Playhouse announces exciting 2018 theatre season

Manning the sales table. (The Leader/Gibb photo)

MORRISBURG – The first cars were in the parking lot at Upper Canada Playhouse by 6:15 a.m. despite the fact that the theatre doors did not open until 7:30 a.m. and sales did not start until 9 a.m.

Monday, November 6, was the early bird opportunity for patrons to purchase 2018 season’s tickets, flex passes and tickets for specific shows.

“Many people also come in order to buy certain seats that they like for the shows,” said Donnie Bowes, Playhouse artistic director, “and many give tickets and passes as Christmas gifts. In fact, generally we have sold out about half our season by Christmas time.”

On Nov. 6, the Playhouse opened its box office to customers, seating them in the warm theatre and lobby to wait for their number to be called. Joanne Notman, a former UCP board member, volunteered her time to greet visitors in the lobby and direct them.

“Due to volume, we deal with people appearing in person first, then we go to the phone messages and emails and answer them in order,” Bowes explained.

The response to 2018 season ticket sales has been phenomenal. The word is out that the new line up of shows is an exciting one.

This is the Playhouse’s 35th year of producing professional live theatre. UCP is currently one of the longest running professional theatres in the province and consistently pulls in upwards of 40,000 visitors annually.

“We’ve stuck with the formula which seems to work for us and our play goers,” Bowes said. “We hold live concerts in the fall and spring, and four theatre shows in the summer. We also stage a family and school holiday Christmas show.”

The 2018 season will kick off with a premiere show, Opry Gold, written and performed by Leisa Way. It will feature hits by the Kings and Queens of Country, from Johnny Cast to Loretta Lynn.

“It’s bound to be a hit with our audiences,” said Bowes.

Next up is another premiere at the Playhouse June 7, the debut of a comedy written by actor Jamie Williams called It’s Your Funeral. The well known actor is also directing the play.

“It’s an excellent show. Jamie has the nature of farce down perfectly, and the outrageous comic events that take place at gambler George’s newly purchased Heaven’s Door Funeral Home are going to leave audiences in stitches.”

Next up, July 5, is Knickers! by Sarah Quick, directed by Donnie Bowes. “This is a light-hearted, hilarious comedy about a small town, whose major industry, a pulp and paper mill, has just shut down. A group of ladies, members of the same Weight Watchers group, decide that they will start up another business, exclusive ladies underwear, and bring the economy back to life.”

A play about people coping with tough economic times, yet one that is truly hilarious, will resonate with our audiences,” Bowes said.

The classic Neil Simon comedy of “wit and wisdom” Plaza Suite, will be at the theatre in August. A hit on Broadway, the show focusses on three couples who rent the same suite at three different times, each couple having their wildly entertaining predicaments.

Closing out the summer season, September 6, will be Norm Foster’s The Great Kooshog Lake Hollis McCauley Fishing Derby, “a name,” Bowes laughed, “that has got to be the longest title on the face of the earth and hard on a marquis.”

In typical Foster fashion, the play is set in a very small town, where the hunt for a famous fish has become an obsessive yearly ritual. When a confused city banker strays into town during the ‘derby’, he is swiftly embroiled in the hilarity of the characters and the setting.

Coming back in the fall, by huge popular demand, for four shows only, October 12-14, is Jesse Collins’ smash hit Dean & Jerry: What Might Have Been. Actors/singers Derek Marshall and Nicholas Arnold, backed by an orchestra, return in the roles that have won them critical and popular acclaim.

The final production of the Playhouse season is Pat Cook’s holiday classic, The Christmas Express. A touching, whimsical play about a town that has “lost its Christmas spirit” this show will delight audiences of all ages. Starring in the show will be Dan Karpenchuk, who played Kris Kringle in last year’s Miracle on 34th Street.

Contact Upper Canada Playhouse for information about the 2018 season.

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