Theatre and Orchestra Performances in Durham Region

Will McGuirk

Live performances are returning to theatres across Durham Region. Although concerts and plays have been opening throughout the past year, this is the first festive season—post-most restrictions—for artists in the area.

The Ontario Philharmonic (OP), which calls the Regent Theatre in Downtown Oshawa home, has a wealth of offerings coming up, and, as shown by the many who during the pandemic turned to music for comfort, it’s not a stretch to say these offerings are good for your health too.

Executive Director Laura Vaillancourt says, the “OP’s mandate is to present symphonic musical programming. Many, among us, relate to music’s healing power. Music, as a purely subjective experience and healing modality, can be felt through any of the programming choices OP is presenting at this time as in any or all times.”

Presentations for 2022 include ‘Fantasia’ with soloist, Aljoša Jurinić, and ‘The Song of the Earth’ featuring Mexican-born tenor, César Delgado, and British-Canadian baritone, Alexander Dobson. All concerts are conducted by Marco Parisotto, the OP’s music director.

The Regent Theatre, which is part of the Ontario Tech University downtown campus during the day, also moonlights as a host to a variety of live music, comedy, classic movie nights and theatre shows including musicals, which are presented by Mansfield Entertainment.

The festive orchestral offerings continue with the Durham Chamber Orchestra’s matinee presentation of ‘Christmas Reflections’ at the Town Hall Theatre in downtown Port Perry. The concert features vocalist, Alesandra Felicia, and Carol Salamone on piano. Plus, there will be an assemblé of ballerinas joining in for Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker Suite’. Those still pining for summer can hang ten at The Town Hall ‘Surfin’ Safari,’ billed as the Ultimate Beach Party Show in December.

The heat is turned up at the Whitby Courthouse Theatre (WCT) as it hosts ‘Other Desert Cities’—a play about a writer returning home for Christmas. Performances continue through the month of November.

Lisa Ferreira of the WCT says their priority right now is staging those plays which never got a chance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Other Desert Cities’ was to open in fall 2020 and next April’s ‘Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun’ was a month away from opening in spring 2022.

“They’re both interesting in the current landscape as both are intimate dramas concerning family, perseverance and obstacles needing to be overcome⁠—and certainly many of us can relate to those themes, even if not in the same circumstances,” says Ferreira.

The Region’s theatrical landscape also includes Theatre on the Ridge (TOTR) located in Port Perry. Artistic Director and General Manager, Carey Nicholson, founded the troupe a decade ago and says, “I think it’s important to give theatre lovers in Durham dynamic and captivating live theatre in their own ‘backyard’ created and produced by local artists and companies.”

To that point, TOTR presents the second annual Port Perry Snapshots Festival. The winners of a playwriting competition hosted by TOTR are workshopped and will be presented at the Port Perry Anglican Church of the Ascension. The theme of the competition is moments that can define a single life and or life in a small Ontario town.

Seems fitting as well as timely, as only locally sourced theatre can be.

Learn more or find tickets to these and other upcoming shows at Durham’s downtown theatre venues:

Ontario Philharmonic:
Regent Theatre, Oshawa:
Port Perry’s Town Hall Theatre:
Whitby Courthouse Theatre:
Theatre on the Ridge:
Ajax Community Theatre: