Theatre Orangeville’s Victorian Christmas Gala all marvels and fun

November 1, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Picture this: The Best Western Orangeville Inn & Suites ground floor lights blazing out at the coming darkness of the evening, from end to end with a party that has taken over every inch of space. 

People are dressed in their glad garb; some of the gentlemen have donned their tuxes, which is not required necessarily. Others are smart in suits and ties; there might even be a he in a kilt. The ladies are delighted to abandon their day to day for their favourite elegance, coiffed and eyelids shining with colour. 

Father Christmas is at the door to welcome everyone. Humber Jazz provides the lightness to the moment, enhancing the whole, alive with laughter and conversation.

These are the first minutes of Theatre Orangeville’s Victorian Christmas Gala, scheduled this year for Saturday, November 16 at the Best Western.

Filling what is normally the breakfast room and all the rest of the open space and hallway is an impressive Silent Auction. Restaurants, theatres from around southern Ontario, shops, individuals, businesses, spas, wineries, – every type of business one can imagine contributes, little or large: all are welcome in support of your theatre.

“The Victorian Christmas Gala is an essential part of our annual fundraising,” said David Nairn, Artistic Director of Theatre Orangeville, speaking of this fine event. 

“People open their season by coming to Victorian Christmas. We couldn’t run the theatre without it,” Mr. Nairn said. “Theatre goers who love the shows we produce come year after year and people who haven’t realized the theatre even existed, come for the first time to the Gala. They have a great time, win some real bargains in the Silent Auction or one of the draws; maybe, they get into the Live Auction – next thing, they’re coming to the theatre and, then, buying subscriptions. It’s terrific.”

The eating begins during browsing, with a collection of hors d’oeuvres, which one plucks from trays being carried through the happy crowd. Even more interesting for those of us who like them, is the oyster bar, tucked up by the fireplace, between two sections of the silent auction. Staff shuck the oysters while we watch, lemon slice in hand, ready to squirt and slurp – magic. A glass of sparkling wine makes it a perfect opener.

As we walk all along the silent auction with so many treats and experiences on which to bid, it begins to dawn, perhaps, just how much work this is to put together. The trolling and collecting; the organization and execution of the silent auction have taken many hours of work and it is only a part of what is to come.

Soon enough the committee members and volunteers usher us all into the ballroom, splendid with the table settings ready for diners to come, be welcomed and ready for an evening of good food, company and –is that a stage set up along the wall – well, this a Theatre Orangeville Gala, so, there will be entertainment.

The first of that is the Theatre Orangeville Youth Singers (T.O.Y.S.), who line up on the central staircase and bring in the first music of the evening.

And David Nairn: Master of Ceremonies, Auctioneer Extraordinaire and your host for the evening, for, over the time you will spend in this enchanting place, you will be offered the chance to bid in a Live Auction for exclusive and escorted theatre trips to Stratford, Shaw and Toronto. That’s for starters. Come and see for the rest.

Not all the entertainment is published – Mr. Nairn is fond of surprises but he certainly promises performances from Young Company’s summer production of Matilda and the Christmas show this year, Little Women, which opens November 28 and runs until December 22.

There are fabulous draw prizes, including a flight to anywhere WestJet goes and beautiful jewellery from Anne Marie Warburton. 

Given the chance to sit in with the Victorian Christmas committee, we asked what it is about this theatre that kept them working so hard as volunteers.

They told us variously; “I love the youth programs the theatre runs.”

“There’s a huge magnitude of work and it needs volunteers.”

“I’m happy to be part of Theatre Orangeville. I do whatever I can to maintain it.”

“It’s the best party in Dufferin and starts the season with a bang.”

‘We have the best silent auction.”

“It brings the same production values as we do for this event.” 

We wanted, too, to discover from another, who has been involved with Theatre Orangeville professionally what she understands is the value of this theatre, why so many give their time and effort, contribute from their business and entice all of us to join the party.

Jane Spence, actor and director, has acted here in The Ladies Foursome and A Christmas Story; and directed Theatre Orangeville’s production of The Birds and the Bees.

Here is what she had to say: “For me Theatre Orangeville is absolutely the heart of the town. It seems as though every single organization has a partnership with it. 

“There’s nobody else that has that kind of connection. The quality of the productions are fantastic. I been involved with many theatres but I can’t think of one that is kind of the life blood of the community that Theatre Orangeville is.”

She talked about the way this theatre works. “Any time I was there, I felt as though the crew are part of a family. Most other theatres, the crew members come and go. At Theatre Orangeville, it’s the same wonderful, talented crew – they’re a family.

“They’re continuously trying to take on new adventures. I was impressed to see that now Fringe North is there – there’s practically year- round entertainment now.”

For Ms. Spence, “The crown this year was Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was many years in the planning. I was an audience member for this. It was so inclusive and so exquisitely performed by everybody in the piece.

“My son enjoyed the plays within the play. ‘They just did them right,’ he said,” she related, enjoying his young appreciation of the play. “He’s seen a lot of Shakespeare,”

She commented of Theatre Orangeville. “They dream big there and things come true. I don’t know anywhere else where that happens.”

First time or, this year, the 22nd, it is a grand affair that people love and look forward to. To join in the fun and the fab, tickets for the Victorian Christmas Gala, set for November 16, at the Best Western Orangeville Inn and Suites on Buena Vista Drive, go the Box Office at 87 Broadway or the Information Centre on Buena Vista at Highway 10; call 519-942-3423 or go online to 

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