This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

If there was a requirement, or a stage direction, there be 76 people on hand to have 76 trombones on stage in order to perform The Music Man the folks at St. Paul’s Centre couldn’t do it. They have 40, 50 tops, people in the cast for the show they are putting on January 24 to 28.

And thank the stars for that. Not even trombone players want to have that many on hand. They know the fine line they run as members of a band and 76 would just draw too much attention.

The main characters, Harold Hill and Marian Paroo are played by Stuart Todd and Megan Frances. Megan hasn’t been seen in a play around here for several years and since the last time has been making a career of teaching.

The rehearsal I dropped into looked like organized chaos. It was the first time the cast met the band, (with Blair Bailey as music director and Neil Barlow playing trumpet and leading the band). As it was, they were skipping through the script to get the pickups into the songs, and dealing with exits for those not involved in the next scenes.

Director Jodi Maltby was more traffic cop then anything because everyone was not involved in every scene and when they were all on stage but having to come or go, it needed someone to sort out how that happens.

It’s interesting this play was chosen at this time. A con man, Hill, arrives in town, and proceeds to use the one weapon he has, lies, to establish himself and get the town on his side so he can pick their pockets. When the townsfolk find out they’ve been lied to, the one person of influence, the librarian, Marian, who knows he’s lying, defends him for her own purpose.

The townspeople focus on the wrong things in the ending, trite as it is, and convince themselves there’s nothing to see here.

It is the quintessential North American story. Ignore the substance, buy the illusion.

There are evening and matinee performances. You can get tickets online. You can also have dinner at St. Paul’s before the evening performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but you then have to go into the office to get those dinner/show tickets. The office is open Tuesdays through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon.

There will also be a performance on January 22, with admission being pay what you can (and no reserve seating).

They also need a few backstage players, about that; and people to serve dinner,; and ushers

I just noticed I cut one of the trombone players last week and referred to 75 trombones. It was for goofing off. No one noticed, which surprises me, so pay attention folks.

Go West

Bleeker has some things happening. I mentioned last week their first single, Walken, from their new album was used for the opening montage for a televised Maple Leafs game. They announced the second single, Make It Better, is out January 26. This is all following opening for Big Wreck at Barrie’s New Year’s eve outdoor concert.

Now they are heading west to open a series of shows for The Trews in Alberta at the end of the month, and one in Oshawa February 28. They are one of a few bands listed as opening acts, but they got top billing among those, even over Wide Mouth Mason.

I noticed The Trews are doing a lot of early February shows nearby in venues which are part of an Ontario consortium of theatres that bid together to bring in concerts to places like Lindsay, Brampton, North Bay, St. Catherines, etc. and The Opera House certainly would have been able to join the club, but The Trews won’t be coming here.

It would have been nice if they were and Bleeker opened that show. When I spoke with Taylor Perkins several weeks ago, he said Bleeker is trying to find a way to play a gig here.

February Blues

The annual Mariposa Folk Festival Gospel and Blues show is getting to the critical stage for getting tickets. If you are planning to, you might want to get online now and buy them.

This show is going to be every bit as good as the previous 11. Lance Anderson has a fantastic line up musicians to help him out on stage.

Multiple Maple Blues Award winner Kenny Blues Boss Wayne, Prakash John (Alice Copper, Parliament and Funkadelic), Jordan John (Johnny Reid, Colin James, Jeff Healey, Burton Cummings) and Michael Shand (Molly Johnson, Matt Dusk) will give us a decent mid-winter lift.

More Opera House Stuff

The Opera House has the Mudmen playing January 27. A brief conversation with Opera House GM Wendy Fairbairn; “They’re loud.”

“They’re supposed to be loud, they’re a rock band.”

“Yes, but they have bagpipes.”

They do, and they use them well, not in way Pete Townshend sometimes did, smashing his guitar to pieces (I know, I think I’d pay money to see a bagpiper do a chokeslam with their  ‘instrument’), but integrating them into some pretty good tunes. If you ever watched a hockey game, especially Hockey Night In Canada, you’ve heard the band. If you are a Don Cherry fan, to the point of owning any of his DVD’s, you’ve also heard them.

Mariposa Arts Theatre has The Play That Goes Wrong starting Feb. 8. It’s a comedy by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields which has been described as a cross between Monty Python and Sherlock Holmes. Tickets for the play and the Mudmen are online.

Use that link to get tickets to the Leacock Museum’s special presentation February 3 and 17 of A Leacock Love Story. The museum is closed for the winter, but with Valentine’s Day around the corner, they figured, why not?

When they were doing some restoration work in Stevie’s bedroom, they found a bunch of letters from Beatrix. She did not live to see the house completed, so these are her last letters.

The Shorts

  • Valerie Powell’s daughter, Elizabeth, is the atom the band Land Of Talk revolves around. The band has been off the scene for a while, but they have a tour in April which will take them down to Atlanta, with stops in New York, Philly, Washington DC, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto and then off to Calgary by way of Chicago. You can get tickets for the Toronto gig here.
  • The Orillia Museum of Art and History Has a grand opening for three exhibits Jan. 20 from 1 to 3 p.m.; they are Grant’s Legacy: Capturing Orillia’s History on Film, Sybil: Connections, Fibre Artists and Seeing Beyond – a solo exhibit by Robyn Rennie; they’ll always show you the jail, or at least the permanent exhibit in the basement, The Orillia Police And The Sir Sam Steele Memorial Building; The monthly History Speaker’s Night resumes Jan. 17 with Dave Town talking about the fantastical things which happened in Orillia between 1880 and 19020, it’s on Zoom and you can sign up online… St. Paul’s Centre has the Call to Action 83 Art Project in the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery… Hibernation Arts January guest artist is Renee van der Putten.
  • OMAH also has their annual gala fundraiser happening Jan. 27 at Hawkridge Golf Club.. The guest speaker is Mark Bourrie. He’s a lawyer , former journalist and author of Big Men Fear Me, which is a biography of Globe and Mail founder George McCullagh. Bourrie was most recently the lawyer defending Ottawa Life Magazine in a lawsuit brought by Ottawa Police Services chief Peter Sloly over a story claiming mismanagement of the police force. You can get tickets online. On the same evening an online raffle of six pieces of art by Pam Allen, Paul Allen, Dave Beckett, Charles Pachter, Roger Kerslake and Tony Bianco ends. You can make a bid right now online.
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has Will Davis and Chris Robinson playing Jan. 14; Cam Galloway is in Jan. 19; The Offcuts play Jan. 20… Quayle’s Brewery has Ron Whitman playing Jan. 18; Kat Chabot Jan. 19; Sean Murray (of Reay) and Ryan Smith Jan. 20… The Offcuts, with special guest Bernadette Connors, play a fundraiser for the Orillia Youth Centre Feb. 3 at Creative Nomad Studios; get tickets online… The Washago Lion’s Jam Night start again Jan. 17 at the Washago Lions Hall.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Megan Frances and Stuart Todd in St. Paul’s Centre’s production of The Music Man.

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