“The first cars were in the theatre parking lot by 6:30 a.m.,” said Upper Canada Playhouse business manager, Roseann Kelly. “We couldn’t believe it. And we weren’t even due to open the doors until 9 a.m.”
November 1 is the traditional day for the new season’s tickets, flex passes and theatre packages to go on sale to the public at Upper Canada Playhouse.
The enormous popularity of the Playhouse among patrons from the States, Ottawa, Kingston, Montreal and everywhere in between, was readily apparent in the rush of customers to purchase their seats on opening day.
This year, following staff discussions about how to improve customer service during the annual sales rush, the Playhouse adopted a new system that is definitely meeting with customer approval.
“Instead of people lining up outside, often in the cold, this year we gave everyone a number at the door,” Kelly explained, “Then we showed them to the lobby and the auditorium where they could sit and wait in comfort until their number was called. The results have been great. Patrons really like this approach.”
On hand this year to help with “rush” day were six volunteers from Scotiabank.
“Scotiabank is matching up to $5,000 in sales with their Matching Funds program,” said Kelly. “It’s wonderful to have them here and to have the bank’s support.”
The 2017 “Cool & Refreshing Summer Series” was officially announced by Playhouse artistic director Donnie Bowes.
“We have our four summer ‘flagship’ productions,” Bowes said, “and we strive for real variety in the choices. In both the spring and the fall we offer live concerts. Leisa Way is already in the process of creating a sparkling, bright 2017 sequel to her hit Christmas concert from last year.”
Every other year, the Playhouse brings back Marshall Button, the beloved “Lucien”. In 2017, Lucien and Jimmy the Janitor will be presenting a brand new show over a weekend in October.
The Neil Simon comic classic, Barefoot in the Park, will open the summer season. “We are mounting this production from the Playhouse,” Bowes said, “and then touring it to three other theatres.”
One of the funniest farces ever written, Boeing Boeing, is next up on the Playhouse stage. The laughs are “mile high” and a mile a minute in this hugely popular comedy.
Bowes is very excited about the “totally fresh, new script” by Lewis Black, One Slight Hitch, which is the third entry in the Playhouse summer series.
Black is a comedian and a regular guest of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and numerous comic reviews. “One Slight Hitch is an incredibly funny script,” said Bowes.
Last production of the summer season is another new play, this one by Canada’s favourite playwright, Norm Foster.
Author of the 2016 Playhouse hit Jonas and Barry in the Home, Foster returns with Halfway There, directed by Jesse Collins, a comedy revolving around a young Maritime doctor who is trying to make a new start.
Looking at the steady stream of customers arriving, Bowes remarked that “this town and this community really supported the Playhouse in its early years. We will probably sell out about half of our season’s seats by Christmas. A lot of people will be coming to visit our town next year.
I feel that the Playhouse is actually giving back to the community.”