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Theatre Orangeville announces upcoming shows for the 30th season 

September 21, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

There is so much happy news coming from your own Theatre Orangeville, and the Citizen was happy to be interviewing artistic director David Nairn to learn more about the theatre’s 30th anniversary celebration this year. 

Mr. Nairn began by telling us that the theatre is licensed for the Friday and Saturday performances of their shows to sell wine, beer and cider with their sponsors, Adamo Estate Winery, Hockley Valley Brewery Co. and Pommies Cider.

He outlined the licensing applies to the upstairs of the whole theatre and the lobby. The concession can now accept payments by card.

“Just joining in the 21st Century before it ends,” he joked.

This is a whole celebration of 30 years among Theatre Orangeville, the Museum of Dufferin (MoD) and In the Hills magazine.

Mr. Nairn said, “This speaks to the entire community. For 30 years, along with Dufferin Arts Council (DAC), have been the virtual communicators to the community. It’s called the Headwaters – place of inspiration and creativity, where artists have been living for a great many years.

“It is the support of those who consistently give their patronage all these years that is such a testament to the community,” he remarked.

Then there is the miracle, a dream that Sharyn Ayliffe had – what if, for all the shows created and performed for children – from school trips to in-school productions – what if all those children could see the shows for free, for this one year?

And so it is: by virtue of donations specific to the plan, on the part of “generous supporters of Theatre Orangeville,” every child who attends the theatre as part of a school program, whether being bussed to the theatre itself or enjoying one of the productions from Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) or Duffle Bag in the schools can come for no charge.

In the case of the school bussing the students to the theatre, an additional $100 is offered to the school to help with the cost of bussing.

Due to the restrictions on assembling during the COVID-19 pandemic, many children lost opportunities to learn the joy of attending live performances. For this one-year celebration of Theatre Orangeville’s 30th Anniversary, bringing children to theatre and bringing theatre to them at school is free of charge, is thrilling.

The ambition, as Mr. Nairn told us, is to bring 3,000 to 4,000 kids to live theatre! Among the shows that are part of the whole, coming up is Mark Crawford’s “Boys, Girls and Other Mythological Creatures.” When this show was taken into schools last year, it was met with tremendous enthusiasm by the parents and school staff as well.

COVID-19 stopped Theatre Orangeville’s Youth Singers (TOYS) from gathering to rehearse and perform, too. Late last year, Elisabeth DuBois took up the reins of TOYS and, with a relatively small number, worked with them in a minimal number of rehearsals to their first performance on the main stage to glorious appreciation from the audience. TOYS is back, increasing in numbers, and already there are performance opportunities, he informed us.

The backbone of any theatre’s finances are the subscriptions to their season of shows, and, in the case of Theatre Orangeville, subscriptions are for five or three shows per season, plus the add-on at the beginning of the season in September. This time, it was Whiskey Jack’s show about Stompin’ Tom Conners, a wild performance that was received with great enthusiasm. The add-on shows are Theatre Orangeville’s way of bringing people back into “thinking less about cottage country and travel and focussing on coming back to the theatre.”

Indeed, Mr. Nairn explained that theatres across the country are concerned to sell subscriptions, and he is very pleased to note the number of subscription sales is up this year, better than ever since the slow return to theatre after the pandemic. Indeed, there is a significant increase in sales of the five show subscriptions. This is the trend for most theatres – people are coming back to the theatre.

“People’s habits have changed,” Mr. Nairn commented, noting he and his wife, Leisa Way, eat out much less than they used to, frequently substituting with take-out.

He talked about the critical role theatre plays and what a remarkable experience it is to gather together to share a creative story experience.

“It’s in our DNA,” was his reasoning. “Mommy, please read that story again, says the child. We are hard-wired to be together. That’s our task now – to remind people that to be together to listen and tell stories is something we have been doing all the way back.”

Determined to be the theatre for everyone, there is Theatre Orangeville’s Stage to Screen, the program that brings live theatre productions to screens at home for anyone who is not ready to come in person or who cannot come. For people who live elsewhere in Canada or abroad, for that matter, anywhere at all.

He emphasized, “Now there is no excuse to miss a Theatre Orangeville production because it can be seen at home in real time, along with the audience of 270 people sitting in the theatre. This can never match the experience of being in the theatre but it is the next-best and means no one needs to miss a Theatre Orangeville show ever again.”

Except for Stratford and a small number of theatres, other theatres in Canada do not have this option.

The number one reason for being sure to have theatre in our lives and our children’s lives is to remember we need to be open to each other.

“We need to remind ourselves who brought us here, are the patrons. For the last 30 years, we’ve been telling stories about Canadians with plays written by Canadians,” he said.

This is the moment to entice everyone to come to the theatre with very brief notes about what this 2023-24 season has in store.

The View from Here, starring Jamie Williams and Melanie Janzen, both friendly faces in previous plays here, is the first production, running from Oct. 12 to 29. In life, a married couple, they bring this “heartfelt comedy,” written by Mr. Williams, about a couple viewing life so far and wondering at the differences from their expectations; you can count on the laughs.

Over the holiday season and running from Nov. 30 to Dec. 23, is Theatre Orangeville’s first ever Panto: “Cinderella…If the Shoe Fits,” which makes Mr. Nairn laugh just to mention it. He and Debbie Collins have written it. With lots of years in Pantomime, Ms.Collins has brought all the hilarity and fun of the mix-and-match combinations of Pantomime, the music, the sing-a-long, booing the step-mother -all of it. Mr. Nairn is sure this will be a regular holiday favourite. 

“We’re having so much fun workshopping it, “he told us, “we’ll do it again next year.”

Getting through to the New Year, Feb. 8 to 25, comes Norm Foster’s “Doris and Ivy in the Home,” the ladies’ spin-off, as it were, from his hilarious Jonas and Barry in the Home.

“By the Light of a Story” by Kristen Da Silva will grace the stage from March 7 to 24. The story of a young widow dealing with all that her novelist husband’s death means she has to further deal with the “ghost writer” who comes to complete the last unfinished book. 

Commissioned by Theatre Orangeville, Leslie McCurdy and Cassel Miles have written an original work, The Darktown Strutters’ Ball, running April 25 to May 12. A look at the development of performing artists of colour, a fascinating history of song and dance and story-telling.

And that is what David Nairn is sure it is all about.

For more details to purchase a subscription, go to or call the box office at 519-942-3423, also located at 87 Broadway.

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