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Stag and Doe celebrates road to matrimony

15 Aug
Nicole Joy-Fraser, Jason Chesworth, Rebecca Auerbach and Greg Gale. Photo: Terry Manzo.

Nicole Joy-Fraser, Jason Chesworth, Rebecca Auerbach and Greg Gale. Photo: Terry Manzo.

by Diva Claire Carter:

I am at the point in life where many friends and relatives are walking down the aisle.  With the announcement of an engagement, often comes news of engagement parties, stag and does (also known as buck and does or Jack and Jills), bachelor and bachelorette parties, and a date set for the main event itself.  Despite planning, sheer luck sometimes seems to have more to do with how smoothly things run for all of these events.

I had the pleasure of attending the Stag and Doe in Blyth on Sunday, August 10, which is a shining example of how sometimes, things don’t always go as planned.  Within minutes, my guest and I (and the rest of the audience) were sharing serious laughs.  The plot of the story is worst case scenario, but has very real situations, of course punctuated by humour, shock and a bit of salty language.  There are parts of the stag and doe experience that seem universal; the community centre, games, discussing the guest list and similar social events from the past.

Because the show features both a stag and doe AND a wedding, we see the same honest writing and acting as far as the wedding is portrayed – budgets are ignored, family dynamics are made public, alcohol plays a factor in decision making, schedules for the day are delayed and the fairy tale image of the day differs from the reality (sometimes leading to bridezilla behaviour).

The Stag and Doe is the perfect show to go to with a group of friends for a bachelorette party, to gift tickets to all engaged couples or those celebrating anniversaries.  The actors in the Stag and Doe have great chemistry, and to the audience, seem like real couples, friends and enemies.  Having attended Kitchen Radio, I noticed a number of actors have roles in both shows.  It was amazing seeing how versatile these individuals are!

Another highlight of the show was catching the final performance of Bonanza Weekend, a Blyth Festival tradition when theatre-goers have the opportunity to watch all four main stage plays in three days for $100.  What a fantastic idea!  The theatre was packed, and the audience was having a great time.  Next year, I hope to plan my Blyth Festival trips around this great weekend.

Blyth Festival
Box 10, BLYTH, Ontario  N0M 1H0
519-523-9300

Tickets are still available online or at the Box Office.

HCP’s Les Miserables blew this Diva away!

15 Aug

by Diva Christine Harris

It was an amazing treat to be able to see Les Miserables on opening night in our own backyard, Grand Bend.  This was my first visit to the Main Stage at the Playhouse and I really enjoyed being up on the balcony.  The view was great from above; and it was also really neat being able to see the conductor throughout the night.  The evening started out with an introduction by Alex Mustakas, the Artistic Director of Huron County Playhouse (Drayton Entertainment).  He told us how long and how hard he had been working at bringing this musical to his theatre and welcomed us for the evening.

Cast of 2014 production of Les Miserable at Huron Country Playhouse Photographer, Hilary Gauld-Camilleri

Cast of 2014 production of Les Miserable at Huron Country Playhouse Photographer, Hilary Gauld-Camilleri

I really don’t know where to start, I was completely blown away.  The set was ingenious with how it moved and how they were able to quickly and easily change the feeling from a small quaint room to a large battlefield.  Props for the set like tables were easily slid into place with the system they used, so it took very little time and very little attention away from what was going on.  The costumes were beautiful pieces from the era that took you back in time, so you were able to get completely lost in the story.  The music and the singing by far was the most spectacular part of the evening.  A seven piece orchestra lead by conductor Robert Fraser did not disappoint.  With cello, keys, bass, percussion, reed and french horn the orchestra sounded beautiful together and complemented the amazing voices on stage.  I enjoyed the duo played by Eddie Glen and Kristen Peace as Madame and Thenardier who were both comical and crude; they lightened the mood and brought laughter to the audience.  Lee Siegel who played Javert had a strong and commanding voice; he was one of the performers I enjoyed the most.  My very favorite of the evening was “On My Own” by Ma-Anne Dionisio playing Eponine, that one will be in my head for days.

David Rogers in Drayton Entertainment's Les Miserable, playing at Huron Country Playhouse until Aug.30/14

David Rogers in Drayton Entertainment’s Les Miserable, playing at Huron Country Playhouse until Aug.30/14

At the end of the evening we were treated to a meet and greet in the lobby with the full cast and a midnight buffet.  Fans were able to talk to their favourite actors, and some even got autographs.  I was very happy that I was able to enjoy this whole experience and be a part of such a big production coming to such a wonderful theatre.

Les Miserables runs at Huron Country Playhouse until August 30th.

Drayton Entertainment
Huron Country Playhouse

RR 1, 70689 B Line, Grand Bend, Ontario N0M 1T0
GPS coordinates: N 43° 18.834 W 81° 43.549
Box Office: 519-238-6000

 

Huron County Playhouse II – Run for Your Wife

30 Jul
David Leyshon, Michael Lamport and David Talbot Run For Your Wife, 2014 SeasonPhotographer, Scott Williams  Photo taken from the website - http://goo.gl/6KUiIl

David Leyshon, Michael Lamport and David Talbot
Run For Your Wife, 2014 Season Photographer, Scott Williams Photo taken from the website – http://goo.gl/6KUiIl

After having a wonderful time at the Huron County Playhouse II in June, I was really looking forward to my visit this month in July.  This time I would be seeing a British Farce by Ray Cooney called “Run for Your Wife”.  David Leyshon stars as a taxi driver named John Smith who has been successfully keeping two marriages a secret until he has an accident at work and bumps his head.  This throws off his entire schedule that has been keeping things running smoothly, and now he has to try to pick up the pieces to keep each of the wives from finding out about each other.  The set was brilliantly crafted by David Antscherl who has separated a large room by colour so that the actors could either use both sides at once to simulate both wives at the same time, or use the whole set at once as one of the homes.  Once the wives Mary and Barbara played by Susie Bernett and Stacy Smith realize that John is not home on time from work (because he keeps a precise schedule), they fret and worry.  Complications ensue when police Sergeants played by David Talbot and Anthony Bekenn become involved even when neighbours played by Michael Lamport and Aidan deSalaiz try to help out.   Find out if John Smith can keep his double life a secret by booking your tickets today!

Run for your Wife runs at the Huron Country Playhouse until August 2nd.

Drayton Entertainment
Huron Country Playhouse
RR 1, the “B Line”
Grand Bend, Ontario N0M 1T0
GPS coordinates: N 43° 18.834 W 81° 43.549

1-855-drayton

Kitchen Radio opens Blyth’s 40th Anniversary Season

13 Jul KitchenRadioSet

by Claire Carter
I must begin this post with full disclosure.  I am a big fan of the Blyth Festival.  I love that the performances feature locally relevant topics, and exclusively Canadian plays.  I love visiting Blyth Memorial Hall, sitting in either the upper or lower balcony, and enjoying a world-class show in a Huron County village of 1,000 people.

I have been lucky enough that each of the recent productions I have attended have had bonus events.  Last year, I enjoyed a country dinner before a play (dinners take place Friday and Saturdays at different locations in Blyth, including churches, community centres and the Legion). The meal was lovingly prepared, and ended with so many different types of pie!  This year, the Huron Tourism Association was hosting the evening I attended.  Sweets and appetizers featuring local ingredients were available from local eateries and hotels, including Queens Bakery, Benmiller Inn and Samuels.

I was lucky enough to attend Kitchen Radio at the Blyth Festival on June 26.  The performance I attended was the day before the official opening, but as an audience member, I would have thought the show had been on stage for years.

Written and directed by Marion de Vries, the musical is set in 1968, and features a mainly female cast.  The play examines the relationship that women have with each other and music.  The play was captivating, and seemed to feature each of the four strong main characters equally, developing their personalities through song and dance.  The set and costumes were both fantastic.  Charming and funny, I found myself in good company with the rest of the audience, laughing and grinning at the on-stage antics.  Locally relevant tie-ins were made throughout the play, my favourite being that CKNX was the station being listened to over the radio.  Over a week later, many of the songs are still stuck in my head.  The YouTube clip below shows dress rehearsal of Kitchen Radio, and will give you an idea of the fun music and choreography you can expect in this play.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwBLniZy_PI

The Blyth Festival offers Canadian written and produced plays from late June through early September.  This season, four plays are set on the Mainstage (Blyth Memorial Hall): Kitchen Radio, Billy Bishop Goes to War, Stag and Doe and St. Anne’s Reel.  The Young Company presents Out of this World from August 27-30, and Radio: 30 is on stage at Phillips Studio from September 4-6.

Blyth Festival
Box 10
Blyth, ON  N0M 1H0
519-523-9300 / 1-877-862-5984

KitchenRadioSet

 

 

I’ll Be Back Before Midnight at the Huron Country Playhouse

10 Jul

HCPlayhouseby Diva Calista Powell
I can confidently tell you two things about myself; 1: Im no theatre buff and 2: I am terrified of horror movies. Despite this, I had an absolutely wonderful time seeing, “I’ll Be Back Before Midnight” at the Huron Country Playhouse.

Set in the 1980’s at a spooky and secluded farmhouse, the characters of this play did an excellent job of making their roles believable. I half expected as I left the theatre to see Jan, the neurotic city girl and her geeky inventor husband, Greg, doing the tourist thing out at a local flea market. I could picture Greg’s pretentious sister, Laura, clanking on the boardwalk in her stiletto’s shaded by a parasol. And I most definitely could see George, the hard working farmer stopping into Kate’s Station to meet up for some gossip with the good ‘ol boys.

It is performers like this that bring these stories to life with such vigour and passion that make it such an enjoyable experience. I must admit, it takes a lot to get me to laugh out loud, but the theatrics that these actors presented had me chuckling and I found myself jumping out of my seat as ghouls and ghosts popped out of the shadows.

This may not be a play for the faint of heart, but it is most definitely a unique blend of humour and horror that showcases the amazing talent that Huron has to offer. From the set design, to the 80’s costuming, to the comedic display of pyrotechnics and lighting, I’d recommend this production to theatre-goers and rookies alike. Be sure to check out the show playing in Plahouse II before it closes on July 12th.

For tickets, visit:
Drayton Entertainment
Huron Country Playhouse, RR 1, 70689 B Line, Grand Bend, Ontario N0M 1T0
GPS coordinates: N 43° 18.834 W 81° 43.549
Box Office: 519-238-6000 Administration: 519-238-8387 Fax: 519-238-6587

 

Look, No Hans! – Huron Country Playhouse II

28 Jun

by Diva Christine Harris

This was my first visit to the Huron County Playhouse II.  I was quite pleased with the seating, being a short person I sometimes have difficulty seeing over people’s heads.  There was a gentle slope to the floor and the stage was just high enough to see everything, but not strain the neck.  There really isn’t a bad seat in the house.  The set was well decorated, and presence of many rooms off of it gave it much more depth and allowed the play to expand. The actors worked very well together especially with some of the coordination they had to perform with timing and props.  Overall everything came together very nicely and it was easy to get lost in the story.

Synopsis: Peter Fisher is posing as the head of a British car company located in Berlin.  There he is to await the arrival of a top industrial spy from East of Hans with a special package.  His plans of a quiet birthday go out the window as he tries to keep his cover by juggling a wife whose plane is delayed, his mistress, a singing telegram girl and a senior inspector.  Join this six crew cast in the cozy Playhouse II and find out how Peter gets himself out of this predicament.

Susan JohnstonCollins, Kevin Kruchkywich,Jacob James and Steffi D iDomenicantonio

Susan JohnstonCollins, Kevin Kruchkywich,Jacob James and Steffi D iDomenicantonio

Huron Country Playhouse & Playhouse II
Grand Bend, ON  N0M 1T0

Local Box Office: 519-238-6000 | Administration: 519-238-8387 | Fax: 519-238-6587
Open June 2 to August 31, 2014.  Please call: 1-855-drayton (372-9866)

Kevin Kruchkywich, Kaitlyn Riordan, and Jacob James

Kevin Kruchkywich, Kaitlyn Riordan, and Jacob James

Production photos from www.draytonentertainment.com

Prairie Nurse

26 Aug
The Hunt

Photo submitted by Blyth Festival

by Diva Nicole Olson

On Tuesday this week, I had a lovely evening out at the Blyth Festival theatre. I went to see Prairie Nurse, by Marie Beath Badian and directed by Sue Miner. As described by the playwright, it was a “fictional play based on real-life folks.” It was set in 1969 in a small town hospital in Saskatchewan, where two nurses from the Philippines came to work. The lab technician falls in love with one of them, but can’t tell them apart and thus, comedy ensues.

The show has a tough-as-nails head nurse, a hunting and fishing crazed doctor, a sweet but meddling candy striper, a caring and fatherly custodian, hockey star goalie/goofy lab technician, along with the two sweet, but home sick Filipino nurses. Combine all of these quirky characters and you get an enjoyable show full of laughs. I definitely enjoyed the fun, light hearted nature of the performance. They found ways to incorporate common stereotypes and make it tastefully funny.

Photo submitted by Blyth Festival

Photo submitted by Blyth Festival

There was hardly a spare seat in the theatre, and lots of chuckles could be heard from the audience! To see this show, or other fantastic productions at the Blyth Festival Theatre, check out their website http://www.blythfestival.com/ or call the Box Office.

Blyth Festival
423 Queen Street
Blyth ON N0M 1H0
Toll Free: 1-877-862-5984
Local: (519) 523-9300
Fax: (519) 523-9804
Email: info@blythfestival.com

Photo submitted by Blyth Festival

Photo submitted by Blyth Festival

Dinner and Theatre makes for a Golden Summer Evening

20 Aug

2 Faux HeartAttackby Diva Susan Pye

Last Saturday evening, we went with some friends to beautiful downtown Blyth, to dine at Part II Bistro and attend the current offering at the Blyth Festival, “Garrison’s Garage” by Ted Johns.  It was a particularly  golden summer evening drive through some of the prettiest countryside in Huron County, where we who live here congratulate ourselves for not living in say… (name your least favourite city).  We don’t have to  fight traffic, construction (coz we’re not on Hwy 21), testy drivers and robber-baron parking attendants to enjoy a fabulous dinner and great theatre, at non-city prices.

We all had tasty, beautifully presented appetizers and dinner at the Bistro, as we told the chef when he came out of the kitchen to see how his creations were received by the happy diners. Clearly the word is out on this comfortable but classy dining spot, as it was packed.  Reservations are definitely a good idea.  My only complaint- dinner was so good, no room for dessert! Next time.

Garrison’s Garage was a hoot! Originally presented in 1985, the play stands the test of time, perhaps due to the timeless central theme- Canada Revenue vs. us poor schmucks, I mean Taxpayers.  We can all relate, or at least I can, as how to complete my Income Tax is an abiding mystery to me. As is how my car works and why is doesn’t (usually at the most inconvenient moment possible) is another central theme of the play.  It was a full house who frequently LOL’d, so clearly other Huron County residents and visitors share my bemusement re: the inner workings of the CRA and automobiles.

We are really are blessed in Huron County!

Garrison’s Garage runs in repertory at the Blyth Festival until August 31.

Blyth Festival
P.O. Box 10, 431 Queen Street
Blyth, ON  N0M 1H0
519-523-9300 / 1-877-toBlyth (862-5984)

Part II Bistro
Queen Street
Blyth, ON  N0M 1H0
519-226-FOOD (3663)

Buddy Holly Rocks!

22 Jul
Image from Drayton Entertainment website

Image from Drayton Entertainment website

by Diva Nicole Olson

Last week, my Mom and I went to see the Buddy Holly Story at the Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend. I had never been to this theatre before, and I was pleasantly surprised at the size and overall atmosphere. The Buddy Holly Story was performed in the larger of the two playhouses and we had the best seats in the house! We were seven rows from the front and  in the middle of the row. I felt like Buddy was singing exclusively to me the entire show. The details in set design, costumes and props are what helped to transport you back to the late ’50s, where it all took place.

The show reenacts key aspects of the short, but incredible career that the Rock ‘n Roll singer/songwriter had. The talented cast depicted how he got started in the professional music business with his band the Crickets in Lubbock, Texas. They describe how he met, and fell in love at first sight with his wife Maria Elena Santiago. The show shares personal stories from his life and offers insights into the inspiration for several of his hit songs. What he was able to achieve, by the age of 22, was nothing short of extraordinary.

To say the cast has talent, is such a huge understatement. They all sang amazingly, especially Andy Christopher who played Buddy. In addition, they played instruments (some actors played several) and they danced. The double bass player put on an unbelievable performance of stunts with his instrument, and that in itself was worth seeing. They wanted to make the audience feel as though they were at one of Buddy’s concerts, and that is exactly what transpired. People were literally dancing in the aisles.
This show is all about the music. It’s full of hits like “Oh Boy,” “That’ll be the Day, and “Peggy Sue.” They also include songs from a few other artists from that time period. I grew up listening to eight tracks at my grandma’s house from the likes of Elvis, Patsy Cline and others of that generation. In the days since taking in this performance, I have found myself humming along to some of the songs and watching Buddy Holly performances on YouTube. I love the classics from that time period, and I absolutely loved this show.
Huron Country Playhouse
70689 B Line  South Huron, ON N0M 1T0
Box Office: 1-855-DRAYTON (372-9866) or Buy Online www.draytonentertainment.com

Tuesdays with Morrie in Grand Bend

4 Jul
Mitch & Morrie.  Photo by Darlene O'Rourke

Mitch & Morrie. Photo by Darlene O’Rourke

by Diva Trista Russell

Last week I headed to Playhouse II at the Huron Country Playhouse to watch Tuesdays with Morrie. I have to admit that I didn’t know much about the play before I saw it, but I had heard of the book. I had a feeling that the show would cause a few tears, so my Mom and I both brought some tissues—just in case.

Tuesdays with Morrie is based on a true story about a sports columnist, Mitch Albom, and his sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz. The two form a close bond in university, but lose touch after Mitch graduates. After Mitch (played by Jeffrey Wetsch) happens to see Morrie (played by Ian Downie) on television, he decides to to visit his old professor after 16 years. He discovers that Morrie, now in his late seventies, is battling ALS, to which there is no cure. With limited time left, Mitch resolves to spend each Tuesday with Morrie contemplating life, love, and death.

This show was definitely different from others I’ve seen at the Playhouse: it wasn’t a musical, there were no flashy sound effects, no intermission, or impressive sets…but I still enjoyed it because of the raw emotions expressed between Mitch and Morrie. While the subject matter was sad at times (those tissues came in handy!), there was also lots of opportunities to laugh with Morrie’s feisty wisecracks. I think we often take life for granted, so this play was a great reminder of the importance of embracing life while you can. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, as you have to see the play to truly understand the strong connection between the two characters.

Tuesdays with Morrie is very simple play featuring only a two-man cast with very a basic set and props. The simplicity made it easier to focus on the heart-warming interaction between Mitch and Morrie. Playhouse II was the perfect setting for this play, as it is smaller and more intimate than the main auditorium. Both actors would often speak to the audience, which made it easier to get absorbed into the story, and at times I almost forgot there was an audience beside me!

IMG_3353Opening night featured a reception afterwards, including a beautifully decorated cake. We realized after the play that Morrie was a familiar face. You may have recognized him as one of the grumpy old men featured on the TD Canada Trust commercials!

This touching and uplifting play is great for all ages and is one of my favourites from the Playhouse. I have also added the book to my summer reading list!

You can watch a 5 minute clip of the play on Drayton Entertainment’s YouTube channel. You can also find a great review on Huron News Now. Tuesdays with Morrie plays until July 13th.

Tickets: Call the Box Office at 519-238-6000 or buy online at www.draytonentertainment.comTickets range between $20-$40.

Playhouse II is located at the Huron Country Playhouse at 70689 B Line, Grand Bend.

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