• Staci

Give the gift of magic this holiday

We live in an age where so much of what kids do is in front of a screen. From leisure time to even school time, technology feeds into so much of our kids' lives. By introducing kids to the magic of live theatre, we get their imaginations revved back up again, once again igniting the fires of imagination, wonder and awe.

Stratford Festival Lion Witch and Wardrobe

Clara Kittmer (model). Photography by Don Dixon.

I was fortunate enough to take my family to the Stratford Festival recently, to take in a showing of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The original goal of the piece was to assess how accessible the theatre experience was in Stratford (more on that in a minute) but what I couldn't have expected was the true gift I received during the experience.

I can scarcely put into words the happiness I felt seeing my daughter's expression as she watched the magic unfold on the stage before us. And it truly was magical. From the music to the props, every detail was perfection. My daughter, who (as anyone who knows her will tell you) is very full of life, always chattering away and a ball of kinetic energy, sat in rapt silence, leaning into the action as if she were afraid to miss any details. She did not speak a word during the show, except for the occasional "Wow!" or "Look at that!" and a few gasps of wonder, particularly when Aslan first appeared on stage. (I'll admit, that took my breath away, too).

Members of the company in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Photography by David Hou.

We left the play and proceeded to go to dinner at the same restaurant my hubby and I had dined in on our honeymoon 14 years earlier (if you love gourmet, thin-crust pizza, you must try Pazzo). All through the meal, my daughter was brimming over with excitement about what we had just seen, questions about "how did they do that?" and pleas to please go back to the theatre again. She has been bitten by the theatre bug, badly.

All of this to say that if you do one thing for your tech-saturated kids, please take them to the theatre. It doesn't have to be a big production with high-priced tickets. Local theatre or even a student production at a local high school can help to spark their imaginations.

Stratford Festival Avon Theatre

Avon Theatre. Photo: Terry Manzo

My sincere heartfelt thanks go out to the Stratford Festival community, all of whom showed us a wonderful time. From the moment we arrived, we were helped with opening doors, shown to our seats personally, and asked if we needed anything several times. Even in the gift shop, the offer of help to reach items I couldn't reach myself from my wheelchair was made, as was the offer to move anything that was blocking my way. I couldn't have asked for a better experience. If you have mobility issues and are looking for a wonderful, barrier-free theatre experience, I invite you to please give the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario, a try. You won't be disappointed. The Avon Theatre, in which we saw our play, doesn't have stairs leading down to the stage. The seats are on a subtle decline, allowing patrons access to each row with a wheelchair or walker.

Theatre tickets make a wonderful holiday gift. It's the gift of imagination, of togetherness, and of an experience and memory that will last a lifetime. Gift certificates also make a wonderful holiday gift, especially for the young people in your life!

Purchase Stratford Festival gift certificates here: https://www.stratfordfestival.ca/landingpages/giftcertificates

I can't wait to go back to the Festival next year. Maybe I'll see some of you there!

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