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COLUMN: Twelfth Night opens tonight as arts scene heats up

It's a busy time for local theatre, arts and music scene in Orillia, says arts and entertainment columnist Anna Proctor
Kevin Scharf as Feste, the fool, in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, opening tonight at the Stephen Leacock Museum
Kevin Scharf plays Feste, the fool, in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, opening tonight at the Stephen Leacock Museum.

And the countdown is really on, folks. Both to Labour Day and ever-increasing case counts of COVID-19 in Ontario. Sigh.

Despite that, artists, musicians, theatre folks, and creatives are forging ahead with fall planning and events, so please take a look and see what you can support.

More immediately, Creative Nomad Studios has a rustic sign-making workshop this Friday, to coincide with See You on the Patio. Tickets are $34.95 for a table for two, and include all supplies, including a selection of stencils, so go ahead, grab a friend, and register here. The fun starts at 6:30 p.m. outside of Creative Nomad Studios.

This Thursday at 7:30 p.m., don’t forget about the Open Mic night at Couchiching Craft Brewery, hosted by everyone’s favourite, Timmay Kehoe! Both walk-ins and reservations are welcome, and the fun goes until 10 p.m.

Mariposa Arts Theatre starts its run of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, tonight! The show is outdoors, at the Leacock Museum, and it’s going to be phenomenal. The first week is already sold out, so if you were thinking you were going, you had better grab your tickets now. Tickets are $35, available at the Orillia Opera House (OOH) box office, here. It’s a bring your own lawn chair event.

You can also buy tickets for a tour of the Leacock Home through the OOH box office. If you have never toured the home, I urge you to go! It’s gorgeous, with lots of Leacockian memorabilia. The grounds and gardens are beautiful too, right on Old Brewery Bay on Lake Couchiching, and those are free to tour whenever you want.

Back to speaking of theatre and the OOH, the Norm Foster play Old Love, is running there now until Sept. 3. The play opened to rave reviews, and if you are looking for a lovely light summer theatre production, with a touch of romance and lots of laughs, this is the one for you. You can grab tickets through the OOH box office here.

Lance Anderson and Matchedash Parish just starred in a sold-out, incredible live concert at the OOH. The bad news is, you missed it. The good news is, you can catch a livestream of it, for free, this Friday at 7:30 p.m. Matchedash Parish was formed in 2018, and features 12 of Canada’s top blues and roots musicians, including Matt Weidinger, Quisha Wint, and Orillia’s own, Lance Anderson.

This band blew the roof off the last Mariposa Folk Festival, when it closed the Sunday night in 2019, and Mariposa sponsored this show last week, at the OOH. You can find out more about Matchedash Parish here. You can tune in to the concert stream this Friday at 7:30 p.m. on the Mariposa Folk Festival Facebook page, here.

Of course, See You on the Patio, the Friday night Art Walk, Orillia Museum of Art and History’s historical tours, and live music continues this Friday and Saturday and finishes up Labour Day weekend Friday and Saturday, downtown.

As part of See You on the Patio this Friday, a special site-specific artwork will be being installed at the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH), from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Artist Tracey-Mae Chambers is bringing her artwork Hope and Healing to Orillia.

OMAH is one of approximately 30 venues where she will install her temporary artwork this summer using a single red string.

As a proud member of the Metis Nation of Ontario, Chambers states that Hope and Healing “addresses the slur against Indigenous peoples” and also the devastating effects of COVID-19 and mental health.

“The red string represents danger and power, but also courage and love. Although painstaking it is worth every ounce of effort," Chambers said.

Closing the streets downtown for those two nights all summer long has made a big difference to restaurants, galleries, and the shops that opened, and I know lots of people are really hoping this will be an every summer thing … maybe something good to come out of this pandemic.

Looking ahead to the fall, galleries and event spaces are planning and hoping things stay open, and the pandemic can be controlled with vaccines, masking, and distancing. Hibernation Arts has a guest artist for September, and hopefully a live music event as well.

The Images Thanksgiving Studio Tour is a go, as long as the government doesn’t lock things down again, and artists and promotion are gearing up now for this long-standing Thanksgiving weekend tradition.

I know Mariposa Folk Festival has a couple of events up its sleeve for the fall, fingers crossed, and musicians and bands are slowly booking shows and getting back into normal life, again, fingers crossed.

The OOH, likewise, has events booked for this fall, including Shania Twin, a Shania Twain and friends tribute band on Sept. 11; a Theatre by the Bay production in late September; and The Stampeders on Oct. 19.

So, get your two shots, stay masked, and let’s get out and have some fun supporting these folks who work so hard to make everyone’s lives better and brighter.

If you have arts news, send it to by Tuesday at noon to be included.