Separated twins, cross-dressing, clownish suitors: must be a Shakespearean comedy. Newmarket's dependable Resurgence Theatre mounts Shakespeare's romantic crowd-pleaser Twelfth Night, featuring two young talents - Christine Horne (Gorey Story, The Stone Angel and Kick Theatre's upcoming Miss Julie) and Kevin Walker (Finer Noble Gases, The Lover) - as separated sibs Viola and Sebastian, with Lee Wilson directing. From August 4 to 24. Fairy Lake, Newmarket. 1-877-930-4414.
Tolling the Belle
Mythical creatures, a gloomy Scottish castle and a plucky young female scientist are part of the Gothic Belle Moral, Ann-Marie MacDonald's intelligent, entertaining play about a family with a foot in both the Victorian and the modern world. The Shaw Festival, which premiered the work in 2005, revives director Alisa Palmer's production with Fiona Byrne, Jeff Meadows, Donna Belleville and Peter Hutt. From July 12 to October 5. Court House Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake 1-800-511-7429.
If you think there's only one way to stage Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew, you don't know director Peter Hinton. For this Stratford Festival production, he's sure to give a different twist to the tale of the sharp-tongued Kate and Petruchio, the man who woos and eventually wins her over entirely. And you couldn't find better leads than Irene Poole and Evan Buliung, supported by Ben Carlson, Stephen Ouimette, Juan Chioran and Adrienne Gould. To October 25 at the Festival Theatre, Stratford. 1-800-567-1600.
The Blyth Festival turns to celebrated local author Alice Munro for Courting Johanna, adapted by Marcia Johnson from Munro's short story Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. Kate Lynch directs this piece about two bored teens who mail faux love letters to the title figure, a hardworking housekeeper. The cast includes Catherine Fitch, Tova Smith and Lisa Norton. From July 23 to September 6 at the Memorial Community Hall, Blyth. 1-877-862-5984.
Pity the victims of war, especially if they're women made slaves by their captors. Euripides wrote of their moving plight in The Trojan Women, presented by Stratford in a new translation by Nicholas Rudall. Marti Maraden directs a stellar cast that includes Martha Henry, Kelli Fox, Yanna McIntosh, Seana McKenna and Nora McLellan. To October 5 at the Tom Patterson Theatre, Stratford. 1-800-567-1600.
No musical theatre composer better captures the bittersweet quality of love than Stephen Sondheim. A Little Night Music, one of his best-known works - it includes Send In The Clowns - looks at various mismatched partners brought together during a weekend in the country. The Shaw Festival cast features Goldie Semple, George Masswohl, Thom Allison, Donna Belleville and Patty Jamieson, with Morris Panych directing. To October 4 at the Court House Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake. 1-800-511-7429.
Whale of a tale
Morris Panych travels from one festival to another this summer, going to Stratford to stage his adaptation of Moby Dick, Herman Melville's classic novel in which the fixated Captain Ahab searches the oceans for the great white whale to which he lost his leg. David Ferry plays Ahab, with Shaun Smyth, W. Joseph Matheson and Marcus Nance in the cast. Begins July 22 and runs to October 18 at the Studio Theatre, Stratford. 1-800-567-1600.
Too bad bright Toronto playwright Leanna Brodie's scripts always seem to be done out of town. Millbrook's 4th Line Theatre remounts its 2007 hit Schoolhouse, in which a new teacher has to deal with a variety of ages and talents in a one-room rural Ontario school in 1938. Kim Blackwell directs the outdoor production, which begins August 5 and runs to August 30 at the Winslow Farm. 1-800-814-0055.
Think summer theatre, other than Stratford and Shaw, is largely fluff? Then check out the season at the Thousand Islands Playhouse. Sure, it has crowd-pleasers like Les Mis and Anne And Gilbert, but the programming also includes John Mighton's nuanced Half Life, Hannah Moscovitch's intelligent double bill The Russian Play and Essay, Volcano's exciting dance/theatre piece The Four Horseman Project and Rick Miller's inventive Bigger Than Jesus. To September 13 at the Springer and Firehall Theatres, Gananoque. 1-866-382-7020.