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'Tis the season for Christmas concerts in Orillia

Concerts, plays and art shows — Orillia has you covered this holiday season, says our arts and entertainment columnist
2019-11-27 Laura Aylan-Parker
Mezzo-soprano Laura Aylan-Parker will be a guest at the Orillia Vocal Ensemble Christmas Concert Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. at St. Paul’s Centre. Laura Aylan-Parker/Supplied photo

The countdown to Christmas columns continues this week with the beginning of some Christmas concerts, and a heads-up about some more further down the pipe.

Jubilee Chorale’s Christmas concert is this weekend, just sneaking into December with a show at Westmount United Church on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Christmas in Song will feature lots of seasonal favourites sung by this Orillia choir, which has been in existence for more than 50 years. Admission is by freewill donation, so come out and get into the holiday mood with this festive show.

Also on Sunday, but at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church, the Muskoka Advent Choir presents Waiting for Christmas, an evening celebrating the coming of Christ. Admission to this concert is also by freewill donation, with money raised going to support the Orillia Pregnancy Resource Centre.

Save the date for upcoming Christmas concerts: The Orillia Concert Band is doing its traditional two concerts on Dec. 7 — the shorter, more kid-friendly one at 3:30 p.m. with special guests the Samuel de Champlain Children’s Choir and the longer, traditional start to the Christmas season, Christmas Prelude, with guests the St. Paul’s Chancel Choir, at 7:30 p.m. Both concerts are at St. Paul’s Centre and tickets are available at the door, cash only. Rumour has it that Santa will be making an appearance at the afternoon show and, yes, there will be carol sing-alongs at the evening show.

The Orillia Vocal Ensemble Christmas concert, Joyful Sound, is Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. at St. Paul’s Centre as well. The Orillia Vocal Ensemble mandate is for each concert to raise funds for a particular charity, and this concert’s designated charity is the Lakehead University Humanities 101 course. Special guests are Dean Jobin-Bevans, who was a student of Doreen Uren Simmons and Lois Marshall, in a former life, and Laura Aylan-Parker, also a student of the infamous Doreen. Admission is by freewill donation to the cause, as in you can come for free, but you can’t leave!

Further down the Christmas line-up, the Cellar Singers choir is doing a Christmas concert on Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at St. James’ Anglican Church, featuring Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols. Tickets are available at the door and online here.

The Orillia Silver Band is performing its Sleighbells and Brass Christmas show at the Orillia Opera House on Dec. 15 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available here.

On Dec. 14 from 1 to 3 p.m. the Orillia Vocal Ensemble and Thor Motors are having the annual Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration for The Sharing Place Food Centre, at Thor Motors Orillia. Thor Motors moves all of its cars out of the showroom for this special afternoon, and instead fills the space with kids playing ukulele, carollers, and the choir. Conductor Roy Menagh is at his enthusiastic best, encouraging donations to The Sharing Place, and it is definitely a feel-good event. Come and feel the magic of Christmas giving.

So, lots of Christmas music coming up for the whole family. If you would rather celebrate advent with words instead of music, the Leacock Museum, in conjunction with Manticore Books, is having a special Christmas event this Saturday at 7 p.m. It’s called Christmas in Mariposa and features author Jamie Lamb’s new book, Christmas in Mariposa, with selections being read by the author. Each $25 ticket includes refreshments and a copy of the book, or you can get two books and two tickets for $40. For tickets, go here.

Speaking of the Leacock Museum, A Nutcracker Tea at Old Brewery Bay is happening Dec. 1, 8 and 15, with two sittings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is a festive high tea with all the trimmings in the Leacock home, and an opportunity to chat with Dr. Leacock between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tickets cost $29.95 and include 25 per cent off of items in the gift shop. Tickets can be found here. Reservations required as seating is limited.

Under ‘not necessarily Christmas themed,’ this month’s Hibernation Arts gallery concert is happening Thursday at 7 p.m. and features well-known Orillian, singer-songwriter Ian Chaplin. Admission is $20 at the door and includes light refreshments.

Also in gallery news, on Dec. 6, come out and enjoy the opening of David Warner’s show at aRt & HOME Studio from 6 to 8 p.m. David creates magnificent trees using metal and stone — perfect to look at this time of year. The gallery also welcomes back Marie Jose and her stunning works of delicate sterling silver jewelry, perfect for gift giving. Come out to 17 Peter St. S. and check out all the artwork there.

Mariposa Arts Theatre is auditioning for its next show in February, Rabbit Hole. Here’s the blurb about the play: “Becca and Howie Corbett have everything a family could want, until a life-shattering accident turns their world upside down and leaves the couple drifting perilously apart. Rabbit Hole charts their bittersweet search for comfort in the darkest of places and for a path that will lead them back into the light of day.” They are looking for actors of all genders from 30s to 40s, a female, 60, and male teens. Auditions are Dec. 10 and 12 from 7 to 9 p.m. and interested actors are asked to contact director Kaleb Sauve at [email protected] if they have questions or to set up an audition time.

In case you are living under a rock, I had better let you know that the movie Who You Know, filmed in Orillia and named one of the best new indie movies around, fresh off its Hamilton Film Fest debut, is being shown at the Orillia Opera House on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. Tickets are only $10 and there will be a Q&A with cast and directors after the show. Tickets are available here.

Speaking of the Opera House, and back to Christmas, there are several Christmas-themed shows coming up. Ballet Jorgen’s The Nutcracker is always a popular Christmas show. Tickets are limited for the Nov. 30 performance, with a matinee and an evening show. The Barra MacNeils are celebrating another East Coast Christmas at the Opera House on Dec. 5. The Next Generation Leahy Christmas is Dec. 12. Don’t miss The Wizard of Oz, a Panto in Ruby Red Slippers, on Dec. 6, and Found, a Musical Revue by local young performers, Duck Soup Productions, on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. One last show at the Opera House for Christmas, aside from the Orillia Silver Band show, is A Canadian Country Christmas Concert on Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

St. Paul’s Centre is not to be outdone in the Christmas concert mayhem. Aside from the Orillia Concert Band and Orillia Vocal Ensemble shows detailed previously, St. Paul’s presents Marie Bottrell’s Home for the Holidays Concert on Dec. 14 at 2 p.m. Marie Bottrell is a big star from the ’70s and ’80s with a classic country voice. Think Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. This will be a great show. Tickets are $30 and are available through the Orillia Opera House box office in person and online.

One more thing! There are very few spaces left for the late-night Ugly Sweater Bowling Party on Dec. 13, put on by The Big Event to support The Sharing Place. There will be a special appearance by the boys in Bleeker, and this shift starts at 11:30 p.m. For tickets, go here.

Phew! I have used up my allotted word count and then some, but I warned you. Music in the bars, yes: At the Brownstone Café this Thursday, Chris and Nate Make Strange Sounds; Dec. 6, Dan Bazinet’s Birthday Fundraiser for the Lighthouse. At the Hog N’ Penny on Nov. 29, Darrin Davis. At Fionn MacCool’s on Nov. 29, Daryl Avaro; Nov. 30, Richard Henderson.

Arts news? Send it to me at [email protected] by Tuesday at noon.