Ontario's Blyth Festival, a Voice for Canadian Plays, Turns 30 July 25

News   Ontario's Blyth Festival, a Voice for Canadian Plays, Turns 30 July 25 The Blyth Festival, the Ontario summer theatre festival devoted to Canadian plays — and often overshadowed by the Shaw and Stratford festivals in the same province — celebrates it 30th anniversary July 25 with music and revels.

Beginning at 2 PM, the 50-voice Blyth Festival Singers will present an afternoon of Canadian music with special guests Anne Lederman and Juanita Wilkins.

Fiddler Anne Lederman will perform songs with the choir and Juanita Wilkins, a local musician who has been playing clubs, dances and special events, as well as a successful concert at the theatre last fall, will perform a few solo numbers. (Lederman created Spirit of the Narrows, a fiddle play being seen at the rural Blyth Festival July 20-23.)

At 4:30 PM July 25, a family-friendly birthday party will be hosted by Huron Insurance Managers Group. Puppeteer Marian Doucette "invites those not old enough to read this to bring along their favorite grownup to build a marotte — a medieval rod puppet to be used as a puppet or a mask."

Businesses from the Blyth community that have donated materials including leather and sheepskins. Some of the characters that have been seen on the Blyth Festival stage over the past 30 years will be recreated as puppets.

The day also includes a special backstage tour with Festival staff. Dinner is served 4:30-7:30 PM. Net proceeds realized from the barbeque will be donated to Blyth's Emergency Services Training Centre. Birthday cake will be served by Blyth Festival Board members.

The evening will culminate with a special anniversary event: a taping in front of a live audience in Blyth Memorial Hall of CBC Radio's "Sunday Showcase." Written by last year's playwright-in-residence Shena Wilson and directed by artistic director Eric Coates, The Train is set in a first class VIA Rail car en route to Toronto from Montreal.

"Denis and Alice have been married for years and seem to have a happy marriage," according to the announcement. "Due to a very late reservation, however, they are unable to book seats together.  Enter Meg, a young beautiful massage therapist, distraught by the absence of her boyfriend who seems to have conveniently missed the train. The Train is a comedy that explores the universal language of love."

The cast includes Molly Jane Atkinson as Meg; Paul Essiembre as Denis; Gil Garratt as Jean; Louise Gauthier as Alice; Denis O'Connor as Robert.

For more information or tickets to any of these events call the box office at (877) 862-5984 or visit www.blythfestival.com.

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The 2004 season of the Blyth Festival in southwestern Ontario, not far from Lake Huron, includes the world premiere of Ted Johns' Cricket and Claudette Aug. 4-Sept. 4. According to the announcement, "Can Cricket find love via the Misty River Dating Service? Can Claudette evade the Garbage Gestapo? What secrets lie hidden under the recycling bin? Watch as amalgamation and the post Walkerton bureaucracy rewrite the rules of harassment and ignite scandal and romance at the village dumpsite. A new play and world premiere by the author of Barnboozled, The Great School Crisis, Garrison's Garage and Country Hearts."

Jerry Franken and Janet Amos are featured in the cast.