New season….new beginnings

This is an exciting time in the year here at Highlands Summer Festival. While we are far from opening night, there is always an air of excitement surrounding the announcement of the new season. The anticipation leading up to the unveiling of the summer schedule is palpable as friends and regular patrons inquire about the coming year, stopping us on the street or calling to find out, “What’s on??”.

The waiting ended a couple of weeks ago and is now posted on our main page with the actual schedule available on the tickets page. Coupled with that announcement, is the launch of our Christmas season pass promotion. I invite you to give a friend or relative the fabulous gift of live theatre and music by purchasing passes for them (or for yourself). This special sale also allows patrons to choose their shows well in advance of the summer season. By purchasing a pass to either the Highlands Summer Festival or the Highlands Opera Studio you can save 10 % off regular ticket pricing and ensure you get the best selection of seats for the coming season.

Whether buying for yourself or someone else, whether its Highlands Summer Festival or Highlands Opera Studio passes or all of the preceding, now is a great time to ensure you don’t miss a moment of what this summer has to offer. I hope you are able to take advantage of the savings and the enjoyment that comes with being a season pass holder.

The line-up for the season can be found on the website Home Page. For details on ordering passes or individual tickets, see the Tickets Page.

I’ll have more exciting news about the season in future entries. In the meantime, I’ll let you get back to your Christmas shopping, and hope your gift list includes some passes for great summer theatre.


Annual General Meeting

As a registered charity, Highlands Summer Festival is governed by a board of directors. The seven member board meets monthly throughout the year to provide guidance in the operation of the theatre company. While the board does not generally become involved in the day to day management of the Festival, it does take a strong interest in ensuring the artistic and financial viability of the organization. Members of the board include: Chair Jack Brezina, Vice Chair Tammy Rea; Treasurer Paul Heffer, Secretary Craig Saunders and Directors Joan Chapple, Rob Eaton and Joan Hawley.

Among its duties, the board manages the donations received by Highlands Summer Festival and the Highlands Opera Studio and ensures that the organization meets its obligations laid out by the Canada Revenue Agency, which grants the company its charitable status. The board also takes on a fund-raising responsibility, encouraging donors and seeking other sources of funding to support the work of the Highlands Summer Festival.

Membership in Highlands Summer Festival is granted to anyone who makes a donation of $50 or more. In addition to receiving a receipt which can be used for income tax purposes, membership privileges include priority ticket request status, recognition of your generosity on our website and in the summer program and the satisfaction of supporting one of the most dynamic and successful summer theatre companies in the province. Members also have the right to vote at the annual general meeting and stand as candidates for the Board of Directors.

This year the AGM will be held on Sunday, April 25 at the Rails End gallery and Arts Centre in Haliburton. The meeting starts at 2 p.m. Anyone interested in the Highlands Summer Festival and the Highlands Opera Studio is welcome to attend the meeting. If you have made a donation in the past year, you are eligible to vote at this meeting and stand for office. We are regularly looking for individuals interested in serving on the board or helping in other ways.

If you would like more information about becoming involved, you can contact me at

– Jack Brezina

Sell Out

It has never happened this early in the season!

I am excited to announce that the two performances of Charlie Farquharson and Dem Udders featuring Don Harron are Sold Out.

The speed with which tickets sold, for what is sure to be a delightful evening, has surprised even the most veteran members of the Festival. Usually at this time of the year, just after the close of the season pass sale, we can anticipate that some performances will fill rapidly, likely before the season opens, but never have we had had to announce a sold out situation this early.

The rapid sale of seats speaks highly for this icon of the Canadian stage. He is a popular and well-loved performer, who, though probably best known for his comedic roles, is a talented actor and writer. Most of us probably know him for his delightful impersonation of gentle back country character Charile Farquharson. Through Charlie, we have seen Don Harron appear on countless television shows and many more stage performances. The Malaprop-dropping buffoon is the quintessential fool who, through his ramblings, makes us laugh. But like all characters of this sort, there is always more than a kernel of truth in their observations, making the commentary even more humorous. In addition to being the lyricist of the long running musical Anne of Green Gables, he has served for five years as the host of the popular CBC Radio program Morningside. Don Harron has also been invested as also a member of the Order of Ontario and Order of Canada.

Two fortunate groups of patrons will enjoy the magic of this 83 year old veteran of the Canadian stage on July 26 and 27. And while we are always delighted to slap “SOLD OUT” on any production, we are disappointed that couldn’t have offered more performances so everyone who wanted, could have enjoyed the wit and wisdom of Charlie Farquharson and Dem Udders.

Audition Call

January is an exciting for those of us involved in Highlands Summer Festival.

With the productions chosen and the scripts being passed around for everyone to read, the next step will be auditions. This year the auditions are scheduled for January 23 and 24 at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion.

Auditions are always a bit nerve-wracking for those of us who enjoy stepping onto the stage. As the scripts make the rounds, the actors are looking for parts that may be appropriate and challenging for them. Often there is more than one “good fit“, but Highlands Summer Festival attempts to avoid casting one actor in two productions. It can be tough on actors to be involved in two productions in the summer, particularly when it comes to rehearsals. They begin in April and take place on the weekends leading up to the various opening nights. Occasionally it is necessary to cast an actor in two productions to take advantage of his or her special talents. We certainly appreciate those who are willing to make that extra sacrifice.

The mandate of the Highlands Summer Festival is to encourage the growth and development of theatrical talents and skills. We are also committed to using as much local talent as possible. We encourage local actors to audition for our productions. The size and quality of the theatrical community in the Highlands has grown over the years and we believe that Highlands Summer Festival can take credit for a large part of that development. We have also encouraged individuals with an interest in acting but no experience to give it a try. In the past, we have “discovered” some exciting talent in individuals who stepped onto the boards for the first time with our company.

If you have an interest in acting, please follow this link to our audition page to learn more about this year’s auditions….but take a look at the audition page soon, because the call is coming up soon. Perhaps this is the year we`ll see you on stage!

As always, we welcome your comments.

Winter Blues – Summer Savings

Well winter has certainly delivered a one-two punch to the highlands, piling up over a metre of snow and creating havoc on the roads and life in general. While it certainly was an usual weather event, most people took it in stride, either hunkering down to wait for the worst to pass or charging out into the teeth of the storm in true Canadian fashion.

All this snow provides a vivid contrast to the weather that accompanies the Highlands Summer Festival. In fact we proudly boast our seasonal preference in the name of our annual theatre and concert offerings. And, while the Festival is still months away, plans are already unfolding for the coming season. As you can see by the home page of our website, the plays have been selected and the concerts set. We have even incorporated a special treat this season with the appearance of Canada’s most beloved stand-up comedian, Don Harron. (More about his appearance in a later posting.)

Each season at this time we invite our patrons to take advantage of our Christmas season special pricing. This is a great way for patrons to save 20% on all ticket purchases. The season pass allow patrons to select any four of the Highlands Summer Festival offerings for just $80. They can also extend the pass to purchase other productions at just $20 per show, including Highlands Opera Studio presentations.This offer is only available until January 15, 2010. After that date all seats are sold on a single ticket basis for $25 each, $30 for La Boheme.

The timing of this sale makes it an ideal Christmas gift for someone who enjoys the theatre or for yourself. And, if Santa somehow missed on this one, you have until January 15 to take advantage of this special pricing.

Season passes are available at our retail partners: Kitchen Etc. in Haliburton and The Organic Times in Minden. Or you can contact the Highlands Summer Festival box office by calling 705-457-9933, or email:

We like to think of our pre-season sale as providing a little warmth of summer to help take the chill off a blustery winter.

Stay warm,

Welcome to Backstage Pass

Greetings and welcome to the newest addition to the Highlands Summer Festival website, this blog called; Backstage Pass.

This feature will provide up to date information about the Festival activities and give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to present summer season of theatre. We’ll introduce you to some of the key members of the Highlands Summer Festival team and share some of the challenges and certainly the joys of their efforts. I will serve as the host of these posting, but will be relying on others from the company to provide insight and information.

We hope you enjoy Backstage Pass and welcome your comments or questions. You can contact me through the links below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Brezina
Highlands Summer Festival