Upper Canada Playhouse announces 2024 season

MORRISBURG – “2024 is going to be one of our best seasons yet,” said Upper Canada Playhouse director, Donnie Bowes. “We are presenting a mix of terrific theatre and wonderful music – a really magic combination.”

On November 13, 2023, the Playhouse announced its upcoming 2024 season, with season’s tickets, flex passes and individual tickets all going on sale through the theatre box office or on line. Memberships, where businesses, organizations and individuals are invited to “support the Playhouse at the level of your choice”, bronze, silver, gold and platinum, are also available for 2024.

And to cap off the very successful 2023 season at the Playhouse, the final show of the year, Leisa Way’s tune-filled, colourful salute to the Christmas season, ‘Home for the Holidays,’ runs December 5-17.

However, theatre lovers will not have long to wait before their Playhouse brings back all the fun and excitement of live theatre in 2024.

As part of the dynamic buildup to the season, before the start of the four summer shows, the Playhouse is staging some of its wonderful Wild Weekend Concerts. Leisa Way’s ‘O Canada! We Sing for Thee!’ runs for four exciting performances April 19-21, in a production that will make you fall in love with our ‘native land’ all over again. Hear the music of Shania Twain, Anne Murray, Michael Buble and other outstanding Canadians. Then, Leisa returns with ‘Opry Gold,’ the live concert hits of the Queens and Kings of Country Music, May 14 until May 19. Come out and enjoy the songs of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Garth Brooks, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, among many others – all performed by the fabulous Leisa and her Wayward Wind Band.

Upper Canada Playhouse artistic director Donnie Bowes. (The Leader/Gibb photo)

“People really seem to love this mixture of music and theatre, this blending of shows,” said Bowes. “You could say we have a show for every season. And this year, we are returning to the pre-COVID runs of three and a half weeks for each stage production. People should know that all the sets and props for our shows are built right here on site, and that a three and half week run allows our incredible staff the opportunity to build even more creative sets. The audience has so much to look forward to, and more opportunities to take in a show with these longer runs. And I am auditioning actors right now: some terrific performers will be coming to the Playhouse.”

First up, June 6-30, the hilarious farce, Robin Hawdon’s mad comedy, ‘Perfect Wedding.’ This will not be the wedding that anyone expected as the groom finds a strange woman in his bedroom, the bride unexpectedly arrives, the best man gets embroiled in cover ups and the chambermaid finds herself “everyone’s girlfriend.” Will the right people ever say “I do” in this comedy? The audience will thoroughly enjoy a production full of knee-slapping antics and side-splitting dialogue.

July 4-28, the Playhouse welcomes back a classic Norm Foster comedy, ‘Bedtime Stories.’ This is Foster at his best, with the madcap adventures of 15 characters woven together in six different bed rooms. Canada’s funniest and favourite playwright works his magic as the audience gets to know, and to thoroughly enjoy, the hilarious adventures of these wonderful people – all connected in this witty and clever comedy.

“A charming and hilarious comedy,” ‘Leaving Marjorie Bliss,’ by John Spurway, comes to the Playhouse August 1-25. This is a wonderful play about “senior” ladies Edythe, Audrey and Maxine, who do NOT find the accommodations, the food, or the staff, quite what they expected at the Marjorie Bliss Retirement Home, and decide to stage The Great Escape. And then a new resident, the handsome widower Reggie, arrives. A funny, completely delightful comedy about friendship and the true meaning of “home,” this will show will be real crowd pleaser.

One of playwright Norm Foster’s most recent shows ‘Those Movies,’ is sure to attract a lot of attention. “This is a major new show in its first year,” said Bowes, “and audiences are going to love it. Norm knows how to write a show, and he knows how to use humour as a tool that draws us in.” The show runs September 5-29. Foster, who creates completely believable characters, sometime coping with some unbelievable situations, has produced another terrific comedy.

Harry has finally worked up the nerve to ask co-worker Millie on a date. She enthusiastically accepts, and love could be on the horizon. Of course, buddy Patrick moving into Harry’s apartment while his own place is being fumigated could create some issues. And will Millie’s accident-prone, lovelorn cousin Chelsea, arriving on her doorstep, add to those issues? Is there any chance that romance, in classic movies style, might actually be possible in the real world? Audiences will be delighted to find out in this sure-fire comedy.

And what better way to end a season of outstanding theatre and concerts than with a true holiday classic, ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ where a jolly gentleman, a ‘store’ Santa, who nonetheless claims to be the “real Santa Claus” find himself on trial: he also finds his way into the hearts of a harried lawyer, a frustrated young mother, and a little girl who just wants to believe. Running November 28-December 15, this is the perfect family show, a wonderful, warm and funny tale of Christmas dreams and wishes.

And there is one more delight to look forward to. October 17-27, playwright/composer Chris McHarge brings a fantastic new musical show, ‘Memphis to Motown,’ to the Upper Canada stage. McHarge, who created such hit shows at the Playhouse as ‘Johnny & June,’ ‘Honky Tonk Angels’ and ‘Glory Days’ is back with a great production that will celebrate the wonder of R&B music. From Aretha Franklin to Gladys Knight & the Pips, from Ray Charles to Smokey Robinson, audiences will thrill to classic music that will will bring back memories and win new fans.

“We’ve just celebrated our 40th anniversary,” said Playhouse artist director Donnie Bowes, “and we are embarking on our 41st great season. I think this theatre has survived longer than many theatres because audiences recognize that our shows and our concerts are produced by people who do this for a living. Our audiences know they will experience entertaining, wonderful productions. After all, live theatre can transport you into another world, and leave you with a smile on your face. There really is nothing like the live theatre experience. And so we invite everyone to enjoy Upper Canada Playhouse’s spectacular 2024 season.”

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