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University students’ visit to Stratford

If you’re aged 16 to 29, you can get $25 tickets for great seats to Stratford Festival performances throughout the season.

Below is a guest blog post from Sarah Girdwood, a student at Western University Canada, located 50 minutes west of Stratford in London, On.

In my youth, I was a theatre performer for ten years. As a child, I grew accustomed to being invited to attended performances for free.

But now, as a university student, living on a dime, theatre has become a long-lost love, too extravagant for me to return to until I find a steady income to take me there.

“So if any of you are interested…student tickets are only $25,” said a guest speaker from the Stratford Festival who spoke at my social media class. As she concluded her discussion with this delightful detail, I almost jumped out of my seat. But I didn’t, because I’m sitting in a lecture at the time.

Instead, I dish out an excited tweet and book two seats for “Fiddler on the Roof” with my fellow theatre-enthusiast, Kyle.

Like Western, most universities are situated in a city, so driving to Stratford on route 7 was pretty refreshing. Green, green, and more green until we reached the centre of Tinsel Town, Stratford, Ontario. We had skipped breakfast, we were ravenous and our youthful metabolism took us straight to a burger joint which was aptly named “Downie St. Burgers” on Downie St.

I kid you not, this must be the most classy burger place I have ever seen. Before we looked at the menus, I was considering running away because I figured any place with an ornate moulded ceiling must be out my league. Wrong.

We left satisfied, spending less than $20 on drinks and burgers after splitting an appetizer.

Cajun bacon burger with pineapple jelly, hot peppers, lettuce and a caesar salad.

We had some time before the matinée at 2, so I convinced my male associate to accompany me to a clothing store. After all, no journey is complete without checking the local threads. Stratford is filled with lots of shopping, and we soon found ourselves in Gruv, a clothing boutique.

By the way, downtown Stratford is mighty but small, so no need to worry about driving, cabbing, and what-have-you,

Anyways, so Gruv. I LOVE GRUV. It’s a great little boutique with endless pieces of unique clothing. The shoe rack caught my eye with its crocheted boots and strappy wedge sandals for summer.

Shoes!A Stratford Festival original?

Now, I’m not the best shopper especially under a time constraint, so I asked the sales girls to throw together a few outfits for my very own fashion shoot. They found me like five outfits in five minutes…it was great. Their selections really spoke to the versatility of the store. I tried on loud dresses for dancing, dainty pastels for summer weddings, and some cute cut-offs for outdoor concerts.

Nice rack of mens jeans, t-shirts and sweaters.

Oh, and of course the store itself was eclectic and fun. They found an antique bench that looked like it came from a theatre.
Trying on clothes in the afternoon was great because of the tall windows in the back that were balanced perfectly with the natural light that came in from the display. Having bought an excellent pair of tan heels with gold accents, we hurried to the Festival Theatre to see “Fiddler on the Roof.”

A bold floral print for dancing.I loved this gorgeous change room.Soft light blue dress with some killer heels (my purchase).

As an actress, I was taken in by the conviction of characters demonstrated by the leads. I adored Tevye and Lazar Wolf’s exchange, and the word play as they discussed the fate of Tevye’s cow… or his daughter.

The love scene between Tevye and his wife plucked my heart strings. This lively yet touching performance never left a dull moment. Three hours went by all too quickly.

Kyle enjoyed it as well, despite falling asleep for a few seconds. Not from the show, but from walking in the sun all day and enduring a car ride without AC.

After the show we took to the river, and I waited patiently as Kyle got the swan photo shoot out of his system. The swans are nice change from the insurmountable number of Canadian geese in London. We were really starting to get fried at this point, so we returned to downtown to look for some quality iced beverages.

Balzac's Cafe - I enjoyed this poster displayed near our seats.We landed in front of Balzac’s café, which I discovered was now a small chain with locations in Toronto, Kitchener and Niagara. This particular location was the very first to open in 1996. We sat in the spacious room with high ceilings and decorative embellishment from bottom-up, looking out to an old church across the street. It was the perfect place to relax and sip an iced americano and a frozen lemonade. The price was right for such high-quality coffee, my driver downed at least three before we hit the road once more.

If you enjoy theatre and you’re looking for a short, low-key outing in the summer, this is a great option for students. Altogether very affordable, I spent under $60 on lunch, coffee and my “Fiddler on the Roof” ticket. The entire experience was relaxing, providing a much needed break from the city.

Dining, shopping and strolling by the water in Stratford was almost as fun as the show itself. Who knew Stratford is filled with unique shops and welcoming people. An easy trip for a day away… just be sure to book ahead to snag those amazing seats.


Sarah Girdwood


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University students’ visit to Stratford

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