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Community music groups and local theatre take centre stage

Lots of Valentine's Day-themed events also on the calendar, says arts and entertainment columnist
Orillia Vocal Ensemble
embers of the Orillia Vocal Ensemble, who are doing a fundraising concert for the YMCA’s Skid Watson fund on Feb. 24. Orillia Vocal Ensemble photo

Did you know? We have many community musical and theatre groups in town, full of talented, dedicated performers who volunteer lots of hours to bring great musical and theatrical programming to all the rest of us in the audience here in Orillia.

February is traditionally one of the months these groups tend to dominate the arts scene and this month is no exception.

First up and already going great guns is Mariposa Arts Theatre’s run of The Diary of Anne Frank. The show, by all accounts, is a real winner and the rest of the run, ending this Sunday, is sold out! Well done MAT! 

In other MAT news, auditions for the May/June play, Educating Rita, in MAT’s warehouse, are Feb. 20 and 21. For more information check out the MAT Facebook page. The next MAT movie is A Private War on Feb. 20 followed by Ben Is Back on March 6.

Community music groups are also busy! The Orillia Silver Band is going to wow us for Valentine’s this weekend on Feb. 16 at St. Paul’s Centre at 7:30 p.m. The theme is falling in love, with love-themed music and this band really knows how to play. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students online or at the door, do go and check them out…hopefully the weather will cooperate.

The Orillia Vocal Ensemble is next up with a concert Sunday, Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. at St. Paul’s Centre. Featuring the Nai Children’s choir and Orillia Music Centre students as guests, this concert will be a fundraiser for the Skid Watson Fund at our local YMCA. Admission is by freewill offering.

Cellar Singers and Orillia Concert Band will be entertaining us in March; much more on those concerts next week.

If you’re talking about community, Streets Alive is all about community! Those folks are offering free Valentine’s Day photos on Thursday, Feb. 14 from noon to 1:30 p.m. These will be taken by  talented photographer Deb Halbot, in the courtyard beside the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH). Brave the snowdrifts and get a wintry Valentine’s portrait with your loved one or ones.

Speaking of OMAH, Family Fun drop-in is still being offered Sundays from 2 to 3 p.m. This Sunday’s theme is Still Life; come and learn all about it. Cost is $5 per family. Also at OMAH, on Saturday, is the opening for this year's Women’s Show, entitled Connections. The opening is from 1 to 4 p.m. This is the 23rd year of the Women’s Show and this year over 130 female artists are represented in this incredible show.

Meg Leslie is an Orillia artist who left town for other places a number of years ago. Good news! She’s back, and excited to host many ceramics and other workshops at her new Orillia studio, Atherley Arts. Check out all the workshops being offered on the Facebook page here and get registered today.

For a mid-sized town, Orillia has lots of talented artists and musicians, and a number of local musicians have signed up for the CBC’s Searchlight contest, including Cole Mendez’ band The Free Label, The Bob Hawkins Band, and Alphabreff, among others. Check out the contest at You can vote in round one until Feb. 14 at 3 p.m., then round two begins after that. Good luck to all the local bands and musicians who have entered!

There is some good live music in the local bars this Valentine’s Day, as well as on the weekend.

Wendy Whelan is at Fionn MacCool’s Feb. 14 and Jakob Pearce is at the Hog ‘n’ Penny Feb. 16 at 8:30 p.m. The Brownstone has Havelin/Charlie the Kid with Jeremiah Hill Feb. 15 and Omar Shabbar and Mike Legere Feb. 16.

I hope you haven’t given up on leaving the house with the horrible weather we’ve been having …it’s worth the drive to downtown Orillia to check out all of our local talent.

As always, email your arts news to [email protected] by Tuesday at noon to get it in the column.