Archive » Arts and Entertainment

Theatre Orangeville brings talented performances and exciting fundraisers to ‘Twas the Night Gala

November 30, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Theatre Orangeville’s artistic director, David Nairn, is particularly thrilled many times over about the ‘Twas the Night Gala (formerly the Victorian Christmas Gala) that took place this past weekend on Saturday (Nov. 25).

“There were 20 new people coming,” he told the Citizen. “It was thrilling to see people who have never been to the theatre coming to the Gala for the first time; a younger crowd, some of them. A couple came who have not been living in Orangeville for long. It means the word is getting out about Theatre Orangeville to more people moving to town.”

The elements of the evening are the number of attendees, the silent and live auctions, the food and – David Nairn’s favourite subject: the entertainment. For Mr. Nairn, the entertainment proves Theatre Orangeville’s true worth and the reasons why he presses all of us to support the theatre: its contributions to the arts, the young performers and the theatre’s profound support for the community.

Father Christmas welcomed people to the Gala and the revitalized TOYS choir, now under the direction of Elisabeth DuBois and 20 members strong, sang from the staircase.

“They were adorable,” Mr. Nairn declared. “Loud and wonderful.”

In addition to TOYS, the Jazz Trio of Frank Adriano and John and Nicholas Bragagnolo played, which was – fantastic.

It is the most elegant Gala of the season, patrons made clear, and the beginning of the season for many in the community. It is an event when so many individuals and businesses in Orangeville pull together to support the theatre for its importance to a large number of young people over the years and the positive influence it carries around the year within the community.

From the stage on Saturday evening, David Nairn explained why it was wonderful that they were all there, why every dollar they spent on bobbles, envelopes, the silent and live auctions, and all the rest went to promoting and supporting young actors and bringing the joy and benefits of theatre arts into many aspects in the town’s life. He did this by bringing a few very fine young actors and singers, including Theatre Orangeville’s Young Company alumni, to the stage to perform. Members of the cast of Young Company’s production of The Addams’ Family came out to sing selections from that show.

Jillian Cooper and Ben Skipper brought a preview of the music in Cinderella- if the Shoe Fits, Theatre Orangeville’s World Premier Panto, preview Thursday, Nov. 30; Opening Night, Dec. 1. They were accompanied by the Musical Director of both shows, Nicholas Mustapha.

Then, there were a couple of surprises: two young people rising in the world of musical theatre, coming back to their home theatre, as it were, as a clear demonstration of where Young Company alumni might go.

“Katherine (Katie) Pound,” Mr. Nairn told us, as he had told the audience Saturday night, “is living in New York for the last seven years, performing in theatres there. She came up here especially to perform for us this evening, to show you how valuable she considers her time with Young Company to be.”

She sang songs from the Sound of Music, and the audience was on their feet as she finished.

Duncan Lang, many of us will remember for his role as Jean Valjean in Young Company’s last production of Les Miserables. At the time, Duncan was about 16 years old, and he was the fabulous solo Bring Him Home in the course of that show.

At the Gala on Saturday, he revised his role to sing Bring Him Home once again, and how his voice has developed since his teenage days produced the finest delivery of the song Mr. Nairn had ever heard. Thunderous applause and another standing ovation responded to his performance.

“He came from Newmarket to Orangeville every day of Young Company’s rehearsal and performance for five years [summers],” Mr. Nairn informed one and all. “Because there was nothing in Newmarket like the programs we do here at Theatre Orangeville.”

He told them, as he tells us all: all the patrons, the donors, the businesses who donate and sponsor – all of us, “It is because of you this happens. You are the ones that make it possible at all for this and all the other programs we run to happen.”

The Gala was held at the Best Western Plus Orangeville Inn and Suites, where it has been staged for several years. During the initial hour or so of browsing the Silent Auction and enjoying the Jazz Trio and TOYS, Gourmandissimo, caterers to the Gala also, for some years, sent their staff around with delicious hors d’oeuvres on trays. There were delicate finger morsels; “amuse-bouches” they were, perking appetites and making taste buds ready for the excellence of the meal to come.

Was it the fine roast beef au jus with all the trimmings (a vegetarian substitute pleased those who ordered it), the stunning entertainment and those brief histories, the originality and amazing quality of the Live Auction offers – the combination of it all – that stirred the diners to bid, to challenge one another? Certainly, David Nairn, as auctioneer, had his work cut out for him to keep, cajole and bring the happiest results for all.

He related as he heard it later that night about the bidder who sealed the deal on the Rickenbacker 381V69 Maple Top Finish Guitar, a 2008 model of a six-string semi-acoustic guitar, as used by such guitar luminaries as Roger McGuinn of the Byrds and Tom Petty, as the program described it.

“There were the hours back at home when this successful bidder was tuning and loving the prize he had bought.”

Mr. Nairn wanted to emphasize that contributions of every sort are “investments in the theatre.”

It was the first year all the bobbles were sold for the jewellery made by Anne-Marie Warburton, a fabulous cultured Fireball Pearl Drop Pendant, with 14k white gold and diamond bail on a 14k white gold cable chain, created in Honour of Theatre Orangeville’s 30th Anniversary.

We went back to a couple of people who were instrumental in helping the fundraiser succeed and the Gala itself to ask what their involvement and investment in Theatre Orangeville meant to them.

Co-chair Hazel Mason says, “a huge thank you to all the people that donated. We wanted to invite them to come as well. Being part of the whole thing. It never ceases to impress me with the generosity and kindness of this town.”

When Duncan Lang sang Bring Him Home, Ms. Mason thought he was amazing.

What keeps her wanting to continue volunteering is how the theatre came out of the pandemic, struggling somewhat but still there.

Even as amazing for Ms. Mason is the overwhelming generosity of the supporters of the silent auction. So many contributions from so many donors.

Councillor and Deputy Mayor Todd Taylor told us that their daughter, Morgan, benefitted greatly from her involvement in TOYS as a youngster. When she had a role in “A Gift to Last” one Christmas season, her parents saw their daughter grow “in confidence and have a surge of self-esteem as a result of her involvement.”

He told us that, as a member of the town council, he sees the importance of having this vibrant theatre that “entertains us and makes us think…”

Says Todd Taylor, “I just cannot imagine our town without Theatre Orangeville. Go and see a show!”

In that light, for tickets to “Cinderella – if the Shoe Fits,” the World Premier of this fantastic Panto by Debbie Collins and David Nairn, running from Nov. 30 to Dec. 23, go to or call the delightful folk at the Box Office 519-942-3423. In person at 87 Broadway.

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.