By John Swartz
There are two shows happening this weekend. Friday night The Old Dance Hall Players are doing A Shot in the Arm, Friday night at the Opera House. There are still tickets, not many, available at the box office.
The regulars Doug Ironside, Kevin Scharf, Murph Roger, Stephen Bainborough, Kristen Keller, Ted Coach, Mike Mercier and James McKenna are going to have three new performers – Stephanie Anderson, Janet McMordie, and Caitlin Robson – join them. We could all use a laugh right about now, and I’m pretty sure these folks will make you laugh.
Saturday night Mariposa-in-Concert returns with Betty and the Bobs. If the idea this group with absolutely no Betty or any Bob’s present might be a fun bunch of musicians to enjoy, then get a ticket, and maybe one for your partner/friend/enemy. I saw this crew – Wendell Ferguson, Rich Greenspoon, David Matheson, Soozi Schlanger, Suzie Vinnick, Katherine Wheatley and David Woodhead – at a Mariposa off-season concert just a few years ago and it was the best night. The show is at St. Paul’s Centre.
The Nominees Are
It’s that time of year again. The annual Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards are being given Next Wednesday night. It turns out who ever came up with the name was a happy twist of fate because the name breaks down to an acronym, ORAH, which has some cache. There’s a bunch of award names that could have been attached. After all, Oscar, Juno, Grammy, don’t really relate to the proper name or organizations behind them.
Think about it, what’s the thing we can see, especially if you are Jabba the Hut, during a solar eclipse – and aura (of course the former Commander In Thief can actually say what it looks like). We are the Sunshine City and the people who are nominated, and who have received the award and been nominated in past years, have certainly eclipsed a level of performance expectation.
The awards are happening at St. Paul’s Centre, the doors open at 6 p.m. and there will be an hour to schmooze before the show starts at 7. The audience has increased each of previous two years when it was live (last year it happened online) and the first year was a huge jump in attendance form when the Orillia District Arts Council and the Orillia Museum of Art and History ran their own recognition affairs. Two years ago the room was just about maxxed out at the Geneva Event Centre, and there has been a long-term goal to make it a proper celebration necessitating having to use Gord’s Room where almost 700 people can attend.
What is important right now is knowing who is nominated, so here we go. All were selected from submissions by people like you.
In the Education in Arts, Culture and Heritage category there are four nominees. Alex Andrews has been teaching violin and viola at the Orillia Music Centre for a few years. She also can be seen from time to time performing, but we’re talking about passing on the art. The Orillia Music Centre itself was also nominated. They’ve been around for a few years and are continually growing. Heartworks Children’s Studio is pretty new, opening up during the pandemic. They specialize in visual and hands-on art for kids of all ages. Ron and Ann Harrison have a dedication to assembling historical information about Simcoe County’s black history and then telling everyone what they know.
The Emerging Artist Award has three nominees. Brazzledazzle is a quartet of Orillia Secondary school students (Grace Locker, Ashley Greenwood, Brianna Mandarino and Peyton Nie) who formed their group just ahead of the pandemic, practiced online, did a See You on the Patio gig, play retirement homes and are getting a Christmas program together. Norman Robert Catchpole is new to Orillians, which is kind of why he’s in the emerging artist category, but has a body of work; some of it you can see right now at Peter Street Fine Arts, and in December he has a show at Hibernation Arts. Sam Johnston has grown from doing a tune or two at open mics at the Brownstone, to having a full set of tunes which we recently saw her perform at Creative Nomad Studio.
The Heritage Restoration, Renovation and Publication Award has two nominees and both are from the publishing realm. Fred Blair can sometimes be found in the research room at OMAH, or blowing dust of things in the archives at St. James’ Anglican Church. He published books about War of 1812, World War One, and recently Orillia’s Early Settlers about, you guessed it, Orillia’s early settlers. Mike Hill published a history of the Mariposa Folk Festival, is still working on the festival’s archives, and I understand has a new book about Canadian prime ministers on the way.
The Event in Arts, Culture and Heritage Award has two nominees. Mariposa Arts Theatre’s summer production of Twelfth Night, which happened on the lawn at the Leacock Museum, was different, being outside, and for figuring out how to do a play – all things considered. Streets Alive wrapped up ten years of summertime public art exhibitions with the Hippy Vans. It was a year late, and yet, a year early because it was meant to coincide with the Mariposa Folk Festival’s 60th anniversary. OMAH’s own history committee is nominated for the monthly History Speaker’s Night, an excellent series about people, places and things in Orillia.
The Quennefer Browne Achievement Award has four nominees. This is for a lifetime of work and each of the nominees has put years of effort into the community. Lance Anderson was probably nominated for a number of things, but to me his biggest accomplishment is recruiting great musicians from all across Canada to come to Orillia and play for us. Blair Bailey has played as an accompanist for soloists and choirs, stickhandled many theatrical productions at St. Paul’s Centre and was the artistic director of the Kiwanis Music Festival for a couple decades. Dick Johnston was the chair of the Sir John A. Macdonald dinner for many years, created the much copied by other communities Take A Vet To Dinner event, and has fundraised for the hysterical wing of OMAH over the years. You see Ron Schell’s work every time you go downtown – and it’s not just the ten years worth of Streets Alive street art pieces; look up, many of the most interesting signs on stores downtown he created.
I’m glad I’m not a judge. I mean, obviously I am here when my critic hat is on, but I think each of the nominees have enough points to create ties in every category and tie-breakers are not the kind of people who drink for free after the decisions are made.
I have a different role in the awards this year. Peter Stranks and Sadie Exton Stranks are the emcee’s passing out the loot, and I’m the pre-game host. Good luck everybody. See you on Wednesday
The annual Santa Claus Parade, an abbreviated version, happens Saturday and Sunday downtown. It’s only going to be the usual last float with Santa’s beard blowing in the wind and a couple police cars, not an hour long, bands and floats affair, but the chamber of commerce thought taking two years off was too much. The mini-entourage will be arriving by West Street, heading up to the hospital and then downtown shortly after 11 a.m. Then it will head out to Rama for 12:30 p.m. and then over to the West Ridge at 1:30 p.m. where he’ll be hitting up the plazas and touring Stoneridge and Orion Boulevards. Last, the whole thing arrives at Orillia Square Mall for a little last minute (for Santa) shopping. Sunday, instead of going to Rama, the parade will be doing south Orillia, so far south it will actually be Oro-Medonte in the Carthew Bay / 8 Mile Point area.
The Orillia Concert Band, with Randy Hoover subbing on the arm waving front, is having an afternoon Christmas concert of shorter duration for kids December 4 at 3:30 p.m. and the Christmas Prelude at 7:30 p.m. Both are at St. Paul’s Centre and you can get tickets online at the Opera House box office. Also, they always did three concerts at retirement homes over the season, and obviously that can’t happen right now, so they are live streaming both December 4 concerts on their Youtube Channel. Anyone can see the livestream, so retirees will still get entertained, but they’d like everyone else to treat it as a fundraiser and buy donation tickets through the Opera House.
At the Opera House… Ballet Jurgen returns with their Nutcracker production November 27; a review called the Music Of Broadway is in November 20; The Barra MacNeils annual Christmas tour stops in Orillia December 3; The Orillia Silver Band’s Christmas concert happens Dec. 12; Barrie’s Theatre By The Bay is bringing a production called Revival to the Opera House December 18; Not really a Christmas thing, the Music of the Night happens December 11. All tickets are available at the box office online.
The Orillia Scottish Festival has a fundraising dinner happening November 30 at Creative Nomad Studios. Krew Catering Company is doing the food. The best part, aside from the dinner, which looks good on paper, is Terry Fallis will be on hand to read from his new book, Operation Angus (which has not yet won a Leacock Medal) You can get tickets online.
Creative Nomad Studios is having a Holiday Market November 27 and 28. There are other Christmas events lined up. Quayle’s Brewery (12th Line of Oro-Medonte just off Mt. St. Louis Road) is having a Christmas Market November 27 and 28, and December 4 and 5.
The Orillia Concert Association has a 2021/22 season. The next concert is online with Peter Stoll and Adam Zukiewicz on November 28. They go live February 20 with violinist Maria Millar and Shawn Wyckoff on flute performing as Sonic Escape; followed by the Hogtown Brass March 27 and the Toronto All-Star Big Band May 1. You can get the very reasonably priced season tickets ($70) at the Opera House box office.
The 7th annual Ugly Sweater Bowling Party happens at Orillia Bowl December 17. The beneficiary this year is the Sharing Place Food Bank. Register here.
Zachary Lucky is doing two shows January 14 and 15 at Picnic Snackbar Get tickets here.
The Lighthouse has a fundraising concert with The Steel Horse Gypsies and New Moon Junction opening December 11 at St. Paul’s Centre. Tickets are $20.
Ayden Miller and his band, New Friends, has a new tune and video. Lovestruck Energy was shot in Montreal mostly on an iPhone – and it looks good.
At the galleries… journalist Veersen Bhoolai spent three years in Kandahar, wrote a book about it, and will be at Hibernation Arts Sunday at 1 p.m. to talk about it all (tickets are $10); Saturday Hibernation opens up new space in their shop, in the basement, the show is called – wait for it, Underground Art; Sam Johnston is doing a small concert Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. ($20); right now see the Carmichael Too show… Gordon Harrison has a solo show at Cloud Gallery until November 21; next up at Cloud is Julia Veenstra’s solo show with a reception December 3 (tickets – free) and Kyle Sorenson’s happens December 10 … OMAH has the fabulous (there’s a word I don’t type often) annual Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition and a stunning exhibit of portraits by D. Ahsén:nase Douglas you have to see.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: 2021 Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards nominees Lance Anderson, Alex Andrews, Ron Schell and Sam Johnston.