This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

If you planned to get a weekend pass to the Roots North Music Festival happening April 26 and 27 but haven’t done so yet, here’s your special invitation to do it now (wait… finishing reading the column first).

The weekend pass is $45 right now. On Friday at midnight it’s $55. Get them online or at Alleycats Music. They have sold 85% of the passes to date. Also the Champlain Hotel downtown is the official festival place to stay and they have a deal , so if you have friends coming from out of town and here’s no room at your inn, book now because they are running out of rooms at the Champlain.

The Saturday schedule includes these performances; Caleb Kearey-Moreland is at the Orillia Public Library for a 9 a.m. show (I could say a ton of things about performing that early in the day, especially because it’s Caleb, but I won’t), Jakob Pearce will be at Alleycats at 11 a.m. – Michael Martyn is in at 1:30 p.m., Alex Andrews will be at Mark IV Brothers at noon, Kirty will be at Bakes By the Lake at 1 p.m.

Darrin Davis is at Tre Sorelle at 11:30 a.m. He’s sponsored by Eclectic Café and the story is, Eclectic’s new home in the former Fred’s Market isn’t ready, so Melanie Robinson got the gig moved to Tre Sorelle and she’s going to pitch in for the day at Tre Sorelle in return.

Sam & The Man are at Apple Annie’s at 2 p.m., the Jennie Davis Trio is at Harold and Ferne The Local Goods Store at 2:30 and Geoff Booth hosts an acoustic jam at the Hog N’ Penny at 3 p.m.

The Friday night program at St. Paul’s Centre has Ariana Gills, Rose Cousins and Ron Sexsmith playing in that order. Saturday night its VK, Alysha Brilla, and the Weather Station

After the main stage shows the Brownstone has Skye Wallace in Friday and Lost Cousins in Saturday. Brewery Bay has Zachary Lucky in Saturday night. The Hog N’Penny’s trivia night on Thursday before the festival has Craig Mainprize in to pitch questions about Roots North; on Friday night Jamie Drake will play.

Skye Wallace is in town this week to do some song writing workshops with the guitar class at Orillia Secondary School this week and she’ll be back for more the week of the festival.

Nice Coat you Got There Joseph
Joseph’s Brothers

The St. Paul’s Centre’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat happened last week. I went on opening night, though some of the cast said it was more like a preview.

On the whole they did a great job when you consider the cast and production team don’t do this every year. Some of the cast have been in Mariposa Arts plays, most of the band plays regularly in various groups, but overwhelmingly most of the 70 or so people performing are inexperienced.

The staging and choreography looked like everyone knew their places and movements, so nothing looked awkward. The singing was above par, especially Julie Johnston who had the role of the narrator, and Michael Abernethy who played Joseph.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice mix musical genres, Josh Halbot handled a calypso tune like juggling coconuts and Stuart Todd got some laughs with a cheesy Elvis influenced piece. Patti Sanderson and Patrick Brown also had songs to lead in each half. Each of the soloists sounded great because Mark Webster mixed their voices just right with the rest of the cast of 60 to give them a boost in front of the wall of sound without making it seem obvious not everyone on stage was wearing a mic.

Costuming for the main characters was well done and there were even some backdrop changes.

Everybody at all the churches likes to do a good job when putting on programs of this nature, but I think St. Paul’s goes the extra mile. This is the first time they’ve had the luxury of using their new stage, so they had a little more freedom to do what any other theater company would do as a matter of course, not having to work around risers and podiums, etc. They were even able to tuck the band away to the side and not sacrifice space on stage. Good job everybody.

Perfect Harmony, Yeah, Right.
Paul Barrie, Ian Munday, Peter Merkle and Vanessa Leslie in Living Together

I wrote about Mariposa Arts Theatre’s Living Together last week after seeing opening night. If you missed it, you have your basic ensemble of 6 characters, 5 related, put together as a plan, but not according to the plan.

Alan Ayckbourn wrote a nice bit of humour, sprinkled in some good laugh out loud moments, and gives the audience enough to be curious about how these people are going to get through the weekend without killing each other.

Nothing really happens, other than they live for another day. The things they should be outraged over are no big deal, while pouring coffee almost turns into a donnybrook. In the mean time you get to take some crib notes how to handle similar situations when you’re in them. Don’t we all wish we had snappy lines to put someone in their place, which don’t result in punches thrown?

Ian Munday, Peter Merkle, Paul Barrie, Vanessa Leslie and Laurel Dewar are in it. The program says Janet-Lynne Durnford is too, but you won’t recognize her.

Living together has performances at the Opera House Thursday through Saturday.

OMAH Events

* The Orillia Museum of Art and History  Mariposa Gala is at Lakehead University is Apr. 27. The gala starts at 7 p.m., but VIP tickets get you in at 6 for an artist talk with Tony Bianco, an extra wine pairing, food by Tre Sorelle – and a chance to win a two hour performance by the Will Davis Trio wherever you choose.

The annual Carmichael History Lecture happens May 3. Robert Browne is going to talk about his father-in-law’s (Emmanuel Hahn) Bluenose and Caribou coins, and Tony Bianco has designed over 100 coins for the mint. He just announced the release of a new coin for the 100th anniversary of CN Rail. Get tickets now, the last few monthly history speaker’s night shave been sold out.

OMAH’s regular monthly History Speaker’s night is Apr. 17 with a presentation by students from Orillia Secondary School called Orillia Soldiers Who Fought on D-Day.

There are new exhibits opening this month (Mnjikaning: Mapping the Life of the Gaudaurs, Styling Orillia: A Look Back at Our Fashionable Past, and Playful Banquet: An Anthropomorphic Apocalyptic Fest by Scott Sawtell and OMAH is having opening receptions for all three Apr. 25 at 7 p.m.

Opportunities for Visual Artists

The City of Orillia has three projects artists can latch onto. The 2020 Winter Games committee wants a medal designed. Tony Bianco, who designed the 2018 medal will be at an information night Apr. 16 at 7 p.m. in the main floor boardroom at City Hall to offer advice.

The City also wants to commission someone to make 5 banners to hang on Mississaga Street and Centennial Drive with theme concepts for each of the Leacock Museum, the Opera House, Downtown Orillia, a cycling theme and the Mnjikaning Fish Fence. Details are here and they are paying $1,500 for all 5. Deadline for submissions is April 12.

There will also be pianos at the waterfront and Tudhope Park and someone has to decorate them. If you have an idea, send it to  by April 21. There is $500 compensation for each piano involved.

Last week I mentioned the ShineBrite Festival happening June 8 in Coldwater. It’s a fundraiser for several worthy causes like The Orillia Youth Centre’s Valis Sound Studio project, the Coldwater Youth Centre, Cody’s House Mental Health Centre and Mikey’s Place for Autism. The headliners are Hells Bells and Practically Hip, with Crued, Early Elton, Crush, Shoot the Moon, Liquidcristal, This Side Up and the Straight Goods also playing the day long gig. Steve Ollimer is spinning discs between acts. Get tickets here.

The Shorts

*  Sunday afternoon is the Mariposa Folk Festival audition concert at the Mariposa Inn. It starts at 1 p.m. and the groups hoping to get an invite to the July festival are Deeps (Hamilton), The Doozies (Oshawa), Our Shotgun Wedding (Owen Sound), The Connors Brothers (Keswick), Veranda (Montreal), I, the Mountain (Toronto), John Muirhead (London), RedFox (Montreal), James Gray Music (Emsdale, On.) and SaraRose (Malahide Township, On.). Admission is free.

*  The June 8 Leacock Medal dinner tickets are on sale now at the museum. These always sell out and are $75 (laughing is free). June 7 is the meet the authors night at the Mariposa Inn and tickets are $20. You have to go to the museum to get tickets. New this year, Drew Hayden Taylor has been appointed Mayor of Mariposa. I’m not sure is he knows yet. Also, the Conner Poetry Prize submission period ends Apr. 30. Top prizes in the adult, student and elementary categories are $750, $200 and $75. Get entry details here.

*  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.

*  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.

Cottage Countrycon is back for another year. It happens May 19 at the Mariposa Inn. This year’s headliner is Jim Shooter, who began writing for DC Comics at the age of 14, and eventually became editor in chief at Marvel Comics.  

*  Coming up… the Brownstone has a party celebrating the release of Jessica Exner’s second book Thursday night and Nick McFarland is along to play some music; Friday night DJ Suverse Tech is in for Tech Night… The Hog N’ Penny has Jitensha playing Saturday night…  Lake Country Grill has Steph Dunn in Apr. 10 and 17; Even Steven is in Saturday night… the Opera House has a weekly film festival featuring the best car chase movies (Vanishing Point, Bullitt, the French Connection) starting Apr. 9… the St. David choir, with Brent Mayhew conducting, are doing the cantata Body of Christ by contemporary American composer Pepper Choplin on Apr. 20 at 4 p.m. at St. David Anglican Church… Hobo Jam is hosting an open mic at the legion Sunday at 2 p.m.

(Main Photo by K Gangloff) Skye Wallace leading a song writing workshop for Orillia Secondary School students and will pay Roots North later this month.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)

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