Stratford Gazette editorial
The red carpet was rolled out and stars of stage and screen were out in full force for the opening night of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 60th season Monday night. The gala evening not only marks the official start to the season at the theatre – but the official start to the tourist season in the city. No doubt shopkeepers, restaurateurs, accommodation providers, business people and politicians are all sitting with fingers crossed, hoping for a successful season that will bring the crowds, and their spending money, to Stratford.
It’s well known that over the last decade the local tourism industry has faced some challenges, from increased passport requirements, unstable gas prices, a high Canadian dollar and a faltering global economy. Many long for the prosperity the Festival’s 50th season and associated celebrations brought to the city, so much so it seems to have become the benchmark for comparison for all future years.
So how is this season shaping up? Of course it’s too early to tell. But one would hope the amount of exposure the city is getting lately could only benefit us, and make others curious about visiting. It’s undeniable the success of Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway, and its subsequent Tony nominations, has caught the attention of theatregoers, and Christopher Plummer’s return to Stratford, Oscar in hand, is about as high profile as you can get.
Stratford Summer Music has again lined up dozens of globally celebrated musicians and entertainers. Recently, internationally renowned travel guide Frommer’s ranked Stratford as one of the Top 10 Canadian summer destinations. The mayor has also publicly stated he is optimistic about this season, and that hits on the Tourism Alliance’s website are up, along with Festival ticket sales.
A thriving season would be a great shot in the arm for the city. Is it possible this could be the one?