Classic Theatre Festival 2017: Broadway Hits, Heritage Shows

The Classic Theatre Festival’s family-friendly historic theatrical walking plays and ghost walks, which recreate characters and stories from Perth’s past during an hour-long stroll through town, return with Confederation themes as Canada and Ontario mark their respective 150th anniversaries. Photo credit: Submitted by Jean-Denis Labelle.
Posted on: June 18, 2017

Matthew Behrens

Coming off a season in which they garnered more Capital Critics Circle Awards nominations than any other company in Eastern Ontario, Perth’s Classic Theatre Festival opens its 8th summer season on June 21 with a combination of brand new historic walking plays and a collection of hits from the golden age of Broadway and the London Stage.

The only professional theatre in the Ottawa Valley, the Festival employs performers who have worked across Canada on stage, TV radio and film. As part of the theatre experience, audience members are provided with free pre-show talks that explain the history, background, and context of the play, a massive loonie/toonie book sale, theatrical history lobby displays, and a fully stocked concession stand loaded with summertime treats.

Located at 54 Beckwith St. East (at Harvey St.) in Perth, the 2017 season opens with the most successful Canadian comedy ever staged on Broadway, Bernard Slade’s Same Time, Next Year (June 23 to July 16).  

“Audiences will savour the sights, sounds, and sensations of the post-war ‘good years,’ 1951-1975,” says Artistic Producer Laurel Smith. Written by the creator of TV shows including The Flying Nun and The Partridge Family, Slade’s story about two people – each married to someone else – who meet for an annual weekend getaway over 24 years was a Tony-Award winner, and also nominated for numerous Oscars when it was filmed with Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn.

Smith says that George Bernard Shaw’s romantic comedy Candida (July 21 to Aug. 13) will appeal to anyone who remembers “the powerful pull of a first love that burns in their soul. Long before the British exported Beatlemania, there was ‘Candidamania’, a phenomenon inspired by this warm and witty play in which Candida must choose between her clergyman husband and a passionate young poet.”

The mainstage season closes with an Alfred Hitchcock-styled psychological thriller, I’ll Be Back before Midnight (Aug. 18 to Sept. 10), a “gaslighting” tale of a young couple who rent an old, spooky country farmhouse. Written by Canadian Peter Colley, who recently debuted a new musical about Terry Fox, it’s the most widely-produced Canadian play, a hit in over 30 countries worldwide.

All mainstage shows run Tuesday to Sunday matinees at 2 p.m., and Wednesday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. at the wheelchair accessible, air conditioned space.

The Festival’s popular theatrical historic walking plays return this year with expanded performance times. Perth through the Ages (June 21 to Aug. 27, Wednesday to Sunday at 11 a.m.) presents a new, hour-long story that allows visitors to breathe in the stories behind Perth’s award-winning heritage buildings with a play focused on the daily lives, concerns, and conflicts of Perth and area residents at the time of Confederation.  

The Lonely Ghosts Walk (June 29 to Aug. 25, Thursdays and Friday at 7 p.m.) will feature a new story featuring the unsettled spirits of Perth performing an hour-long, family-friendly romp through the town’s mysterious and haunted past. Music, comedy, and song are featured in this tale set at the time of Confederation.

Tickets to the Festival are available at or toll-free at 1-877-283-1283

This article was first published in the June edition of Hometown News.