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‘Twas The Night Gala returns after pause due to COVID-19 to raise funds for Theatre Orangeville

November 17, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

David Nairn was clear and he will no doubt be clear to anyone who asks, ‘Twas the Night Gala, Theatre Orangeville’s primary fundraiser, was “Both joyful and joyous!”

It was back to the Orangeville Best Western Inn and Suites on Saturday (Nov. 12), the creative team, Gourmandissimo, the volunteers and the theatre’s many wonderful patrons and supporters. It once again proved to be Orangeville’s best party of the year and one that opens the annual festivities over the Christmas holiday.

Mr. Nairn admitted that the number of attendees was fewer than in other pre-pandemic years but he commented that it made everyone feel a little safer and more comfortable in these times shadowed under the continuing threat from COVID-19 variants.

For music, the Jazz Trio played as well as the Youth Academy Singers on the staircase during the early part of the evening.

The pre-dinner drill at the Gala is to browse the silent auction, schmooze and tipple the champagne, which was in full vigour during the hour or so from Santa opening the doors, the greetings and welcome from committee members to the call for dinner. The collection of goodies on the tables of the silent auction was fewer perhaps but carried a wider variety of rewards for bidding in the experiences offered – a flying lesson, trips and places to stay, just to mention a few. 

There were also raffles at $20 per ticket for a variety of items. They included a fabulous bracelet from Anne-Marie Warburton, a great golf package from the newly named Pulpit Golf, Mary Scattergood’s original painting of Orangeville Town Hall, a commissioned painting by Tina Clare, tickets to productions at Stratford and Mirvish, an hour in a flight simulator from Air Canada and a trip to anywhere West Jet flies for two.

Mr. Nairn was so pleased by the generosity of the bidders, the generosity overall for Theatre Orangeville, supporting, as he reminds us, the theatre’s youth programs that serve youngsters from eight years and up with camps. 

“No kid will ever be turned away from one of our camps because of finances,” said Nairn. 

The kids get to produce live entertainment, build confidence and experience the joy of the arts.

There are partnerships between Community Living Dufferin and many other organizations to create inclusion for every marginalized group in the community.

Tradition has it and tradition was followed with entertainment during dinner and David Nairn at the microphone auctioning off the grand prizes donated to the theatre as live auction pieces.

Mr. Nairn was particularly thrilled to attend this year’s gala, as he had not been to this beloved dinner and Theatre Orangeville’s largest fundraiser since 2018. In 2019, he was stricken by pneumonia and confined to bed, only barely lifting his head from the pillow to wish one and all the best of the Yule season.

“This Gala is therefore my favourite,” he told the Citizen. “I am so glad to be back this evening.”

The revellers were dressed in their finest, so happy to have a “reason to dress up,” as so many said and really impressed with themselves that they could still fit into that dress, those tuxedos.

Not everyone is ready to join in-person with crowds for dinner and conversation, yet, there were those who sent in their $200 ticket price to the theatre also to back the event and be there “in spirit.”

The entertainment was great as usual but there was a bonus as well. Before that, came the music from the upcoming show The Last Christmas Turkey, a tender tale by Dan Needles with music from Clive BanderBurgh about two children who meet and befriend a turkey – a great new friend who is slated to be the Christmas dinner for the local church. The story is: can the children rescue such a pal from such a fate?

Only Dan Needles…

Some of the songs were performed at the Gala, Trevor Patt and Tyler Check and some of the young cast doing a fine job of tantalizing the crowd to come to the theatre to see the show when it opens on Nov. 30. 

Joining us from The Academy Singers to perform their solos were Sophie Warren and Ross-Day.

David Nairn took to the stage to announce two very special guest performers: Mark DuBois and his daughter Elisabeth, their faithful friend and accompanist Danny McElain at the piano. After a couple of years, finally beating medical issues, Mark DuBois was back, with all the charm and grace, he opened with The Impossible Dream to a huge reception and applause. Then, we were so very happy to see Elisabeth joined him and not for the first time, we were blown away by the quality and power of her singing My Grown Up Christmas List.

Our first standing ovation was spontaneous for their duet of You Raise Me Up.

The father and daughter interrupted the applause with Oh Holy Night with lots of nice harmonies, which pleased us very much and we were irresistibly on our feet again to express our approval and enthusiasm. 

David Narin invited Elisabeth DuBois back to the stage to inquire how long ago she first entered the Theatre Orangeville Young Singers (T.O.Y.S.) and she told him, “I was six years old when I started.” Ms. DuBois is now 25.

Mr. Narin was delighted to inform the assembled diners that she has been hired as director of T.O.Y.S., clearly an ideal choice.

It was clear that everybody was very excited about being back to this fine annual fundraising event, with the entertainment, the prizes, the sparkle.

Nor did Gourmandissimo disappoint us for the dinner was very good, roast beef for those who liked it and vegetarian meals that pleased those palettes too.

The resulting numbers for the fundraising aspect of the Gala are not out yet but there will be mention of them when they become available.

The reviews of the night itself are in: a tremendous success filled with all one might wish for – and love.

Next up: The Last Christmas Turkey opens Nov. 30. Tickets and information is available at The box office is open in person at 87 Broadway and by telephone at 519-942-3423.

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