Highlands Summer Festival announces 2016 season lineup

By Darren Lum

There was raucus  applause when the Highlands Summer Festival  artistic producer Scot Denton announced this upcoming summer lineup of five performances to the packed crowd on Sunday at the McKeck’s restaurant in Haliburton.

Kicking off  the theatrical series of shows on July 4 is the well-known and popular  musical Oliver.
Denton has been with the show for 11 years and said Oliver is something he has wanted to produce for a while. This play by Lionel Bart  is based on Charles Dickens’ classic Oliver Twist.

The story  is centred on an ensemble cast of characters who survive the streets of London in the early 1800s.

This season will also feature Canadian writer Norm Foster’s comedy Old Love during the last two weeks of July.

This play is a “rip-roaring farce” that is set against the backdrop of the 1920s following the war.

“It’s a wonderfully funny story about love and courtship. As two people aware of their feelings for each other over the years but kept apart by circumstances (typically other people). They eventually get it right. It’s a unique story told in that special way that nobody does better than Norm Foster” he said.

Third in the lineup is Noël Coward’s comedic play Fallen Angels.

“Written in 1925 an outrageous and shocking in 1925 … it’s the story of two ladies who are married – Julia and Jane as they spend an evening together both enthralled and terrified that Maurice is going to visit. Before they married their husbands Maurice was a romance for each of them … the husbands are away golfing. As they get in the champagne they wonder what they are going to do when Maurice comes” he said.

These three will be in-house productions and auditions for  the festival are on Jan. 23 and 24.

Tom Allen a CBC radio personality headlines his production of the Judgement of Paris which combines cabaret history and storytelling.

Set against the rise of the First World War the play is about a musical duel between composers of the time Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy.

The festival press release says the play “is new and old heroic and tragic historical and fictional.”
The cast includes Kevin Fox Lori Gemmell Bryce Kulak and Patricia O’Callaghan.

Music is by Debussy and Ravel including original songs by the performers. There will only be three performances in July.

The award winning actor Melody A. Johnson stars in Miss Caledonia when it is scheduled for August.

Miss Caledonia follows the efforts of farm girl Peggy Ann Douglas in her pursuit of movie stardom in the 1950s. The first step in her quest is to win the Miss Caledonia pageant contest in rural Ontario.

This play is “a delightful exploration of optimism and reality down on the farm.”

Johnson is accompanied in her staging by fiddler Alison Porter.

“It’s charming and wonderful and gets standing ovations all the time” Denton said.

He adds three of the five performances this year are from Canadians:  Johnson Allen and Foster.

Season passes for all five shows are on sale for $150. With single ticket prices being $34 the season pass value is close to giving the purchaser one free show.

Call 705-457-9933 or toll-free 705-855-9933 for tickets or for more information on the festival see its website www.highlandssummerfestival.on.ca.