A summer festival with a twist
|By Jennifer Hughey - Editor | November 21, 2015|
As one festival finished in the Highlands, the line-up for another was announced on Nov. 15 at the Haliburton International Film Festival (HIFF) wrap party.
The gathering was held at McKeck’s Tap and Grill, where supporters first celebrated the completion of HIFF a poetry reading featuring works by the late Al Purdy, the star of the last featured film.
Taking advantage of a captive audience, Highlands Summer Festival president Jack Brezina and artistic producer Scot Denton officially launched the 16th annual festival season that will begin on July 4, 2016.
“I am so delighted today to see so many people from various aspects of what happens,” Brezina said to the nearly 50 people in the room. “We are so appreciative of those who volunteer their time,” he said, naming those who work front of house, control lighting, create set design, props and even those who take care of the wigs – as integral parts of every show.
Denton, who has been working on the festival for the past 11 years, said the 2016 season will have something for everyone. Denton was a director for his first three years and said that the board liked his picks so much they made him artistic producer.
“It will be fun and challenging [season] for us,” he said, “one that will help us to grow as a company and individuals, I hope.
Denton named five productions, three of which that will be produced by the summer festival staff.
“The three we will produce are a comedy, a comedy-drama and a musical,” he said. “It has been a musical we have wanted to do for a number of years, but you need a certain set of resources to do it. You need young people.”
Denton was met with resounding applause when he revealed the festival with open “with one of the most popular musicals ever,” Lionel Bart’s Oliver! on July 4, 2016 at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion.
“It is a big show, a big cast,” he said. In a press release, Denton noted the story, based on the writing of Charles Dickens and filled with familiar melodies, Oliver! “features a delightful case of characters who eke out a hard-scrabble life on the mean streets of London in the early 1800’s.”
The second show is a Norm Forster comedy, entitled Old Love, it’s a story of emotions rekindled between two people who have lost their spouses and who aren’t quite sure about getting into a relationship again at their respective ages.
The third production, also to be produced in-house, is a Noel Coward play, Fallen Angels. A 1925 original, it is a comedic piece focused on the sea change in mores that followed World War I.
“With themes that resonate today, this much celebrated playwright allows his characters to wander deeper into the weeds as they attempt to discover what is the right thing to do,” Denton noted in the release.
The other two productions are created by Canadian artists, making three of the five plays Canadian originals The Judgement of Paris, by Tom Allen, CBC Radio Two host, symphony orchestra consultant, author and musician, combines cabaret, storytelling and music and is also set in World War I. Lastly, Miss Caledonia by Melody A Johnson is set in the year 1955 and features a woman named Peggy Ann Douglas, who is set on being a movie star and decides her way to the top will start with winning the local pageant.
“As you can see, it’s a great line up,” Denton said, thanking Brezina, who in turn thanked the Board of Directors for their hard work in making it all happen. He also said the festival is always looking for those who work behind the scenes, building sets, making costumes, and anything else that can help the show go on.
All of the dates for each of the productions have been posted on the festival’s website and season passes are on sale now, which includes all five shows for the season at a cost of $150. Single tickets are $34 and can be ordered at any time once the season passes are processed. To order a season pass or individual tickets, people are encouraged to call 705-457-9933 or visit the website at highlandssummerfestival.on.ca
SUE TIFFIN is a reporter for The Highlander.