But soft, what light through yonder curtain breaks….

(with apologies to W. Shakespeare)

“Have a seat and be prepared to be entertained!”  Highlands Summer Festival launched one of its most ambitious seasons in the nineteen year history of the theatre company this week.

Scot Denton, Artistic Producer of Highlands Summer Festival, announces the 2018 season on November 19.

Artistic producer Scot Denton lifted the veil on the 2018 season at a celebration held November 19 at McKeck’s Tap and Grill. “I am truly exited with the five productions we are presenting this coming summer,” Denton told the audience.


“We have classic theatre from the master of the stage, William Shakespeare, as we open the season with Romeo and Juliet.” The production will be particularly attractive to the young people in our community, both in on-stage roles and as audience members.” Denton will direct the classic love story.

Performances July 2-5 (7:30 p.m.), 6 & 8 (2 p.m. matinee), 9 & 10 (7:30 p.m.).

Chris Gibbs’ one man show plumbs the mind of London’s second most famous detective, Not Quite Sherlock of course is based in Victoria England, but Gibbs who wrote the show, makes it a contemporary romp as well. With wit, charm, timing, and almost no respect for the rules of theatre, Chris Gibbs creates a simple, hilarious theatrical experience unlike any other. Performances July 11 & 12 (7:30 p.m.), 13 (2 p.m. matinee).


The James Yaffe thriller, Cliffhanger will leave the audience trying to guess ‘who dun it’ and surprised by the twists and turns in the plot as a philosophy professor attempts to salvage his reputation and avoid being charged for the murder of a colleague. Decoratively iced with touches of humour the play has won awards and plaudits around the globe. Performances July 16-19 (7:30 p.m.), 20 & 22 (2 p.m. matinee), 23 & 24 (7:30 p.m.).


Tom Allen is back!…..and he is bringing his band of musicians with him. In the historical musical revue, Weimar to Vaudeville Tom mines the convulsive and musically rich 1920-1930 era and finds interesting stories and great music by such composers Richard Strauss, Charlie Chaplin, Fletcher Henderson, Paul Hindemith, and Johannes Brahms, along with stunning original songs by the cast. Performances July 25 & 26 (7:30 p.m.), 27 (2 p.m. matinee).


Playwright A.R. Gurney invites you to joining his cast in The Dining Room. It is the one room in the house where families would gather on a daily basis to share meals and stories. In this fast paced play, six actors, playing a variety of roles, will entice and enchant you as the story unfolds. Performances July 30 – Aug 2 (7:30 p.m.), 3 & 5 (2 p.m. matinee), Aug 7 & 8 (7:30 p.m.).

“I am certainly looking forward to this season and hope our audience finds it equally entertaining and enriching. There is something for everyone in each of the productions.” Denton concluded.

Highlands Summer Festival President Jack Brezina, noted, in addition to a very interesting line-up for the 2018 season, there were structural changes to the schedule that patrons should be aware of. “Curtain times for evening productions have been moved forward to 7:30. We have added more matinees to the schedule on Friday and Sunday. They will start at 2 p.m.  I suggest the patrons scrutinize the schedule carefully when ordering tickets so they know exactly when the shows are on the stage.” (The 2018 schedule with times appears on the reverse.)

Season Passes are now on sale. They make a perfect Christmas gift for someone special or for yourself. Order your passes by phone by calling 705-457-9933 or 855-457-9933 or at the secure online ticket portal you will find at www.highlandssummerfestival.on.ca

See you at the theatre,

Early edition of Three Men In A Boat

Our staging of the Pea Green Theatre’s production of Three Men In A Boat was very popular with almost three straight sell-outs performances. The reaction of audience members varied. While most were delighted with the take of the adaptation of the 1889 novel by Jerome K. Jerome, there were some who  didn’t find it as humourous as others. For additional insight into the play, you can view the three actors, Matt Pilipiak, Victor Pokiniko and David DiFrancesco, the director Sune Miner and the writer who adapted the novel, Mark Brownell talking about the play during our TD Waterhouse Curtain Talk following the Sunday afternoon performance by clicking here (Available soon).

One of the interesting side-lights to the show was a copy of the original novel  brought to the theatre by patrons Don and Wendy Fraser to show to the cast. Although we were unable to track down a reference to the publication date, and there were many editions of the original tale printed, it was obvious from the suede cover and book design that it was one of the earliest American editions. It was published by Caldwell in New York City.

The book was a touchstone for everyone involved in the show. It brought the director to tears and everyone wanted to examine the pages. Simply holding it seemed to bring them closer to the author who wrote the story nearly 120 years ago.

Here is a photo of the Pilipiak, Pokinko amnd DiFrancesco  with Don and Wendy Fraser following the performance. Beside that is a close shot of the front cover. (The book was originally a travelogue of Jerome and his wife’s adventure punting on the Thames. The author changed the participants to three men and a dog.  It has been suggested the woman featured on the cover was Jerome’s wife.)

Breaking Norms with Hilda’s Yard

By Meagan Neville

A large majority of us have been fans of live theatre from a young age. After taking English classes in University and analyzing every aspect of a novel or script, it takes a while to turn off that analytical side. Finally the perfect blend of a show – Hilda’s Yard gives enough of a comedic relief, yet still caters to the secretly-still-analytical side of us all. 


I had the opportunity to chat with Janice Kiteley, the actress behind the character Janey Fluck, and got more perspective and background on the theming behind the show. It is already evident that the cast is enthusiastic about their portrayal of this quirky show by Norm Foster, and Janice is not shy in expressing her passion for this role. 


Hilda’s Yard is about a middle class family in the 1950’s and discusses contemporary issues like gender roles, relationships with much social commentary. The show features many humorous and sneaky puns that as Janice explains “only Norm Foster could do so well!”


Janice’s character, Janey Fluck, is a newlywed but has come home to her family with news that she wants to take up a job and travel instead of being married. This journey for Janice’s character takes quite a turn as she finally discloses that her marriage is unstable. With support from her family and a new friend along the way, it’s quite the development for Janey.


With shows like ’13 Reasons Why’ becoming so popular, we begin questioning the norms of society or how taboo subjects become seemingly glorified. Of course with these more controversial topics, it brings up the question of whether these theatre shows shed the same light on these topics or if they provide an alternate, more positive spin. Hilda’s’ Yard does give a nudge to audiences to think about these things, but has a very strong difference compared to a show like 13 Reasons Why. Janice explains that the show sheds more of a light on it with in a more positive, light hearted spin.” After doing more research, she noticed that there is more at stake for women. “Janey wants to do something that is frowned upon during that time period. Divorced women were considered tainted and society looked down on that. That’s something that luckily we don’t have to deal with today…it kind of opens your eyes.”


The cast have become quite invested in their character roles, and discover ties and connections to each other that help develop their roles. Janice commented that one thing that helped her get into the role of her character was that she related to Janey. Without giving away the distress her character is going through, she comments that she would have done the same thing and left the relationship as well. “It’s easier to do now then back then…but I would have done it too. Plus she’s a bit naive , I can be too at times. I enjoy playing those kind of characters! In Janey’s mind, it’s about freedom, it’s about wanting to see things and know that there is a better life out there.” 


Janice explains that her fellow cast have all connected with their characters and each other and have become very invested in those relationships. It’s also part of the reason that Stephen Thayer (who plays Janey’s brother, Gary Fluck) and Janice have bonded as brother and sister in the show. “We get to play around and work with the lines to get the best out of our scenes. I don’t have siblings so I asked him how he acted with his siblings and we discussed how our characters felt about each other so that we could get the right vibe during our interactions. We worked closely on a few small scenes and Terri Hawkes (Director) liked what we did with it”. 


Another interesting topic that comes up is Janey’s relationship with her mother. Janice notes that the script gives hints to Hilda (played by Beth Kipping) is going through her own version of mental health problems. “She talks to her neighbour about her problems as a therapeutic thing for her.” Mental health was an uncommon thing to talk to during the time period set for the show and it’s interesting to see this production set a perspective into multiple “taboo topics” for that time period.


Amidst the disheartening aspect of a failing marriage for Janice’s character, she admits “it’s still a comedy and very lighthearted! I get to listen to 50’s music and TV shows to get in that feeling more. I already listen to it but I do it even more now! The TV shows have a different pace. It’s a very back and forth conversation ,very quick, not a lot of pauses. This is very much that same kind of flow. ” 


The excitement behind this show is quite evident from everyone involved and has proven to have some interesting storylines taking place. This is set up to be a must-see summer comedy. To see Janice and her fellow cast live in this production, head to the the Highlands Summer Festival at the Northern Lights Pavilion in Haliburton for performances taking place July 31- Aug 4 and again Aug 9-11. Shows start at 8:00pm; tickets $35. Find more info at highlandssummerfestival.on.ca.

Date Night

Highlands Summer Festival, Yours Outdoors, the Haliburton Sculpture Forest and delicious al fresco dining have teamed up to provide a fabulous art, food and theatre experience, all in one package, with surprise extras. For all the details, visit the Yours Outdoors website at: http://yoursoutdoors.ca/packages/date-night-adventure-art


Early Stages presentation

A reminder of the Early Stages presentation Thursday, July 27 at the Haliburton Highlands Museum. See what the participants in the Highlands Summer Festival young people theatre training program have been up to. Show time is 3:30. Admission by donation.

Jake’s Gift Presentation


Following Sunday’s performance of Jake’s Gift, actress Julia Mackey, centre, presented  representatives of three area Legion Branches with a print entitled Fallen Hero. The print is part of a fund-raising effort to create memorials for every Canadian soldier lost in battle from the Boer War to current conflicts. On hand to receive the prints were, from the left, Paul Sisson, President of the Haliburton Branch 126, Marylou Ferguson, President of the Kinmount Branch 441, Linda Evans, Youth Co-ordinator and Jim Donaldson, Vice President, Minden Branch 649. Jake’s Gift, a one woman show about remembrance, was presented to sold out audiences by the Highlands Summer Festival July 23 to 25.