Entertainment Local

Lots happening in local entertainment

By John Swartz

Getty Images

Getty Images

There is a fundraiser for the Orillia Youth Centre happening Friday night at the Geneva Event Centre with The Griddle Pickers, Liz Powell, and Doug Paisley.

The show is called Roots North Music Festival Revisited and Dapper Depot’s Steve Orr has been doing more work on making this happen than writing a sponsorship cheque.

The Griddle Pickers are back together to open the show. Liz Powell is a member of Land of Talk (who performed on Dave Letterman’s show) and Doug Paisley has played big concert halls and clubs from coast to coast here and in the United States.

You can get tickets at Dapper Depot, Alley Cats Music, the Youth Centre or online at rootsnorthmusic.ticketleap.com. The showtime is 7 p.m.

Orillia Performs

Roy Menagh is stickhandling this year’s version of Orillia Performs Nov. 9 at St. Paul’s Centre. This is the continuation of what used to be called Joint Effort. All the major food groups who are members of the Orillia Performing Arts Forum are participating, plus a few hangers on.

The lineup includes the Cellar Singers, the Orillia Concert Band, the Orillia Silver Band, the Orillia Vocal Ensemble, Chamber Music Orillia, Mariposa Arts Theatre, Jubilee Chorale, Orillia Jazz Brass, and Liz Anderson. It’s a fundraiser for OPAF and the Building Hope project. You can get tickets at the Opera House box office, 705-326-8011. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

Other concerts by OPAF members happening soon are the CMO Chamber Coir doing Germanic Treasures Oct. 25 at St. James’ Anglican Church; the Cellar Singers doing Rossini’s Petite Masse Solennelle Oct. 29 at St. James’; the Orillia Concert Association’s first gig of the season with Dou Fortin at the Opera House Oct. 30 (get season tickets at orilliaconcertassociation.com).

Orillia Jazz Festival

Here’s the thing with the Orillia Jazz Festival, with Joe Huron only having to travel from Barrie to play here and his long connection with the festival, it’s natural he plays several gigs. The trio includes Stewart Steinhart on bass and Tim Moore on drums, both are arguably the best at what they do. So, seeing them perform can jade the palate when checking out other acts.

Friday night I caught the trio, with Bill McBirnie sitting in, at Eight Hundred Degrees - after I’d been to the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH opened three new exhibits and the Will Davis Trio was playing there). They were so good, I felt everything else I would see would fall short.

While Andy Earle and the Bandits, at Brewery Bay, were playing fairly well for an R&B band, they weren’t turning my crank like Joe did. The Jays game was on, so it took longer to move on and I skipped a couple other venues to see Omar Gittens. He’s the drummer of the quartet. I don’t want to sound too critical because I’m a drummer too, but I thought he was playing beyond his skill set.

Saturday night it was Joe again, with Ted Quinlan sitting in on guitar. I had just enjoyed an incredibly great concert at St. Paul’s Centre where the Orillia Silver Band did an impromptu encore of Dark Side of the Moon that left us all stunned, so I was already revved up. I also caught a lively Lily Frost at the Brownstone.

I caught two sets of Joe’s festival closing gig at Brewery Bay on Sunday, with Shawn Nykwist sitting in on tenor sax. It was good to be able to take in so much and not feel I was setting myself up for disappointment afterward.

I’m sure there were many other great performances I didn’t get to (everyone was talking about Jake Thompson’s Friday night gig at St. Paul’s) and Lance Anderson and Russ Boswell’s Saturday afternoon gig was a textbook demo of how a piano and bass, Ellington/Basie program should be, but I learned not to see what I know to be great bands early in the evening.

Molly Johnson’s opening night concert at the Opera House last Thursday was very well attended and very well played. Her pianist, Andrew Craig, killed all night, particularly in the first half closer, God Bless the Child. Russ Boswell was on bass, and an old student of mine, Don Pham, was on drums. She came back to conquer with Gershwin’s They Can’t Take That Away From Me and did an encore of Summertime that left everyone extremely satisfied.

Rants! Raves!! Info? Write John at watchthisproductions@encode.com.


Swartz’s Shorts

• Next Wednesday evening, if you see any clowns downtown, don’t panic. The Downtown Orillia Management Board’s The Haunting is happening. Stores will be open, the Arts District becomes The Nightmare on Peter Street, OMAH becomes Chainsaw Hospital, and there are tours of the Opera House where the piano has been heard late at night after the lights go out. There’s even a costume party at the legion after the stores close. Go to downtownorillia.ca for more details.

• The Opera House is producing A Christmas Carol, which will also be seen in six Toronto-area theaters. They need someone to play Tiny Tim and my hair is not long or curly enough and my nose is too small. They are auditioning kids 8 to 12 years old on Oct. 26 at the Opera House. Contact Opera House manager Wendy Fairbairn at wfairbairn@orillia.ca or 705-325-2095 for more details and to book an audition time.

• Mariposa Arts Theatre and St. Paul’s Centre have an audition for a new musical written by Jim Lewis. Orillia is Born celebrates our 150th and has 20 characters. Phyllis Johnson is directing and Blair Bailey is the musical director. Auditions are Oct. 22 at St. Paul’s Centre and you can book a time and get more details at mcwhinb@rogers.com.

• Acadian storyteller Clara Dugas will be at OMAH Nov. 5 for What On Earth? Mark Douglas, Ron Reid, Jacob Kearey-Moreland, and Mehreen Shahid will also be entertaining. The program starts at 7 p.m. and there is a workshop with Dugas at 1:30 p.m. You can do both for $25, the show is separately priced at $10 and the workshop $20. Get tickets at 705-326-2159.

• Theatre Orillia does Sadie Flynn Comes to Big Oak at St. Paul’s Centre Oct. 27 to 30. On the 27th and 29th you can do it with dinner. All shows are in the evening with a matinee on the 29th. Call 705-242-4092 for tickets and more details. The Village Players are doing a musical, The Addams Family, starting Nov. 11 and running for two weeks at the Coldwater Community Centre. Visit villageplayers.ca for tickets. Mariposa Arts Theatre does Waiting for the Parade at the Opera House starting Nov. 10.

• Peter Street Fine Arts has a show called a Taste of Greece with guest artist Hope Herbst showing photos and watercolours. Lee Contemporary Art has very interesting sculptures by Michael Drolet. Tiffin’s Creative Centre has Petit Salon des Refusés, a selection of local landscape works; the reception is Oct. 27 at 7 p.m.

• O Town Improv is running their workshop for six weeks starting Nov. 2. There’s room for 20 people and you can register at actorschat@hotmail.com. Their monthly improv night at the Brownstone is Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.

• Coming up… Ian Chaplin plays the Orillia Farmers’ Market Saturday; Jeremiah Hill is at the Fairgrounds Farmers’ Market Saturday. The Opera House has Derek Edwards in Oct. 27 and Motus O Dance Theatre does Alice In Wonderland Oct. 29. Luca Fogale is at the Brownstone Friday night. Steph Dunn is at Era 67 tonight; Dave Chun is in Friday and Chantel Preston Saturday. 

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