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Theatre Orangeville opens its 30th Anniversary with ‘The View from Here’

October 5, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

“This is the most intimate and real life play of mine so far,” said the author of the play, ‘The View from Here,’ Jamie Williams. 

He is starring in it with Melanie Janzen, his own wife of twenty-plus years.

The View from Here opens next Thursday, Oct. 12 and runs until Oct. 29. 

In brief, the play takes us through a year in the lives of Michael and Mary, who have been married for 32 years. How they view their lives so far is not exactly what they had imagined those decades ago. In part, we learn about their dealing with Mary’s elderly father and the needs of his aging, plus the issues of their daughter’s upcoming wedding. Recently, Michael’s job as a journalist, writing several years for the same paper, ended abruptly as the paper suddenly closed down. The similarity of this reality in our own town did not go unnoticed.

“The story begins on New Year’s Eve,” Mr. Williams noted. “and ends on the following New Year’s Eve. It’s a love letter to those in long term relationships.”

It is, as well, a humorous invitation to those others in the earlier days of such relationships to see how facing the “storms” over many years can be successful by handling them together and with love.

Any play may see tweaks as rehearsals progress, and this show has not been an exception.

David Nairn, directing the show, commented, “It’s always an honour to have the playwright in the room when rehearsing and even more so when they are acting in it too.”

He added, “Anyone in a long term relationship coming to see this show, will see themselves on the stage. This is funny, touching, from heart to heart.”

There have been changes of “zeroing in on the process, an evolution with Mr. Nairn totally on board.” In some places, economizing made it funnier. That is the wonderful thing about theatre; it is a living process.

Melanie Janzen praised David Nairn for his “fabulous input.”

The creative (sets, lights, etc.) interest for this production centred specifically on design sequentially through the year, a chance for unique sets and skillful lighting.

“When Beckie [Morris, Theatre Orangeville’s production manager and set designer for this show] and I started talking about it,” Mr. Nairn began, “I said it feels like moving. So, now we physically move.”

This is accomplished by the use of a revolve, which is usually round and of which the theatre already has a couple. However, the ever-creative Beckie Morris had another idea: a revolve that is square. She saw it as a different shape, but the math and the geometrics to construct it have been interesting, to say the least.

“Lots of neat theatre tricks,” Mr. Nairn commented with satisfaction. “This is a first – for the 30th Season [of shows at Theatre Orangeville].”

The transitions of movement on the stage highlight the passage of time, further the story to “super success,” Jamie Williams observed.

They are thrilled to have Louise Guinand as lighting designer, one of Canada’s most sought-after lighting designers. Ms. Guinand created the lighting for the fabulous ‘Beneath Springhill’ show at Theatre Orangeville, produced in February of this year. This production will be Ms. Guinand’s 600th professional lighting design.

In ‘The View from Here,’ Mary is considerably Michael’s “better half.” She is more creative, a producer.

The actors and director passed their comments on to the Citizen: “The identification the audience will invest is in the characters.”

“We believe and want the couple’s love to live on.”

“When situations are too hard, we can conquer with love – it’s a choice people make every day.”

Of a play’s construct, Mr. Nairn reminded us, “The words are what matter – everything else is bells and whistles. And this is a very funny play.”

Our conversation turned to the fact that the show’s stars are portraying a long-time married couple and are themselves a married couple, which means they bring that “short hand of communication” with them.

Consequently, Mr. Nairn informed us, “There is no need for an intimacy coach. There is a tremendous ease between them.”

As it is, really, Mr. Williams and Ms. Janzen are living this play “24/7” while they are rehearsing and performing it. They are trying to tell stories that matter.

‘The View from Here’ reaches out to all the audience by bringing the powerful view of seeing our lives or aspects of our lives on stage and realizing things that may seem “small” can be the glue holding a relationship together.

David Nairn summed up the charm of the play: “There will be tears of laughter but there could also be tears of connection.”

‘The View from Here’ opens on Oct. 12 and runs to Oct. 29. For more information or to purchase tickets and subscriptions, go to You can also call the Box Office at 519-942-3423 or visit them at 87 Broadway.

This play is the first show of Theatre Orangeville’s 30th Anniversary Season.

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