The Upper Canada Playhouse is just about ready to open its doors for another great season. Courtesy Photo

Sandy Casselman 
Record Staff

MORRISBURG – The Upper Canada Playhouse (UCP) is back in session with the box office opening for business on Aug. 16.

Those who love the theatre and who love watching stage performances live, will be happy to hear that the UCP is gearing up for a five-show season this fall, beginning with Johnny and June on Sept. 7. While the Playhouse has been closed for well over a year now to the COVID-19 pandemic, UCP artistic director Donnie Bowes said the local company is ready to open, but with a few precautions. In addition to following provincial guidelines, the theatre will be reducing the number of seats available, there will be no flex passes, and tickets are to be sold on a show-by-show basis.

“Everyone is really needing something to look forward to. What we can offer is the gift of live entertainment with all the laughs, stories, and music that it brings. Our upcoming fall season will do that and more,” Bowes said.

Bowes said UCP has been using pandemic-induced down time to plan a dynamic and enjoyable comeback this fall. With safety protocols in place, Bowes said the Playhouse, and the amazing set of actors and behind-the-scenes specialists, are more than ready to make this year’s fall session an unforgettable experience for theatre goers.

“We’re bringing in the big guns,” Bowes said. “We’re looking forward to showcasing some of our audience’s favourite actors and musicians, with five dynamite shows to welcome our audience back to our theatre.”

With limited seats available due to pandemic safety restrictions, Bowes urges theatre enthusiasts to get their tickets early. Tickets can be ordered by phone, email, or in-person beginning Aug. 16, while online bookings begin Aug. 17. The lineup begins with Johnny and June, which will run from Sept. 7 to Sept. 19. This will be followed by Old Love (Sept. 23 to Oct. 30), Leisa Way’s Sweet Dreams: A Tribute to Patsy Cline (Nov. 2 to Nov. 14), Lucien in Trumpland (Nov. 16 to Nov. 28), and Rockin’ Round the Christmas Tree (Nov. 30 to Dec. 19).

Johnny and June, featuring Aaron Solomon, is a salute to the lives of Johnny Cash and June Carter, the king and queen of country music. Bowes said Solomon’s past UCP performances have earned him a loyal following here in Eastern Ontario. He said Solomon’s “incredible embodiment of this legendary country star literally holds audiences spellbound” in this hand clapping, foot stomping live concert event.

Next up on the theatre’s schedule is Old Love, a comedy written by Canadian playwright Norm Foster, who will also be starring in the production. This play follows the lives of two characters who reunite after years apart. It’s the story of the reawakening of the couple’s connection, and it’s filled with comedic situations and dialogue, romance and courtship, and Foster’s famous humour and heart.

Those county music lovers lining up for Johnny and June tickets may want to purchase seats early for Leisa Way’s Sweet Dreams: A Tribute to Patsy Cline. Before being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this popular concert sold out quickly last year. Bowes said UCP is looking forward to Leisa and her Wayward Wind Band returning to its stage for an “unforgettable tribute to one of country’s biggest stars.”

Fourth on the roster is Lucien in Trumpland. This is a brand-new play written by “Canada’s favourite blue-collar philosopher” Marshall Button. Actor, comedian, playwright, and artistic director, Button goes on another road trip in this comedic performance. Bowes said, “In this latest episode, Lucien makes another trip to a Florida beach where he holds forth on his unique and entertaining views on the world, including tales of his ill-fated drive south and a stop-over in Washington during the storming of the Capitol.”

Rounding out the fall line-up, and just in time for the holiday season, is Rockin’ Round the Christmas Tree, a concert that is sure to get the audience’s toes tapping. Bowes said this new event includes a host of everyone’s favourite Yuletide songs, a bit of comedy, a story or two, and a sprinkling of visits from some popular Christmas characters. Bowes called it “a wonderful new Christmas concert guaranteed to bring the joys of the season to the whole family.”

The Playhouse, located in the Municipality of South Dundas’ village of Morrisburg, has a history and a reputation of delivering “an exciting mix of professional live theatre and music performed by some of the country’s most talented performers.” Those looking to check it out, and those returning for more of what they love, be sure to get your tickets as soon as possible, as seats will be limited. In addition to limiting available seats and hiring a COVID compliance officer, UCP staff are following Ontario’s stated pandemic protocols, as they are determined to provide theatre goers with not only an unforgettably entertaining experience, but also a safe one.

The UCP Box Office is set to open next Mon., Aug. 16 for in-person, phone, and email bookings. Online bookings will open the following day, on Aug. 17. For more information, visit uppercanadaplayhouse.com or phone 613-543-3713 or 1-877-550-3650.

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