This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Mariposa Arts Theatre’s current production, I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, is a play that can be confusing. There are more than a few twists and turns and from this perspective some issues with the script.

The playwright, Peter Colley, leaves much for the audience to figure out, or assume. We assume wrongly for the most part. For instance Jan (Kathryn Heins) has some kind of mental illness. Eventually we find out she was institutionalized for a time, but for what? Why does this affect how she behaves in the story?

She’s a bundle of nerves the whole time. The only thing she understands is sister-in-law Laura (Samantha Cole) is, and has been, inserting herself into to Jan’s marriage with Greg, (Larry Cooper). There’s an obsession going on there, but is it just Laura is a controlling, gaslighting personality, or is there more going on?

Even the dialogue sometimes gives us too much trivial information that would not be said in normal conversation, and then at other times Colley leaves out what would help us follow along.

Jim Dwyer and Larry Cooper

At first Greg appears to be concerned about helping Jan get well, he’s just doing it very strangely. Like for instance, deciding a getaway to a remote farmhouse in the middle of nowhere is just the thing she needs. Except he never heard Jan saying she doesn’t want to be alone, or did he?

I think a good portion of what transpires is meant to be comedic. Whether it’s the script or how the actors deliver I think I missed some of the humour (I saw the play at dress rehearsal, so the latter may have hit its stride already). I suppose it’s entirely possible Colley just wants the audience to be confused until the end. You can’t miss the this–is-supposed-to-be-funny element is the neighbour, George (Jim Dwyer), who owns the house and the surrounding farm. He likes his jokes as much as the audience.

Why he’s part of the story is not clear, except to be the vehicle for introducing the point the house is haunted, which makes Jan feel a whole lot better.  George has a habit of turning up when least expected.

The one thing that is not confusing is the effects. The big one near the end is really good, you’ll jump in your seat, and several of the others following are very clever.

Now it’s possible you will be perplexed by this play – until the last 10 minutes or so when motivations are revealed and all the twists make sense (which, come to think of it, motivations bugged me all the way through, there didn’t seem to be any).

I think if I had known the ending I would have watched the performance differently. I’m not going to say how it ends, just know your questions about what is going on will be resolved, and then you might want to watch it again to see what it is you missed the first time around. Get tickets online.

Hang It Up

The Orillia Museum of Art and History is looking for a couple board members. You can apply online if you are 18-years-old, live in Simcoe County, have references and are a member of OMAH, but not an employee or related to one.

OMAH also has a call for artists for the next exhibition at the Orillia Recreation Centre. The show is called Roots and Resilience: Expressions of Identity and Culture. They are specifically asking for ‘Indigenous artists’ which is fine, it should be expected.

However, when the City had $276,000 on the line in 2022 and picked all but one of the artists who got commissions from outside the Orillia area, we were told preference to a group of artists was not allowed under City policy. You can read the stories here and here. We were told it was not possible to exclude bids from artists who were outside the area, or make any qualifying criteria and yet here we are the notice for this latest venture does exactly that. The deadline is April 19 and applications are online.

OMAH has a 4 exhibits to see. Robyn Rennie’s Seeing Beyond; is on the main floor. Each of the 27 paintings is in two parts. Both are textured 3D paintings, but one is white in order to see the texturing and the other colourized.

Upstairs see a series of old 8mm films showing Orillia as it used to be. It’s called Grant’s Legacy: Capturing Orillia’s History on Film and you can see it anytime, but they have a movie night every Thursday until April 18 – complete with wine, beer and popcorn. Also see upstairs see Sybil, a collection of fibre art by artists associated with the celebrated Sybil Rampen.

OMAH also has a new chapter of the  online history of Orillia bands about the Orillia Kiltie Band. The April History Speaker’s Night is with Frances Helyar on the 17th, she’ll be talking about the art of C.W. Jefferys and his relationship to Simcoe County. It’s online and you can register here.

In other art shows, St. Paul’s Centre has the Call to Action 83 Art Project in the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery; I was in to see Hibernation Arts new ODAC collection for the month and saw again work by Enrique Bravo. I noticed two of his hanging in the Opera House Green Room (also an ODAC artists group show). Those are surrealistic and really good, but this one at HIbernation was not and has fine detail. Zain Campbell also has a collection of  his paintings on the wall. up… Peter Street Fine Arts has a collection of work by Sue Emily featured in April.

Lisa Litowitz

Cloud Gallery is 3 years old this month and has re-started their Meet The Artist series, a Saturday afternoon with an artist in residence. April 20 Lisa Litowitz will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 27 Lori Meeboer will set up camp during the same times. You can see new pieces and speak with the artists.  Cloud has also added three artists to their roster.

The Orillia and District Arts Council has two receptions happening in the Opera House Green Room. One is their Goodbye Winter Art Show April 20 and the other their Spring Awakening Show May 18. Both are from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can also take part in a tour of the Opera House.

The Images Studio Tour will be 40 this year and they are accepting applications from artists to be part of it. They have a jurying process and you can apply online.

Music Music Music

It’s going to get busy around here. This week the Roots North Music Festival is happening. They have main stage shows Friday and Saturday at St. Paul’s Centre and a number of venues have musicians playing.

I have a little more information about the mystery performance downtown Saturday at 11:30 a.m. I mentioned last week. I ran into Derick Lehmann and said, “You said, If you’re out and about on Saturday you’ll find them. Trust me. What if I’m down at Front Street and something happens at the library? How Am I going to hear that?”

Derick said I should be in good shape if I was near Peter Street, it will be outdoors, but he would say who it is playing.

At St. Paul’s the Red Hill Valleys open for Bleeker on Friday. This is the first opportunity we’ve had to see Bleeker in some time.

Before we move on, Bleeker released a new tune, Let’s Go, last week. They also announced the title to their new album, Messed Up, which has 11 tunes on it, and they also announced it will be available on vinyl – which you can order here.

The Red Hill Valleys are from Hamilton. They do Country Rock and have a number of albums recorded.

Saturday’s main stage show opens with Spencer Burton. Next up is Juno nominated Julian Taylor. He also was part of Mariposa last year. Closing out that show is Begonia. She also was nominated for a Juno this year. She was supposed to play Roots North in 2020.

Each of the mains stage shows starts with the traditional art market in the basement at St. Paul’s which opens at 6 p.m. (concert is at 7).

Venue action starts Wednesday with Andrew Walker at Lake Country Grill and Picnic has a Writer’s In Residence thing happening with Michael Martyn, B. Knox, Mitch Szitas and Corey Taylor. Thursday evening Chris Lemay is at Farre.

Friday afternoon Apple Annie’s has an open mic, Steve Porter (Alleycats) and Sidney Riley (Quayles) have gigs. Folks playing at other venues Friday night are the Mitch Buebe Band at the Sunken Ship, Ronnie Douglas at Couchiching Craft Brewing and Kevin Foster at Kensington’s.

Saturday Alleycats has something happening in the morning to mark Record Store Day across Canada. Also in the morning small ensembles from Orillia Secondary School and Bryan Sutton will be playing at the Farmers’ Market, Sully Borrows will be at Mark IV Brothers and Jack and Dean will be at Apple Annie’s.

Saturday afternoon Samantha Windover (Quayle’s), Jack and Dan (Apple Annie’s), Sully Burrows (Hibernation Arts) Sean Patrick (Hog ‘N Penny –jam session), Sam Johnston (Blossom Plants and Goods), Rebekah Hawker (Quayles), and Geoff Booth and the Joy Collective (Sunken Ship) all have gigs.

The Orillia Youth Centre has an open mic at 6 p.m. Other evening gigs are with Cam Galloway (Couchiching Craft Brewing), Bella (Rustica), Sam Johnston – with her band (Brewery Bay) Fiddling Jay Edmunds (Hog ‘n Penny) and Michael Constantini (Kensington’s).

Sunday The Wanted play brunch at the Common Stove, Alex Rabbitson is at Alleycats, Genevieve Cyr is at Quayle’s and Richard Benson is at Picinc.

You can see the complete schedule, performance times and get tickets online.

The Shorts

  • The Mariposa Folk Festival audition concert is Apr. 27 at 1 p.m. at St. Paul’s Centre. Sam Johnston and Rebekah Hawker both got invites. There are 10 acts trying to get the three festival gigs on the line. It’s free to attend.
  •  Mariposa Arts Theater is holding auditions for their fall production, Stephen Sondheim’s Gypsy. They will be May 24, 25, and 26 at their rehearsal hall. Josh Halbot is directing. You can find out all the details about the character descriptions, audition requirements and how to become part of the burlesque ensemble online.
  • Danny Webster just released an album’s worth of new music which you can listen to and buy on Bandcamp.

  • The success of the first two Back to the 90s Video Dance Parties was so good ($14,000 raised in December), Derick Lehmann has a third one happening May 25 at the Roller Skating Place at ODAS Park. This time around the fundraiser is to buy bikes for kids. Get tickets online. Derick is also promoting the Pure Country 106 Video Dance Party Apr. 27 at ODAS Park and you get those tickets online.
Classic Lightfoot Live, Steve Eyers, John Stinson and Eric Kidd
  • At the Opera House this month The Stampeders are in Apr. 24; Able Theatre does Start Apr. 25; Apr. 27 see the World Tour Paddling Film Festival; Lighthouse plays May 2; Amy Sky and Marc Jordan May 3 and Classic Lightfoot Live is in May 4. Get tickets to any of those online.

  • Anne Walker is having another round of summer concerts at the Coulson Church. The schedule is: Apr. 28 Emily Jean Flack; May 26 Jowi Taylor with Six String Nation; June 23 Tannis Slimmon and Lewis Melville; July 28 Wendell Ferguson; Aug. 25 Anne Walker; and Sept. 29 Blair Packham. You can get tickets online.

  • Canada Day is returning to Couchiching Beach Park and the organizing committee has some room on it, and they are looking for people to volunteer the day of. You can find out more online.

  • Tickets are now on sale for all The Leacock Medal for Humour’s events in June. Terry Fallis is emceeing the Meet the Authors night and Steve Patterson the medal dinner.

  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has Samantha Windover playing Apr. 26; Stephan Bernard Apr. 27; Sam Johnston and Jeff Davis Apr. 13… Quayle’s Brewery has Meredith Warboys playing Apr. 25; Jakob Pearce Apr. 26; My Missing Piece Apr.27; and Chris Staig Apr. 28.

(Images Supplied) Main: Samantha Cole, Larry Cooper and Kathryn Heins in Mariposa Arts Theatre’s I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, now on at the Orillia Opera House.

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