This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Now that we get to go out and play and with spring coming (I’m sorry I said that, my track record referencing weather conditions is not very good) I’m sure many of you are thinking of things to do – where other people are also doing things.

One of those things to do is head right back indoors – at the Opera House – and catch a concert or two. There’s a pretty good lineup of events scheduled for the next few months.

I’m going to skip ahead a few weeks to start. Mariposa Arts Theatre, remember them? They’ve got a play happening starting April 21. They’re doing Steel Magnolias. I remember when the Sunshine Festival did this one. I went in thinking, how much am I going to enjoy a play where the cast is all women and the script is all about women things? I do recall it wasn’t so bad and I really enjoyed the performance. MAT is doing it in the Gord’s Room and a number of tickets are already sold.

Back to some orderly account of who is playing at the Opera House. Chantel Kreviazuk is leading the charge with a concert March 10. Ron James is in to make us laugh March 20. The Stampeders are celebrating 50 years of making music with a concert April 7.

A band I never heard of until I saw them on the Opera House dance card a couple months ago, Washboard Union, is coming to play May 3. I never heard of them because I don’t listen to country music stations, but they won the Canadian Country Music Award for best group or duo for the third year running.

The Mudmen (Photo by Doris Weir)

May 5 the Mudmen are in to play. These guys do a great show, and you’ll recognize some of their tunes, especially if you watch hockey games on TV. And, they found a use for bagpipes in modern rock and roll, which is no small feat. They sell a lot of tickets every time they play in Orillia, so you might want to get yours now. It will be a fun night.

Derek Edwards is back to make us laugh May 12 and Sarah Harmer will be in May 21.

I’m going to end this with June, sort of, to tell you Lunch at Allen’s will be playing June 10. If you like the music made by Murray McLauchlan, Cindy Church, Marc Jordan or Ian Thomas, you’re really going to like their songs played by this quartet – and they do perform their hit tunes.

One concert happening which is probably going to be the bright one of the schedule because it’s not every day a Tony Award nominated performer comes to the Opera House. Louise Pitre got her nomination for being in Mamma Mia, and also had a lead role in the Toronto, Montreal and Paris productions of Les Miserables. I’m sure the tickets for this June 19 gig are going to go fast.

And right behind her is Ballet Jorgen’s Anne of Green Gables on June 25. This is the first time the story will be presented as a ballet. Ballet Jorgen is the company behind the annual Nutcracker presentation at the Opera House.

OK, I lied; I am going into the summer schedule. Summer theater is happening – with three plays! Two of them are Norm Foster’s, Doris and Ivy in the Home and Come Down from Up River. I don’t recall seeing a Norm Foster play I didn’t like. The middle play of the series is one we were supposed to see last year, Driving Miss Daisy.

You can get tickets to any and all of these online.

Mariposa Stuff

Tickets are now available for Mariposa’s Gospel and Blues concert April 9 at the Opera House. This is the annual, except when we have a pandemic, great and fantastic night out Mariposa and Lance Anderson came up with about ten years ago. Each year has been an amazing show because Lance puts together bands and featured singers which couldn’t be crappy if they tried.

The Weber Brothers are in the band this time. They’ve been here many times and I’ll never forget the first time when they were part of Jimmy Bowskill’s band for the Orillia Spring Blues Festival about 100 years ago (seems like yesterday). The brothers were also at Mariposa once or twice playing in other people’s bands. These guys play guitar and bass like they were born with them in their hands, and I’ll bet once or twice they wished mom and dad had one more kid who could drum so they could set the music world on fire.

Also in the band, playing piano, is Quincy Bullen. He’s got three albums out, the second last one had Larnell Lewis (Snarky Puppy) playing drums on it. Selena Evangeline Is going to sing. You can check out her chops here.

Mariposa is also making the most of their programming foresight. Several of the acts playing the summer festival are nominated for Junos:

  • JP Saxe: – Artist of the Year – Album of the Year
  • Allison Russell – Songwriter of the Year –
    Contemporary Roots Album of the Year
  • The Weather Station – Adult Alternative Album of the Year
  • The Fretless – Contemporary Roots Album of the Year
  • Serena Ryder – Adult Contemporary Album of the Year
  • Colin Linden (Blackie and The Rodeo Kings) at the festival) – Blues Album of the Year
  • Ruby Waters – Alternative Album of the Year

It’s also time to apply to be a volunteer at the summer festival. You can find all the info here.

It’s also time to apply for the Audition Showcase happening May 1 at St. Paul’s Centre. Get the details to apply online.

And of course tickets are on sale right now.

Rooting Around

Roots North is getting closer. The three day event features main stage concerts at St. Paul’s Centre April 22 and 23. The Friday night show has Craig Mainprize, Terra Lightfoot and Steve Poltz playing; Saturday it’s Lydia Persaud, Logan Staats and the Good Lovelies. You can get tickets online.

Also, as with other years, the basement level at St. Paul’s will have displays from artists and crafters in their Art Market. Roots North is currently taking applications to be part of that. Contact to find out more.

The Shorts

  • The Severn Winterfest happens March 5 at ODAS Park from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. They have the usual winter activities, plus an ice bar, a demo derby and giant slide and a Polar Bear Dip. That’s right, they are building their own lake. Visit the website for details how to enter. They also have ice and roller skating.
  • Zachary Lucky has a concert happening March 5 at Picnic. You can get them online. Sean Patrick and Jeff Davis play Picnic Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.
  • The City of Orillia is expanding its recreation programs and is accepting proposals for new learning activities. If you have a skill in art, music or other culturally related area you should consider passing on your knowledge. You find a proposal form online.  
  • Mike Hill has a new book out. The Lost Prime Ministers is about the ones we don’t often talk about; Abbott, Thompson, Bowell, and Tupper. You can get a copy at Manticore Books.
  • Sustainable Orillia is having an art contest based on the theme Orillia 2050 – a Sustainable City. There is a $1,500 prize pool for entries in three classes; adult, high school students and elementary school age. Submission details are available soon on the website.
  • Liz Anderson has joined a band called Sean Cotton and The Acoustic Soul Ensemble. She’s part of a gig called Acoustic Floyd happening April 2 at the Canvas Brewing Company in Huntsville. I asked, they are doing Great Gig in the Sky because it seemed like the obvious thing to ask if Liz is in the band. Yes they are.  I didn’t ask if Liz is specifically singing that part (I just assumed, her cousin is also in the band and might have that role to play), but I think if it isn’t Liz doing it, her cousin must be  an outstanding singer. Get tickets online.
  • The Straight Goods (Matt James, Nate Robertson, Peter Sanderson and Steve Parkes) are playing a benefit called Music for Cats 2 at the Moose Lodge May 7. Ronnie Douglas is a special guest for this fundraiser for the Comfie Cat Shelter and tickets are $15 which you can get at Plum Loco.
  • Krista Storey, who wrote A Butterfly Named Braveheart, which was the subject of this nifty column in January, and was formerly the general manager of the Opera House and the manager of arts and culture in Gravenhurst, is the new manager of cultural services for the Town of Meaford. She’ll be in charge of the Meaford Hall and the Meaford Museum. Congratulations.
  • Glen Robertson has a new tune, Are You Woke Yet? On his Soundcloud channel. And just let it play, the next tunes in the cue are very good.
  • OMAH has a 35 piece quilt show called Colour With a U and From Marbles to Minecraft: A Century of Childhood which contrasts childhood in Orillia between the 1920s and the 2020s. Douglas Ahsen:Nase’s excellent exhibit of portraiture is still up, so go see it. March 16 at 7 p.m. the next installment of the History Speaker’s Series happens online. John Savage will speak about The War of the Woods, the conflict between area lumber barons and residents that has its effect through today. Call the museum at 705-326-2159 to register and the event link will be sent to you. And in case you are wondering, the annual International Women’s Day Art Show is happening this year, but in April. And, March Break is coming and OMAH has programs to keep the kids occupied. Registration is open now.
  •  Mark and Blake Fletcher have a video on Instagram telling the story of Cloud Gallery. The audio at first is wonky, but it gets better.
  •  Speaking of Creative Nomad Studios, where Cloud Gallery is located, there are a number of programs to take part in. Check them out here.
  •  The Kensington has an open mic night hosted by Tim Kehoe on Tuesdays from 8 to 11 p.m.
  • Ronnie Douglas has a new original tune called Right Between The Eyes you can see and hear on Youtube.
  • Gordon Lightfoot has a new tune, Oh So Sweet, you can listen to on Youtube.
  • Steven Henry does an online concert Saturday’s at 8 p.m.
  • Hibernation Arts March show is Of Women because it’s March International Women’s Day March 8; the opening reception is Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. Peter Street Fine Art has Robert Kavanagh as their guest artist this month.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied)

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