Beginning in 1975 in historic Blyth Memorial Community Hall the Blyth Festival aimed its programing at the local audience and so because there weren’t many plays about rural Canadians, it had to create plays. The Festival has since become famous for new plays about Canadian, and particularly local and rural, themes. Still, many of these plays have gone on to be seen by audiences across Canada and around the world. There have been more than 120 world premieres.
There’s great excitement both on stage and in the theatre at Blyth Memorial Hall as the Blyth Festival kicks off its 43rd season.
Not only will the Festival be adding two more world premieres to its list, but audiences will get their chance to see the improvements in Memorial Hall in a $4-million rejuvenation as the legendary building approaches its 100th birthday.
The season begins with a tribute to the internationally famous London bandleader Guy Lombardo: Mr. New Year’s Eve. London playwright (and Seaforth native) David Scott brings to life the story of this son of Italian immigrants who brought his own style of jazz to the beach-side dance pavilion of Grand Bend before he and his band, The Royal Canadians, moved on to international stardom, epitomized by fact that “Auld Lang Syne” still brings in the New Year when the ball drops in New York’s Time Square. Scott, who told the story of Tom Connors inThe Ballad of Stompin’ Tom a hit premiering at Blyth in 2006 before being produced across Canada, takes on another Canadian music legend in this world premiere production that opens the season June 30 (with previews June 28, 29) and plays in repertory until August 19.
Comedy is the order of the day when Drew Hayden Taylor’s The Berlin Blues takes to the stage July 5 and continues in repertory until August 19. The sleepy, fictional Otter Lake reserve unexpectedly gets a visit from German developers who propose to invest $164 million in a “native theme park” complete with bumper canoes, an international longhouse of pancakes and a giant laser dream catcher. Community members are divided between those who see an opportunity and those who are horrified and try to head off the exploitation of their heritage.
previews July 5 and 6, opens July 7 and continues until August 19.