Collingwood, ON: Theatre Collingwood could be compared to the children’s story The Little Engine That Could, as there is no doubt the non-profit professional theatre company has had some mountains to overcome! Their decision to leave the Gayety Theatre five years ago because of accessibility issues was a bold step. Touring to unique spaces around the region took guts and inventiveness. Then there was that little thing called a pandemic! Getting folks to feel comfortable inside for shows again has been slow. But, the mantra for the company goes beyond that of the little engine’s “I think I can, I think I can” chant and the company seems to be shouting “WE KNOW WE CAN, WE KNOW WE CAN!
“We are so excited about our 2023 programming”, said Executive Director Erica Angus, “and especially the lineup of GREAT STORYTELLERS that we bringing to the region!” For 2023 the company’s regular season will begin earlier this year, in April, and most shows will be held at The Simcoe Street Theatre. “There is no doubt that Collingwood needs a performing arts centre. The town is really lacking in a well-equipped, purpose-built facility, and we are looking forward to the upcoming feasibility study report (to be released in April). But we are excited to use this little black-box theatre this year and to welcome small audiences to really unique experiences indoors once again”, said Angus.
The line-up is all about great storytellers and begins in April with a story called Cole Hearted. In this production we learn about the life and music of one of the greatest love story tellers, Cole Porter. Dean Hollin wrote this play and performed it last about 20 years ago, however he feels the story is timeless. Many know Dean as a radio host on Zoomer Radio and expert on the music of the Great American Songbook.
Next up will be Leftovers & The Lottery, which stars Melody Johnson (many saw her in the 2022 Porchside Festival show Person of Interest) and pianist Allen Cole. The show is about the writings of Shirley Jackson, perhaps one of the most brilliant and influential authors of the twentieth century, widely acclaimed for her stories and novels of the supernatural, including the well-known short story The Lottery and the best-selling novel The Haunting of Hill House. Melody is a brilliant character actor and is sure to capture the persona of this fascinating storyteller.
In June Theatre Collingwood will take a step away from the Simcoe Street Theatre and celebrate Gordon Lightfoot’s 85th birthday, perhaps Canada’s greatest storyteller, at a new performance space, The John Saunders Centre, on Sandford Fleming Drive in Collingwood. This unique space has amazing sound and lighting and is the perfect venue for this show and will accommodate a slightly larger audience. Leisa Way created this show and will star in it with the amazing Wayward Wind Band. Together they will recount the stories and amazing music of Gordon Lightfoot.
July will bring back THE PORCHSIDE FESTIVAL. This was a product of the pandemic when people could not gather inside. It has become one of Collingwood’s most popular events and this year will run the month of July with over 10 different shows, each performed 3 times, on the beautiful historic porches of Collingwood. “Our lineup this year is going to amaze all in attendance and we are thrilled to have a great mix of drama and music. The Porchside Festival has taken on a life of its own and all ages just love it”, said Angus. Performed in the yards of Collingwood homeowners, audience members bring their own lawn chairs and enjoy a one hour show. This is a really popular festival and tickets should be purchased well in advance to avoid disappointment.
August will bring Theatre Collingwood back to The Simcoe Street for The Knitting Pilgrim. In this unique performance Kirk Dunn tells the story of his journey to understand what makes people tick and the effects religion has had on our world. Kirk is a talented knitter but more importantly, a great storyteller. After 9-11 he decided to knit 3 stained-glass-window-like panels depicting the 3 Abrahamic religions. This project took him on a 15 year journey of discovery about the human condition and forgiveness. This production has toured Canada to rave reviews, especially when it was performed at the Aga Kahn Museum. We are delighted to bring it to Collingwood.
In September Theatre Collingwood will present an encore performance of Alison Wearing’s personal story Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter. The company had Alison in years ago with this show but decided it was so good, such an important message, many years have passed, and that it was time to revisit it. In the show Alison brilliantly tells her family’s story about the time when she learned her father was gay. The performance is entertaining, funny, emotional, and thought provoking. Truly Alison Wearing is one of the best storytellers.
Theatre Collingwood Season Subscriptions, Porchside Passports, and individual tickets are on sale now at www.theatrecollingwood.ca or by calling 705-445-2200. Group and students rates are available. Erica Angus is also available for speaking engagements for your social group. Theatre Collingwood looks forward to audiences of all ages enjoying this season of GREAT STORYTELLERS.