This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

The waterfront becomes the focus of cultural activity for the next 7 days. First up, the Rotary Train makes its first run of the summer at noon Saturday. It’s the 40th anniversary of the train and there will be free rides. Maybe more important the Rotary Beer Tent opens at 2 p.m.

Rotary Train Station

The beer tent is part of the 34th annual Christmas in June at the Port of Orillia. There will be live music at the tent, and for $20 you can have a turkey dinner provided by Friends Diner starting at 4:30 p.m. Leadbetter’s gets a jump on the food with a BBQ and music at 12:30.  At 9 p.m. the Ronnie Douglas Band is going to play some tunes to accompany the boat light contest.

Sunday the Orillia Concert Band starts the summer’s Concert in the Park series at the Aqua Theatre. The set list includes a few tunes from their last concert, which is good, if you are like some people around here who missed it. They’ll play – Don’t Cry For me Argentina, a West Side Story medley, Malaguena and Radetzky March, plus a medley of tunes from Jesus Christ Superstar, Ashokan Farewell, and California Dreaming.

The OCB organized their own gig. The City’s series starts with the Orillia Silver Band playing July 10, the Barrie Concert Band July 24, followed by The Skyliners Big Band August 14 and the Simcoe County Band August 28. You’ll notice that’s every two weeks instead of every Sunday evening.

There’s couple reasons for that. One is some of the bands which normally play here in the summer aren’t in a position to do so quite yet. In light of that the City decided to go every other week, and give the bands a bigger cheque from the annual budget. There is a secondary reason the City went that way. Normally the City covers about half the costs the bands have and if you’ve been, you know the bands pass the hat. Nobody is really comfortable doing that yet, so the extra money makes up for less contact among people.

The concerts start at 6:30 p.m., bring a lawn chair.

Oh, on the Aqua Theatre, you might notice it looks different. It’s had a substantial amount of work done and got a face lift. It looks nice. When I was in the park and thought I saw lights on it, the decorative type, running up either side of the stage, but when I got over to that part of the park to take a photo they weren’t on and unless the lights are buried inside the decorative pattern I couldn’t see any fixtures.

The other thing I noticed is the name. When I first landed in Orillia it was the Aquatheatre. Then someone decided to make a new sign and it became two words. I’ve always vacillated between both spellings, but now I suppose since I just made note of it and the name on the concert shell is more prominent I guess I’ll have to make friends with the space bar.

Canada Day

Next Friday the Canada Day committee has a full day of activity planned. Everything starts at 8:30 a.m. with the Pancake Breakfast. It goes until 11 or when the pancakes run out.

The Wheely Great Parade (if it’s got wheels and needs muscle power) is at 10:30 a.m. Registration at the park entrance opens at 9. The Children’s Village opens with free activities when the parade is finished. The other Parade starts at noon and goes down Mississaga from Andrew Street to Terry Fox Circle.

The world famous Mariposa Market Canada Day cake gets cut and served at 2 p.m. in the pavilion by the boardwalk. You can get a beer to chase it at the Legion’s beer tent (opens at 11 a.m.) and stay to hear some bands.

Speaking of bands, there will be some playing at the Aquatheatre. One of them is a band called The Latest Issue. This is Cory Doucette’s (Tradesmen) new band. They’re on at 9 p.m.

Of course there’s a midway all day and fireworks when the sun goes down.  You can still volunteer to help by emailing

Plays, Again

So I was out to watch part of a rehearsal for Mariposa Arts Theater’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised), which opens June 29 and runs to July 7 at the Leacock Museum.

Conal Derdall, Larry Cooper and Peter Merkle rehearsing MAT’s Shakespeaare production at the Leacock Museum

They are doing it on the little stage on the south side of Stevie’s house, which was not what I expected where they’d stage it. The cast, Conal Derdall, Larry Cooper and Peter Merkle have pretty good timing and are pretty good at ad libbing (there’s some audience participation and it was a rehearsal – things breakdown). I now Merkle has been other MAT productions (Chicago, Urinetown) and I believe this is the first time for the others. Doug Ironside is directing.

This is a quick run through of the highlights from all Shakespeare’s plays, though the second half takes up quite a bit of time with Hamlet. It’s really a very clever Cole’s Notes take and very funny. I saw this one when it played here in 2013 as part of the Sunshine Festival. You can get tickets online and there will be chairs on hand.  

The Opera House summer season starts June 29 as well with Norm Foster’s world premiere of Doris and Ivy. The play is the female version of Jonas and Barry in the Home.

Foster sent the script to artistic director Jesse Collins and asked him to do the first production. Jesse also directed the original production of The Ladies Foursome. The play has Debbie Collins, Daniel Karpenchuk and Terri Chern in it.

You can get tickets online. Take note, the play is going to happen in Gord’s Room, not the Studio Theatre as the website shows. Your tickets will be transferred to a similar spot upstairs, or you can just call the box office, 705-326-8011, and order them that way.

I was a little puzzled by that because Duck Soup Productions is going to do Newsies, every Tuesday and over the Civic Holiday weekend in the Studio Theatre and I couldn’t figure out why the staff at the Opera House would put themselves through changing out sets for one performance every week.

Saturday night Ballet Jorgen will be bringing its production of Anne of Green Gables to the Opera House July 25 for one performance of this first ever ballet treatment of the famous story. Get tickets at the link above.

And, the Opera House is hiring. They are looking for a part-time production person, which means a little sound and little lighting and a lot of loading in and out. You can find out more details and how to apply here.

Arty Stuff

I was at the afternoon garden party OMAH had for their online auction fundraiser of works by Charles Pachter. It was at Charles’s MOFO Western Avenue studio. It was a great day to do some schmoozing. The sun was out, air was chilly and the beer warm (at first). It was nice to see so many people and have the time to chat without chugging the drink and getting back to my seat from intermission.

Charles Pachter

Charles chose 7 paintings to auction at the party. If you’ve never seen him auction his own stuff it’s entertainment on its own. I don’t think a pro auctioneer could get half as much as he manages to get people to cough up. They raised $5,000 right then, and the totals for the whole auction I’ll have next week.

OMAH also has the 25th Annual International Women’s Day Art Show with 112 pieces in the show you can see right now.. Upstairs, Hospice Orillia is sponsoring Dying Matters: Reflections Of Growth Through Grief (closing reception July 7 from 5 to 7 p.m.). This is an exhibit of smaller pieces by local artists, except for the art Chantal Kreviazuk donated to the cause (4 prints) and all of it is for sale. There two other exhibits up as well, Return To Sender and Reflections Of Ourselves.

Peter Street Fine Arts has Deby Melillo’s art in the gallery this month. Hibernation Art has Susan Rudoler’s art featured this month and many of the other regular artists have new work hanging around. Also, every Friday night starting next week the downtown is closed to cars and Peter Street galleries and artists will be out with their stuff.  Send a note to if you want to take part showing your art.

The Shorts

  • The Coldwater Studio Tour returns this weekend, just in time for its 20th Anniversary. It happens Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can check out the 19 artists and 5 venues here.
  • Roger Harvey is returning to Orillia to do two fundraising concerts for the Orillia Youth Centre’s Nelson Bell and Jake Beers Bursaries. The first is June 30 at Eclectic Café. Sammy is opening and you can get tickets here. The other one is July 1 at Farmfest in Sebright. Opening that one is Kayla Mahomed and Alex and you can get tickets here.
  • The Park Street Collegiate reunion the  weekend of July 16 at the Barnfield Recreation Centre has Even Steven, Liz Anderson, Mark Stewart’s band and Pete Sanderson’s band performing, a hockey team reunion at Quayle’s Brewery in the afternoon and a restaurant tour. Find out more details and how to get tickets at the reunion website.
  • The Leacock Museum’s K Valerie Connor Memorial Poetry Contest is open to everyone and there are substantial win, place and show cash prizes in elementary, student and adult classes. The entry fee is $25 per poem for adults, $10 for students and elementary kids are free to enter. The contest closes June 30 and July 17 prizes are awarded and readings by winners on hand will happen at the museum. Find links to entry forms here.
  • ouchiching Craft Brewing has Will Dunlop (Wilverine on 89.1 Max FM) hosting Vinyl Night June 29 starting at 7 p.m. – you can bring your own favourite album; Will Davis and Chris Robinson play jazz June 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. … Even Steven is at Lake Country Grill June 30… Jakob Pearce is at Ktchn June 25… the Kensington has an open mic night hosted by Tim Kehoe on Tuesdays from 8 to 11 p.m. … the Hog N’ Penny has trivia night every Thursday.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: The refurbished Rotary Aqua Theatre.

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