Two Kinds of Tradition | Jr. Guest Blogger Adam Leung

by Adam Leung

On May 11, I spent the day at the Stratford Festival and I saw the plays Fiddler on the Roof and Romeo and Juliet. The day was quite a long one and I was extremely tired at the end of it, but it was definitely worth it since the plays were great!

Adam Leung (right) with his brother, Josh, and dad outside the Festival Theatre

Adam Leung (right) with his brother, Josh, and dad outside the Festival Theatre

Music has many uses in a play. In Fiddler on the Roof it is used to explain the plot and the characters’ feelings and opinions. For example, Tevye explains in the opening scene with song “Tradition” why he believes tradition to be so important in their lives. He then sings part of this song in the second act to explain why his daughters should not marry men of their own free will but instead should consult the town’s matchmaker.

The song “If I Were a Rich Man” is about what Tevye would do if he owned a fortune. According to Tevye, he would build a big tall house in the middle of the town with plenty of rooms. There would be three staircases in his house, each one more impressive than the last. He also wants to keep several fowl in his yard, to prove that he is extremely rich. While I was listening to “If I Were a Rich Man,” I realized that it is very much like the song “If I Had a Million Dollars” by Barenaked Ladies – right down to the title. Both songs mention what sort of house they would have, what sort of pets they would own, what they would get for their wives and what they would do instead of working all day. So maybe, just maybe, Barenaked Ladies just might owe some credit to Fiddler on the Roof!

Watch Scott Wentworth – Tevye – perform “If I Were a Rich Man”!

The production of Romeo and Juliet at Stratford this year is presented in a style that is similar to how it would have been presented at the Globe Theatre in London, in the 1590s, in mid-afternoon in winter. The lights are left on and ever so slightly dimmed, no spotlights are used to follow the actors and no sound system is used to amplify the actors’ voices. Music is used only as background music or as part of a scene since the Globe Theatre did not have an orchestra pit, and the musicians play old-fashioned instruments from Shakespeare’s time.

In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye is torn between following the standard marriage tradition and letting his daughters marry men they choose and love. Personally, I believe that the daughters are right in the sense that if they let their parents and the matchmaker choose, then the community is almost a dictatorship since no one has a free choice in marriage. I think the best way would be for Tevye to recommend his daughters to avoid certain husbands instead of making the marriage mandatory.

In Romeo and Juliet, there is a very obvious tradition that both the Montague and the Capulet families follow: you MUST hate the other family. If you don’t follow this tradition, you are shunned by your family for the rest of your life. In Fiddler on the Roof, tradition is changed because the outside world is moving on with time. However, in Romeo and Juliet, tradition is changed because of tradition itself. Romeo and Juliet are fed up with tradition (think Motel and Tzeitel from Fiddler on the Roof) but this tradition results in their deaths. It is not until after their deaths that the two families end the mini-war that they have been waging and call a truce.

In most plays, the props and sets are a vital part of the story, since they help tell where the scene takes place and what the characters are doing. Fiddler on the Roof uses lots of props like the milk cart, suitcases, dishes, cleaning supplies, to show what the characters are doing and where they are. Fiddler on the Roof also uses sets that are made up of objects that are only found in certain obvious places, like a bed in the bedroom or a stove and table in the kitchen.

Romeo and Juliet uses lots of props but is very different to Fiddler on the Roof since the play doesn’t use any major set changes (which is the way plays in the Elizabethan time were presented). Instead, the audience has to watch attentively so that they can see the subtle changes in props and character movement, such as when Paris is searching with the lantern or when Juliet is on the balcony and Romeo is right under her nose.

In Romeo and Juliet, one of the most confusing characters is Friar Laurence, since you don’t learn much about him except that he is a monk who knows everything there is to know about plants and their properties, both poisonous and helpful. I believe that Friar Laurence is a “good guy” since he helps Romeo and Juliet by marrying them in hopes of ceasing the quarrel that has been going on between their families. Plus, he never tells anybody about their marriage since if he was to mention it, it would cause disaster and make the fight between the Capulet and the Montague families even worse.

Fiddler on the Roof and Romeo and Juliet are about two completely different stories which take place in very different times, but they both have similar themes: love, change, tradition and tragedy. If I had to choose a favourite play, I would say neither, since they’re both amazing plays. I hope you get to see them as well!


Like what you read? 12-year-old guest blogger and theatre enthusiast, Adam Leung, is a regular contributor to the Stratford Festival’s blog. Read his other entries here and here!


Celebrate the birthday Bard with an amazing deal!

Shakespeare’s 449th birthday is nearly upon us! On April 23 we’re celebrating the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon with the launch of The Forum – a.k.a. the Shakespeare Slam – at Toronto’s Koerner Hall. Join us for an evening of irreverent and provocative entertainment featuring the outstanding talents of Adam Gopnik, Torquil Campbell and Rufus Wainwright. Ticket information and other details are available here.

As part of our birthday celebration, we’ll also have an amazing ticket offer for some of the Festival’s 2013 Shakespeare plays!

2013-FB-BdayBard Get A or B seats for any May or June performance of Romeo and Juliet or Measure for Measure for the cost of a C seat – that’s just $49! But you’ll have to hurry – this great offer is only available from April 23 at 12:01 a.m. until April 24 at midnight, and only using Stratford Social Ticketing on the Festival’s Facebook page.

What can you expect from Romeo and Juliet and Measure for Measure?

Director and Shakespeare aficionado Tim Carroll joins us this season to direct the most powerful love story ever told, Romeo and Juliet.  Mr. Carroll’s extensive work on original practice at the Globe theatre in London has been widely praised by critics and fans alike, and we’re thrilled to have him back at the Festival this season directing a period production of Romeo and Juliet (he also directed Peter Pan in 2010). Festival favourite Sara Topham will play Juliet alongside a new face this season, Daniel Briere as Romeo.

Learn more about Daniel in this exclusive interview!

Martha Henry makes her directorial return this season with Measure for Measure. Ms Henry’s film noir-inspired version of Measure will explore Shakespeare’s “problem” play in the world of 1940s Vienna. Measure’s star-studded cast includes Tom Rooney as Angelo, Stephen Ouimette as Lucio, Geraint Wyn Davies as Duke Vincentio and Carmen Grant in her break-out role as Isabella.

Read more about this year’s production of Measure for Measure.

To celebrate the birthday Bard with $49 tickets…

*Promotion not available on previously purchased tickets or in conjunction with any other offer. Offer is only redeemable through Stratford Social Ticketing on the Festival’s Facebook page and cannot be used to purchase A+ tickets. May expire without notice. Some conditions apply.

April Fools’ offer – one day only!

We’re celebrating April Fools’ Day with great savings – no joke.

Book any seat at any Festival Theatre performance in May for just $39 – no joke! Pay the same low rate for all seating zones, even on opening nights. This offer is only available on April 1, 2013, so mark your calendars!

If you’re a Facebook fan, book through Stratford Social Ticketing on the Festival’s Facebook page – or book through our website!

Here’s how to order using Stratford Social Ticketing (with the option of creating a group event):

  • Visit the Festival’s Facebook page and click on the Stratford Social Ticketing tab
  • Select any performance of Romeo and Juliet, Fiddler on the Roof and/or The Three Musketeers in May
  • On the “Select Your Seat” page enter promo code No Joke into the “Have a Promo Code?” box and click “Apply”
  • Select your seats and check out!


Order through our website:

  • Log in with promo code No Joke
  • Select any performance of Romeo and Juliet, Fiddler on the Roof and/or The Three Musketeers in May
  • Select your seats and check out

Want more from your theatre experience? Check out The Forum for concerts, workshops, talks and more, all inspired by the themes of our season.

If you’re coming from the GTA, try our new Stratford Direct Bus service for just $20 round trip.

Eligible Performances

Romeo and Juliet 

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, May 04, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Tuesday, May 07, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Friday, May 17, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Friday, May 24, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Monday, May 27, 2013 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Fiddler on the Roof 

Saturday, May 04, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Friday, May 10, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Monday, May 13, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Monday, May 20, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 8:00 PM
The Three Musketeers 

Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Friday, May 24, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Friday, May 31, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Happy April Fools’!

*Offer not available on previously purchased tickets or in conjunction with any other offer. Promotion NOT available by phone. Promotion starts on April 1 at 12:01 a.m. and ends on April 1 at 11:59 p.m.

Happy un-leap day! – Get your fix with $29 TiXX

Who says leap year can only happen once every four years? People loved our 2012 leap day promotion so much that we decided to break the mould this year and celebrate “un-leap day” with the launch of our TiXX program on March 1. Visit us online and get $29 tickets to a wide variety of performances throughout April, May and June! 


Starting on un-leap day (a.k.a. March 1) at 9:00 a.m., log into our website and visit our TiXX page for a huge selection of $29 tickets! You’ll be able to book up to four seats for each of the performances we offer.

Our first batch of TiXX applies to select performances the following productions:

Take a sneak peek at twelve of the shows you’ll be seeing on stage this season!

Happy un-leap day and happy saving!

Visit our website for details about our TiXX program.

Meet Romeo – Interview with Daniel Briere

We were able to chat with Festival newcomer Daniel Briere about his upcoming debut as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet this season!  In addition to playing Romeo, you’ll also see Daniel in both The Three Musketeers and The Merchant of Venice. Find out a bit more about him in this exclusive actor interview!


Stratford Festival (SF): This will be your first season at the Festival, but you’ve been quite active across the Canadian theatre scene. Can you tell us how you got your start as an actor?

Daniel Briere (DB): I suppose I started back in Calgary, where I grew up.  I learned at an early age that I loved telling stories and wanted to become an artist, and I was lucky to be introduced to some fantastic theatre happening in Calgary.  After high school I studied acting at Mount Royal College, and then felt I needed more training so I headed to Montreal to study at the National Theatre School of Canada.  Montreal was really great for my development, because I met so many like-minded artists from all over the country, and I had all kinds of doors and opportunities opened to me.  Since then I’ve been based in Toronto, but have worked all over Canada. I’m still young and it’s easy for me to pick up and head somewhere new every eight weeks or so, and I love discovering new parts and people in this great big country.

SF: You’ve played Paris in a different production of Romeo and Juliet – how does it feel to now be playing Romeo?

DB: Actually, in that particular production I was also understudying Romeo, and had an opportunity to go on once, but it was kind of a hip hop adaptation, and I’m not much of a dancer, so I can understand why they had cast me as a more straight laced Paris.  Having played on the other side of the love triangle though, I understand how tragic Paris’ story is, that he really is a man worthy of Juliet’s love, and his presence makes the love between Romeo and Juliet more dangerous and maybe even more thrilling.  It will also be interesting for me to win a swordfight or two this time around, playing Romeo.

Romeo and Juliet, 2013

SF: What excites you about this production of Romeo and Juliet?

DB: I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to work with Tim Carroll.  He’s obviously an incredible source of knowledge when it comes to Shakespeare’s work, and I love his idea of theatre as a game. I’ve been reading about the experimental productions he’s been doing with The Factory Theatre in London, where they’ll do things like switch which roles each actor plays on a nightly basis, or ask audience members to bring random objects that will become the set and props of the show. I’m really interested in the idea that you can prepare so much – like learn every line for every character in the play —and then toss all your acting tools up in the air while you fence with tennis rackets or figure out how to incorporate a fishing pole.  I don’t imagine we’ll be improvising in this way at the Stratford Festival, but I know that Tim will bring that same sense of play and investigation into the rehearsal hall, and we’ll have a much stronger and well-grounded show because of it.

SF: What is your favourite line from Romeo and Juliet?

DB: It changes regularly, because this play is full of so much beautiful poetry, but I think my favorite line currently is one of Juliet’s, from the balcony scene.

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,

My love as deep:  the more I give to thee

The more I have, for both are infinite. 

SF: You’re going to be busy this season – in addition to playing Romeo, you’ll also be appearing in The Three Musketeers and The Merchant of Venice. Will this be your first time working in a repertory theatre company?

DB: I have worked in repertory before in Calgary, with Shakespeare in the Park.  They typically do two Shakespeare shows, the first of which opens for a two-week run, then they’ll perform in rep for the rest of the summer.  So for a while they rehearse the second show in the day and perform the first show in the evening, making for some long days. Having worked with that company I think will prove a great exercise in preparation for the Stratford company, though I can certainly understand I will be very busy this season. I’ve heard of many other actors at the festival having to juggle two or three leads in different shows, which I imagine can become very taxing. My life is always busy, though, juggling between different projects, and I’m sure this year will only help me continue to build stamina.

SF: We’re lucky to have a lot of amazing talent appearing on stage this season – is there anyone in the company that you’re particularly excited to meet or work with? 

DB: I’m very excited to start work with Sara Topham, who has done fantastic work at the Festival and abroad.  And I’m also extremely lucky to be currently working with Tom McCamus in Gone With the Wind in Winnipeg, so I’m very much looking forward to continuing to work with and learn from him in Stratford. As you mentioned, this is my first season with the Festival, and I am honored to be part of such a talented company and what will surely be a thrilling season!

Just for fun…

SF: If you were stranded on a desert island, and could only bring one book with you, what would it be?

DB: I suppose I’d have to bring Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. I haven’t read it yet, but after all the hype I think it would be a shame to be stranded on an island not having read it. Other possible options might include Chuck Palahniuk’s Survivor, David McIntosh’s How to Build a Wooden Boat, or Oliver Jeffers’ children’s classic The Way Back Home.

SF: The most-played song on your iPod is…

DB: All Night Long by Lionel Ritchie. ‘Nuff said.

SF: Salty or sweet?

DB: Definitely Salty.  Unless it’s a swimming pool.

EXCLUSIVE FACEBOOK EXTRA: Join us on our Facebook page on February 13, 2013, from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. for a Facebook Q&A with Daniel Briere to find out more about the man behind our 2013 Romeo!

Read Daniel’s full stage biography here.

To buy tickets to Romeo and Juliet, visit our website at

Photo credits: Daniel Briere and Sara Topham. Photo by Don Dixon.


Sweet savings for you and your Valentine – BOGO!

Sweet SavingsForget about chocolate and teddy bears and surprise your Valentine with an unforgettable experience – a trip to the theatre! We’ve got a sweet deal for you and your beloved this Valentine’s Day: when you buy one regular-priced ticket to any performance of Romeo and Juliet or Tommy during May or June (excluding openings), we’ll give you the second one free!*

All of you true romantics will want to indulge in the greatest
love story ever told – Romeo and Juliet. Helmed by critically acclaimed director Tim Carroll, this production promises to be one show that will be a must-see! The role of Juliet will be played by Festival favourite Sara Topham, who’ll appear alongside tall, dark and handsome Festival newcomer Daniel Briere as Romeo.

If a classic rock musical is more your style, join us for Tommy – a rock opera based on the The Who’s album by the same name.  Former Artistic Director Des McAnuff – who co-wrote the book for Tommy with Pete Townshend and directed the Tony-Award winning Broadway production in 1993 – will be back to direct this amazing show. Tickets won’t last long!

If you’re a romantic rocker, don’t feel forced to choose – join us for both Tommy and Romeo and Juliet! Variety is the spice of life!

Here’s all the information you need to know to take advantage of this limited-time promotion!

1) Using Stratford Social Ticketing on our Facebook page, select any performance of Romeo and Juliet and/or Tommy during May or June (excluding opening performances)

2) In the “Have a Promo” box, enter promotion code 47364 and click “Apply”

3) Select your seats and check out!

This sweet deal is only available until February 14, so don’t delay! Your valentine will thank you!

* Offer may expire without notice. Not valid on MMP performances.  Offer not available in A+ seating category and is only available until February 14, 2013. Promotion only applies to adult pricing. May not be combined with any other offers.  Only available through Stratford Social Ticketing on our Facebook page only. Promotion excludes opening night performances of Romeo and Juliet and Tommy.