New Family Coming to Town

A new family, with seven children, will be moving into the Haliburton Highlands this summer.

Their much anticipated arrival was announced in November and ever since, everyone has been asking, “Who are these children?”

Last week, all was revealed as Scot Denton, Artistic Producer of the Highlands Summer Festival and director of this year’s opening show, The Sound of Music, announced the young actors who will be playing the von Trapp Family children. They are all looking forward to being part of this iconic family and telling this famous story. The von Trapp Family children:

River Christiano will be playing the oldest von Trapp daughter, Liesl – “16 going on 17”. River attends the University of Guelph and appeared in the Highlands Summer Festival’s 2017 production of Romeo and Juliet. River noted, “I come from a very large family, which makes this an extremely relatable role for me. I am look forward to having some fun with it!”

Evan Backus has the role of Friedrich, the second oldest of the seven children. He’s imagining, “The Captain might be a bit grumpy because he has seven kids.”

Tate Itani Smith has been cast as Louisa. Highlands Summer Festival patrons will remember her as Jane Banks in last year’s production of Mary Poppins. She thinks, rather than have a governess, “it might be better to go to school – you wouldn’t have to be with your brothers all day”.

Fynn Gooley will be playing Kurt, the middle child of seven. Fynn speculates what it would be like to have a governess, “It would be like eating breakfast with my teacher every day.”


Brynn Kilpatrick has the role of nine-year-old Brigitta. She suggests, “The Captain is scared of music, but secretly likes it”. Brynn is looking forward to “….becoming a different person in the show – but not really – I’m just like Brigitta.”

Ella Gooley has been cast as Marta. Ella is excited to sing for all the people who come to the show. “Having brothers will be awesome!” she commented.

And last, by no means least, Brooke Gooley has the role as the youngest child in the family, six year old Gretl. She says, “Being the youngest means I’m the cutest.”

So there you have the young actors who will be featured on stage this summer in the musical The Sound of Music. “I am delighted with this group of young performers and look forward to working with them as we develop this much loved show,” Music Director Melissa Stephens commented. “I know our audiences will enjoy them in their featured roles as the von Trapp Family children.”

With Music Director, Melissa Stephens, at the keyboard, left, five of the seven von Trapp children, from the left, Fynn Gooley, Ella Gooley, Brooke Gooley, Brynn Kilpatrick and Tate Itani Smith, sing one of their numbers from The Sound of Music, the opening show in this year’s Highlands Summer Festival season.

Tickets for The Sound of Music, which opens June 29 for ten performances, are available from the Highlands Summer Festival Box Office. Tickets are also available for the other Highlands Summer Festival productions, including: the Oscar Wilde classic, The Importance of Being Earnest; down east humour from Lucien; the funny and touching Every Brilliant Thing; and the British musical revue about the sixties, Across The Pond, starring Leisa Way and the Lonely Hearts Club Band. Tickets for some of these performances are already scarce, so now is the time to get yours.

Order tickets by calling the box office at 705-457-9933 or toll-free at 1-855-457-9933. They can also be ordered securely on line at the website Tickets are $37.50, with special pricing, $20, for youths, up to 18 years of age, for the three matinee performances of The Sound of Music.

2020 arrives early

The new season was announced Sunday, November 17, be sure sure to check out the details on our home page.

The following is a more detailed description of the productions with  a link to the season calendar.







The Sound of Music, the final collaboration between Rodgers & Hammerstein, returns to the Highlands Summer Festival stage this summer! The show is filled with music to delight the ears and fill your heart. When a postulant proves too high-spirited for convent religious life, she is dispatched to serve as governess for the seven children of a widowed naval Captain. Her growing rapport with the youngsters, coupled with her generosity of spirit, gradually captures the heart of the stern Captain, and they marry. Upon returning from their honeymoon they discover that Austria has been invaded by the Nazis, who demand the Captain’s immediate service in their navy. The family’s narrow escape over the mountains to Switzerland on the eve of World War II provides one of the most thrilling and inspirational finales ever presented in the theatre. Don’t be disappointed! The last time we presented The Sound of Music it was a complete sellout. Youth pricing ($20/seat, 18 & under) for all three matinee performances. Performances: June 29, 30 (7:30 p.m.), July 1 (2 p.m. ) July 2 (7:30 p.m.), July 3, 5 (2 p.m. matinee), July 6-9 (7:30 p.m.).


 by Oscar Wilde

One of the cleverest comedies by one of the greatest writers in the English language, The Importance of Being Earnest has delighted audiences since its premiere in 1895. Oscar Wilde’s scintillating, hilarious work introduces us to Jack and Algernon, charming bachelors who are each living a double life, aided by a fictional alter ego called “Ernest.” But the two fall truly in love with a pair of proper young women, Gwendolen and Cecily – both of whom are partial to men named Ernest. Will Jack and Algy be able to bring an end to the charade and convince the formidable Lady Bracknell that they are suitable candidates for marriage? Wicked wit and dead-on social satire are wrapped in a confection of dual identities, matrimonial matters, Victorian social conventions and the provenance of a particular handbag. Performances July 13- 16 (7:30 p.m.), July 17 & 19 (2 p.m. matinee), July 20, 21 (7:30 p.m.).


Written and Performed by Marshall Button

 Lucien, the opinionated North Shore mill-worker and New Brunswick’s Blue-Collar Philosopher, has enjoyed a 25 year run since he first appeared in Fredericton, as part of a satirical Bicentennial revue, Maritime Mixed Grill. The show now plays like a comedic period-piece while also skewering contemporary issues. Lucien hearkens back to an era when jobs were plentiful, unions were strong and job security was not a dirty word. Marshall Button developed the character Lucien based on his experiences working in the paper mill in his hometown of Dalhousie, New Brunswick and is nearing 2000 performances of Lucien, from coast to coast in every Canadian province. Performances July 22, 23 (7:30 p.m.), 24 (2 p.m. matinee).


Every Brilliant Thing

By Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe

You’re six years old. Mum’s in hospital. Dad says she’s “done something stupid.” She finds it hard to be happy. So you start to make a list of everything that’s brilliant about the world. Everything that’s worth living for….. 1. Ice cream. 2. Kung Fu movies. 3. Burning things. 4. Laughing so hard you shoot milk out your nose. 5. Construction cranes. 6. Me. You leave it on her pillow. You know she’s read it because she’s corrected your spelling. Soon, the list will take on a life of its own. Every Brilliant Thing is an uplifting play about depression and the lengths we will go to for those we love.

“A heart-wrenching, hilarious play…One of the funniest plays you’ll ever see about depression—and possibly one of the funniest plays you’ll ever see, full stop…There is something tough being confronted here—the guilt of not being able to make those we love happy—and it is explored with unflinching honesty.” —The Guardian (UK)

Performances July 27-30 (7:30 p.m.), 31 (2 p.m. matinee).

The British Invasion went by the code word, “Beatlemania”. Leisa Way and the Lonely Hearts Club Band capture the musical magic of the era in a fast-paced show  Across the Pond filled with music and laughs. After the Fab Four appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, North American music was never the same! Across the Pond celebrates over 50 years of British pop and rock music. You’ll hear hits of The Beatles, Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, Elton John, Petula Clark, Tom Jones, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Shirley Bassey, Gerry & the Pacemakers, The Animals, Dusty Springfield, Rod Stewart, Adele, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Sting, Annie Lennox, Led Zeppelin, Joe Cocker, Lulu, The Hollies – and more! Performances Aug 2-3 (2 p.m. matinee), Aug 4-6 (7:30 p.m.).


See the 2020 calendar and order your season passes by clicking HERE!




Raising the roof

Just back from today’s rehearsal of Mary Poppins. The hall was snapping with energy as the performers went through their paces in anticipation of the June 30 opening. This is one musical you should not miss!

Beth Robertson, centre, as Mary Poppins, is surrounded by fellow cast members  during last Sunday’s rehearsal

Kate Campbell returns to the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion Stage

We are pleased to see that one of Highlands Summer Festival’s favourite actors, Kate Campbell, will be presenting a concert in Haliburton in early June. Kate, who was the first actress  to appear in a Highlands Summer Festival production, will be singing many of her Jazz and Blues  and timeless Standards, accompanied by the Nick Mancini Trio. We are pleased to support her effort, which will benefit the YWCA Shelter for Women and Children in Minden and her production company which is preparing to shoot a six part television series called Boundless. The series will tell the often overlooked story of the female pilots who helped in repositioning aircraft in Canada and overseas during the Second World War. Here is a copy of the poster promoting the concert. Hope you can make it.

Mary Poppins begins rehearsal

Excitement is building as the Highlands Summer Festival’s lead musical, Mary Poppins, began rehearsals this past weekend. Amid a lot of banter, the room was thick with British accents as the cast rehearsed a number of the musical numbers and read and sang through the entire play. The shot below shows the large cast during the read-through on Sunday afternoon, April 28. The enthusiasm shown by the players is a good indication that the play will be a lively performance.


Meet the Banks children, Jane and Michael

Tate Itani Smith and Duncan Evans-Fockler, who play the Banks children, Jane and Michael in the show Mary Poppins, were introduced to the community this week with a great article in the Haliburton County Echo. Thanks to Darren Lum for his profile of the two young actors. You can read the story at: