This week in Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Starring a cast of thousands, wait, hundreds, OK, 61 plus the band, St. Paul’s Centre has Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat happening Apr. 3 to 6.

Michael Abernethy is Joseph and from the short bit of the dress rehearsal I saw it looks like good casting. Julia Johnston has the part of the Narrator and most of what I heard was her singing. I think people driving by on Coldwater Street did too, she’s got a nice clear voice that cuts through the mob – with a little help with amplification, but it still sits in a nice place in the mix.

The brothers aren’t what they are cracked up to be. Half of them are women. This is not expressly a gimmee to include women, there aren’t enough men to go around for all the stage productions happening this time of year.

If you intend to go, you better call the church office first thing tomorrow, or go there, because only 25% of the available seats were left n Sunday. You can also get them at the Bird House downtown. I’m not going mention dinner, because that’s sold out.

Blair Bailey is leading the band – with two percussionists. Two! Good luck getting tickets.

Mariposa Arts Theatre has a play starting Apr. 4 and running for two weeks at the Opera House. They are doing Alan Ayckbourn’s Living Together. Its part of what Ayckbourn called the Norman Conquest trilogy. Each part stands on its own as a play and can be seen in any order without anyone feeling like they have to catch up on the story line.

The plays were premiered in 1973, but it took until 2009 to win a Tony Award for Best Revival, and it also picked up three Drama Desk Awards the same year.

If this and last season are any indicator, you better get hopping on tickets at the Opera House box office because a couple of plays have been sold out before first curtain, and the rest close to it.

The Washago Song

The Washago Song Competition. Is happening Sunday at the Washago Community Centre. Doug Shakell, who organizes the Canada Day concerts and many jam nights, has been stickhandling the entries and the contest concert.

The Washago Lions are using the event as a fundraiser, their first major one of the year, and they put up the prize money. The winner gets $500 and two weekend tickets to the Mariposa Folk Festival. The 2nd place songwriter gets Mariposa tickets as well. Both will also get half hour performance slots at the Washago Canada Day event.

The entrants are Gord Valiquette, Joe Gravelle, Wayne Hill, Pete Snderson, Dave Brandt, Mark Boddy, Rick Pearce, John Lebarr, Jon Gauthier and Nate Robertson. The audience gets to pick their favourite and the judges are Mike Vandyk, Cheryl Hill, Jimmy Johnson and me. After the contest there will be a jam (it’s likely the Doug Trucker Band will be there, or most of the band). Admission is $10 and there will also be pulled pork sandwiches and a bar.

Dance Your Little Heart Out

The Orillia Concert Band had a nice sized audience last Saturday night at St. Paul’s Centre for their spring concert. There was room for more, but the numbers are getting bigger each time out.

They played a number of dance tunes, or tunes based on dances, which was helpful since a few dancers from Tapp’s Performing Arts were part of the program. Unfortunately a couple of the numbers were danced right in front of the stage and it was hard to see what they were doing because the girls were so short. The audience up front liked them.

The band opened with a bit of unsteadiness in Sundance, but redeemed themselves with a very good run thorough of a tune called Dance Cubanas, which had a couple of familiar themes in it. From a rhythmic perspective it wouldn’t have taken much for it to go south, but the execution was right n the money with all the syncopated lines and attacks.

Next up was La La Land, which was also done expertly. The audience really liked this one.  Lord of the Dance closed out the half. It had themes from Appalachian Spring in it and the arrangement is by someone who travels in the same circle’s I do, Richard Saucedo.

The second half had an old favourite, the waltz from Swan Lake, complete with ballerina, a medley of Maynard Ferguson tunes, Mambo From West Side Story, and a Benny Goodman medley, from which no one would have gotten out alive if it didn’t contain Sing, Sing, Sing. Good choice Mr. Hilts.

Later I went to the Geneva to hear Run Rabbit Run play. I’m pretty sure the stuff they did before my coach turned into a pumpkin were all originals and very good, also very different from what most of the local bands do when they play their own material.

Opening was Parnham’s Cross, a duo, guitar and vocal with percussion. I spent the whole set digging the drumming on djembe thinking, “that guy knows how to play it properly.”  Turns out it was Ron Cross, with a beard so I didn’t clue in until after the set. Ron owned Orion Drums and was at Mariposa every summer for about 10 years until he sold his business to Shaw Percussion.

Saturday night the Geneva has the Polyester Slackers playing a fundraiser for Mariposa House Hospice (tickets at 705-326-3595, 705-329-0202 or Electronic Lifestyles) and Yuk Yuks has comics in Apr. 13 with comics Adrienne Fish, Jarrett Campbell and Rob Pue.

Dancing With the Docs
Dancing With The Docs
More Dancing

It’s not often I write about an event to happen when there is little chance you can buy a ticket, but the Couchiching Jubilee House’s Dancing with the Docs on April 6 at Hawk Ridge Golf Club was sold out with early bird sales before they could even tell the general public it was happening.

However, if you go to their website you can go on a waiting list for a ticket, and you can pledge to support your favourite doctor as they try to outdo each other bringing in the cash.

The 8 doctors competing for the big prize, just like the TV show are Bill Tillmann, Allison McFarlane, Howard Bloom, Leo Lam, Kimberly Perryman, Jessica Green and Anjana Chawla. Each will be partnered with dancers from Tapps Performing Arts or from Lakehead University’s dance team.

Dance Team? Lakehead? According to Gill Tillmann, who has been associated with Couchiching for many years – and is loaning out her husband for the night, Lakehead has a group of 6 students who compete as dancers and serve as cheerleaders when they are needed here in Orillia.

They went all out for the trophy, it’s a mirror ball, just like the one at the Geneva. The audience can vote a second prize for their favourite, in case they don’t agree with the judges, Steve Clark, Jill Dunlop and Mary O’Farrell-Bowers.

Bill is leading the pledge chart with Leo close behind. One of the dancers, Lauren Engel is also taking pledges, and she’s not last on the leader board.

The Shorts

* You haven’t got your Mariposa Gala tickets yet? It’s the wine and cheese and other kinds of food fundraiser OMAH is having at Lakehead University April 14. The gala starts at 7 p.m., but VIP tickets get you in at 6 for something special, food by Tre Sorelle, an artist talk with Tony Bianco, an extra wine pairing – and a chance to win a two hour set by the Will Davis Trio. Have them play your garage, den, or maybe a party in the garden at your place when the weather is nice (did I mention I go with the band). Also at OMAH, the regular Storytelling Orillia monthly happens Mar. 31 at 2 p.m. with Barbara McKee featured. And, tickets are on sale now for the annual Carmichael History Lecture May 3; Robert Browne is going to talk about father-in-law, Emmanuel Hahn’s famous Bluenose and Caribou coins, and Tony Bianco has designed over 100 coins for the mint, so he’ll have time to talk about 99 of them. Get tickets now, the last few monthly history speaker’s night shave been sold out.

*  There are still tickets available for Lance Anderson, with Russ Boswell and Quisha Wint, at St. Paul’s Center May 3. It’s a fundraiser for the Orillia Youth Centre’s Valis Sound Studio project and the Nelson Bell bursary. Get tickets ($150) at Alleycats Music or online.

*  Congratulations to Liz Schamehorn. She did the illustrations for a children’s book, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Talk, by Stephanie Nielsen. It’s definitely not a book about me. You can see it on Youtube, and the kids can read along with it.

*  The Toronto Mass Choir (Juno Award winning, 2003, Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year) is performing at a fundraiser for Building Hope Apr. 14 at First Baptist Church. The show is at 7 p.m. Admission is free, but people wearing hats will be on hand.

*  Coming up… the Brownstone has Lee Dunlop in Mar. 27; Grey Eyes with Global Paradse opening play Friday night; Suitcase Sam is in Saturday night… The Hog N’ Penny has Alex Rabbitson in to play Friday night; Charlotte Unplugged is in Saturday… Lake Country Grill has Jitensha is in Mar. 27… only one MAT movie night in April and its If Beale Street Could Talk Apr. 3 at 4 and 7 p.m. … the Roots North Music Festival is just weeks away; get tickets at Alleycats Music or online now for the Apr. 26 and 27 main stage shows at St. Paul’s Centre… the Opera House has a weekly film festival featuring the best car chase movies (Vanishing Point, Bullitt, the French Connection) starting Apr. 9.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Michael Abernethy in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

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