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Sunday, June 23, 2013

All the world's a stage across southern Ontario



   One-Tank Trip for June 22/13

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The curtain is rising on scenic theatre trips around Southern Ontario this summer.
   Combined with some of the best theatre experiences is a one-stop-shopping reservations portal that allows visitors to book their getaway packages online.
   This includes theatre tickets and accommodations, heritage tours and fine dining as well as hiking and relaxing beach escapes.
The Drayton Festival Theatre is a renovated 1902 opera house and former town hall. (Barbara Fox photo)
   All the world’s a stage
   From world-class Shakespeare productions and musical favourites to Monty Python’s hilarious take on the search for the Holy Grail, theatre buffs should be able to find something on the playbill to keep them entertained.
   That’s just within the tourism region made up of Huron, Perth, Waterloo and Wellington as promoted by a new group called Regional Tourism Organization Four.
   It was incorporated by a volunteer board and supported by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports.
   “We’re incredibly fortunate to have 12 professional theatre venues in our region,” said Napier Simpson, the organization’s chief marketing officer and director of operations.
   “They offer guests great variety and terrific entertainment value, whether they want to see a smaller, more-intimate production or something on a much grander scale,” he added.
The cast of Oliver! in the classic rags-to-riches musical playing at the Drayton Festival Theatre.
   With plays by William Shakespeare at its foundations, the Stratford Festival has set the standard for classical theatre across North America for more than 50 years from its home base in the picturesque city on the Avon River.
   Among the 12 plays being performed this summer in Stratford are Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure through Sept. 21; the classic rock band The Who’s Broadway hit, Tommy, until Oct. 19; and Noel Coward’s enduring comedy, Blithe Spirit, to Oct. 20. stratfordfestival.ca

   Up around the bend
   Over in Grand Bend, on the shores of Lake Huron, are the perfect spots for summer theatre at the Huron County Playhouse and Playhouse II.
   They’re part of seven intimate theatre venues operated by Drayton Entertainment and offering more than two dozen productions.
   Other venues are the Drayton Festival Theatre; St. Jacobs Country Playhouse and Schoolhouse Theatre; Cambridge’s Dunfield Theatre; and King’s Wharf Theatre in Penetanguishene.
   “The Drayton Experience is all about discovering hidden gems in unique communities throughout Ontario," said Alex Mustakas, artistic director and CEO.
   These “extremely intimate” theatres offer big-time Broadway-calibre productions at small-town prices where audiences “can’t help but become emotionally invested, he added.
   Among the plays in this season’s line-up at Drayton are the gourmet farce Too Many Cooks, July 10-27 and Oliver! from Aug. 14-31.
  Rebecca Auerbach and J.D. Nicholsen star in Dear Johnny Deere, just ending a limited run at the Blyth Festival. (Photo by Terry Manzo)
   Monty Python’s Spamalot runs from June 26-July 13 at the Huron Country Playhouse and from July 17-Aug. 3 at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.
   The new 500-seat Dunfield Theatre beside the Grand River in Cambridge, presents Sorry, I’m Canadian, July 10-Aug. 3, the Buddy Holly Story, Aug. 7-31 and Lend Me a Tenor, Sept. 25-Oct. 12. For show details and tickets: www.draytonentertainment.com; 1-855-372-9866
   Other scenic small-town theatre experiences include the Blyth Festival in Huron County that has been providing a year-round venue for original Canadian productions since 1975.
   This season, the theatre is producing six plays, including the Beyond the Farm Show, June 26-Aug. 16 and Yorkville – the Musical, from July 3-Aug. 11. blythfestival.com
   Booking a getaway to take in any of these productions and exploring the surrounding countryside can be accomplished at betterweekending.ca
   Another resource is the link to the 21 members the Association of Summer Theatres 'Round Ontario: summertheatre.ca

   Take off, eh
   Ready for takeoff at the Great Lakes International Air Show, June 28-30 at the St. Thomas Airport, are the Canadian Forces’ Snowbirds and the supersonic CF-188 Hornet.
Members of the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association will fly their restored aircraft at the St. Thomas air show.
   This is “one of the best air shows in North America,” said Allan Weatherall, director of media relations, and will feature air-race pilot Pete McLeod of London and aerobatic legend Sean Tucker from California.
   Watch for a CC-150 Hercules, CH-146 Griffon and the Great War Flying Museum, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, the P-51C Mustang and Harvards.
   “They will join a terrific display of flying and static aircraft,” Weatherall said.
   Air show days are June 29 and 30, with the flying events from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
   The show is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with tickets $25; $20, seniors and ages six to 17; and a $5 discount online in advance. greatlakesinternationalairshow.ca

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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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