This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Last week the province set capacity limits back to 100% for concert venues, theaters and cinemas. Some of you may be thinking, “Great, now I can get tickets for that sold out show.”  Not so fast.

That old saying, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, comes to mind.

“We do have people who have bought tickets thinking they were socially distanced. They may not want to be not socially distanced, so it’s more the new events that are going on sale, anything that’s upcoming will be full capacity,” said Opera House general manger Wendy Fairbairn.

That means the Mariposa Folk Festival concerts and Orillia Jazz Festival concerts are going to remain at limited seating.

“Not all of our concerts are at full capacity, some of that is the choice of our producers due to royalties and making sure the comfort level of people coming in (is good).” she said.

The Opera House was the first theater in Canada to have a live performance last summer because they worked out a way to have an audience in and seated the right distance from each other; to do that they modified their ticketing system to automatically select seats based on which seats were already sold. When capacity limits were raised early in the summer the first concert of the year, Matchedash Parish’s August gig, had 184 people in the house, rather than the 50 limited for summer theater performances.

Each time the province makes a change, there are more questions than answers. Even with the last change it took a few days to figure out what that meant for ticket sales at the Opera House.

“Once an announcement like this has been made I always call our district health unit just to get some clarity. They’re very happy with what we are doing. We are not pushing. The shows that will be for the rest of the season I think will only be at 50 percent capacity no matter what. I don’t think people are ready to come back to the theatre. Maybe to the casino or the Sony Centre, but (in) our community I think will take a little longer.”

Anything on the event schedule which was being sold prior to last week will be under the old system, and events being added, or booked far off in time will be able to sell until they run out of tickets. So the Music Of Broadway concert November 20 will be the first available event for full capacity.

Looking at the rest of the event calendar, Mariposa Arts Theatre’s November production of Nora Ephron’s Love, Loss & What I Wore was scheduled to run in Gord’s Room and will stay there. Normally MAT’s plays happen in the Studio Theatre which seats 104 people. MAT planned to only sell 100 tickets anyway because the royalty payments to do the play are based on a 100 person per show capacity.

There are other logistical ramifications too. For example, I’m sure the MAT production has been rehearsing based on the dimensions of the larger stage upstairs and changing now for the smaller stage downstairs could be done, but who wants to do that now?

“Everything for 2021 that would have moved back down to the Studio Theatre, we just kept it in the Lightfoot Theatre,” said Fairbairn.

This weekend it’s Orillia Jazz Festival events. Friday night there’s one inside the Opera House and one outside the Opera House. At 6 p.m. the Orillia Center for Arts and Culture is presenting a dance performance by 11 students from Ryerson University’s dance department at The Creative School. They will be performing a new piece called Together Again by choreographer Natasha Powell. This is a free performance.

It will happen in the courtyard between the library and the Opera House. The Orillia Centre has presented dance programs before, and I went, and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed them. They have established a track record of picking good pieces even people who normally can’t get worked up about a dance, or dancing, can get into.

At 7:30 p.m. inside the opening act for this year’s festival is Laila Biali. She’s got a Juno and a nomination in hand; got picked over Diana Krall/Tony Bennett and Holly Cole. She also has a pretty stacked performance resume. Not only is she a singer, she’s the best kind, she’s a percussionist too, playing orchestra bells and piano. You can listen to her music here. If there are still tickets left, you can get them here.

Saturday night Brassworks is the center of gravity for a show which includes guests Grace Locker (Orillia Secondary School), Zach Zirger (Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School), Laurel Van Pypen (Twin Lakes Secondary School) and a quartet of former members of Jazzamatazz.

I was speaking with Robin Watson who is part of the festival organizing committee and a member of Brassworks. She said the band, which normally has a lot of trumpets and trombones, which means pushing a lot of (hot) air (especially when that Metcalf guy is playing), decided to cut down to two trumpets and two trombones, and filled in with Chris Robinson and Mark Hathaway on saxes for this gig. Get tickets here.

Sunday afternoon Lance Anderson and Russ Boswell are going to do a stunning show based on the music of Oscar Peterson. I can say stunning because I’ve seen it before. Lance plays the tunes the way Oscar did. Lance was friends with Oscar and has a bunch of stories to tell that give the performance an extra dimension you won’t get anywhere else. If there are tickets left for the 2 p.m. show, get them here.

The festival folks decided they’d concentrate on keeping the festival alive and just do shows at the Opera House. That doesn’t mean some of the other venues who have participated in past years aren’t doing things too, just not as as many. Will Davis will be at Apple Annie’s Cafe on Saturday, October 16 from noon to 3 p.m. The Jazz Byrds are at Sanfir Friday and Saturday night from 6 to 9 p.m. Liz Anderson will be at the new place, Picnic, Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m.

Let’s stay with the Opera House, but change speeds to the Mariposa Folk Festival. No doubt you’ve heard MFF has six concerts happening October 23. Now you only have to concern yourself with which three you want to go to because as you see in the list below the other three have sold out. You’re choices are:

  • Mariposa Inn – Amanda Rheaume, James Gray, Kaia Kater and the Doozies
  • ODAS Park – Danny Michel, Jay Stiles, the Connors Brothers, the Honeyrunners SOLD OUT
  • Opera House – Angelique Francis, Coco Love Alcorn, Lydia Persaud
  • Braestone Farm – Ariko, Mimi O’Bonsawin, Rick Fines, Terra Lightfoot SOLD OUT
  • St. Paul’s Centre – Birds of Bellwoods, Kyla Charter, Suzie Vinnick, Zachary Lucky

They all start at 1 p.m., except Saturday evening’s at 7:30 p.m. at the Opera House with Donovan Woods, Evangeline Gentle and Shakura S’Aida – which is sold out. You can get tickets for any of the concerts, expect, of course, the sold out ones, at the Opera House box office.

After All This Downtime It Feels Like Everything Is Happening At Once

The Orillia Concert Association has a 2021/22 season and it Starts October 23. The first two concerts are going to be online and they are with Sinfonia Toronto and with Peter Stoll and  Adam Zukiewicz on November 28.

They go live and in living technicolor February 20 with violinist Maria Millar and Shawn Wyckoff on flute performing as Sonic Escape; followed by the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry band March 27 and the Toronto All-Star Big Band May 1. You can get the cheap, cheap, cheap season tickets ($70, did I say cheap?) at the Opera House box office.

If you need more classical music, maybe with a little something more modern sprinkled on top, Jacquie Dancyger Arnold and Hugh Coleman are doing a fundraising concert for the Orillia Museum of Art and History at St. Paul’s Centre October 30. Their guest performers are Ross Arnold, Laura Aylan-Parker and Gail Spencer and Blair Bailey is going to do something he rarely does at concerts – talk; he’s the emcee. The concert is at 2 p.m. and you can get tickets online.

While we’re discussing OMAH, they have a Halloween event called Spooky Stroll happening October 29. It’s a walking tour of scary Orillia, You can get tickets online and there are three start times, that’s start as in here we go, not don’t do that to me.

And apparently the kids are going to be home from school Oct. 22 – at least they thought they were. You are going to pack them off to OMAH’s day camp. You can register them here.

Imagines Studio Tour

I got to the in-town studios and galleries on the weekend. Each of the artists had new work to show. Marlene Bulas is going through a yellow period, Charles Pachter had a new portrait of the Queen and was excited to talk about his expansion plans; whenever I check out Mike Bailey’s stuff we end up talking about photography tricks and tips and I usually plan to be at Jimi McKee’s last for the history lessons. In short for me this event is as much about the social benefits as it is seeing the art. Since I didn’t hit the hills in Medonte, I didn’t get any photos of trees and stuff, but here’s what I did get.

Mike Bailey

Image 1 of 7

Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards

The closing date to nominate someone or some group for an Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Award is October 18. I found out there are a number of nominations submitted already, so if you’ve been procrastinating – welcome to the club – and it’s time to get moving.

The nomination criteria and forms are online. The categories are:

  • Education in Arts, Culture and Heritage (does not need to be a professional teacher, but whose knowledge and teaching skills inspiring others to pursue their interest in the arts and heritage.)
  • Emerging Artist (anyone in the early stages, less than 5 years, of establishing themselves as an artist in any genre – that means musicians and writers qualify too).
  • Heritage: Restoration, Renovation and Publication (for individuals and groups)
  • Event in Arts, Culture and Heritage (could be a one-off, series, or annual event)
  • Qennefer Browne Achievement Award (individual or group who have made an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of the community – can be life’s work, or something really big in the last year)

If you want to do your part and need some reminders of what’s happened in the last year, check out the arts columns from the past 5 weeks.

Short Takes

The Orillia Youth Center and Derick Lehmann’s The Big Event are teaming up for another Trunk Or Treat at ODAS Park October 30. The concept was born out of necessity last year when kids couldn’t go door to door with their little comedy acts begging for candy. People sign up (they still have room for 7 vehicles) to be on the giving end. You also sign up to be a receiver too, but unfortunately because of the pandemic rules only so many tickets were allowed and they are all gone.

The Ronnie Douglas Blues Band is having a Culture Days concert, with Alex Rabbitson opening, at St. James’ Anglican Church October 23 at 8 p.m. You need to get a ticket (they’re free).

Somniatis is not going to be an event this year, but they are still working on costumes and planning for next year. They still want to keep the fundraising aspect alive, so check out their video and head over to their Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital mental health fundraising page to help them match their $12,000 take from the last time they had an event.

At the galleries… Miriam Slan has a solo show at Cloud Gallery from October 15 to 24; the reception is Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. and you can get tickets online; Cloud also has solos shows and receptions booked every two weeks through to December; See work (in order) by Sarah Carlson, Gordon Harrison, Julia Veenstra and Kyle Sorenson… Kristine Drummond’s art is at Peter Street Fine Arts for the month… not every piece submitted for the Carmichael Landscape Show at OMAH gets accepted, Hibernation Arts wants to have a show, Call For Carmichael Too, for those pieces; contact Molly Farquharson to get yours included; Hibernation’s guest artist for the month is Natasha Genevieve… keep November 5 free, OMAH is opening the Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition: Tradition Transformed and an exhibit called We Are Still Here, works by D. Ahsén:nase Douglas; the annual Carmichael Lecture is online this year and it’s with Anna Hudson of York University on November 17 and the topic is The Legacy of the Group of Seven and you can register here. You can still see Welcome Home to Orillia and Will McGarvey’s, Sticks and Stones until the end of the month.

Steven Henry kept many of us sane through most of 2020 and until spring this year playing every Saturday night on Facebook and Friday, October 22 you can see him live at Quayle’s Brewery (12th Line of Oro-Medonte just off Mt. St. Louis Road) from 112:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. It’s a farm, you can enjoy a beer and watch the next one grow; they planted their own hops on the back 40.

Creative Nomad Studios is having a Holiday Market November 27 and 28. Now is the time to apply to be a vendor. You can find the details online.

Glen Robertson has another new tune out to listen to and watch on Youtube. It’s called Breakin’ Down and you can watch his other videos here.

Sustainable Orillia is starting the third in a series of art contests ($75 prize for the winner) on the theme of Housing. Make submissions here by October 31.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Lance Anderson and Laila Biali – Orillia Jazz Festival

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