Space: It isn’t pretty but it’s necessary

It looks like a giant bread box, except it is not all that pretty. There are a few spots of rust, some bumps and bruises. This unit has been places, around the world perhaps. However, now it is in our back yard.

A shipping container arrived at the Highlands Summer Festival shop on Mallard Road several days ago. The 40 foot long, nine foot six inch tall and eight wide behemoth slid off  the truck that brought it from Toronto and now awaits final placement and set up near the back door of the set construction area.

The container was needed because of diminishing storage space at The Shop. Each year we build sets for our productions. In some years we can re-use pieces that we have from previous years, but often we need to build new flats. Our builders, led by Dave Mills, know what might be useful in future years, so they squirrel them away in hopes they can be repurposed the following season. Flats, doors, windows, lumber all sorts of hardware etc. etc. eventually consumed the space reducing the work area and so the solution was to create external storage. We already have one other shipping container on the property….it is filled, wall to wall, with costumes and set dressings……hence we already knew the value of these water proof, rodent tight containers.  So we decided to get another.

The appeal for financial support for the unglamourous, but necessary part of our infrastructure, received a quick response…..although we are still not quite there yet. Thanks to the support of Friends of the Festival, who quickly stepped forward and pledged to help, we were able to order the container and now it has arrived.  Soon we will put the new storage space to good use and expand the work area in The Shop.

If you would like to help with the purchase of the shipping container, donations can be accepted on line or by calling Jim at the box office, 705-457-9933 or 855-457-9933. Donors will receive a receipt that they can use for tax purposes. Donations that exceed the container requirements will be used to support the Early Stages program.

Thank you


Two bands, one great night

There are still tickets  available for the Highlands Summer Festival fund-raiser Saturday, April 15. Lots of great prizes to bid on. Tickets to theatres throughout Ontario, including Stratford Festival, Fourth Line, Orillia Opera House and more and we have a pair of Blue Jays tickets as well. Two great local bands, Fifth Business and Custom Blend, will keep you entertained and on your feet. There is free popcorn for everyone and a fun night out. You can buy tickets  by clicking on this link or purchase them at the door. $25, with proceeds going to support great live theatre in the Highlands. Looking forward to seeing you there.


Congratulations to “Oliver” performer who won prestigious music award

Those who saw Oliver last year will remember Dianne Winmill who appeared in the cast as Mrs. Corney, among other roles. (Her son, Carson,  played Oliver and her daughter Sydney was one of the workhouse children). Dianne teaches music at North Hasting Secondary School in Bancroft. Just last month she was awarded the prestigious Musicounts Teacher of the Year honour. Congratulations from all of us at Highlands Summer Festival to Dianne. Here is a report of the award from the newspaper, Bancroft This Week.

NHHS teacher is Canada’s music teacher of the year

January 25, 2017


By Tony Pearson 

Bancroft can now lay further claim to musical excellence.

Dianne Winmill of North Hastings High School has been proclaimed MusicCounts Teacher of the Year. MusiCounts is a division of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the people who hand out the JUNO awards). It was established about a decade ago to “recognize the hard work and dedication of music teachers in keeping music education available to young Canadians.”

No one who has been exposed to the music program at NHHS would be surprised at this award. Lucille Kyle, chair of the Hastings-Prince Edward District School Board and trustee for the Bancroft area, summed up this feeling: “I was not surprised when I received a call that Dianne won this amazing reward. Dianne’s infectious personality, her talent and her energy makes a room come alive as the sounds of music burst into the air. Her heart for our students, love for music, and her passion for teaching brings success to our students at NHHS.”

NHHS principal Ken Dostaler amplified this sentiment. “Mrs. Winmill works tirelessly to promote music education not only in our school, but throughout the North Hastings community. Dianne continues to integrate creative programming options for students, such as Royal Conservatory of Music exams. The NHHS band has also performed for all feeder schools and various community groups and functions for numerous years. We could not be more proud of her,” he said.

Winmill, who was totally surprised by the award, said that the process started with an effort to gain funding for new band instruments. As the initiative gathered steam, she was overwhelmed by the letters of support from current and former students, parents and members of the Bancroft community.

The award will help the high school. One of the prizes is a $10,000 grant to the NHHS music program. According to Winmill, this will allow the school to fix existing instruments, and buy some new ones.

“As the students advance their skills with every semester, both in class and by challenging themselves with our Royal Conservatory of Music examination program they begin to outgrow our aging and beginner-level fleet of band instruments,” said Winmill. “Our gruelling pre-holiday tours and public concerts can often take a toll. This money is coming at just the right time.”

Winmill herself will receive a $10,000 grant. In addition, she and her family will go to Toronto for a concert by the renowned Canadian country rock group Blue Rodeo, who are the sponsors of this year’s teacher award. (Previous sponsors have included the Tragically Hip, Celine Dion, Rush -— and for the first award, the Rolling Stones). NHHS music students will get time in Blue Rodeo’s music studio. Finally, Dianne and her husband Cam, who also teaches at NHHS, will attend the JUNO awards.

Winmill doesn’t see it so much as a personal honour as much as a recognition of the hard work put in by past and current NHHS music students, as well as the broader importance of music within the school curriculum.

“I know personally how involvement in music changes lives,” she asserted, noting that she would be performing that evening with her original piano instructor and her first music teacher, to whom she owed her career. “That’s why at the core of this application were heart-felt feelings about the importance of music programs [for] our students.” She also saluted Troy Thrower and Rod Moffitt for maintaining a feeder music program at York River Public School, when many elementary schools don’t even have a music teacher. “This award puts Bancroft music students on the national map,” she said.

Finally, she thanked MusiCounts for “believing in the necessity of an award such as this one. There are so many elementary and secondary school music teachers across this country who work just as hard or harder than I do. I feel like I am representing all of them when I accept this amazing honour.”


Season Pass Sale Extended To February 15

If you haven’t purchased your 2017 season pass, there is still time to buy one. The specially priced pass, which includes all five show, is on sale for only $150. But hurry, this price is only available until February 15.  After February 15, single tickets will be available at $35 each. Save money, get preferred seating and see all of the great show on offer this summer.  Buy your pass on line CLICK HERE or call 705-457-9933 or 855-457-9933.

Did Santa Forget???

If you did not find a Highlands Summer Festival Season Pass in your stocking this Christmas, there is sill time to take advantage of our Christmas Season Pass Sale. You won’t want to miss this season’s great line-up including A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Proof, Jake’s Gift, Hilda’s Yard and Three Men In A Boat. All five shows for only $150….that is almost a 15% saving.
But Hurry! The sale ends January 15. After then, all tickets will only be available at regular price, $35 each.
Call 705-457-9933 or 855-457-9933 or buy on line at our secure online order page.

2017 Audition Call and Early Stages Info

The call has gone out for actors interested in participating in the 2017 Highlands Summer Festival season. Anyone interested is welcome to audition, even those who haven’t acted with us in the past. We are looking forward to greeting cast members from previous seasons. Each year, as well, there are  newcomers who are cast and step out on the the stage for the first time. To learn more about the audition process, review the plays and the roles available and to book an appointment, follow this link to our audition page. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Young people between the ages of 10 and 14 who are interested in the Highlands Summer Festival Early Stages program, can follow the same link for more information.