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BLYTH FESTIVAL SEASON PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 23 February 2015 14:09
New Blyth Festival Artistic Director Gil Garratt says he has burned the midnight oil to bring theatre-goers a season of his own in 2015.
The Festival announced its upcoming season late last week and in an interview with Garratt shortly after the announcement, when asked about the groundwork for the 2015 season laid out by former artistic director Marion de Vries, he says next season is very much one that he has curated.
When deciding which plays to bring to Blyth audiences next year, he said he felt a number of responsibilities resting on his shoulders.
“There are ideas like fiscal responsibility and those are important, but it’s the same when it comes to artistic responsibility,” he said in an interview with The Citizen. “The Blyth audience demands a show of a certain calibre.”
The season will open on June 24 with Seeds, written by Annabel Soutar. When Garratt first saw the play, he says, he couldn’t believe it hadn’t been produced in Blyth.
The play follows the case of Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser vs. Monsanto (a case that went all the way to the supreme court) and the young, pregnant playwright who travels to get to the bottom of the story.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the play, Garratt says, is the way it portrays the contemporary farmer.
“Too many plays portray farmers as the old guys sitting on their porch telling stories about when they had a team of Clydesdales in the field,” he said. “Today’s farmer has to be a savvy economist and a shrewd politician.”
Garratt says that farming has changed and in today’s digital age, the true portrait of a farmer is someone who’s in line at the local credit union while at the same time checking prices in Dubai on his cell phone.
He also praises Soutar’s handling of the 2004 court case, which was anything but straightforward. He says Soutar doesn’t offer any easy conclusions on Monsanto, Schmeiser or the issue of GMO (genetically-modified organisms) seeds.
He says the play will ignite a lot of debate and that Blyth is the perfect place for that debate.
“You know what shocked me the first time I saw it? That it didn’t begin here,” Garratt said. “This was the biggest agriculture headline since BSE – so where were we?”
The season’s second show will be the first of two world premieres in Blyth next year: The Wilberforce Hotel, written by Sean Dixon.
Dixon, Garratt says, is no stranger to the Blyth Festival. He acted alongside Garratt in The Outdoor Donnellys, but Dixon has also written a number of plays for Blyth, including The End of the World Romance in 1991 and Lost Heir in 2006.
The foundation for The Wilberforce Hotel was laid over a decade ago, Garratt says, when Dixon was researching the Donnellys at a museum in Lucan and he stumbled upon the history of the Wilberforce Colony, which was established near Lucan in 1829 as a community of emancipated slaves.
It was during this research that Dixon found the book Twenty-Two Years a Slave, and Forty Years a Freeman, written by Austin Steward. Steward was born into slavery in Virginia, but worked his way north to New York, where he was eventually emancipated. Steward then made his way to southwestern Ontario, where he became the president of the settlement.
Garratt says that while Canada didn’t support slavery in those days, there were many companies and community members who didn’t exactly make life easy on emancipated slaves and Steward’s dream of the colony was coming to an end for a number of reasons.
The Wilberforce Hotel, Garratt says, takes place in the “final hours” of the settlement when two travelling minstrels (who perform in blackface) walk into the hotel. What follows is a grand exchange of stories both comic and tragic, Garratt says.
Dixon, Garratt said, wrote the first draft of The Wilberforce Hotel in 2004 and it has been “sitting in a drawer” for the last 10 years. In the years since, Dixon has come so far as a playwright, Garratt says, and the time to produce this play is perfect.
The season’s third show, and the Festival’s second world premiere of 2015, is written by one of Blyth’s more familiar faces: two-time artistic director and Campaign 14/19 Project Manager Peter Smith.
Fury is a musical where Smith has written the book and lyrics for the show, while Clinton native Sam Sholdice, who has been lending his talents to the Festival for years, both on and off the stage, has written the music.
The play takes place on the SS Wexford off the shores of Bayfield during the Great Storm of 1913.
The ship went down and took all hands with it, leaving no survivors, but Fury tells the story of the hours before the SS Wexford meets its demise through a number of characters.
Garratt says that the mighty ship going down is actually written into the script and he is in the process of procuring a top-notch crew that will realize this eye-grabbing and complicated manoeuver.
And while he hopes the show will be memorable for audiences for a number of reasons, the play represents an interesting timeline for Garratt.
In his first year of directing the Young Company, one of Garratt’s eager actors was a teenage Sam Sholdice, who would then go on to perform in a number of Festival plays.
The fourth and final main stage production will be Mary’s Wedding, written by Stephen Massicotte. Since it was first produced in 2002, Garratt says Mary’s Wedding has been one of the most widely-produced Canadian plays of the last 15 years.
Garratt says that Massicotte has told him that since the play premiered in 2002, there has not been a three-month period during which the play has not been produced somewhere in the English-speaking world, including all over Europe and the U.S., as well as in Canada.
Mary’s Wedding tells a classic love story between a young girl from a well-to-do family who falls in love with a boy of whom her family does not approve.
The young lovers first meet when they both happen to take shelter from a storm in the same barn and the romance just grows from there.
Garratt says that Mary’s Wedding is one of the most beautiful plays he’s seen and that Memorial Hall is the perfect place for it to be produced.
Next season, Garratt says, the Phillips Studio will play host to a show the likes of which it has never seen, as the Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes will perform Edna Rural’s Church Supper.
Garratt says that Burkett is an extremely talented puppeteer who has performed all over the world.
Through The Daisy Theatre, Burkett has created a number of interesting characters and he’s preparing to craft a number of solo shows around them, which is what will happen in Blyth next year with Edna Rural.
The show is very much an adult-themed show, Garratt stresses, despite the fact that it will be performed by puppets.
Garratt has formed a relationship with Burkett over the years, he says. Burkett was in Blyth earlier this year to see Garratt’s St. Anne’s Reel and instantly fell in love with the community.
The two attended a supper at the Blyth United Church and Burkett was hooked, Garratt says.
In addition to how unique Burkett’s shows are in terms of Canadian theatre, Garratt also says that every show is improvised, resulting in audiences never knowing what they will see night to night.
When looking at the season as a whole, Garratt says, he feels he’s crafted a season that is perfectly suited to the Blyth Festival audience attitude of being willing to go on a ride with the Festival’s actors and playwrights.
“What I love about the Blyth audiences is how hungry they are, because that’s not always the case,” Garratt says. “There are plenty of places where people will line up to pay $80 to have a snooze. They just aren’t hungry, but in Blyth, the audience is always ready to go somewhere with you.”
Garratt says he remains committed to directing one of the shows next season, but he has yet to decide which one it will be.
Currently, he is hard at work talking to potential directors, actors and crew members for the upcoming season.
Seeds runs from June 24 to Aug. 8, The Wilberforce Hotel runs from July 1 to Aug. 8, Fury runs from July 29 to Sept. 12 and Mary’s Wedding runs from Aug. 5 to Sept. 12, all on the Memorial Hall stage. Formal dates have yet to be approved for Edna Rural’s Church Supper at the Phillips Studio.
For more information or for tickets, call the Blyth Festival box office at 519-523-9300 or toll-free at 1-877-862-5984, or online at www.blythfestival.com.
The Blyth Festival  2015  season will open on June 24 with Seeds, written by Annabel Soutar. When new Festival Artistic Director Gil Garratt first saw the play, he says, he couldn’t believe it hadn’t been produced in Blyth.
The play follows the case of Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser vs. Monsanto (a case that went all the way to the supreme court) and the young, pregnant playwright who travels to get to the bottom of the story.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the play, Garratt says, is the way it portrays the contemporary farmer.
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HURON COUNTRY PLAYHOUSE PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 23 February 2015 14:00

 

Seven productions will take centre stage at Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend with an ambitious 2015 Season of “Music, Laughter … and all that jazz!”
“This season promises to be remembered for years to come,” says Artistic Director Alex Mustakas. “We have planned a season full of magical moments, complete with Broadway blockbusters, heartwarming comedies, nostalgic musical tributes, and lots of family fun.
Tickets are on sale now exclusively to Members, followed by Groups and Subscribers on Monday, November 10th and the general public on December 1st just in time for the holidays.
Huron Country Playhouse: Mainstage
The 2015 Season kicks off with the most popular musical in Canadian history, Anne of Green Gables, on stage June 11th to June 27th. Journey to the shores of Prince Edward Island and follow the misadventures of Anne Shirley, a freckle-faced, red-haired orphan who will immediately capture your heart with her irrepressible spirit.
Next up is the hotly anticipated production of Chicago, July 2nd to July 18th.  Bob Fosse’s energetic, cabaret style musical continues to seduce audiences worldwide.  Winner of six Tony® Awards, Chicago glitters hypnotically with brassy songs, astonishing dancing, biting satire, and of course, all that jazz.
After a sold-out engagement at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse this fall, Footloose is dancing its way onto the Huron Country Playhouse stage, July 23rd to August 8th. Based on the beloved 80s movie, Footloose is the feel-good story about a young rebel who inadvertently heals the heart of a small town when he encourages the local youth to defy the strict edict of the local pastor and hold a rock ‘n’ roll dance.
From the creators of last year’s sensation, Twist and Shout: The British Invasion, comes another production in the perennially popular Legends series of tribute shows that will put a snap in your fingers and a song in your heart. Legends … of Rock ‘n’ Roll relives the incredible discography from the 1950s through 1970s that forever changed the landscape of modern music. Such influential acts as Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, The Beach Boys, Elton John, ABBA, and Simon & Garfunkel are celebrated in this tribute to musical pioneers, August 13th to August 29th.
Huron Country Playhouse II
Check in for a weekend of laughs with the lighthearted, racy comedy Sexy Laundry, on stage June 11th to June 27th. A couple checks into a swanky hotel room for a romantic getaway, all in the hope of rekindling some much-needed passion – but jumpstarting their stale love life proves infinitely more difficult, and hilarious, than anticipated.
Last Chance Romance is a topsy-turvy romantic comedy about the perils of finding “the one.”  Its frothy, fun look at the absurdity of love, will warm your heart and tickle your funny bone.  The production runs July 2nd to July 18th.
After the success of last season’s production of Peter Pan: The Panto, comes Snow White: The Panto.  In the British Panto tradition where audiences cheer the hero and boo the villain, this lively production boasts a winning combination of incredible musical numbers, slapstick comedy, outrageous costumes, audience participation, and of course, seven dwarfs. Once again, there will be opportunities for local youth to participate in the production as members of the Children’s Chorus.  Audition details will be made available in the New Year. Snow White: The Panto will entertain theatregoers of all ages July 29th to August 29th.
Ticket Information
Drayton Entertainment offers flexible subscription packages to enable theatregoers to book tickets to any performance, at any theatre, for any date. When patrons buy tickets to four, five, six, or all seven different productions, they can save close to 25% off the regular ticket price.
Regular performance tickets are $42.00 for adults; $25.00 for youth under 20 years of age. Tickets for preview performances and groups of 20 or more are $34.00.
To learn more about the benefits of Membership, to order tickets or receive a complimentary 2015 Theatre Guide, call the Box Office at (519) 238-6000 or toll free at 1-855-DRAYTON (372-9866).
HURON COUNTRY PLAYHOUSE OFFERS 7 PRODUCTIONS FOR 2015
Seven productions will take centre stage at Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend with an ambitious 2015 Season of “Music, Laughter … and all that jazz!”
“This season promises to be remembered for years to come,” says Artistic Director Alex Mustakas. “We have planned a season full of magical moments, complete with Broadway blockbusters, heartwarming comedies, nostalgic musical tributes, and lots of family fun.
Read more...
 


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