By Carol Beauchamp, Executive Director & Anne Mooney, Community Theatre Coordinator
The Opening Gala on Tuesday, May 15 at the Grand Gardens was the local kick-off to the 2012 Theatre Ontario Festival and a celebration of the arts in the Sault—what a terrific way to showcase the wide range of talent both in and from Sault Ste. Marie!
To begin the evening Tiana Nori—Sault native and television host—introduced us to 14-year-old Victoria Jones, a violinist who recently won the Young Artists Competition by the Sault Symphony. What a talent! Then came a video of Sault natives living out of Town (including Tanya Kim) who could not make the week bringing good wishes to all the casts and crews at the Festival, and big hellos to all their friends here in the north.
Local barbershop quartet Solid Ground kicked off a short set with the classic “Here Comes the Sun.” I’m sure with this wonderful song they have gifted us with great weather this week. Their last song was a tribute to the tremendous spirit of the north, and of theatre in general, “I Get By with a Little Help from my Friends.” The Musical Comedy Guild of Sault Ste. Marie entertained us with selections from their 50th Anniversary Review.
Jack Wetherall, honorary Chair of the Festival gave an impassioned speech about the value of community theatre. His theme: at its best, all theatre is community theatre. He received a heartfelt and very long standing ovation at the end.
After Jack, we were treated to the vocal stylings of Will Gartshore. Will presented us with numbers from his “All the King’s Men—Broken Ballads with a Stiff Upper Lip” cabaret. This cabaret included stories and a photo slide-show of his childhood—what a brave man to include a picture of himself at age 5 in a Spiderman T-shirt. He was ably accompanied by local artists Anthony Aceti on piano and Ashley Smith on violin.
Kudos to Sandra Forsell and her team for planning such an outstanding evening – great food, great friendships, great show.
On Wednesday night, the celebration continued at the Mayor’s Reception. City of Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Debbie Amaroso welcomed participants in Theatre Ontario Festival to a special reception held in the Hamilton Room of City Hall, overlooking a bay of beautiful Lake Superior. Festival organizers, participants and local dignitaries shared a warm intimate reception with the refreshments provided compliments of the Mayor.
Mayor Amaroso gave a very warm welcome to everyone from the four regions of festival attending, and made a special presentation to Carol Beauchamp, Theatre Ontario Executive Director, of a framed copy of the Proclamation that was made at Council declaring this week Theatre Ontario Festival week in Sault Ste Marie. Carol then made a speech thanking the city for their generous partnership, the other wonderful sponsors, and welcomed the regional representatives from QUONTA, EODL, WODL and ACT-CO, as well as the participants from the companies of Gore Bay Theatre, Peterborough Theatre Guild, Guelph Little Theatre and The Curtain Club.