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The Thousand Islands Playhouse brings theatre to life in the scenic 1,000 Islands region. Patrons settle into the intimate atmosphere and lose themselves among the professionally-crafted characters and classic plots in this seasonal theatre experience set gracefully on the St. Lawrence River.
Located in the heart of the 1,000 Islands in Gananoque, Ont., the theatre now operates two fully-renovated, historic venues: the Springer Theatre and the Firehall Theatre. The Playhouse’s upcoming season touches all emotions and genres, with clever comedies accompanying Canadian classics on the 2014 bill.
Ashlie Corcoran, artistic director with the Thousand Islands Playhouse, said the programme is exciting, strong and well-written.
“It’s a very diverse season, ranging from fun, light-hearted musicals to German works, but it’s strongly Canadian,” she said, noting she aims to program in response to the needs of the audience.
That is a large consideration. With more than 40,000 attendees taking in shows annually at the venue, the Thousand Islands Playhouse is well-known on the national theatre scene and considered one of the top live theatre experiences in the province.
Its award-winning reputation stems from humble roots. The history of the establishment dates back to the early 1980s when young actors pulled together with community groups to purchase the space of the former Gananoque Canoe Club. Over a whirlwind few months, they turned it into the unique Springer Theatre venue – one that allows the audience to mingle on the shore of the St. Lawrence River during intermission.
Indeed, Corcoran admits that one of the strongest things about the theatre is its location. “The water and the covered deck, enchanting water views, the heritage feel in the Springer Theatre lobby, the St. Lawrence and 1,000 Islands adds to the whole experience beyond the show,” she said.
The strong talent of high-calibre artists who have played Stratford and the Shaw Festival coupled with the unlimited possibilities of the Firehall Theatre, make either venue a winning combination for a memorable theatre experience, Corcoran said.
In fact, the Firehall Theatre, located adjacent to the Springer Theatre, is celebrating a decade of offering a contemporary venue to the Playhouse sphere. The Firehall provides a theatre-in-the-round setting, with no permanent seating and stage arrangement. Corcoran said the flexible space allows the Playhouse to stage more modern shows and take more risks with an adaptable performance space. “It’s exciting from a design perspective,” she said.
In addition to its theatrical offerings, the Springer Theatre also ends some summer Mondays on a high note. Throughout the season, the Springer Theatre plays host to world-renowned musicians in its popular concert and conversation series, Studio ‘S’.
But Corcoran said the Thousand Islands Playhouse doesn’t stop at staging its summer programme. Professional development is also a prime consideration. For 17 years, the Playhouse Young Company has seen a troupe of young professionals perform children’s plays at libraries, parks, schools, and special events across eastern Ontario. That comes with training workshops and master classes, to add to the experience. Not only has the Young Company catapulted talent to top positions in the industry, but it also exposes children to the arts and theatre scene.
Other development opportunities also abound, with emerging professional actors and stage managers given opportunities to develop their crafts and gain valuable work experience. In addition, the Thousand Islands Playhouse offers play development and a playwright’s unit to foster promising playwrights
The 2014 season of the Thousand Islands Playhouse is steeped in variety. Expect laughter, tears and reflection with what’s on at the Playhouse:
Driving Miss Daisy: running now until June 14. Springer Theatre. A Pulitzer-winning comedy of unlikely friendship and overcoming prejudice.
She Loves Me: June 20 to July 19. Springer Theatre. Musical romantic comedy, about two co-workers who are each other’s anonymous pen pals.
Jake’s Gift: July 1 to July 26. Firehall Theatre. One-woman tour-de-force, featuring a journey to Juno Beach.
Importance of Being Ernest: July 25 to Aug. 23. Springer Theatre. Inspiring team performing a sparkling classic comedy.
The Ugly One: Aug. 15 to Sept. 20. Firehall Theatre. A razor sharp black comedy, examining how we place identity.
Waiting for the Parade: Aug. 29 to Sept. 20. Springer Theatre. A Canadian classic, part of the Playhouse’s western Canada partnership, sharing work across the country.
Educating Rita: Sept. 26 to Oct. 18: Springer Theatre. A solid cast brings this clever comedy to life.
For more information, please visit www.1000islandsplayhouse.com or call the box office at 613-382-7020 or visit 185 South Street in Gananoque. Looking for information about the 1,000 Islands or about reserving accommodation after the show? Click onhttps://www.1000islandstourism.com/directory/accommodations/.
Theatre in the 1,000 Islands – just one of a 1,000 points of view.