Monday, October 30, 2006

Viv – Brighton’s own one-name celebrity musician

The Independent
What’s with the single name? First there was Cher, Madonna, Enya, and now Viv. Brighton’s very own multi-talented Vivian Thompson has just launched her first solo CD and hopes listeners will find her original compositions inspiring.

Viv is known to most as Vivian Thompson, daughter of Claude and Doreen Thompson, and she has just released her first solo piano CD entitled “Diversion”, featuring all original compositions. The 11-track CD includes nine easy listening pieces done in a classical piano style while two tracks are “jazzy” and include bass and percussion. Music is Viv’s passion and form of self-expression and provides her with inner peace.

“Music is very powerful. It gives the listener the ability to use their imagination, visit a familiar place and remember a memory or feeling,” she said.

With this CD, Viv hopes to share her music and provide you, the listener, with a moment of “diversion” from your everyday life.

Vivian is no stranger to the area. Growing up in Brighton, she has been involved in several music festivals for piano, voice, composition and school bands in both the Northumberland Music Festival and the Rotary Music Festival.

She studied piano with Lenna Snider Baker and theory with Olive Bentley. She has received several Gold Medals and scholarships and was the first recipient of the Silver Tray Competition given to the “Finest Festival Pianist” in the Rotary Music Festival.

While studying composition at Queen’s University, the Quinte Symphony performed one of her orchestral compositions. Then she continued her post-grad studies and Bachelor of Education at the University of Western Ontario. Currently she is an elementary school music teacher with the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board.

For the past two years she has been the assistant conductor of the Quinte Living Centre Band. She also enjoys tap dancing and has been seen in many local recitals and community events. She continues to look for opportunities to compose and perform her music.

The CD launch was held on October 14 in Belleville, and now the CD Diversion by Viv can be found at many local retail outlets throughout the Quinte area such as Sam the Record Man, Serendipity Gifts, SideStreet Gallery in Wellington and Lighthouse Books in Brighton.

Welcome the Diversion and discover the latest easy listening CD by Viv.

For more information visit

15th Annual Christmas at Presqu’ile opens Nov. 4

by John Chambers, The Independent

One of Eastern Ontario’s signature juried arts and crafts shows gets underway next week Christmas House, wonderful desserts at Stonehedge and the work of artists Doug Comeau, Michael Dumas and Brent Townsend at the Lighthouse Interpretive Centre Gallery.
The event will kick off on Saturday and Sunday November and continue on Wednesday, November 8 before wrapping up on Saturday and Sunday November 11 and 12.
Each room of the Christmas House is beautifully decorated and many of the items that you can find at Christmas at Presqu’ile are one-of-a-kind treats and treasures.
Christmas at Presqu’ile co-chairs Sharyn Bachlet and Joyce Boucher said visitors this year can expect to see a number of the favourite items that make the annual event a popular destination and added there are new items as well.
“If you have been here in previous years there will be a lot of unique items that people will be seeing for the first time,” said Ms. Boucher.
Among the items available this year are the popular walking sticks, wreaths, nativity scenes, jewellery, fancy dolls and fantasy fish.
“There is something for everyone,” said Ms. Bachlet.
The pair said visitors can also expect to see a number of new items from the regular vendors who make Christmas at Presqu’ile one of their annual shows.
Christmas at Presqu’ile is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission to Presqu’ile Provincial Park is free. There is no cost to park or to visit the 15th annual Christmas at Presqu’ile. Just bring your Christmas spirit and your shopping lists and come out to enjoy one of the best arts and crafts shows in the region.
For more information, please call The Friends of Presqu’ile at 613-475-1688 or visit their website at

Cast of Barefoot in the Park better than Fonda, Redford

Alwyn Horscroft – The Cobourg Star
- It is sometimes a very good thing to see a play without having read the script or seen the movie beforehand. Several people told me about the movie with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, and to be quite honest, I suspect that the Northumberland Players cast at the Best Western dinner theatre fitted the play far better than the big stars would have done.
The basic story is that Corrie Bratter and her husband of six days are moving into their rather barren flat, six flights up from the street without an elevator, no heat, and a dripping fanlight. There is also, upstairs, a mountain climbing, accented, reluctantly aging, neighbour by the name of Victor Velasco and Corrie has a widowed mother who wants to see what is going on, how her little girl is coping.
In this production, Corrie, played by Camille Stopps, sets her character before she even says a word. She is obviously a really dizzy, fun loving, possibly infuriating type of girl. Her first piece of unpacking is a wine bottle. She is very much in love with her new husband, and isn't the least bit fazed by the six flights of stairs.
The telephone repair man played by Ron Tollett, carrying his toolbox, arrives exhausted to install the phone. This is a great little character part and Ron does a good job of establishing himself in a short time, complete with a regional accent.
Bruce Stewart plays husband Paul, who also arrives home from work, staggering from the stairs. He hasn't seen the apartment yet, and is a little taken aback, partly by the rent. Paul is an 'up and coming' young lawyer, a bit of a stuffed shirt with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He, too, is very much in love, but with a new case next morning isn't into playing around. As you can imagine, their characters clash in spite of the love, and they get into some pretty fiery arguments. He makes a very credible character.
Corrie's mother, Ethel Banks, played by Moira Cascone, is thoroughly believable. If anything she under-plays the part which makes her even more passable as a mother not wishing to criticize or be thought a fuddy-duddy. A really excellent piece of acting. She too has trouble with the stairs.
Victor, played by Reg Stacey, is determined NOT to have any trouble with the stairs. He is permanently broke and behind with the rent, and therefore uses the Bratters' rooms as a way through to his, since the landlord has long ago locked his door. Victor is another happy-go-lucky character, who, in spite of the age difference, for a time appears more suited to Corrie than is her husband.
This is a well-chosen cast, and although the play can frequently be called a comedy, it also has many true to life moments which require the actors to take the drama seriously and not play for laughs, although the part of Victor does allow for a little more freedom in this respect. I'm not certain how good his accent was, but he convinced me.
Carol Anne Caswell plays a 'delivery person', and she deserves credit for doing a good job in an unrewarding role, but probably more for her work behind the scenes. The others working behind the scenes, too numerous to mention, produced a really efficient performance.
A couple of small notes - if it were possible I would have placed the couch further back, and maybe just slightly angled. One note for the program designer, please don't use that 'Curly MT' font in the program. It can be very difficult to read.
Barefoot in the Park runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until November 5 with a matinee on Saturday, November 4.

ID- 248498

Musical showcases wartime tunes

It's deja vu for an upcoming stage production that packages romance, comedy and nostalgia with a host of musical classics that dominated the airwaves during World War II.
'The War Show,' penned by renowned Canadian playwright Peter Colley, played to sold-out houses at the Victoria Hall Concert Hall during its initial August, 2000, run, says MusicMakers President Michael Ellis. The musical, then a joint partnership with Northumberland Players, was - and still is - the single biggest money-maker in MusicMakers' 15-year history, says Mr. Ellis. The all-volunteer company, which has donated over $150,000 to various Northumberland County charities to date, has high hopes history will repeat itself when the curtain rises once again on the Second World War saga on Nov. 3 for a four-performance run. Proceeds from the musical are earmarked for YMCA Northumberland, he explains.
The musical chronicles the romantic and dramatic adventures of five 'crazy' guys who join the Canadian Army in 1939 and set sail for the United Kingdom for training, he says.
There's 'Sharky,' the savvy soldier played by Trinity College School Chaplain Don Aitcheson; 'Pops,' the oldtimer and veteran of the Great War, played by Bill Bates; 'Jean-Pierre,' the Quebecer, played by Courteney Ponting; and Doug Frith in the role of 'Dud,' a wet-behind-the-ears recruit who needs all the help he can get from his pals to stay out of the hair of 'Sarge,' played by Mr. Ellis. Female cast members include Gwen Darling, Clare Tickle, Beth Craig and Pat Tatlock, who come and go throughout the production, cast in roles of the widow, the mother, the barroom girl and a selection of other women who figure highly in the lives and loves of the five soldiers.
"They eventually lose one of their number at Dieppe, another in Sicily, the next in Italy and a fourth at D-Day. In the end, only Dusty (young Dusty is portrayed by Jamie Hunt) is left," he says. "Some 40 years later, Legionnaire Dusty (played by Len Hirst) finds himself at the cottage, reminiscing about his war year antics and his four fallen pals."
The musical is hilarious, notes Mr. Ellis, with jokes flying fast and furious; however, there are also poignant moments as, one by one, four of the fun-loving lads make the ultimate sacrifice.
"The play encompasses a full range of emotions... it brings the audience right up and then right back down," he says.
However, it is the lush choral arrangements, featuring 24 of the most popular songs of the war years that truly make 'The War Years' an entertaining and captivating walk down memory lane, he says. Musical offerings include selections such as 'I'll Be Seeing You,' 'White Cliffs of Dover,' 'We'll Meet Again,' 'A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,' 'Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag,' 'Der Fuehrer's Face,' and 'We're Gonna Hang Out the Washing on the Siegfried Line,' just to mention a few, he adds.
'The War Show' debuted at London's Grand Theatre in 1975, the culmination of a year's research and interviews by the playwright where veterans, factory workers, housewives and war brides relayed stories of their war year experiences. Although Mr. Ellis was just a youngster during the Second World War, he says many individuals who lived through the era often comment, despite the hard times, sadness and tragedies, it was the best times of their lives.
"It was a time of camaraderie, where a feeling that 'we're in this together, damn it, we're going to do it,' prevailed," he says.
Since its inception in 1991, the MusicMakers have presented choral music of all kinds - from Renaissance, swing and classical, to light opera and Broadway - to as many people as possible in Northumberland County, says Mr. Ellis. All concerts are fundraising events, he notes.The War Show,' plays Cobourg's Victoria Hall Concert Hall on Nov. 3 and 4 at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees slated for Nov. 4 and 5. Theatre-style reserved seating tickets are $20 for evening performances, $18 for matinees, with a special matinee group rate of $16.50 each for 20 or more tickets. For tickets or additional information, contact the theatre box office at 905-372-2210 or 1-888-262-6874.

Friday, October 27, 2006

What do you get with a rock star, a classical pianist, an opera singer, 70 community voices, and two Little Match Girls?

….A multi generational creative experience not to be missed.

The Westben Festival Chorus and Westben Youth Chorus are busy preparing a brand new musical presentation co-written by Brian Finley & Ken Tizzard. George Frederick Handel meets Hans Christian Andersen in Little Match Girl Messiah. This semi staged musical journey brims with imagination, poignancy and glorious music new and old.
Ken Tizzard (solo artist as well as former member of Thornley and Watchmen Bands) has composed beautifully haunting melodies for the Little Match Girl and explosively colourful arrangements of Handel’s masterpiece The Messiah. Co-creator and Director Brian Finley (classical pianist, composer and Artistic Director of Westben) poignant comic scenes turn local children into colourful characters such as matches, knives, forks, stove, kettles, street children and even oven mits! Westben’s adult chorus is preparing the traditional choruses of the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah. Three weeks to go before all the various musical styles and community members of several generation come together. Everyone is invited to a chat with the composers November 7, 5:30pm to 6:30pm to hear about the conception and creation of this production.
Performances are November 18, 19 at 2pm at St. John’s United Church in Campbellford, and November 25 at 2 & 7pm & 26 at 2pm at The Barn. Please call the Westben Box Office for tickets and information at (705) 653-5508, toll free at (877) 883-5777 or visit online:
Westben congratulates its community sponsor partners: Bradley Bay Consulting, Eclectic Mix, Giant Tiger, Havelock Pharmacy, Paula Meier Associates and Weaver Family Funeral Home

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Via Dolorosa First Offering Of First Stages

Sunday, November 5TH, 2006 @ 3:00 PM

Robert Latimer stars as British playwright David Hare in the author's sad, funny, controversial and deeply engaging one-man show based on his sojourn to the Middle East in 1997 and the decidedly conflicting views of the Israelis and the Palestinians he interviewed. "David's whole strength is that he allows everyone their point of view."

~ Judi Dench. "The play examines irresoluble strife and antagonism; it finds the symmetry, patterns and even the beauty within. It finds, as good plays always will, the echoing poetry within the dangerous chaos that is life." ~ New York Times. "There is one thing I am sure of... my husband would have loved it." ~ Leah Rabin, widow of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

(Note: Strong language)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

From terrible times arise wonderful songs: The War Show

MusicMakers will bring The War Show back to Victoria Hall November 3 to 5, said producer Michael Ellis.
“We did it six years ago with Northumberland Players,” he recalled.“It was written for just eight people, so there’s lots of quick changes and people taking three or four different parts. We didn’t think we could handle that.”
By combining forces, he said, MusicMakers could perform the show’s wonderful old war songs and there would be enough people that they didn’t have to double up on roles.
The show played to sold-out houses, and enabled MusicMakers to donate $10,000 to Habitat For Humanity.They loved the idea of doing it again, and this time the proceeds will go to YMCA Northumberland — which is making space available for some of their rehearsals.
The show is written by Peter Colley — who, Mr. Ellis said, is now in Hollywood.“There are lots and lots of laughs in the show,“ he said. “But it’s also very poignant because of the five soldiers whose adventures you follow — from the time they join up in Canada and go to Camp Borden, then off they go to Halifax and over to England, where they march around for three years.”
Then there’s Dieppe, and they lose one of their people. Then they go to Sicily and lose another one, and then to Italy and they lose another one, and D-Day and they lose another one — so there’s only one at the end.”
The main character narrates his memories, starting when he’s a 19-year-old who has just joined up — to the chagrin of his family who wonder who will look after the pigs.
Listing the players in alphabetical order, Mr. Ellis begins with the soldiers.Trinity College School chaplain Don Aitchison plays Sharky, who is a bit of a crook. Bill Bates plays Pops, who had also been in the First World War. Doug Frith is Duddy, the youngest and most naïve of the lot. Jamie Hunt plays Dusty, a typical young man of the times. And Courteney Ponting plays J.P. the French Canadian (whose name is really Jean Pierre).
The women who add their voices in song are Beth Craig, Gwen Darling (the show’s musical director), Pat Tatlock and Clare Tickle.
And what songs, Mr. Ellis said — 24 great numbers including I’ll Be Seeing You, Lili Marlene, We’ll Meet Again, There’ll Always Be An England, What’ll I Do, Kiss Me Goodnight, Sergeant Major, White Cliffs of Dover and Wish Me Luck.
The group has been asked to put on an extra show for high-school students as part of their history curriculum, which is a good idea, as far as Mr. Aitchison is concerned — he accompanied a group of students to Belgium recently and included a visit to the graves of Canadian soldiers.
As far as regular shows go, however, there are 2 p.m. performances November 4 and 5 and 8 p.m. performances November 3 and 4. Tickets are $20 for evening shows and $18 for matinées, with special group rates available. For more information, call 905-372-2210.