This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Feb. 21, 2019

UPDATE: Added Ariana Gillis to Roots North headliners.

There are two important fundraising events happening this weekend.

Friday night Mosaic Productions is doing The Vagina Monologues at the Orillia Opera House. The company is made up of women who have all been involved with a Mariposa Arts Theatre play, on stage and off, over the years, except for Alison Braun who I’ve only seen on stage in The Vagina Monologues. She was in the first Monologues in 2004.

Matter of fact, Gail Birmingham, Angela Collings, Janet-Lynne Durnford, Sally Holdsworth, and Deborah Small were all in the first one. Joining them this time out is Jen Low.

The show is made up of a series of sketches, not all of them acted out, though all the monologues are told in character of the subject. A number of the scenes will make you laugh, a few others will make you think (I am talking to the guys right now), and some will almost make you cry (hold on guys, you can make it).

There’s enough material in the author’s (Eve Ensler) work the cast has been able to substitute bits making the show a little different each time they do it.

While the show is all about women, and the audiences are overwhelmingly women, men will enjoy it. I remember being one of only three guys at the first show, but by the time of the last one we could field a football team.

The last time they did it was in 2010, so it will seem fresh. The Opera House is getting pretty close to full with a little over 100 tickets left for the Friday night show.

If the show sells out Green Haven Shelter for Women stand to gain almost $20,000.

Orillia Vocal Ensemble
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OVE conductor Roy Menagh with members of the Nai Children’s Choir (Photo Submitted).

On Sunday afternoon, the Orillia Vocal Ensemble has a concert at St. Paul’s Centre. The OVE concerts are always admission free, but pass the hat and have managed to raise $120,000 for various charities in Orillia. I can’t remember the last time they raised less than $5,000 at one of their concerts. This time the money goes to the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka Skid Watson Fund, which provides YMCA memberships to families in need of assistance.

Making this concert special are their guest performers who have travelled all the way from Syria. Granted they came to Canada quite some time ago and all live in Toronto, but the members of the Nai Children’s Choir were all refugees at one time. The choir has performed for the prime minister and at the Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C.

The link between the YMCA and the choir goes back to 2016 when the choir and their families were hosted by Geneva Park for a weekend for free. The OVE got involved running workshops for Nai while they stayed. The choir has come back every year since, and Geneva Park has subsidized their stays.

Another group of children will also be performing. They are from the Orillia Music Centre. Concert time is 3 p.m.

But Wait… There’s More
st pauls steinway
Blair Bailey and Don Atkinson with St. Paul’s Centre’s new (old) Steinway grand piano (Photo Submitted)

I don’t know how you all keep up with the event schedules in town. There’s a third event of note happening Saturday at St. Paul’s. They have a new piano. It’s not really new, but it plays like new. It’s a refurbished Steinway concert grand, not one of those questionable Steinways made these days, but one from 1917, using the good wood. It was given to St. Paul’s by the family of Wendy McQuaig-Fallis

They’re going to show it off at 2 p.m. and by show it off they mean people are going to play it. Michael Jones will probably give it a workout dynamically; he can play so quietly at times you’ll catch yourself leaning forward.

Blair Bailey, Ross Love and Lidwien Wesselingh are going to play some classical pieces. They’re letting Doreen Uren Simmons back into town, but she’s got to mind her words, to play Chopin’s Raindrop prelude.

Blair, Jacquie Dancyger-Arnold and Don Atkinson are going to team up for a bit. Don’s going to try and drown the piano out playing the organ. Good luck with Jacquie in the house.

Blair is going to play a duet, Brahms Sonata in E minor, with cellist Marta Solek who recently moved to Orillia from Poland. Welcome aboard. David and John Jefferies are going to sing Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers.

Admission is by donation.

Vote Like You’re In Chicago

If you haven’t voted for any of the Orillia musicians who have songs entered in the CBC’s Searchlight contest – get going. You have until Feb 26. You can vote every day. Entered are The Bob Hawkins Band, The Free Label (Cole Mendez is a member), Ross Love and Alphabreff. To hear more of the music these folks make, click on their names.

Orillia Silver Band

The Orillia Silver Band flew out of the gate, after the National Anthem, with a great performance of the Overture to the Marriage of Figaro (Mozart) at last Saturday night’s concert at St. Paul’s.

That’s twice now they started with a powerful tune and woke us up. However, the rest of the concert was a notch or two off the quality I’ve come to expect.

Not that it was bad, most groups want to sound as good as the OSB on a bad night, but little things here and there. The four pop tunes (Something, Day Dream Believer, Your Song, and I Don’t Know How to Love Him) seemed a little slow, there were a few missed entries and endings, and some of the cornets were over playing. This is totally out of character for the OSB.

Then I looked at the time and realized it has to be a factor of the holidays. I’m guessing once the Christmas concerts were done they took 3 or 4 weeks off, probably only 3, and had just a month to get this program in shape. The program wasn’t as demanding as they usually perform, and based on my own experience that’s courting trouble – thinking one can breeze through a chart because it’s easy music. Oh how wrong. Musicians find out the easy charts are the hardest and usually do so on stage.

Most of the audience probably didn’t notice and I’m just picking nits. From a less technical perspective it was still an enjoyable concert. One thing that was extraordinary was Laura Christie’s trombone solo in the Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso. She has excellent tone.

The next OSB concert is May 12.

The Shorts

*  Roots North has their headline acts lined up. In addition to Ron Sexsmith, they have The Weather Station, Alysha Brilla, VK, Rose Cousins and Ariana Gillis. The festival is Apr. 26 and 27 and you can still get a weekend pass for $45 online.

*  Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. Northbound – The Northwest Passage in Story and Song happens at St. Paul’s Centre. This is David Newland’s show we saw last year and it’s about his trip there, a bit of history, and some music. He’s joined by Sarah Vurma (host), Uncharted Waters (Saskia Tompkins, Steafan Hannigan, Sam Allison) and Inuit performers Siqiniup Qilauta Sunsdrum. It’s a fundraiser for Twin Lakes Secondary School students headed to Clyde River, Nunavut for an exchange program. Get tickets at The Opera House box office, 705-326-8011.

*  March 2 the Cellar Singers have a concert at St. James’ Anglican Church. They are doing Bach’s motet, Jesu, Meine Freude, and Eleanor Daley’s Requiem. Tickets are $25, $10 for students, and you can get them online, or at the door.

*  In art, Hibernation Arts has art – and the second installment of Wordsmith with poets Karen Shenfled and Dawna Lynn Proudman Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m.; admission is $10; the gallery opens About Women Mar. 2 from 1 to 3 p.m. Zephyr artists Patricia Beecham, Catherine Cadieux, John Jacquemain, Beverley Pearl, Gwen Reilly, Jean Sanders, Gayle Schofield and Murray Van Halem have the feature wall at Peter Street Fine Arts for the rest of February – and at the Community Development Corp.; Gayle Schofield also has a show, Digital Warp, at Tiffin’s Creative Centre; OMAH is opening the annual International Women’s Day Art Show Saturday at 1 p.m. with 130 artists in it this year; OMAH’s monthly history speaker’s night is Feb. 20 with Ann Harrison telling the story of The Underground Railway for Black History Month at 7:30 p.m.; Lee Contemporary opens a new group show, A Different Reality, Mar. 2 at 1 p.m. with the work of Patti Agapi, John Goetz, Jeff Nye, Scott Sawtell and Frances Thomas; Lee is also looking for submissions for Paper III.

*  The Washago Song Writing Contest is shaping up. Get cracking on your song. Write a song about Washago, record it on video and submit it to by Mar. 15, 2019. There are prizes, $500 for the winner. The top ten get to perform their entry at the Washago Community Centre March 31. I’ll be one of the judges.

*  Coming up… The Brownstone Cafe is busy this week Jessica Pearson and the East Wind with Lunar Bloom are in Thursday; Ben Hefferman and John Muirhead play Friday; and Taylor Holden and the Law of Averages are in Saturday…  The Hog N’ Penny has Darrin Davis playing Saturday night… Lake Country Grill has Steph Dunn in Wednesday Feb. 20; Daryl Alvaro is in the 27th… the Geneva has Women in Rock (Gearl Jam, As Is, Sarah Stinson) Mar. 8 for an Elizabeth Fry Society fundraiser; tickets are $25 in advance… Lance Anderson’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen show (with Matt Weidinger and Chuck Jackson) is at Peter’s Players in Gravenhurst Mar. 30.

(Photos Submitted) 1 Vagina Monologues. 2 Roy Menagh. 3 Blair Bailey and Don Atkinson.

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