Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Opening Day at the Theatre Ontario Festival

by Brandon Moore, Communications Coordinator

Although the official Opening Ceremony isn’t until this evening, the 2011 Theatre Ontario Festival kicked-off “unofficially” at 8am this morning, with the arrival of Whitby Courthouse Theatre at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.

Working with the theatre staff and Festival Stage Managers Steve Hetherington and Rob Mather, WCT has have ten hours to load-in, set-up, and be ready to perform. They are presenting the musical Suds by Steve Gundersen, Bryan Scott & Melissa Gilb. Their production of this “rocking 60s musical soap opera”, won the Best Production award in the Musical category at the 2010-2011 ACT-CO Festival.

As is tradition, the opening production is from the Festival host region. Whitby Courthouse Theatre represents ACT-CO, the Association of Community Theatres—Central Ontario. ACT-CO represents over 40 community theatres in an area across the Greater Toronto Area from Halton to Durham, and north to Muskoka, Simcoe and Dufferin. This is WCT’s second consecutive year as the ACT-CO representative; last year they travelled to London with their production of Norm Foster’s The Long Weekend.

Festival-goers are arriving in Richmond Hill from across the province--a map marking the hometowns of all the visitors will be on display throughout the week. Old friends gather and new acquaintances are made. The Theatre Ontario Festival is one of the best networking events for community theatres to share experiences and discuss new ideas.

The Opening Ceremony is tonight at 6pm at The Curtain Club. The Curtain Club has been presenting community theatre in Richmond Hill for over 55 years, with nearly forty of those years in their recently-renovated space at Newkirk and Elgin Mills Road. The Club will be the hub for this week’s adjudications, workshops, and receptions.

As part of the Opening Ceremony, we will be launching Grassroots, an anthology of original full-length scripts that premiered at Ontario community theatres, edited by Theatre Ontario and published by Playwrights Canada Press. The five playwrights featured in the anthology—Kristin Shepherd, Michael Grant, J. Michael Fay, Joan Burrows, and Sandy Conrad—will all be on-hand for the festivities.

And with the formal opening, the celebrants will travel to the Centre for Performing Arts for tonight’s performance, launching an exciting week of theatre.

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