Tag Archives: ontario’s west coast

Praise for Sister Act

14 Jun
Aurianna Angelique as Deloris Van Cartier and Company in Sister Act, 2016 Season_2

Aurianna Angelique and Company in Sister Act, 2016. Photographer: Darlene O’Rourke.

By Diva Amanda Swartz

 GRAND BEND – An emotional high was evident in the opening day audience as it gave a much deserved standing ovation to the cast of ‘Sister Act’ playing at Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend.

Many have known and loved the movie version of ‘Sister Act’ since Whoopi Goldberg first appeared in this film, but now after seeing the live musical performance, they likely will forever be an even bigger fan of the musical. The energy and soul put into this show by the entire ensemble, from cast to choreography, made this show stand out above both the film version and other musicals.

Aurianna Angelique, who played Deloris Van Cartier or Sister Mary Clarence, wowed the audience with her commanding and captivating voice. This Diva gave a sassier and more confident edge to her character that had the audience dancing in their seats along with her performances.

Lee Siegel (Curtis) and his gang, Gerrard Everard (Joey), David Lopez (TJ), and Oscar Moreno (Pablo), gave great renditions of the bad guys that everyone loves. Their comedic portrayals of 1978 Phili gangsters gave everyone a good laugh, even making their song about killing Deloris seem amusing with some ‘Can-Can’ style high kicks, hip sways, and funky background singing.

Other performances to be rejoiced were by Matthew G. Brown (Eddie), who not only performed well on stage, but also had the best costume change in the play with not just one, but two tearaway costumes. Also, Susan Gilmour (Mother Superior), Lorraine Foreman (Sister Mary Theresa), Susan Johnston Collins (Sister Mary Patrick), Amanda Leigh (Sister Mary Martin-of-Tours), Laura Mae Nason (Sister Mary Robert), and Rebecca Poff (Sister Mary Lazarus), portrayed their characters in tune with the Sisters that everyone knows and loves from the film, but with some added funk and pazzazz. Truly each performer should be praised for their part in bringing immense joy to the audience through spectacular dance and song.

From the glowing red ‘Sister Act’ sign to the beautiful, versatile, and impressive sliding stage, this musical would not have been complete without the creative hands of the production team.

So much goes into taking a live play from great to outstanding. Lisa Stevens helped it achieve this with her fantastic, comical, and powerful choreography, as did Rachel Berchtold who designed the ever impressive costumes.

Director Max Reimer and his crew should be proud of this entertaining, witty, and hilarious musical that had the audience laughing and smiling until their cheeks hurt. Big praise goes out to the entire ensemble for their collaboration in creating something truly soulful.

Don’t miss your chance to see this dynamic performance! On stage until June 25.

Tickets, $44 regular, $36 preview, $26 youth under 20, are available by calling the box office at 1-855-372-9866 or visiting online.

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It’s a sure sign of Spring: Beach Street Station is open

21 Mar

beachstreetstation1By Diva Heather Boa

GODERICH – The main attraction at The Beach Street Station is a bit of a toss up. Is it the intriguing menu of fresh, local foods carefully crafted by Chef James Welsh or is it the spectacular, ever-changing view served up by Mother Nature?

A close third place might be simply to glimpse the inside of this former CPR station, which was moved from one location to another with painstaking precision that drew a crowd daily in the summer of 2013, with its hipped roof over the central portion and a cross-gable and lunette trackside. Original interior features include a true ceiling with three large medallions, wooden screens, interior doors, fixtures, trim and decorative plaster. Its kitchen lies beyond a glassed wall so that diners can see their meals in the works.

On August 3, 1988, the last train stopped on the bridge to blow its whistle for a final time.

mainNo matter the reason, it’s the first Saturday of a new season, and at 6:30 p.m. the main dining area at the Beach Street Station is packed, much to the satisfaction of owner Herb Marshall. He has picked out a table in the middle of the room for us, but offers to seat us elsewhere if the glorious light of the sun becomes too much. But those of us on the west side of the table bob and weave in order to block the setting sun for our dinner companions. It’s the price we gladly pay for a clear, sunny evening in late March.

IMG_0110IMG_0119IMG_0130Herb’s wife, Sherry, and his daughter, Brianna, are also on the floor this evening, serving and visiting with guests.

The menu is expanded this season, with familiar dishes such as Yellow Perch and Chips ($18), and Great Lakes Pickerel ($24), and then there’s Five Spice Duck ($24) and Chicken Milanaise ($19). Vegan and gluten-free items are indicated on the menu.

IMG_0131Our table starts with: The enormous Huron County Charcuterie ($18), a mix of local cheese, cured meat, bread, marinated vegetables and mango chutney all served on a butcher block; a Roasted Beet Salad ($9), that’s divine in its simplicity; and an old favourite, two Crab Cakes ($12), served with a fresh corn relish and cilantro oil.

IMG_0125As a main, I choose the Great Lakes Pickerel, with its perfectly pan-seared fillets resting atop a mixture of roasted red-skinned potatoes, cauliflower and asparagus. It’s colourfully finished with a cascade of fresh salsa and dots of green that I fail to identify.

The fellow beside me passes around pieces of pork back ribs, which fall off the bone as he proffers a forkful across the table. Others also choose the pickerel, something of a must-have in a restaurant on Lake Huron.

IMG_0134By 7:30 p.m., the restaurant is much quieter, and the sun is just giving its final show on the horizon. There’s now a flourless chocolate cake sprinkled with icing sugar and a crème caramel topped with a chewy cookie being shared at our table. Both are delicious, according to those who test them. And the coffee, although not local, is strong and hot.

A perfect end to the day and a promise of a long summer on the lake.


 

Beach Street Station

Location: Goderich’s Beachfront

Hours: Effective March 16, from Wednesday to Sunday from 11:30 to 9 p.m. Subject to change as the season gets busy. It’s always best to call ahead and ensure the kitchen is open later hours.

Reservations: 519-612-2212

Website: Check online for menus, history, photos and videos.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Morris.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Morris.

Huron’s tourism operators get a night out

22 Oct

waynepettiBy Diva Heather Boa

BAYFIELD – A cluster of women have turned their chairs away from tables recently cleared of the remnants of another fine dinner at The Ashwood and they face indie rock musician Wayne Petti, who commands the small stage.

He encourages them to sing the chorus “If I live, or if I die” while he lays his vocals over top, accompanied by guitar. Their voices carry to the far end of the bar, where others attending the Fall Harvest Dinner hosted by the Huron Tourism Association chat over after-dinner drinks.

It’s a Thursday night in this quiet village, but nearly 40 people have gathered here for a three-course dinner and to hear this talented Canadian singer-songwriter from band Cuff the Duke, just another musician in an impressive lineup of performers who hit the stage at The Ashwood. (Royal Wood with Peter Katz on Oct. 29 is sold out, but there are still tickets available for Northern Pikes – yes, the same band that sings She Ain’t Pretty – on Nov. 12., and The Ashgrove on Nov. 14.)

The Ashwood is a fine example of the effort local tourism operators put into creating experiences that attract tourists.

Kim Burgsma, President, Huron Tourism Association

Kim Burgsma, President, Huron Tourism Association

In fact, Kim Burgsma, who is the president of the Huron Tourism Association, tells those tourism operators gathered for dinner that tourism brings $60 million annually to Huron County, with 94 per cent of visitors coming from less than three hours away.


 

Want to be in the know about what’s going on in Huron County?

Here are a few ways:

  1. Follow Ontario’s West Coast’s Facebook Page
  2. Follow Ontario’s West Coast’s Twitter Page @onwestcoast
  3. Sign up for the Huron Tourism Association weekly listing of upcoming events by emailing tourism@huroncounty.ca

 

The Ashwood Bourbon Bar: New, yet pleasantly familiar

26 May
Even the bar is filled with patrons on this busy Saturday night.

Even the bar is filled with patrons on this busy Saturday night.

By Diva Heather Boa
BAYFIELD – It’s Saturday night on the American long weekend and there’s a sense of anticipation at The Ashwood, this village’s newest hotel with bourbon bar and restaurant.

In its first days of opening for The Ashwood Bourbon Bar, people have come to see first-hand what they’ve only seen in pictures

The Ashwood owner Kirsten Harrett at the front counter.

The Ashwood owner Kirsten Harrett at the front counter.

on the website and social media – the massive tree trunk that serves as the lobby counter, living edge highly polished tables with leather placemats, barrel vault ceilings above the bar that are lined with oak staves held in place by metal straps, an expansive L-shaped bar with oodles of bottles filled with all sorts of exotic liquids, and wait staff in aprons of heavy canvas and leather straps.

It’s all so new and intriguing and yet there’s something comfortably familiar about the bar. First, there’s owner Kirten Harrett who is greeting people this evening. She’s owned the Deer Park Lodge, just across the road, for a number of years, before purchasing the old Bayfield Village Inn and transforming it into its current state. There’s Peter Meades behind the bar, well-known for Meades Bros. Productions, which books entertainment at various venues in the village – and now he’s booked an eclectic lineup of Canadian and international artists with an emphasis on roots music and singer-songwriters for the bar. See what the summer season brings on its event listings. Some of the wait staff are the teenaged children of people we know. And, of course, there’s opportunity to stop at various tables to say hello to folks who haven’t been seen all winter long. Even before we enter the bar, we meet up with some friends who have spilled out of The Ashwoody Shuttle, its funky shuttle bus.

In these early days of opening, chef Robert Whyte has created a limited menu of lunch and dinner items while the staff settle into

The Ultimate Ashwood Caesar, with King crab leg, is a favourite.

The Ultimate Ashwood Caesar, with King crab leg, is a favourite.

the routine. Tonight there’s a Mexican beef soup – I’ve forgotten it’s name, but I know that if I close my eyes while eating a mouthful of the spicy soup that’s topped with chopped avocado and sour cream, I am once again in Ajijic, Mexico. Also on the menu are: pan seared 10 oz New York steak with crispy fingerling potatoes, green beans and horseradish butter ($29), ratatouille with arancini and parmesan tuile ($18.50), lamb burger with sundried tomatoes and goat cheese, dressed with a tzatzki and tomato jam, served with chick pea fries ($16), trout with roasted fennel and tomato purée served with wilted spinach and a panzanella salad ($22).

It’s a wise decision on the chef’s part to create a small menu, and our service is seamless. Water glasses are always full and drinks are efficiently replaced. My lamb burger special ordered with no bun did indeed arrive bunless and, as requested, my glass of red wine arrived with the meal. I would dearly have loved to have ordered the Ultimate Ashwood Caesar, which comes with a King crab leg, or the Don Draper ($14), a mixture of double Makers Mark, bourbon soaked cherries, giant ice cubes and a Popeye smoke, but alas, I’m driving.

By the time we’re offered dessert, there’s only one taker for the bread pudding with a bourbon caramel sauce ($9), although the spoon does get passed around, with agreement that the sauce is just a bit too boozy.

When we leave, the place is full, with a long table of people who are filling time between a wedding and its reception, Americans on vacation, and locals who’ve come to check out the newest hotspot in Bayfield.

It’s shaping up to be a great summer in the village.

The high ceilings and line of windows give the bar an airy feel.

The high ceilings and line of windows give the bar an airy feel.

The perfect catch in Huron County

7 May

fishingontheninemileBy Diva Jenna Ujiye

Poles, rods, lines and reels can really get confusing when it comes to me and fishing. On April 25 I decided to head down to the

There were plenty of happy fishermen on opening day this year.

There were plenty of happy fishermen on opening day this year.

river for opening fishing weekend (always the 4th Saturday in April for Zone 16 which is most of Southwestern Ontario). I went looking to catch a fish, but I caught much more than that!

One of my first memories as a child is ice fishing on a small lake in northern British Columbia with my family. I’m fairly sure I spent more time looking down the holes in the ice and gallivanting around the snow-covered lake than actually fishing. After moving to Goderich, I gave up fishing and moved on to different hobbies!

Living in the hamlet of Port Albert, Ontario, I had heard we have some really great fishing, especially along the Nine Mile River. I woke up early(ish) and headed down to the river. I was amazed at the number of vehicles in the parking lot near the bridge. There were cars, trucks, trailers and lawn chairs set up, showing me that there must be many fishermen along the river.
As I walked up to the river, there were 15-20 people fishing right under the bridge and as I walked along to see what people were

doing I ran into a fisherman carrying a fish he had just caught. I was super excited and asked him if I could take a photo. He then took a photo of me holding the fish… this is when I learned how not to hold a fish (the above photo is how not to hold a fish, the below photo is kind of how you’re supposed to hold a fish).

And here's how not to hold a fish, this diva learns.

My next stop was to find out a little bit more about fishing. I ran into a group a

fishermen who were taking a break and asked if they could share some fishing knowledge with me. They were a super welcoming group handing me yummy Italian IMG_5250style charcuterie and beverages and giving me a comfy place to sit. My first question was: What kind of fish are running right now? With a response of – Steelhead Trout! My second question was: How many fish are you allowed to catch? And the responses to this question got a little muddy. So I decided that I would do more research later on.

Port Albert General Store.

Port Albert General Store.

Another amazing asset to the area is the Port Albert General Store. I stopped in to check in with Steve, Brigitte and Angus and found the store filled with customers purchasing everything from pizza to snacks to bait and fishing gear. This store has truly embraced the community. They offer wonderful food, gas, convenience items and more. One of my favourite offers they have is their farmer’s market, which runs from May to October, but I’ll save that story for later.

So in the end, I really didn’t go fishing, but I made some new friends and found out some great fishing information! I also found out that there are quite a few rules for fishing, which can all be found online.

Find out more about outdoor recreation and other activities that make Ontario’s West Coast an ideal family getaway, by visiting online.

fishingunderthebridge

The Port Albert bridge is a fine place to pass time fishing.

 

Love Letters: Signed, sealed & delivered at Blyth Festival

26 Apr

loveletters

karenstewartBy Diva Karen Stewart

BLYTH – The Blyth Festival is my favourite place to escape to and last night was another enjoyable evening at the theatre. The new plays they present are always engaging and they have another great season opening up in a few weeks, but on this evening they were presenting a special fund-raising event. The play was Love Letters by A.R. Gurney.

Over five performances, this production will feature five separate couples. On this night, Jodi Kuran, who is the principal of St. Anne’s Catholic Secondary School, and Phil Main, a well-known radio personality from CKNX, played the parts of Melissa Gardner and Andy Ladd.

Melissa and Andy began corresponding in second grade with thank you notes and postcards from summer camp. Their correspondence is evocative, and often funny. They establish a deep relationship through letters that chronicle humorous observations and their feelings from age seven through high school then college and beyond.

Andy loves to write. He talks about how letter writing is a dying art and how he feels most alive when writing letters. However, when he tells Melissa details of his everyday life story, she is not terribly interested, telling him to write about his feelings. When she suggests the telephone might be not only be a more modern way to connect, but also much more efficient, Andy disagrees stating “telephone calls are dead as soon as they’re over” while letters are “alive” and can live on.

Kuran brings Melissa alive through not only her voice, but also her timing and befitting facial expressions. She crafts a cheeky Melissa who has privilege of wealth but lacks the richness of deep family bonds.   She fights to expose the hypocrisies of the times, preferring to be a little rebellious even though it spins her in dangerous directions at times. Lost for most of her life, she becomes more vulnerable throughout the play showing, she is real and down-to-earth.

Main’s portrayal of Andy is reserved and low-key. He is the mature one, continually living up to his parents’ expectations of who he should be. In doing so he manufactures an artificially perfect family life. He is inflexible when it comes to deviating from respectability – a trait that emotionally devastates him.   But, through his relationship with Melissa he admits to himself that she is the only one who truly loves him for who he is.

Letters are vital lifelines for Andy and Melissa. Their correspondence through the decades – like many love stories – includes silences and reconciliations, marriages, divorces, children, career adventures, and deaths. They share intimate details of love, relationships and opportunities missed because of ego and pride.

Kuran and Main make the characters of Melissa and Andy their own. They share a long enduring friendship that brings a sweet chemistry to the stage. Kuran brings a bit of sass and Main remains stalwart throughout the production.

Love Letters is a lovely theatre piece,” says the director, John McHenry. “There’s no elaborate set or special effects, the focus is on the words; it’s heart-warming, poignant, and funny.”

I wish I could see all five performances as I can only imagine how real-life couples Bruce and Margaret Whitmore and Duncan and Lynda McGregor will each bring vastly different personalities to the characters. I don’t doubt Lisa Hood will bring a little sass to Melissa too while Quinn Ross and Shawn Van Osch will each bring an intensity to Andy in their performances.


If you get a chance to go:

Where: Blyth Festival

When:

Thursday, April 30 at 8 p.m. features Shawn Van Osch & Lisa Hood

Saturday, May 1, at 8 p.m. features Lisa Hood & Quinn Ross

Sunday, May 2 at 8 p.m. features Duncan & Lynda McGregor

Cost: $25. Order tickets by calling 519-523-9300 / 1-877-862-5984 or visit online.

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Ten reasons to visit Bayfield sometime soon

22 Apr

10bayfield eventsNEW