Entertainment Local

A humorous adventure

By John Swartz

Friday night started with a bit of humour perpetrated by me, on me. It was the annual Leacock Medal for Humour soiree, operating under a new name - Laugh With Leacock - and I discovered when I set my autopilot for the Leacock Museum, where it's been held for at least 20 years, it has a new venue. I didn't think the wedding party rehearsal was the event I was looking for.

Since another new event the past two years, the Sunday brunch with the authors, was at the Mariposa Inn, I figured that's where it was happening, but I didn't trust that thought and headed back home to look up the info.

When I was writing about it, I checked the usual time and date, etc., and carried on. After 20 years writing about some things, a bit of shorthand happens regarding things that unfold time and again. The info about the venue was not obvious to me in the paragraph of the several paragraphs I looked at about the weekend's Leacock events.

So, off I went to the Mariposa and missed half an hour of happy hour. I caught up and thoroughly enjoyed the night.

Before I get into the event, this happened to me once before when a group in town changed its longstanding start time forward half an hour. It, too, was not highlighted, so I missed a bit of the event.

These things seem like a big change that should be highlighted front and centre. I deal with a lot of data each week, so it's easy to overlook reading the bits that never seem to change year to year. I usually lead items with new information such as "Terry Savage and the Wonky Honkees are moving their monthly gig to "¦" before getting into other details. Changes are important to many people, especially ticket buyers and scribblers like me.

Moving on. Two of the finalists for the medal, Gary Barwin (Saturday's Leacock Medal winner) and Amy Jones were on hand to enjoy the two pieces of chicken served, and read from their books. Drew Hayden Taylor got stuck when his flight was cancelled. At least he wasn't flying United. There were also many past medal winners there. Having the Ferguson brothers in the room is good for the readers and audience because if we miss a funny line, their outbursts of laughter cue us.

The night really was about the student writing competition. Narayan Subramoniam of Toronto's Georges Vanier Secondary, Lauren Radigan of Fenlon Falls Secondary School and Ben Wrixon of Burlington's Aldershot School read their stories and accepted their accolades in that order. For young people, they write well and have developed good sense seeing the humour in their everyday lives. Wrixon moved up from his second-place finish last year, and I think this is the first time there has been a repeat finalist. Congratulations to them.

Fair play

Last Saturday night, I caught the Village Players' production of Ken Ludwig's The Fox on the Fairway at the Coldwater Community Centre. Ludwig also wrote Lend Me a Tenor, so I knew I was going to see a competently written play. The second half zipped along as he went from see-it-coming jokes to interesting twists.

What was most enjoyable was the performance of Patrick Voo as the young, klutzy, golfing protégé. From the first moment, I felt I was watching Martin Short because Voo's physicality toward being the character was great, and he kind of looks like Short. This alone is the reason you want to see the play, so one day you can say, "I saw him when he was just starting out in this little play in Coldwater."

Get tickets at villageplayers.ca for shows Friday and Saturday night, or Sunday's matinee.

Afterward at The Brownstone, Torero did two outstanding sets, with another band, David in the Dark, doing a loud and moving set sandwiched in between. This is the kind of thing that makes hitting the clubs worthwhile.

Art season

Saturday, downtown, the annual Streets Alive kicks off. This year, the project is called Maple Masterpieces. Large maple leaves have been worked on by 50 artists to commemorate Canada's 150th on one side and Orillia's 150th on the other. I've seen a few of them and this is going to be fantastic.

The day starts at 9 a.m. with the pieces assembled on Mississaga Street. It's like a huge block party all day, without the stumbling around near the end of the day like other block parties you may have been to.

Once again, there is a cash prize to be announced in August and you can vote all summer on your favourite.

And, Tiffin's Creative Centre starts a summer-long series, Art of Orillia, in the courtyard at the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) starting at 10 a.m. Saturday. There's music, too - a Dixieland band of students from Orillia Secondary School play this week.

One more. OK, a few one mores. Lee Contemporary Art opens Kind of Blue at 1 p.m. Saturday and Suite 204 opens an exhibit of work by Linda Plourde. And OMAH is in an online contest for a $10,000 prize at givingchallenge.ca - plus, it has a number of exhibits for you to see.

Plenty to do

I found two interesting things on the Internet Tuesday. First, Coors is running a contest at coorsbanquet.ca/en/oht. Six Canadian communities have a chance at winning a concert by Darius Rucker, Jon Pardi, Jess Moskaluke and the James Barker Band. You can vote every day.

Also, while wasting time on Reddit, the top post was a picture of David Letterman back in the day when he was living out of his pickup truck. He was wearing a Maple Leafs jersey. I clicked, figuring some of the comments would be about the jersey. Well, most of the top comment thread was about Orillia. Many posters appeared to be from here. I found it disappointing so many have a negative view about living here. A good part of the discussion was about housing prices, and I can agree, but those of you who think there's nothing to do here should spend a week in my shoes.

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


Swartz's shorts

  • Janet-Lynne and Max Durnford, both of whom are very involved with Mariposa Arts Theatre and volunteer at the Mariposa Folk Festival, have extraordinary circumstances this week. Janet-Lynne donated a kidney Tuesday, and Max is having a kidney transplant Thursday (not from Janet-Lynne). They are both important people in the arts and culture community and I wish them speedy recoveries.
  • The Barrie Jazz and Blues Festival happens this weekend. One event is happening in Orillia, at Brewery Bay Food Company. Joe Huron and Pat LaBarbera, who played sax in Buddy Rich's band for many years, play June 18 at 2 p.m.
  • The New Sunshine Festival's Dog Park Jamboree starts June 20 at the Orillia Community Church downtown. Get tickets at newsunshinefestival.com.
  • Brent Mayhew's annual spring recital is June 24. Hear Grieg's Holberg Suite, Pictures at an Exhibition, and Rhapsody in Blue. To get tickets and directions to the concert, email brentmayhew@rogers.com.
  • Coming up: The Geneva, where Terry Savage and the Wonky Honkees did a great show last Thursday, has A New High with The Blackness and Trez Locozz in Friday; Grate Northern (Grateful Dead inspired) debut Saturday; Steve Strongman, with Lance Anderson, plays June 21. The Brownstone has Dave Allen and Courtney Dubois Friday night; Coconut Navy plays Saturday. The Simcoe County Band is at the Orillia Farmers' Market Saturday. Lake Country Grill has Steph Dunn in Wednesday; Dunn also plays Era 67 every Thursday. Liz Anderson is at Era 67 Friday night. Jamie Drake hosts an open-mic jam at McCabe's Fridays at 8 p.m. Dav Langstroth hosts storytelling at Mark IV Brothers Café Tuesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. Darrin Davis leads a songwriting circle the last Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. at the Orillia Public Library.

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