Theatre Ontario Festival is one of the most unique theatrical experiences in which you can participate – as an actor, crew, host or audience member. Over four nights the audience gets to see the cream of Ontario’s regional community theatre. The participating groups travel, set up, perform and strike their sets in a single day. The shows can run the range from full-on comedy to serious drama. The groups can be completely new to theatre or experienced veterans, but all come together to share the best of their performance work.
|Doubt, A Parable|
Presented by Theatre Kent
Tracy Schillemore-Morton and Audrey Hummelen
Photo by Cheshire Media
Cast member Audrey Hummelen (Sister Aloysius) and Set Designer Tom Coatsworth have been with the group since its inception. Two members of the cast are new to Theatre Kent. Neil Wood (Father Flynn) is new to community theatre. He received the WODL Newcomer award presented by Festival preliminary adjudicators Dennis Johnson and Sandy MacDonald. At the regional Festival in Windsor, Neil won the Best Actor award. Zoe Burbank (Mrs. Muller) is a very busy girl—not only is she working with Theatre Kent, she is a performer in her high school’s Sears Ontario Drama Festival show and participated at the Regional Festival in Hamilton in early April. This student-written show is called Phoenix. In a final community theatre twist, Stage Manager Gina Paradis accepted the Best Production Award at the WODL Festival from WODL President Gina Paradis.
Presented by The Curtain Club
Mark Hayward and Phil Dionne
Photo by Davis Strong
Joan describes Lenin’s Embalmers as a black comedy. The play is based on actual events that occurred in the mid-1920’s when Stalin ordered two scientists to find a way to preserve Lenin’s body for all eternity or be sent to Siberia. While doing research for the production, Joan realized that the 1920’s was the end of the vaudeville era and she uses the death of vaudeville as a metaphor for the play. (I don’t want to give anymore away—you’ll just have to come see it.) Joan feels the play is extremely timely and found many parallels between Putin’s (modern) Russia and Stalin’s Russia. Putin spared no expense to put on the Sochi Olympics for the glory of his Russia, and Stalin spared no expense on Lenin’s embalming as a symbol of the glorious Russia of his day. The Curtain Club even began rehearsals on the opening weekend of the Sochi Olympics.
|Glengarry Glen Ross|
Presented by Gateway Theatre Guild
Verlyn Plowman and Rod Carley
Photo by Ed Regan Photography
According to first-time Producer Anna Iati, this is the play “men die to do.” Not only is this Anna’s first time producing, this is her first theatrical experience – a true newcomer. She has volunteered on various Boards in North Bay and it was during a conversation after one of these meetings that the idea was broached to do Glengarry Glen Ross and she was asked to produce the show. Anna has been nicknamed “Mrs. Glengarry” by the all-male cast and the almost-all-male crew.
|The Beauty Queen of Leenane|
Presented by Peterborough Theatre Guild
Patricia Young and Alex Saul
Photo by Theresa James
Jerry Allen, director, describes Beauty Queen of Lennane as a dark comedy. It has lots of laughs and many people have told him that they are still talking about the play the next day. He said the play “emotionally whiplashes the audience around.” Jerry is a retired drama teacher and has spent most of his career working in theatre in the schools, and now is using his talents with the community theatre. He has experience at the Theatre Ontario level having been an actor Peterborough’s production of The Donnellys written by Peter Colley and presented at the Festival in 1982! Also in that cast was Patricia Young who will be on stage in this year’s Peterborough Theatre Guild production.
This year’s Festival will have casts, crews and theatre companies run the gamut from complete newcomers to hearty veterans. This will be a true community theatre experience and I hope to see you there!
Join us at Theatre Ontario Festival 2014