Summer for most people is time for pools and barbecues and baseball. And, don’t get me wrong, I both adore and partake in all of those things. But, for me, what makes summer what it is (beyond those iconic Marine Land ads that mark the beginning and end of the season) is theatre. There’s the Fringe festival and Summerworks and countless small productions going on everywhere, but my summer is defined by the three big companies that highlight the theatre scene in Ontario: The Stratford Shakespeare Festival (in Stratford, ON), The Shaw Festival (in Niagara on the Lake), and Soulpepper (in Toronto, the only one of the three that runs year round). Now that I’ve finally finished my coverage of those 3 seasons so far (Soulpepper’s still got a few to go before their year ends), I thought I’d share some grades that can help you sort out the best and the worst from the summer’s whopping 3S roster.

Elektra A
The Pirates of Penzance A-
Cymbeline A-
The Best Brothers B+
The Matchmaker B
42nd Street B
Wanderlust B
Henry V B-
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown C+
Hirsch C+
Much Ado About Nothing C-
MacHomer D

Stratford Shakespeare Festival Average: B-

*Note: I didn’t see A Word or Two or The War of 1812, though I hear both were superb.

Ragtime A
French Without Tears A-
The Millionairess A-
Hedda Gabler B+
A Man and Some Women B
Misalliance B
Come Back, Little Sheba B-
Present Laughter B-
Trouble in Tahiti C+
His Girl Friday C
Helen’s Necklace D+

Shaw Festival Average: B

Long Day’s Journey Into Night A          
The Crucible A
Death of a Salesman A-
Kim’s Convenience A-
The Sunshine Boys B+
You Can’t Take it With You B+
High Life B+
Speed-the-Plow B
Home B
The Royal Comedians B-

**still to come: Alligator Pie, Endgame and A Christmas Carol

Soulpepper Average: B+