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Entertaining Valentine-themed events on the menu this weekend

Anna Proctor tells you everything you need to know about local arts and entertainment
The Old Dance Hall Players
The Old Dance Hall Players, some of whom are pictured here, are hosting a six-week series of Improv Workshops at St. Paul’s Centre starting Feb. 19. Contributed photo

Cottagers and Indians, the Drew Hayden Taylor play brought to you by the good folks at the group formerly known as HCC (more on that later) played to a full house Friday night. What an awesome show! 

The dialogue was hilarious, sparkling and heartfelt and the actors gave it their all. What a shock to find out at the Q and A afterwards, that the actors had been given the script Jan. 7 and that ours was only their fourth performance! Hats off to them both for an incredible job.

The play is at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto for the next little while, do go and see it if it’s at all possible. It’s an eye-opener.

Back to the formerly known HCC, or Huronia Cultural Campus. Board chair Fred Larsen has made it known that HCC has changed its name to Orillia Centre for Arts + Culture.

Given the snail’s pace of the province’s decision-making regarding the former Huronia Regional Centre lands, it made sense for the group to alter its focus and rename itself to reflect that altered focus.

The group still wants to establish a ‘Banff East’ in Orillia and therefore find a home and has also been dedicating itself to bringing incredible and varied programming to the area over the past several years.

Next up for the newly renamed group, a dance performance at the Orillia Opera House on June 28, and the third incarnation of the Indigenous Writing Festival in September, in Midland.

As of this writing, less than 20 tickets were remaining for this Saturday’s An Evening of Blues and Gospel VIII, produced by Lance Anderson for Mariposa in Concert, at St. Paul’s Centre. This is always an incredible show with an award-winning crowd of musicians.

If you can steal a ticket, go! You will have the best night of your life. Tickets are available here.

Heads up! If you have always wanted to try improv, Orillia’s legends of improv, The Old Dance Hall Players, are presenting a six-week series of workshops starting Feb. 19, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Centre. For more information, check out the group’s Facebook page here.

Coming up sooner than you would think, the Vagina Monologues will be playing at the Orillia Opera House Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are only $35 through the Opera House website and 90% of the proceeds will go to support Orillia’s Green Haven Shelter for Women.

Eve Ensler’s play has never been more relevant in this era of #MeToo and Trumpian misogyny. Get your tickets through the Orillia Opera House box office at 705-326-8011 or online here.

Visual art-wise, the people at Zephyr Artists reached out to tell me they have two shows hanging currently.

The first is at Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery and Studio, until Feb. 28 and is entitled Favourites. Featured artists include Patricia Beecham, Catherine Cadieux, John Jacquemain, Beverley Pearl, Gwen Reilly, Jean Sanders, Gayle Schofield and Murray Van Halem. PSFA is located at 23 Peter St. S.

Directly across the street at the CDC boardroom, Zephyr Artists have a show titled Winter Thaw until April 30. Featured there are artists Patricia Beecham, Catherine Cadieux, John Jacquemain, Beverley Pearl, Gwen Reilly, Jean Sanders, Gayle Schofield and Murray Van Halem. Do wander by during open hours and check out these bodies of work.

Mark your calendar, the OMAH Women’s Day Art Show opening reception is Feb. 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. Don’t miss this great show and free food, too. Of course, there are many galleries in the Peter Street Arts District, please take the time to check them out as well.

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and there are a few Valentine-themed events happening this weekend in town.

On Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m., there is a Valentine’s Dance at the Best Western Mariposa Inn with music by DJ2 The Max. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.

Also Feb. 9 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at the Orillia Public Library, there will be a Valentine’s green screen opportunity for people to make custom Valentine’s cards with different themes. This is being offered in the Program Room. Cost is $5.

If you wanted to take your Valentine to Yuk Yuk’s at the Geneva Feb. 9, bad news, it’s completely sold out.

In the live music/bar scene this weekend, Feb. 8 Charlotte and the Dirty Cowboys play at Fionn MacCool’s, Evan LeBlanc plays The Brownstone Feb. 6, and McGinnis and Marshall play at the Hog ‘n’ Penny Feb. 9. Studabaker’s Beachside is starting up Legit Saturdays with DJ KAOS this Saturday at 10 p.m.

Don’t forget to email me your arts and culture news by Tuesdays at noon, to