Tag Archives: theatre

Falling: A Wake

5 Sep
image by Alyzen Moonshadow taken from Blyth Festival website.

image by Alyzen Moonshadow taken from Blyth Festival website.

by Diva Trista Russell

Falling: A Wake is the last production of the Blyth Festival’s 2013 season. Written by Gary Kirkham and directed by Peter Smith, the play follows retired couple Elsie (played by Catherine Fitch) and Harold (played by Tony Munch) as they discover the body of a young man on the front yard of their farm one autumn night. I had heard that this play was going to be quite comedic, but I was also surprised at how emotional it was as well. This play is actually inspired by the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 tragedy over Lockerbie in Scotland. Kirkham’s friend was on that very plane, and he wrote this play many years later.

Elsie and Harold are awakened one night by the sounds of banging and crashing, and come to realize that a plane crash occurred. Surrounded by luggage and debris, they discover the lifeless body of a 20 year-old man, sitting in a plane seat. Elsie, who loves to talk, decides to keep the young man company until the authorities arrive. Much to her husband’s dismay, she carries on a conversation with the victim, which is actually quite comedic.

Aside from the comedy, the discovery of the body reminds Harold and Elsie of their unresolved loss of their son, and is symbolic of the profound impact of grief. The couple’s lack of closure about their son and their resolve to move on was a reminder to me that we’ve all experienced loss in our lives in some way, and the healing power of letting go. I didn’t realize until I was writing this post that the title is “Falling: A Wake” not “Falling: Awake” as I had thought, which is quite fitting considering Elsie’s determination at staying by the side of the young man’s body.

Held in the intimate Phillips Studio, there was no stage set when I arrived. The props were very minimal. I learned that Elsie and Harold are a couple in real life too, which is not surprising considering the great chemistry and quick comebacks they have on set.

Falling: A Wake plays until Saturday, September 7th, including afternoon and evening performances.  The Phillips Studio is located at 209 Dinsley Street in Blyth.

For tickets, call 1-877-862-5984 or visit www.blythfestival.com.

Catherine Fitch

Catherine Fitch

Tony Munch plays Harold

Tony Munch plays Harold

Photos of Elsie/Catherine Fitch and Harold/Tony Munch are from the Blyth Festival’s website.

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

Too Many Cooks

21 Aug

Too Many Cooksby Diva Susan Pye

On a beautiful Huron County summer afternoon earlier this month, a friend and I went to see “Too Many Cooks” atHuron Country Playhouse.  On the drive down to Grand Bend,  we wondered a little what we were doing, going inside to sit in the dark on a glorious sunny day.  However, we were well rewarded (and cool!) as we laughed, and occasionally guffawed, while we watched this very entertaining fast-paced farce.  Various characters popped on and off stage through 4 different ‘doors’ including my personal favourite a swinging door (you just know someone is going to get it in the face to comedic effect!). Those characters included a ‘Dudley DoRight’ mountie, a Chicago rum-running gangster,  a confused singing (not really) chef, a diligent though lonely government agent, and an embattled would-be restauranteur struggling to open his upscale establishment in Prohibition-era Niagara on the Lake.  What was truly impressive was the actors’ abilities to keep up the pace, manage the tricky timing of the dialogue, as well as the very physical aspects of the show…. and make us laugh!

While “Too Many Cooks” has finished it’s run at the Playhouse, Mary Poppins is now showing until August 31.  This is of course the wonderful musical, and  will be a huge hit with families as well as oldies like this Diva, nostalgic for Julie Andrews airborne via umbrella, and the  60′s.  What a wonderful way to wind up the summer, singing along with Mary, Jane and Michael Banks! Huron County is particularly blessed to have this quality of entertainment so readily accessible, providing a yet compelling reason to visit Ontario’s West Coast-  we’re not just another pretty  beach!

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

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

Beyond the Farm Show in Blyth

5 Jul
l-r: Marian Day, Tony Munch, Rylan Wilkie, Jamie Robinson, Catherine Fitch.  Photo by Blyth Festival

l-r: Marian Day, Tony Munch, Rylan Wilkie, Jamie Robinson, Catherine Fitch. Photo by Blyth Festival

by Diva Trista Russell

I grew up on a farm, so I thought it would be interesting to see a play at the Blyth Festival called Beyond the Farm Show. It was different than I expected, and I realized that there is a whole other dimension to farming that I had never been exposed to. I grew up on a cash crop farm, so there was no cows to milk or chickens to feed. My exposure to raising livestock was very limited. Yet, I still could relate to many of the characters in the show like my neighbours or others in the area while I was growing up in Huron County, and I’m sure many in the audience felt the same way.

The history of the original Beyond the Farm Show dates back to 1972 when a troupe of actors spent a summer on the farms of Huron County. For the 2013 show, the five actors visited and interviewed over 15 farms and their families, as well as some local businesses to learn their stories. You can view a video of how Beyond the Farm Show came to be online.

This was the first time I had been to the Blyth Festival. The collective play tackled some controversial issues including wind turbines, increasing government regulations, municipal politics, family relations, and cultural divides between Mennonites and the larger farming community. These are all tough subjects that often don’t get voiced in theatre productions. So it was nice to see that a small local theatre was able to successfully tell the stories (and frustrations) of those in our rural communities.

The production wasn’t all serious, as the cast was very entertaining with their jokes, songs, yodelling, and funny animal impressions. If you see the show, you’ll even get to see a real farm animal on stage! For me, the play was both educational and entertaining with some good local history mixed in.

Beyond the Farm Show runs until August 16th.

For tickets, call 1-877-862-5984 or visit www.blythfestival.com.

IMG_3357

 

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.

A few of my favourite things

14 Jun

By Diva Jenna Ujiye

Huron Country Playhouse

Last week I attended the Sound of Music at the Huron Country Playhouse with my friend Cindy. We made a night out of it, met a couple of other friends for dinner and then went to the show and then the opening night reception!

IMG_4688Nuns, love, kids, dance, singing and more, these are just some of the wonderful things I think of when the Sound of Music enters my head.

We all know the characters, but each time this play is performed the actors seem to make the characters their own. Jayme Armstrong plays Maria with strength and a wonderfully fun stage presence. I would have to say that the handsome David W. Keeley, who played the captain, had most of the ladies in the crowd ogling! The kids did an amazing job, their harmony’s were great! It was also exciting to see locals Lilly and Anna Bartlam star as Gretl and Marta von Trapp. I even got to meet them after the show!Sound of Music The Sound of Music

If you are looking for a great musical with many ups and downs and great music, make sure to book your ticket soon. They are sure to sell out! The Sound of Music runs at Huron Country Playhouse from June 4 to June 22. Here is the link to the website with more information: https://www.draytonentertainment.com/Online/article/soundofmusic_hcp?sessionlanguage=

It’s not just about the Guys

6 May

By Diva Jenna Ujiye

Guys in the Garage

I’ve never really wondered what went on in the garage when I wasn’t there. My garage seems to be a revolving door of guys coming to hang out, drink a beer or two and fix some item or another. I attended the second night of the newest play currently running at the Livery in Goderich on Friday. This show is called Guys in the Garage and is written and stars local writer and actor Rob Bundy. I don’t want to give away anything on the show, as there are still three more shows that you can get tickets to (which I will post later on!), but I will tell you that it gives you a bit of an insider on what happens in the garage!

Guys in the Garage 2

Many guys call it their “man cave” and it becomes a place where they have a sanctuary away from all troubles, women or kids! While watching the show I felt a bit like I was invading someones space. Local actors Ben Scholten, Wes Macvicar, Phil Main, Dave Subert and Steve Howard played the characters of the guys. They sure complained about their wives and being married quite often and seemed really concerned that their wives would find out they were having a beer. This is where Margery, played by Blanche Savage, saved the scariness of the show. She knew what they were doing and most of the wives probably did too. The garage is just a place where they could let a load off and get away, they all loved their wives and family!

The show runs may 9, 10 and 11 at 8pm, tickets are available online at www.thelivery.ca or you can call 519-524-6262 or visit the box office at 35 South Street in Goderich – The box office is open:

Tuesday: 10 am – 1 pm
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday: 3 – 5.30 pm
Rush seats, if available, on sale 30 minutes before performance

It’s World Theatre Day

27 Mar

Created in 1961 by UNESCO, World Theatre Day is celebrated annually on March 27 by theatre communities around the globe.  UNESCO’s goals were to

1)  Celebrate the power of theatre as an indispensable bridge-builder for mutual international understanding and peace.

2)  Promote and protect cultural diversity and identity in communities throughout the world.

Here, in Huron County, we’re fortunate to have two professional theatres.   I asked the artistic directors to share their comments on World Theatre Day.

Artistic Director - Peter Smith, Blyth Festival

Artistic Director – Peter Smith Blyth Festival

Blyth Festival‘s, Artistic Director Peter Smith ~ I believe there are two stories. The first is our experience; the second is relating that experience to another. There are many ways to relate a story about something that happened. I’ve heard terrific tales on a long prairie car ride, from someone at the front of a classroom, late at night around a kitchen table, coming from a radio on the windowsill, or on a small or big screen. I’ve also had experience related to me while gathered with a collection of others in one of the many theatres from across our blue planet.

Theatre is a live event – it’s people together in a room, or maybe somewhere outdoors, that has another crowd relating an experience back to them. It is shared.  It’s like being at a wedding. So many generations represented, so much anticipation, so much joy. Life is theatre and theatre is life. I encourage those who haven’t been to a play to check out the original 3D story this year. And for those who have, to head up or down the road and check out a theatre they’ve never been to before and witness the experience being related there.

World Theatre Day is every day for me. Theatre is simply the best of story.

_ _ _ _ _

Alex Mustakas, Artistic Director, Drayton Entertainment

Alex Mustakas, Artistic Director, Drayton Entertainment

Alex Mustakas, Artistic Director of Drayton Entertainment, including Huron Country Playhouse ~

Today, Drayton Entertainment proudly celebrates World Theatre Day in each of the unique southwestern Ontario communities in which it operates:  the original Drayton Festival Theatre in Drayton, Huron Country Playhouse and Playhouse II in Grand Bend, King’s Wharf Theatre in Penetanguishene, Schoolhouse Theatre in St. Jacobs, St. Jacobs Country Playhouse in Waterloo, and the new Dunfield Theatre Cambridge, located in the heart of Galt.

At its core, Drayton Entertainment has always understood that good theatre doesn’t just portray life – it encourages us to participate and experience it at a much deeper level. It encourages us to think, to cry, to laugh, to learn, to form a sense of the purpose of life, to be sympathetic with others – the list goes on and on.

Theatre is one of the cornerstones of a healthy, vibrant society. It is a conduit for the convergence of community, commerce, and creativity, building new synergies between the traditional and innovative … enhancing the lives of all Canadians in the process.

_ _ _ _ _

Watch for details of the 2013 season’s in upcoming blogs at OntarioTravelDivas.com or visit these websites today.

Blyth Festival Drayton Entertainment’s
Huron Country Playhouse
P.O. Box 10, Blyth, ON R.R. #1, B Line, Grand Bend
519.523.9300 519.238.6000
1.877.862.5984 1.855.372.9866
www.blythfestival.com www.draytonentertainment.com
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