By Robert Mackenzie
Published June 6 2017
This year’s Highlands Summer Festival will feature a familiar face for television fans.
Paul Constable also known as Gary from the Canadian Tire commercials will be performing in the musical comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in Haliburton this summer.
Constable’s career started back in his hometown of Burlington Ont. where at a young age he got involved in a number of different productions – everything from musicals to David Mamet plays to little scenes from international plays – at the Burlington Student Theatre. “Growing up it was kind of just anything to be performing it didn’t matter what it was” he said.
After graduating from the University of Windsor with a degree in fine arts Constable moved to Toronto where he’s been working on a variety of different acting gigs.
From 2001 to 2005 he helped create six shows on the main stage of the world famous Second City improvisational theatre which he credits as one of his biggest accomplishments in his career. “[Second City] was what I wanted. It was one of the reasons I moved to Toronto” he said. “I loved Second City Television and when I realized that just down the road from Burlington was the place where it had started I just thought ‘I’ve got to get involved in that.’”
His most recent stage performance was in Ross Petty’s Sleeping Beauty production this Christmas; a pantomime musical in which Constable played the role of “SparkleBum” the fairy. He has also just finished filming two small roles in the Matt Damon film Downsizing and the Hayden Christiansen flick Little Italy . Though he warns that “if you blink you may in fact go ‘I never saw him in that movie.’”
But Constable is most commonly known for his starring role in commercials for Canadian Tire over the past five years. “[The commercials are] just tons of fun and the weird thing about it is that I go up to Haliburton and sometimes people look at you and go ‘aren’t you that guy from the Canadian Tire spots?’” Constable said. “You can kind of go anywhere and people recognize you. It’s a fun bonus in a sense. It doesn’t really get you anything except people are very nice.”
In his upcoming performance at the festival which runs July 3 to 13 Constable will star as Pseudolus a slave who is trying to earn his freedom by helping his master win the love of a woman. "The driving thing for Pseudolus is his freedom he just doesn’t want to be a slave anymore. It sounds heavy but it’s not heavy at all” he said.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum originally premiered on Broadway in 1963 and has won nine Tony awards to date. Constable is already familiar with the musical – as a teenager he was in a production of Forum as a protean player meaning he played a number of different parts in the show.
Although he’s usually reluctant to leave Toronto for the summer because of his six-year-old son Constable said the role getting to work with director Caroline Smith and the short run of the show were all reasons he took the part. “It’ll be great once it’s up and running and the nice thing too is that it’s a short little run…you get in you get out people laugh and then you go home” he said.
Since the beginning of May Constable and his castmates have been meeting in Haliburton just off of Industrial Park Road every weekend for rehearsals – a schedule that can be difficult at times. “It’s a bit of a challenge because you get the ball rolling you learn your lines you learn where you’re supposed to go you sing your songs and then a week goes by” he said. “You have to do your homework at home so when you come back in on Saturday you’re not completely starting from ground zero again.”
Despite the challenges of rehearsal Constable said he enjoys having his weeks free and getting the chance to spend his weekends in the county. “There are worse ways to spend a weekend than up in Haliburton while summer is starting. It’s beautiful it’s just great and the people are super nice and you can feel a sense of community” he said.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum will open the Highlands Summer Festival on July 3 at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion and will run 10 times during the first two weeks of the 32-day festival. Tickets can be purchased online in person by phone or by mail.