Skip to content

Arts, culture scene is heating up as summer finally arrives

Looking to catch a show, see a performer, check out some art? Our arts and entertainment columnist has you covered!
Tom-Cochrane credit Tom Cochrane
Tom Cochrane and his band Red Rider is the Saturday evening headliner at this year’s Mariposa Folk Festival, held July 5-7 at Tudhope Park in Orillia. (Photo courtesy Tom Cochrane)

Holy smokes! If any of you thought the summer would bring fewer arts and culture events, boy were you wrong! There are tons, so I will get right to it.

First up, if you thought local artists would be resting after last week’s busy and successful solstice art tour, you are so wrong. Several galleries in the Peter Street Arts District have openings this Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. Lee Contemporary welcomes contemporary fibre artist Melanie Siegel, whose exhibit runs until July 6.

Three Crows Speak Studio features artist Lori Grace Petroff of Little Scotia Studio who is presenting her humorous and playful pop-up show, Badly Behaved Babushka for the month of July.

Tango Artspace has the last day of its Studio Sale Saturday with big savings on lots of art and accessories.

Artist Craig Mainprize is having an opening at The Brownstone Café Saturday night at 8 p.m., where he will exhibit new drawings and paintings, alongside music by Black Siren, a Guelph-based band.

And the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMA) just keeps on presenting great exhibits and events, all year round. The show, When Raven Became Spider, featuring works by six contemporary Indigenous artists and storytellers, opens this Saturday at 2 to 4 p.m., with a curatorial talk at 1 p.m. This exhibit is curated by Leena Minifie (Gitxaala) and organized by the Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina Public Library.

The featured artists are Joi T. Arcand (Cree), Sonny Assu (Kwakwa̱ka’wakw), Shaun Beyale (Navajo), Julianne Beaudin-Herney (Cree/Mik’Maq/Métis), Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Blackfoot/Sami), and Jeffrey Veregge (S’Klallam). This will be a truly amazing show which I urge you to attend, it is at the OMAH until Aug. 26.

In addition, OMAH is hosting summer camps, coffee chats, baby art crawls, and, starting this Friday at 1:30 p.m., special Art Appreciation tours, every other Friday throughout the summer. These are free with admission and are a good way to learn more about the exhibits currently on display, and get your questions answered.

For more information on all of OMAH’s great programming, go to the website.

This Friday is the latest offering from the Orillia Centre for Arts and Culture: Elvis and The Man in Black. Using the music of Elvis and Johnny Cash, choreographers James Kudelka and Laurence Lemieux have woven an incredible modern story for all to enjoy. Tickets are only $30, $20 if you are a member of the arts community, and you can grab them at the Orillia Opera House box office, here.

This Sunday, the second of the Sunday Evening Band Concerts starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Aqua Theatre in Couchiching Beach Park. These events are free every Sunday all summer long, and what a great lineup it is. This Sunday, let’s welcome the Baytowne Big Band. Bring your lawn chair and enjoy the fun. Rain location is Orillia Opera House, Lightfoot Theatre.

Let’s not forget, this weekend is the Canada Day long weekend and there is fun to be had all weekend long down at Couchiching Beach Park. The midway starts up Thursday night until Monday night and all day Monday, Canada Day, there is live music, beer garden, silent auction, and lots more, including the parade starting at noon.

I wanted to give a quick shout out to the Orillia Opera House and Gravenhurst Opera House’s summer theatre series. We are so lucky to have professional theatre right in our backyard all summer long and the artistic directors at each theatre should be thanked for this and for their stellar choices of plays for our entertainment.

At the Orillia Opera House (OOH), the season gets rolling with Where You Are by Kristen Da Silva, from July 3 to 19. This is billed as a lighthearted comedy filled with heart, the story of two retired sisters on Manitoulin Island and a visit from the daughter of one, bringing family secrets to the fore.

Next up, The Gentleman Clothier, by Norm Foster, and sponsored by Dapper Depot Menswear here in town, from July 24 to Aug. 9. This is classic Norm Foster shenanigans, this time about a tailor, his new shop, and how his customers hijack his ordered and sensible life.

Finishing the season, the popular play, Same Time Next Year, runs Aug. 14 to 30. This is a comedy classic and not to be missed. Tickets for all shows can be purchased at the OOH box office, 705-326-8011 or here.

In Gravenhurst, a similarly stellar lineup of plays is awaiting you. Take a few extra hours and go up for the day, shop at the Wharf or downtown, have dinner and then check out one of the plays. First up, Harvest, by Ken Cameron, running June 26 to July 19. Hijinks occur when a retired couple discover that the nice young man renting their newly purchased farmland, has been raising a bit of a different crop.

Opening July 24 and running until Aug. 16, Dean and Jerry What Might Have Been, created by Jesse Collins. This is a great night of music and comedy featuring all the Dean Martin and Jerry Lee Lewis hits you can think of, a fun night out for all.

Capping off the Gravenhurst Opera House summer theatre season, Kalamazoo, a comedy about love in the second act, opens Sept. 11 and runs until Sept. 27. So check out our neighbouring Muskoka town to the north and grab a ticket to one of these great shows here.

I am fast running out of space, but I can’t end this column without a mention of our venerable and incredible Mariposa Folk Festival. Running this year from July 5 to 7, this is Mariposa’s 20th year back in Orillia at the incomparable Tudhope Park.

It’s an incredible lineup, with headliners Half Moon Run, Lee Harvey Osmond, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider, Carole Pope, Danny Michel, Jason Isbell, Stars, Digging Roots, Hawksley Workman, My Son the Hurricane and lots more.

As well, just a stellar lineup of daytime performers including hometown favs VK with their album release, The Free Label, also hometown, who got crowds up and dancing last year, Shakura S’Aida, Sharon and Bram, Snotty Nose Rez Kids….just go. Buy tickets and go. You won’t regret it. Guaranteed. Tickets still available at their website.

Music at the bars? You bet. At The Brownstone Café, Thursday Baby Drayton, Saturday Cedar and Pine. At the Hog ‘n’ Penny, Friday Darrin Davis, Saturday The Straight Goods. The casino has Burton Cummings this weekend, with a special after party June 28 including a chance to meet Burton himself. Tickets here.

Arts news? Send it my way by Tuesday at noon