An evening at the theatre is a favourite tradition for many families at this time of year. When we think of holiday theatre, we tend to envision magical ballet dancers taking the stage and bringing The Nutcracker to life. What many don’t realize is you no longer have to travel all the way to Toronto to indulge your love for live performance; we have an abundant selection of unique theatrical and musical events to enjoy right in our own backyard.
Lebovic Centre for Arts and Entertainment – 19 on the Park officially kicks off its holiday season with its annual fundraiser, “The Snow Ball Gala,” taking place Friday, December 2nd at 19 Civic Avenue, Stouffville. The event features live performances by dance theatre company Motus O, playwright Johnny Wideman, as well as country artist Kirsten Jones and opera singer Sarah Amelard.
The small venue, which seats 150, has been open since 2009, and takes pride in presenting the audience a “close and personal experience” with the performing artists. The full festive lineup includes “A Bluesy Christmas” with JUNO award winner Chuck Jackson and Maple Blues award nominee Johnny Max Band on December 9th, “The Night Before Christmas” by Dufflebag Theatre on the 11th, and Motus O’s “A Christmas Carol” the weekend before Christmas.
“People are blown away by the mixture of the historic building with the new technology we have,” says Ashley McIntosh, cultural facility and programming coordinator at 19 on the Park. “And they’re impressed by the quality of artists; we work hard to bring award winners to our stage.”
Jane Taylor—program, event and communications manager at the Aurora Cultural Centre—agrees the music and arts scene is a big draw for the community at this time of year. “We hear it every time – our community loves to discover such amazing Canadian talent here right at home,” she says.
The Centre is hosting “A Fred Penner Family Christmas Concert” on December 10th, an event ideal for all ages. “We’re at the point where the generation that grew up with Fred are now introducing their children to his music,” says Taylor. “Come for a concert, discover the gallery shows at intermission, have the opportunity to visit with the performer in an informal setting right afterwards, and then it’s just a short jaunt home.”
If you’re looking to attend a performance unlike any other theatrical event you’ve experienced before, you’ll want to plan ahead for New Year’s Eve. Shadowpath Theatre Productions, a site-responsive theatre company working in public, “everyday spaces” across York Region, will be hosting its “James Bond Bash” on December 31st at SpringHill Suites by Marriot in Vaughan. The event will feature live performances as well as dinner, drinks, champagne, dancing and “secret missions” assigned to the audience. Guests are encouraged to dress up as their favourite James Bond character.
“We’re basically creating our own world, mashing up a bunch of the popular James Bond movies and bringing those themes into one night of entertainment,” explains Alex Karolyi, owner and artistic director at Shadowpath.
The not-for-profit charitable organization launched in 2002 with a mission to educate the public’s understanding and appreciation of Canadian theatre. This will be Shadowpath’s third annual NYE event – after the 1920s Murder Mystery in Newmarket to ring in 2015, and last year’s Casablanca-themed event, both of which sold out.
“The holidays are a busy season, but at the same time, people are wanting to escape reality and routine,” Karolyi says. “That’s where Shadowpath provides an alternative that can offer some entertainment and fun, while encouraging connections to the community in creative ways.”
Whatever your holiday plans entail, there’s certainly no shortage of live entertainment to enjoy. Theatre Aurora is presenting the family musical, “I Believe in Christmas,” on December 10th and 11th. And if you’re eager to catch a show sooner, Wave Stage Theatre Company presents “Shrek the Musical” from November 17th to 20th at Newmarket Theatre.
What better excuse for a break from the all of the holiday prepping and planning than getting lost in York Region’s local theatre scene?
by Charlotte Ottaway
Lebovic Centre for the Arts – 19 on the Park
Shadowpath Theatre Productions
Aurora Cultural Centre
Wave Stage Theatre Company