Theatre Orangeville a valuable asset

August 3, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Todd Taylor

Imagine if Orangeville no longer had our hospital or its fire department. No one would deny that agencies such as these are essential services in which our town simply cannot do without.

In order for a community to be successful it must have great focus on the environment, the people, and financial aspects. If anyone of these areas becomes over-represented, the community suffers. People need outlets that make them feel connected to where they live and if those things happen to have a positive impact on our financial health then everyone wins.

I vehemently believe that Theatre Orange-ville is a service that is vital to the future viability of our town. Our area without Theatre Orangeville would be like Toronto without the CN Tower. The theatre offers tremendous financial benefit to our restaurants and the downtown business association. If you doubt my prognostication, try your best to gain a table at the Blue Bird, Rustic or Steakhouse 63 prior to a show. They are busy and most likely completely booked. The local businesses and their success are certainly important, but it is not all about money. Instead it is about positively impacting our community.

To be clear, there is no risk I am aware of  that the house that David Nairn built would have to close its doors. Theatre Orangeville receives grants from key organizations and businesses that allow the development of great shows. These organizations include The Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Orangeville Downtown Business Improvement Area and The Ontario Arts Council. It is also true that the Town of Orangeville and the County of Dufferin contribute financially to the theatre. In the interests of maintaining a healthy theatre and arts community, I would like to see our local governments increase their future financial commitments.

Many are not aware that the theatre also offers social benefits. Partnering with Com-munity Living Dufferin (CLD), to offer programs like Creative Partners on Stage and Theatre Orangeville Exceptional Players ensures inclusion for all. These programs are vigorously supported by David Nairn, who personally visits local schools to share a very frank and unscripted talk about the effects that negative language can have on those who have special needs. The CLD program has been a successful partnership of Theatre Orangeville for 14 years.

For over 20 years, the theatre has offered a variety of youth programs, including T.O.Y.S, and Young Company, as well as a variety of other eight-week programs. The Young Company program is now so successful that skilled young people from all over Ontario come to participate. In the most recent smash success, Les Misérables, young thespians came from as far as Newmarket and Collingwood simply to have the opportunity to participate. I asked Pro-grams Manager Sharyn Ayliffe why the theatre was so important for young people. Ms. Ayliffe shared that the “power of performing arts is profound. Theatre is an art form that offers acceptance for those with different abilities, race, gender, and privilege. The Theatre accepts people for who they are.” Personally, I know Ms. Ayliffe’s comments to be true. My own family has benefited, as we have watched our daughter Morgan’s confidence grow as each year of the program passed.

The production of Les Misérables, was the sixth young company production directed by the very capable Pamela Demetriou. Due to demand, a fifth show was added to this past weekend’s performances, where four out of five shows were sold out. I am certainly not someone who professes to be an authority on theatre. I am not artsy and possess zero talent. That said, I know when I have seen something truly moving and worthwhile. The Demetriou production was simply outstanding! The lead character of Jean Valjean was aptly played by the very talented 16-year-old Duncan Lang. I have seen this fine actor in other productions, but his role in Les Mis was his pièce de résistance! There is no doubt that he will one day be entertaining many in larger productions. I would be remiss if I also did not mention the very talented and gutsy performance of Orangeville’s own Cameron Sullivan. I have personally watched this fine young man in many plays as he has grown into adulthood. His portrayal of Thenardier was hysterical. A joy!

Lastly, I should mention that Theatre Orangeville also offers a great deal of satisfaction for the parents of all of the young thespians. This past weekend I watched many nervous parents beam with pride after the show. Parents were thrilled to have watched such a fantastic production in which their child contributed to its overall success. The overwhelming feeling of exuberance was in the air. Personally, I had the privilege to watch my 16- year-old daughter in a wonderfully dramatic death scene. Morgan played Eponine who tragically dies for a friend. She nailed the song, the moment, the acting, and in the end made her Dad cry.

To David Nairn, Pam Demetriou, Joy Bell, Mark DeBois, Bernadette Hardaker and the rest of the creative team that made this possible, thank you for the continuous gifts you give to the town! What you do is important and appreciated.

Lastly, thank you Morgan. You make me very proud. Love, Dad.

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