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Theatre Collingwood celebrates four decades of performing arts

The not-for-profit theatre organization believes art is vital to the health of a community

In a post-pandemic world, Erica Angus believes that the arts are needed now more than ever.

Erica is the executive director of Theatre Collingwood, a not-for-profit theatre organization that’s celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The organization was established in 1984 by Barbara Weider and a team of local citizens with a passion for arts and theatre. Although Barbara passed away in 2015, she was part of the group that hired Erica, and quickly became Erica’s mentor.

“Barbara had a very strong, profound feeling about the effect that arts and culture has on a region, both economically and in terms of mental health and lifestyle,” says Erica.

“We still run our company that way, feeling that it’s not just the icing on the cake. It’s something that’s really important to the community and the economy.”

Theatre Collingwood typically puts on one show a month, which can run from a one-night-only show to one with six performances. The organization doesn’t have a fixed address, so shows are performed in a variety of venues, including churches and hotel ballrooms. It is important to Erica and Theatre Collingwood’s board of directors that the venues are accessible. A venue they are making a lot of use of this year is the John Saunders Centre, an industrial space that’s been converted into a performance space.

Erica is hopeful that not just her organization, but many other arts organizations, will be able to find a new home in town soon. She sits on the Collingwood Arts Centre Feasibility Steering Committee, which is now in the third phase of a feasibility study on building an arts space in Collingwood. It will be presented to city council soon.

For now, Theatre Collingwood continues to put on performances in the spaces they have access to. From June 11-14 they have five performances of ‘How We Got To Jersey: A Tale Of Two Frankies,’ a show created by Adrian Marchuk and Jeff Madden about their experiences playing Frankie Valli in the hit show Jersey Boys. This will be Theatre Collingwood’s fourth production with Adrian Marchuk.

“We try to get involved with artists who want to create projects. Because we don’t have a theatre where we can create in the space, we work with a lot of theatre companies and independent artists,” says Erica.

Tickets for Theatre Collingwood performances are about $45 on average, with special half-price tickets offered to students and arts workers. The organization also offers group rates.

Drama camp

Many attendees of Theatre Collingwood performances are seniors, and the organization specifically offers classes for mature adults, which include acting, burlesque, tap, and storytelling. Over March Break and in the summer, they run youth drama camps, as well as an popular after-school program.

Coming up this summer is Theatre Collingwood’s popular Porchside Festival, in which professional artists come to town and perform on homeowners’ porches. The festival, which was started during the COVID-19 pandemic, will be running from July 10-31, with 32 performances total. Erica says the festival is beloved by all and is a way to bring the community together.

This experience of awe and joy from live performance is what Erica believes is beneficial to the mental health of individuals and our society.

“There’s a lot of doom and gloom in the world. Young people need opportunities to be inspired and feel empathy and walk in people’s shoes. I think that can happen through live theatre."

Porchside Festival

All of the work that Theatre Collingwood does is accomplished by four full-time staff members and an army of nearly 100 volunteers, including a dedicated board of directors. The not-for-profit has charitable status, so anyone who donates to Theatre Collingwood will receive a tax receipt.

The organization is holding a 40th anniversary gala event on October 5th at Craigleith Ski Club, to both celebrate their four decades of performance and to raise funds for future work. The headliner for the event is Juno-award winning R&B artist Sean Jones and his band. Jones has a residency at Casa Loma every summer that brings out crowds of thousands, and he and his band are known for their engaging live performances. Adrian Marchuk of “How We Got To Jersey” is the emcee, and music theatre performer Cleopatra Williams is also on the bill.

Peasemarsh Farm Catering will be catering the event with a curated meal and wine, and there will be live and silent auctions. Erica describes the event as a “special evening walking down memory lane, looking back at 40 years, and celebrating Theatre Collingwood while having a really great party.”

Visit to purchase tickets to the gala or call Theatre Collingwood’s box office at (705) 445 2200. A partial tax receipt comes with each ticket.

Before October 5th, you can catch a local Theatre Collingwood show to celebrate their 40th year. Attendees tell Erica how impressed they are by the level of talent from the entertainers, actors and musicians that the organization is bringing to Collingwood. Erica says it’s quality that is best appreciated and enjoyed in-person.

“There's an energy about experiencing something where you are so co-dependent on each other: the artist and the audience. We want it to be uplifting. We want it to be something where people leave the theatre with a good feeling. I think we all kind of need that now.”