Stage Door News

Niagara-on-the-Lake: The Shaw Festival announces its 2021 season

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Shaw Festival plans to return to the stage in May with a reduced 2021 season. Many of the anticipated productions originally scheduled for 2020 will now appear as part of the 2021 playbill.

“This is an expression of faith. Of course, it is impossible to know what the situation will be next year. We may have to change our plans again; we will be ready to do so. But we have decided to be optimistic and plan for a season. This year has shown us how desperately we miss the experience of live theatre. It may well be more challenging to make theatre for a while, but it has never been easier to make the case for it.” said Artistic Director Tim Carroll. “Of course, safety must be the utmost priority – for our patrons and Company – and The Shaw will do everything possible to make sure everyone can come to our theatres and spaces with confidence.”

Being mindful of the evolving health situation and safety protocols, the Shaw Festival is prepared to perform to reduced-capacity audiences, with the hope of releasing additional seating when safe to do so and as permitted by the Government of Ontario and public health units. Due to current physical distancing requirements, seating locations for the 2021 season will not be confirmed at this time. Tickets will be sold by price zone and specific seating locations will be assigned at a later date in accordance with requirements.

“We look forward to next May, when we aim to launch our 2021 season, with hope and optimism. Now more than ever, it is even more important that The Shaw be a place where everyone feels welcome and where all people can gather and connect comfortably and safely,” described Executive Director Tim Jennings. “We have worked hard to lead in this area. The Festival has implemented a Duty of Care policy that will be strictly enforced to ensure the safety of our audiences, community and company members. We are excited to be the first theatre in Ontario to receive the Safe Travel Stamp from World Travel and Tourism Council and the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.”

For the complete list of the Festival’s COVID-19 health and safety practices, please visit

The 2021 season playbill features:


A Musical Fable, Book by Arthur Laurents, 
Music by Jule Styne, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Suggested by memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee
Previews May 7 ◆ Available for review beginning May 27 ◆ Closes October 10
The story of Momma Rose, the ultimate stage mother, who pushes her daughters June and Louise into showbiz. Through sheer will, she shapes their stardom … at any price. Both daughters find fame, but not the way Momma Rose had envisioned. Inspired by the memoirs of famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, Gypsy explores the human cost of blind ambition.

Age Recommendation: Age 12+

By Bernard Shaw
Previews June 11 ◆ Available for review beginning July 17 ◆ Closes October 9
Dick Dudgeon, notorious freethinker and rascal, returns to his childhood home where he learns – to the horror of his disapproving family – that he’s inherited the estate. As he settles in as the new head of the household, Dick’s devilish attitude puts him on the wrong side of the local minister’s wife. But is he a devil or an angel in disguise? Set in New England during the War of Independence, The Devil’s Disciple is an action-filled comedy full of sparkling dialogue and sexual tension.

Age Recommendation: Age 12+


By R. Hamilton Wright
Based on the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Previews July 15 ◆ Available for review beginning July 24 ◆ Closes October 10
Following the success of The Hound of the Baskervilles in 2018, the famous sleuth and his loyal friend Dr. Watson are back on the Festival Theatre stage in Sherlock Holmes and The Raven’s Curse. Sherlock Holmes returns to his childhood home to investigate the mysterious death of his uncle. Can he uncover the truth before the Raven’s Curse claims another victim?

Age Recommendation: Age 12+


By Brandon Thomas
Previews May 1 ◆ Available for review beginning May 27 ◆ Closes October 10
When their chaperone cancels, Jack and Charley must scramble to make sure their plans to woo Kitty and Amy aren’t ruined. Their friend Lord Fancourt Babberley quickly finds himself disguised as rich Brazilian widow Donna Lucia d’Alvadorez and thrust into the role of chaperone. But Babberley’s charming ways and slightly dodgy behaviour soon distract the girls from the adorations of their beaux.

Age Recommendation: Age 11+

Based on the novella by Virginia Woolf
Adapted by Tim Carroll
Previews June 3 ◆ Available for review beginning June 13 ◆ Closes October 2
Elizabeth Barrett’s only companion is her cocker spaniel, Flush. Although she is one of England’s most famous poets, her father has convinced her that she is an invalid who cannot leave her upstairs room. A fan letter from aspiring poet Robert Browning eventually leads to a meeting, and from there to one of the most romantic love stories of all time, told here from the perspective of woman’s best friend, who goes from being a pampered lapdog to a dog-about-town in Italy.
Age Recommendation: Age 12+


The Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre is sponsored by Paradigm Capital Inc.

By Eugene O’Neill
Previews July 3 ◆ Available for review beginning July 17 ◆ Closes October 8
Eugene O’Neill’s masterpiece of erotic desire takes a Greek tragedy and sets it on an American Gothic farmstead. The hatred of Eben Cabot and his new stepmother for each other is only matched by their desire. Containing some of the most powerfully charged scenes in all of theatre, Desire Under the Elms is a poetic tale of forbidden love hurtling towards disaster.
Age Recommendation: Age 14+

By Alice Childress
Previews August 8  Available for review beginning August 21  Closes October 9
 Willetta Mayer is a black actress rehearsing a white play about black people being saved by white people. The compromises and petty humiliations of the rehearsal bring into focus the question: how much can she take for the art of theatre? Pioneering African-American playwright, Alice Childress’s Trouble in Mind is a painfully funny, timely and truthful piece about race, privilege and power.
Mature content

Age Recommendation: Age 14+


Created and performed by Alexandra Montagnese and Mike Petersen
Commissioned and presented by the Shaw Festival in partnership with Parks Canada
Previews July 29 ◆ Closes August 13 
From the Maid of the Mist to Laura Secord to the founding of the Shaw Festival, A Short History of Niagara is thirty charming minutes of pure storytelling, the rich history of our region brought to life by wordless puppets.


By Charles Dickens
Adapted and originally directed by Tim Carroll
Previews November 12  Available for review beginning November 20  Closes December 23
The Shaw’s charming production of the beloved classic A Christmas Carol returns to the Royal George Theatre to rekindle holiday memories and traditions

Age Recommendation: Age 6+

Irving Berlin’s
Based on the film from Universal Pictures
Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge
Previews November 14  Available for review beginning November 20  Closes December 23 
 The cherished musical classic returns to the Festival Theatre. This toe-tapping delight follows Jim Hardy as he leaves showbiz behind for life on a farm, but soon discovers he isn’t quite the farmer he hoped he’d be. Jim’s outlook begins to change when he falls for Linda – a tap-dancing local schoolteacher who has never forgotten her stage dreams. Together with a group of his Broadway buddies, they transform his farmhouse into an inn featuring stunning performances that ring in every holiday with song, dance and celebration. But what happens when there’s competition for Linda’s affection? A fun-loving, tap-dancing, rib-tickling romantic comedy guaranteed to kick-start your holiday season

 Age Recommendation: Age 10+

Tickets for the 2021 season will be available through the Box Office at 1-800-511-SHAW (7429) and online at The Shaw Festival’s 2021 season goes on sale to Friends of The Shaw beginning November 7 and the public on December 5. Patrons wishing to get front-of-the-line access to tickets can visit or call 1-800-657-1106 x 2556 to become Friends of The Shaw.