Tag Archives: Canadian Theatre

Mary’s Wedding is comfortable but has classic elegance

13 Aug

marysweddingBy Diva Heather Boa

BLYTH – If the secret to a successful play is for the audience to see a bit of themselves reflected in the characters, then Mary’s Wedding at the Blyth Festival should be a box office hit.

Every senior citizen – that age demographic that is predicted to soon comprise the majority of the population in Huron County – will surely be able to see themselves, or at least wish it for themselves, in the two young lovers whose sweet romance is interrupted by the start of World War I. And certainly, the audience for the matinee performance on Tuesday was a sea of grey-topped heads that hummed and tapped along to familiar-to-them wartime songs that played while they waited for the performance to begin.

The story itself is pretty standard stuff. Girl meets boy of lower social status. They have an adventure and fall in love. They get separated by life’s circumstances, yet continue to try to get back to one another. And yet, playwright Stephen Massicotte has taken this simple story and given it classic elegance, with a crisp script, clever handling of timeline, and repetition of phrases about fear and regret in the dialogue that serve to drive home its messages.

Sophia Walker, as the high-spirited new girl in town, Mary, is an incredible force on stage. She is entirely and equally believable as a precocious young woman who sees every bit of life as a great adventure or as a gruff and compassionate military sergeant. Eli Ham, as the dirty farm boy with a sense of duty to country, Charlie, is a competent actor who’s strong enough to share the stage with Walker, but gets less opportunity in his role to really shine. There are a number of lovely scenes where the two actors seem to be completely in synch with each other, as Mary reads from his letters while Charlie lives war experiences like being shot in a skirmish and riding full throttle into a line of Germans.

Director Gil Garrett has fully and effectively carried the audience through a story in which they could easily become lost if it weren’t well executed.

There are also a few really creative elements on the set, including a unique horse that you’ll have to see for yourself.

The setting for Mary’s Wedding spills far beyond those pieces of polished wood where the drama of this wartime romance unfolds. Although the acting is restricted to the stage only, it’s complemented by the building that is home to the Blyth Festival, a structure called Memorial Hall that was built by the will and spirit of the community to commemorate its fallen during the First World War, and by the nearby small white building that serves as the social centre for the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 420 and its ladies’ auxiliary, both of which are sponsors of this theatrical production. This is a play with relevance to the community.

If you want to see a play this summer that allows you dream, then Mary’s Wedding is it.

Mary’s Wedding runs until Sept. 12. Tickets are $30 & $34 for adults and $15 for youth. Tickets may be purchased at the online box office; by phone at 519.523.9300 or 1.877.862.5984 during box office hours: non-performance days 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., evening performance days 9 a.m. -9 p.m.; in person at 423 Queen St., Blyth; or by mail with cheque or credit card information and including a $4 service fee to Blyth Festival, Box 10, Blyth ON, N0M 1H0.

Advertisements

Kitchen Radio opens Blyth’s 40th Anniversary Season

13 Jul

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

 

 

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

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

 

Huron Country Playhouse 2013 Season

9 Apr

Tickets are now available for purchase at the Huron Country Playhouse. They have got an exciting season filled with music and comedy. To book your tickets visit: www.draytonentertainment.com

here is a quick review of what is on this summer!

2013 Season at Huron Country Playhouse

The Sound of Music June 4 to June 22 (3 weeks)
Spamalot June 26 to July 13 (3 weeks)
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story July 17 to July 27 (2 weeks)
Too Many Cooks July 31 to August 3 (1 week)
Mary Poppins August 7 to August 31 (4 weeks)

Playhouse II

Tuesdays with Morrie June 26 to July 13 (3 weeks)
Weekend Comedy July 17 to August 3 (3 weeks)
Sorry… I’m Canadian August 7 to August 31 (4 weeks)

Located in a picturesque country setting, the Huron Country Playhouse is just minutes from the shores of sparkling Lake Huron in the heart of Ontario’s West Coast. This popular vacation destination is full of charm and endless possibilities to discover breathtaking beaches, culinary delights, outstanding accommodations, unique shopping and countless recreational pursuits.

In 2011 the Huron Country Playhouse celebrated its landmark 40th Anniversary with an ambitious $4.0 million capital infrastructure expansion and improvement project. Visitors to the theatre this season will be among the first to experience many substantial upgrades to the front-of-house including new washrooms, lobby, refreshment bar, box office, and gift shop operated by the Huron Country Playhouse Guild, a community-based organization comprised of 90 volunteers.

There are 650 brand new theatre seats in the mainstage, and the Playhouse II has been completely renovated, increasing from 150 chairs to a fully raked 300 seat auditorium. Infrared hearing and wheelchair access are available to patrons who require special assistance.

A visit to the Huron Country Playhouse takes less than an hour from Stratford, London and Sarnia.

Join us for a timeless classic, as our stage becomes alive with the sound of music. In this epic love story, an aspiring nun named Maria leaves the convent to govern the seven mischievous children of Captain von Trapp.The memorable score by Rodgers & Hammerstein features such beloved songs as “My Favourite Things,” “Do Re Mi,” “Edelweiss,” “Climb Every Mountain,” and of course, the glorious title song.

Join us for the Tony Award-winning musical comedy phenomenon that raises silliness to an art form.

Monty Python’s tongue-in-cheek retelling of the classic tale of Camelot follows King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and their infamous quest for the Holy Grail. A sensation on Broadway and London’s West End, Spamalot is gloriously irresistible entertainment.

Discover why “It’s So Easy,” to fall in love with Buddy Holly.

Five decades after “the day the music died”, the life and career of a true artistic pioneer are celebrated in this spectacular production that explodes into full-throttled joy through renditions of Buddy Holly’s greatest hits – classics like “Peggy Sue,” “That’ll Be The Day,” “Not Fade Away,” “Rave On,” and many more.

The grand opening gala for Irving Bubbalowe’s classy new restaurant quickly becomes a recipe for disaster when the famous singing chef, Francoise LaPlouffe, fails to arrive.

When an unemployed drifter is persuaded to step in at the last minute and don the master chef’s apron, chaos and confusion ensues … complete with Chicago gangsters, a hot-blooded immigration officer, an illegal shipment of booze, and a tee-totaling Mountie.

Magic and adventure abound, and lives are transformed, when the peculiar Mary Poppins arrives on the doorstep of the Banks household on London’s Cherry Tree Lane.

Experience the enchanting mixture of irresistible story, unforgettable songs, such as “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Chim Chiminey,” breathtaking dance numbers, and astonishing stagecraft that make this Disney musical soar high above the rest.

“An old man, a young man, and life’s greatest lesson.” Based on the acclaimed best-selling book, Tuesdays with Morrie is the uplifting autobiographical journey of big shot sportswriter Mitch Albom, who develops a life-altering friendship with his old college professor Morrie Schwartz.

In this heartwarming production, a simple visit turns into a weekly pilgrimage, and ultimately a final lesson in the meaning of life.

Eager to rekindle the flame in their marriage, Peggy persuades her husband to take a weekend vacation in the Catskill Mountains. There’s only one small problem – their secluded one-bedroom cabin has been double booked by a young couple who are unable to keep their hands off each other.

The decision to share the tiny cabin for the weekend is a formula for disaster – and laughs – as youthful exuberance collides with middle-aged stodginess. Funny, warm and poignant, this is one vacation you will never forget!

He’s Back by Popular Demand! Follow Constable Archibald F. Inkster for an entertaining trek across our vast country, as he weaves a charming blend of humour and political satire with musical gems of the Great Canadian Song Book.

Sorry…I’m Canadian celebrates our distinct heritage and offers a fresh perspective on what it means to be a proud Canadian.

2013 Blyth Festival Season

1 Apr

By Diva Jenna Ujiye

Blyth Festival has got an amazing season ready to go for 2013 and today is the first day you can buy tickets!!!

Here is a quick overview of the season:

DEAR JOHNNY DEERE

by Ken Cameron
Based on the music of Fred Eaglesmith​
Additional music & arrangements by David Archibald​
Directed by Eric Coates​
June 11 – 22: limited run

​Rebecca Auerbach, J.D. Nicholson, photo by Terry Manzo

Johnny and Caroline struggle to keep the farm afloat while the bills pile higher and The Man from Toronto wants to put a big ol’ overpass right through their farm. What will it take to keep it all together?

There will be more drivin’, shootin’, cheatin’, schemin’ and boozin’ down on the farm complete with a whole lot more singin’ as the cast rock it with Fred Eaglesmith’s biggest hits.

BEYOND THE FARM SHOW

World Premiere june 26 – august 16
by The Collective
Directed by Severn Thompson

An original play about the people who make it work.

Inspired by the original Farm Show, these are the stories of the men, women and families who work the farm now. Led by Severn Thompson, a group of actors have gone out along the concession roads and built a play based on the sights, sounds and characters of the barns, fields and homes of Huron County – a play about the incredible and ever-evolving culture of agriculture.

From the farm, of the farm and for the farm.

YORKVILLE – THE MUSICAL

July 3 – August 11 – world premiere
Book & Lyrics by Carolyn Hay
Music by Tom Szczesniak​
​Directed by Donna Feore

photo by Azarah Eells
Instead of city folks coming to the country without a clue, this is the story of two country gals heading to the heart of Toronto seeking love, fame and fortune. Their gift? Step-dancing.
What could possibly go wrong? Yorkville – the Musical is a whole lot of singing and step-dancing fun all the way to the final kiss.

GARRISON’S GARAGE

July 31 – August 31
canadian classic
by Ted Johns
Directed by Peter Smith​

photo by Daniela Martin

First premiered in Blyth in 1985, it became an instant hit and toured the province to great acclaim!
A Revenue Canada field officer’s car breaks down in the ‘middle of nowhere’. He brings it to a local
garage and the eccentric mechanic who runs it. He inadvertently discovers what he thinks is the
scam of the century, but the truth of the matter is something else entirely. Filled with humour and a
cast of characters you’ll not soon forget, Garrison’s Garage has no idea how to your fix your vehicle
but certainly has your fix for plenty of laughs.

PRAIRIE NURSE

August 7 – 31 – world premiere
by Marie Beath Badian
Directed by Sue Miner

image courtesy H Holdsworth

It’s November 1969.
Two young nurses, just off the plane from the Philippines, arrive at a rural hospital in Arborfield, Saskatchewan – population 300. No one in town can tell them apart, including the lab tech at the hospital whose real job is playing goalie for the Arborfield Flyers. He falls in love with one of them but accidentally courts them both. It’s a comedy of errors with a great heart.

FALLING: A WAKE​

August 28 – September 7 – phillips studio
by Gary Kirkham
Directed by Peter Smith​
Featuring Catherine Fitch & Tony Munch

image by Alyzen Moonshadow

One autumn night, high in the sky above an isolated farmhouse, there is an explosion. Retired couple Elsie and Harold figure it must be a meteor. Their yard is suddenly filled with falling debris from a jetliner. They run for cover. When all is quiet again they venture out – sitting in their front yard is an airplane seat. And in that seat is the body of a 20 year-old man. The story that evolves is an emotional ride that is laced with humour. Inspired by a real life event, Falling: A Wake is driven by a pair of unforgettable characters – people who will stay with you long after the lights go down.

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