by Velika Maxam
Are you up for some local theatre, right in your backyard, where you weren’t expecting it? Grab some tea and a biscuit at a local teahouse, or even book dinner for two at any of the local restaurants in Ajax’s quaint Pickering Village, and then take a stroll down Church Street. You’ll soon arrive upon the newly renovated modern live theatre, the St. Francis Centre, now home to Ajax Community Theatre and prepare to be entertained! The Centre, formally the site of St. Francis de Sales Catholic church, will debut ACT’s exciting 10th season lineup which promises to delight, from the comedy thriller The Game’s Afoot (Nov 16-25), to the classic drama of 12 Angry Men (Feb 15 – 24, 2018) and closing out with the popular comedy Calendar Girls (Apr 19 – 28, 2018).
From its humble beginnings many years ago rehearsing and performing at the Village Community Centre to its debut at the St. Francis Centre, ACT has come a long way from its local roots. Part of ACT’s success continues to be its strong ties to the community while nurturing the relationships that helped get them started, especially with the Town of Ajax, which continues to support ACT’s many endeavors, including the popular annual Spirit Walk. As well, their recent participation in Pumpkinville gave the group a good opportunity to meet the many residents who have attended the ACT shows, along with introducing themselves to a whole new potential audience.
As an emerging GTA arts scene theatre company, with the long-held philosophy of ‘theatre for everyone’, ACT’s choice for its new lineup is no surprise with a mélange of theatrical genres. President Mark Salonius anticipates drawing not only new audiences to such a diverse mix of entertainment but also hopefully many new local actors. Each production calls for bigger casts than previous seasons. Not only will actors be enticed to the many new on-stage opportunities at the St. Francis Centre this year, but they will be thrilled to learn that ACT will debut its participation in the well-known ACTCO Festival, bringing their local status to a whole new level. The festival will allow actors to experience the adjudication process with their winter production of 12 Angry Men, along with a bit of friendly competition with other GTA community theatres, and a bit of networking to boot at the annual gala held in Spring 2018.
And getting the word out that ACT in Ajax is open for great entertainment, not only for local audiences but throughout the GTA, has been front and centre for this year’s new Board providing some strong ideas on exposure and marketing. Getting theatre to everyone with a focus on increasing audiences and continuing to liaise with the community through opening night galas, volunteer appreciation events, and increasing their digital and online presence was the main focus after their recent annual general meeting. “It’s a great fun group” Salonius added when talking about the camaraderie of the ACT Board and many volunteers who comprise this theatre group motivated towards another successful season, which will also include a Youth Group portion to their 2017/2018 lineup. With the hopes of taking on full scale musicals in future seasons, ACT’s first Youth Group startup will, on a smaller scale engage younger talent while exposing local audiences to musical theatre with cabaret style productions, as part of their entertainment lineup for years to come.
With so many great changes, and a new and exciting team energizing Ajax Community Theatre, the 2017/2018 season promises to be an exciting one, with a commitment to provide the caliber of entertainment Ajax and Durham residents have come to know. Check out their website for more information and tickets.