamprogna’s cast in a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘70s rock-opera Jesus Christ Superstar. Zamprogna is the co-owner of The Dance Centre, a Hamilton-area dance studio, and the director of the Summer Student Theatre Program at Theatre Aquarius. Zamprogna promises that his production will feature a very talented group of performers backed by Canada’s only professional training orchestra.


Theatre Ancaster

If you’re looking for some more musical action, Theatre Ancaster will be opening their production of Cabaret on August 11th. Cabaret will be Theatre Ancaster’s final production of their 22/23 season.


Hamilton Theatre Inc.

Although their 2023 season has yet to begin, Hamilton Theatre Inc.’s first play this season should prove to be a provocative and entertaining one. In their ongoing effort to bring the “best of Broadway” to their city, Hamilton Theatre Inc. will be staging a production of the Tony-Award-winning musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s acclaimed graphic novel Fun Home. Interested actors should take note, auditions have been postponed so there’s still a chance to book your spot!


Lots of Great Theatre Just Around the Corner

In addition to the great professional and semi-professional shows that the Golden Horseshoe has to offer, many local community theatres in addition to Hamilton Theatre Inc. and Theatre Ancaster will be offering plenty of exciting opportunities to see great live theatre. Theatre Aquarius, The Players’ Guild of Hamilton, The Village Theatre in Waterdown, Dundas Little Theatre, Paris Performers’ Theatre, the Firehall Theatre in Niagara Falls, and many other local community theatres are booking tickets to their upcoming shows so don’t miss your chance to see some local talent before the summer’s over.



Michael Bedford is a freelance editor, copywriter, and performer living in Stoney Creek, Ontario. He can be reached at


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