Theatre Orangeville’s Victorian Christmas Gala

November 3, 2016   ·   0 Comments

The Annual Victorian Christmas Gala, staged by Theatre Orangeville at the Best Western Inn and Suites on Buena Vista, on November 19, is the largest fundraiser of the year for the theatre.

It is also one of the best parties of the year, for many reasons. The whole set up is beautiful: tables laden with silent auction items up and down the halls and reception rooms of the hotel, perfect for finding Christmas gifts; there is an oyster bar and champagne; charming people wandering around with trays of hors d’oeuvres, great draws for all sorts of things, hockey tickets, fine jewellery.

All this is an introduction to the evening before the call to dinner. That is held in the main dining room, decorated and ready to welcome one and all.

During the meal, served with complimentary wine, David Nairn, Theatre Orangeville’s Artistic Director, runs the most entertaining live auction you are likely to see and what a fabulous collection of “items” there are for your bidding pleasure.

Trips with Mr. Nairn to theatres in Stratford, Niagara on the Lake, Toronto (Harold Green Jewish Theatre); a Montreal Forum seat numbered 10 and signed by Guy Lafleur; Hockey Platinum Tickets (fourth row from the ice); lunch with Terry O’Reilly, and many other goodies – come and see for yourself.

We had a chance to talk to the Victorian Christmas Committee Chairman, Roger Simmons, after their latest meeting.

“This is my eighth year being President of the theatre’s Board of Directors; I’ve been

Chair of the Victorian Christmas Committee on my own – it used to be co-chaired – for six years but doing both has not been done by one person before,” he told us of his own history with the theatre’s executive.

Mr Simmons went on to explain to us why he has been so involved: “Bev [Mrs. Simmons] and I used to love to attend the Gala. We’ve been coming since Colin [their son] was in Christmas Story. That was 13 years ago. The silent auction was great. The support from the community was wonderful.

“In less than six hours, you do your Christmas shopping, there’s great entertainment, good company- ”

There is more to it than that. “It’s the relationship with the young people in the community,” he commented. “Some of these kids are on the fringe, kids who just don’t fit in at school, come to Theatre Orangeville’s Youth Programs and find a home there, Young Company – the after school programs. We’ve seen it beyond anything you could expect. It allows them to just be themselves.”

Colin Simmons is now attending theatre arts programs for his BFA at Sheridan College.

Mr. and Mrs. Simmons were told how impressed the admissions board at Sheridan were with the applicants coming from Theatre Orangeville’s programs. “If you’ve got any more kids like that, send them to us,” they were told.

We talked about the relationship with Community Living Dufferin, the theatre arts programs there with both adults and young people with special needs. The beautiful, new building on County Road 3, heading to Fergus which houses both the business and social space for members and employees of CLD as well as the rehearsal hall, workshop and storage space for the theatre. This is a partnership between a community living organization and the professional theatre that is unique in Canada.

Back to the Victorian Christmas – we should mention a sample value of the packages being sold in the live auction. “A night at Stratford,” Mr. Simmons said. “See the show with our Artistic Director and have a visit back stage – dinner in town – fantastic.”

Why support the theatre? Mr Simmons had a ready answer: “We support Theatre Orangeville and it supports the community with theatre arts programs, the relationship with Community Living Dufferin – it touches everything – and gives us great entertainment with some of the best shows anywhere.”

The Victorian Christmas Gala is set for November 19 at the Best Western Inn and Suites on Buena Vista.

For information, tickets and to donate items to the live and silent auctions, contact Theatre Orangeville in person at the Box Office at 87 Broadway or the Information Centre at Buena Vista and Hwy 10; by telephone at 519-942-3423. Also check the website at

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