Summer stock productions are a mainstay of the theatre. The Elora Community Theatre, for instance, has been offering outdoor performances for seven years via its Shakespeare in the Park presentations. With COVID-19 having hit theatre groups particularly hard, taking things outside seemed like the best – and perhaps only – option to adhere to the motto that the show must go on.
ECT had been ready to get back in gear this weekend when fears of a second wave of COVID-19 prompted the group to put on hold the Trillium concerts and Wellington-Waterloo Singers at the Elora Centre for the Arts. The fundraising event will be rescheduled for next spring.
Postponements have become part of a new reality for performers.
Heather McGuigan was initially set to perform in the 2020 Stratford season, and then everything shut down. Instead of letting her creative energy and attitude waste throughout the coming months, she came up with the idea of forming Heather’s Garden Variety, “which is now 10 different outdoor concerts that feature a wide variety of musical theater performers.”
Each of the 35 shows, to have been staged throughout southwestern Ontario, has a different name, each of a unique flower. Sunday’s Elora performance day was to run under the moniker of ‘Trillium.’ For McGuigan, the show was to be homecoming of sorts.
“I actually did my very, very first professional contract in Elora at the Grand Theatre in a musical called ‘Race Days,’ so it is really cool to come back and perform again.”
The other two members of McGuigan’s trio to have performed at Trillium are Aidan deSalaiz and Billy Lake. DeSalaiz was also set to be in this year’s Stratford Festival Season for Wendy and Peter and Spamalot alongside McGuigan. And Lake was getting ready for Drayton Entertainment’s performances of the new classic, Kinky Boots.
The Trillium show begins with the ‘Be our guest’ portion of the event, where the trio perform a variety of children’s Broadway musicals and Disney classics for the whole family to enjoy. Running with the title of the portion, McGuigan’s favourite cut from the catalogue is Beauty and the Beast’s ‘Be our Guest.’
Next on the agenda is an hour-long concert featuring the youth of Waterloo/Wellington areas. Followed up by the closing set of the evening ‘Seasons of Love,’ a general range of Broadway classics and new cuts. “We’ve got ‘Come from away’ we’ve got ‘The Last Five Years’ we’ve got ‘Shrink.’ We’ve got Chicago, we have Little Shop of Horrors, we have Into the Woods. We have a truly a wide variety. From comedy to some truly touching pieces. Lots of duets lots of trios. Every one of them is what we in the business called a ‘big thing,’” said McGuigan.
The concert was to be the second outdoor performance ECT has been involved with over the summer. After a successful set of virtual ZOOM plays, ECT performed Love Letters, a play with a two-person cast that included Centre Wellington Township Mayor Kelly Linton.
While ECT president Deb Stanson had been hoping to welcome people to Sunday’s event, the growing number of COVID-19 cases prompted the cancellation, she said.
“Although ECT is extremely disappointed not to be able to present these talented singers we recognize that the health and safety of our patrons and members is foremost.”