Music and laughter are the tickets to success for Theatre Collingwood. The theatre company has moved from producing to presenting and over the past five years has grown to a nine-show season under the guidance of executive director Erica Angus.

“When I came here five years ago Theatre Collingwood wanted to change things up,” said Angus. “We don’t produce anything in town – we work with (and) help bring in shows from other regional theatres. It’s a win-win formula.”

Averaging a one-week of shows per month, the theatre helps to support new productions by regional actors, singers, and musicians, and well-known established artists and playwrights such as Norm Foster. Working with regional theatres means the shows and actors a longer run as they move from towns to cities.

“There is so much fantastic talent out there,” Angus added.

The 2018 season opened in the spring with Tales of an Urban Indian, a one-man show that unfolds on a moving bus. The comedy/drama was written by British Columbia native Simon Douglas who was born on a reserve. It has played a couple of times in the past at Talk is Free Theatre in Barrie.

The Birds & the Bees, a comedy from Theatre Orangeville followed May 22-26. Mark Crawford wrote the story about a turkey farmer who left her husband and moved back in with her beekeeper mother.

Sunshine Express takes centre stage June 12-16. Sarah Quick, artistic director of Globus Theatre, Bobcaygeon, wrote the comedy. The writer, director and actor marks her eighth play for mainstream audiences with Sunshine Express. The cast of four actors become 30 different characters in a story that is a tribute to the seniors’ bus-tour industry. It centres on a group of snowbirds who are looking for a reprieve from winter by taking a motor coach from Charlie Cheetles Charters to Florida.

It features a tour guide, an enthusiastic bus driver, and a group of eccentric elderly characters.  Alan and Brenda, a couple dealing with the daily stresses of kids, money, and the Canadian recession are also traveling on the bus. Their well-meaning elderly aunt booked the trip for the couple in honour of Alan’s 40th.

Initially, he was both jaded and skeptical about it all but as the couple journey south, they realize they aren’t that different from their elderly traveling companions. They discover age is relative when it comes to making new friends and having a good time. Laughter, love, and a little magic follow. The current season features several musical productions and at least one new show before it wraps up with a Christmas cabaret in December.

Sunshine Express runs from June 12-16 in the historic Gayety Theatre in downtown Collingwood. Visit theatrecollingwood.ca for tickets.

In the photo, Sarah Quick (back centre) Anna Black, James Barrett and Mark Whelan ride the Sunshine Express on the way to Florida. Catherine Whitnall/this week photo

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