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Dan Needles and Ian Bell return to Theatre Orangeville’s stage

March 31, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield 

It is so lovely to see Mr. Needles and Mr. Bell returning to the main stage of Theatre Orangeville, those charmers who have come back to regale us about the delights and pitfalls of country life with their More Confessions from the Ninth Concession having opened March 23 and running until April 10.

The duo has formatted this show as a book, A Field Guide to Country Living with separate chapters presenting various aspects of country life, each into an individual chapter. To be considered are, in part, security, etiquette (“what not to say”), how to live with a well and a septic system meaning every country home and many smaller clusters of homes where the local municipality has no access to a “big pipe.”

Are there chapters on how to live with your neighbourhood wildlife; how to understand what your neighbours are saying? Come and see for yourselves.

Between the stories from Dan Needles and the music and songs from Ian Bell in a fair division of labour (of love, of course) these two-gentleman run a steady stream of humour that will keep you chuckling for days afterward, as you recall those quips and song bites. 

Mr. Bell’s patter song lives up to our expectations and the audience members laughed out loud as he ran us through it. He has written a number of new pieces for this show and they bring their own lights to the subjects in each chapter’s hands. 

Those of us living in the country can thoroughly enjoy any time Toronto is being slagged and appreciate the wit and cleverness of describing who we are as people. Why is it important for us to be good neighbours to help one another? Audiences loved the moments in Dan’s life and his love of the people of the land, whatever they’re doing. Just the idea of moving here and how the experience of caring for one another is so important.

From Ian Bell’s musical component of the show, you’ll feel as though you have learned something about living on the farm and his perspective on Canadian life. This has been his career’s focus in many ways. He was one of the founder contributors to Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Café, a touring show that was immersed in the Canadian life all around the country and very often in rural communities.

He commented in an earlier interview how much he enjoys the eccentricities of people – in particular those who abide in the countryside, a farmer’s point of view about life and people coming to the country.

At the same moment as this fine entertainment comes very big news for Theatre Orangeville. In honour of International Theatre Day, Sunday, March 27 Theatre Orangeville has launched its on demand screening service: StageTOScreen. This has taken some considerable time and expertise to establish and here is what it is and how it works.

Over the last two years, TVO has produced and is continuing to produce shows and plays which have been filmed as online formats even during the time of very serious protocols for performers and when audiences were not allowed in the theatre due to the lengthy Covid lock-downs. Once the doors were open but with protocols maintained of limited numbers, wearing masks and showing vaccination proofs the filming of what has been presented on stage has continued and been archived.

With the launch of StageTOScreen, all this is now available again through the virtual library TVO has kept of the 20 shows (and counting) and the 100 performers.

David Nairn, Artistic Director explained, “StageTOScreen is a videos on demand service with access to all of them. This also includes a whole myriad of free features – the cocktail videos, interviews are all there and we will be adding to that catalogue.”

All the shows are available contractually. During rehearsals involves Canadian Actor Equity (Equity) and on stage their connection is with ACTRA. TOV has negotiated with playwrights and royalties are based on percentage of sales.

This are still exclusive, ticketed events to TOV and will never appear for free on YouTube or the internet but only through TOV’s closed system.

More Confessions from the Ninth Concession, running to April 10 will be the first time TOV does a live stream on Sunday April 3 at 2:00 pm and Thursday 7 April at 8:00 pm. The timing for the live stream is in real time: be on time or be late, just as though you are really going to theatre and you be able to watch it live and in real time.

Said David Nairn, “Nothing will ever be better than live theatre but the live stream is the next best thing. People wanting to keep distance or who are more comfortable at home will be compensated by live streamed productions from the theatre. 

“The reason why we started this,” he reminded us, “was to remain committed to and enlarge our audiences for people some of whom have never heard of and don’t even know where Orangeville is, anywhere in the world.”

The promise is that this technology is not going to go away. TVO is developing this as technology that remains for an option but only to augment the live experience, never to replace it.

What better a time for such a remarkable innovation than with Dan Needles and Ian Bell. If there was a need for something that spoke to Dufferin it is this show and those two men. Theatre Orangeville is thought of as the heart of Dufferin

The audience reception of More Confessions has been tremendous. It runs until April 10, with the live streaming on Sunday, April 3 and Thursday 7.

For tickets and information go to or call the lovely people at the Box Office at 519-942-3423.

You can visit the Box Office now at 87 Broadway. Wear your mask.

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