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Theatre Orangeville’s 2nd Annual Summer Arts Fest returning to Mount Alverno

July 27, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

It was so successful last year that it was “a no-brainer doing it again,” said Theatre Orangeville’s Sumer Arts Fest organizers. The event will be held at the Mount Alverno Luxury Resort, located on Heart Lake Road, about a kilometre south of Hwy 9. It runs for three days over the weekend of August 11 to 13.

In a telephone interview with Lisa Lahue, Theatre Orangeville’s technical director, told the Free Press, “Last year was incredibly successful and we were all really proud of how it had gone and how well received by our patrons it was. We had a lot of fun doing it too.”

Two plays from the Toronto Fringe are part of the entertainment on Friday, August 11, for which artistic director David Nairn, Kait Gallant, programs manager Jo Natale, production associate and Ms. Lahue spent time in Toronto during Fringe to watch shows and pick amongst them which would be invited to join the festival.

“I saw 25 shows in five days,” she said, explaining the process. “That’s a lot of theatre. The whole process is so enjoyable. It’s inspiring seeing people doing what they are passionate about; new works by the team producing it.”

A lot of good theatre is being produced this year, was her opinion.

“We enjoyed more shows than last year,” she said.

Returning home, the team sat around a table to discuss their choices. Only two shows are invited. Theatre can be such a varied perspective. After the week in Toronto, they knew the ones they enjoyed the most. It was the passion each of them felt about each story that made the choice.

“You start to put the perspective into what you’ve seen,” Ms. Lahue observed. “Are you as passionate as the other person about what you saw? The passion that comes to that table really show delineates what shows.” 

Our Little Secret, the 23Me Musical, is a true story about an “only child” discovering the truth about his many siblings. Fertility Slippers is a singular approach to an old story of an immigrant mother and the daughter she birthed here in Canada – their perspectives on where they are.

The Fringe shows are 50-55 minutes, but Fringe rules dictate they cannot be longer than one hour. They might not sustain a two to three- week run on the main stage, but the two shows, two different stories, will do well as part of the Summer Arts Festival. It is being staged outside the theatre for a beautiful experience, hoping to attract a new audience, not just younger but a new audience to come and see a show in a different environment.

Lots of people don’t know what Fringe is, after all.

In a subsequent interview with David Nairn, he commented, “Fertility Slippers was the first one we saw. It is so good, it set the bench mark for what the others saw – a beautiful take on an old story.”

He told us, “There were 100 shows as part of Fringe. They were all asked if they would come to Orangeville. Of the 100, 49 said yes. So, we concentrated on those.”

Preparations are coming along nicely, according to Ms. Lahue, who oversees the installation of the festival. Having laid the groundwork last year with suppliers and the details of assembly, things are “going pretty smoothly, which is exactly what you want for such a busy event. The artists are ready; everyone is excited to be of the part of the festival. Much of the programming is similar to last year.”

Drag Music Bingo is returning after its sold-out show last year. Fay and Fluffy, famous children’s television hosts, are the Drag story during the festival.

Included in the Kids Fest, Eric Woolfe is bringing his Flea Circus. His schedule prevented him from coming last year, but he “was our first call to play this year.”

Lisa Lahue explained, “This is the programming that TOV believes in but with a bit of a twist, with a festival vibe. There’s a little bit of something for everyone.”

This is a festival of all the arts, and there are painters coming to create the lovely landscape of the Alverno live, and some teach a little about painting.

Others are painting on the patio while Stan Chang plays the piano, and you are enjoying a Sunday brunch buffet, which is also partially a fundraiser in support of the festival and the arts.

Here we have a space to come together to enjoy the arts. Having the opportunity to come together is the point of this event. Incredible art on the patio, a place to hang out, have some drinks and see some great shows.

Even a Wandering Art Gallery displays paintings and artwork in the trees to bring different aspects of art in addition to the theatre.

David Nairn enthused about the festival, “There’s nothing else like it in the community; you’d have to slog into the city to see such entertainment, unique opportunities like Drag Bingo, which is hysterical. Eric Woolfe and his Flea Circus on this gorgeous property. There are crafts and other surprises for kids over the weekend. This is all about experience.” He made the point. “We don’t want stuff; we want experiences. We are

dedicated to a certain level of excellence and these are the best at what they do.”

Because of its uniqueness, he added, the weird and wonderful world-class entertainers that people would have to drive to see are coming right here in the community.

Some ticketed shows are pay-what-you-can support the arts and the artists while keeping it affordable.

Theatre Orangeville’s Summer Arts Festival is on over the weekend of August 11 to 13 at the Mount Alverno Luxury Resort at 20706 Heart Lake Road. For all the details, go

Promised David Nairn, “This festival is unique, entertaining, joyous and joy-filled.”

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