This is always an awkward time in the theatre year. Having unveiled the coming season and encouraged everyone to get in on the season pass savings, it may appear to some that everything has come to a grinding halt.

That of course is not the case as there are lots of things happening behind the scenes. For example, our box office manager Jim Frost, and his wife Marilyn have been busy sorting through the orders we have received. And, they continue to process the ones that arrive almost daily as patrons firm up their season selections

This is our eighth year managing the Highlands Summer Festival box office,” Jim said recently. “It is a great position to have. I am the first one to greet everyone as the season begins.” Over the years, Jim has come to know our patrons personally. “Even if the order comes in by mail or email, there is often a personal connection. Marilyn and I have gotten to know our patrons really well. Often people will ask for ‘the same seats as last year’ and we try to ensure we meet their requests.

They are also known to have played matchmaker. “Sometimes orders will arrive with instruction indicating the patrons want to be seated with another couple” Jim explained. “We locate the order, placed by the other couple, and try to ensure there is a match.” For many groups like this, the Highlands Summer Festival has become a focus for a great summer evening out, with everyone enjoying dinner and then a performance at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion.

Filling ticket requests and ensuring the patrons get the seats they want is a major task at this time of the year. To be fair to everyone, all ticket requests are held in the order in which they are received. When the assigning of seats begins, Jim starts with the earliest order received and works his way through the mountain of requests. The one exception to the “first come-first served” rule is that donors to Highlands Summer Festival and Highlands Opera Studio receive priority service, no matter when their order is received. It is one way we can say thank you to our patrons who support summer theatre and music not only with ticket purchases, but by making a donation to help further enrich the Festival experience.

Over one-third of the season tickets are sold as a result of the Christmas season pass promotion along with the extra tickets ordered in conjunction with those requests. That amounts to over 2000 ticket requests. “We handle each order separately,” Jim explained, “making sure we have the necessary details, that the dates and show elections line up and that any special requests are tended to.”

If Jim has started processing the orders, why haven’t you received your tickets yet, you may ask? A reasonable question, which deserves an answer. We don’t start printing tickets and mailing them out until early April for a number of reasons. First, organizing all the paper work that is part of the process is a daunting task. Jim is meticulous in ensuring everything is done correctly. And, quite frankly, we have found that if we send out the tickets too early, they have a higher tendency to get misplaced, you know, lost in the back of a drawer, tucked away in a safe place that no one can remember. So we wait until early April to begin the actual mailing of the tickets.

And, if you do lose your tickets, not to worry. Jim has a computerized record to help ensure you don’t miss one single performance this summer. Just give him a call.

So, while perhaps it seems very quiet on the theatre front, there is a great deal going on. One of those crucial tasks is the processing of ticket orders already received by our box office manager, Jim Frost. Watch for your tickets arriving in the mail in April.

– Jack

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.

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,