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2019 Embro Dinner Theatre

Embro & Zorra Agricultural Society Presents:
 
“Stag and Doe” by Mark Crawford 
Directed by Doug Turvey 
Produced by Sara Stephenson 

Box Office: 
December 8th 2018 8am-11am at the Embro & Zorra Community Center 

For more information or tickets after Box office contact Mary Ellen or Matt Garner (519-475-4437). 

Show dates:
Saturday Feb. 23th (Dinner & Show) - $40
Sunday Feb. 24th (Brunch & Show) - $40 
Thursday Feb. 28th (Cocktail Hour with Cash Bar & Show) - $20 
Friday Mar. 1st (Dinner & Show) - $40 
Saturday March 2nd (Dinner & Show) - $40 

Stag and Doe is produced by permission of the Playwright and Marquis Literary (Colin) www.mqlit.ca”
Feb 23, 2019
Dinner & Show
Opening Night
Doors Open 6pm 
Dinner 7pm
Feb 24, 2019
Brunch & Show
Sunday Brunch
Doors Open: 12pm 
Brunch: 12:30pm
Feb 28, 2019
Show Only
Cocktail Hour with Appetizers & Cash Bar
Doors Open: 7pm 
Show: 8pm
Mar 01, 2019
Dinner & Show
Dinner & Show
Doors Open: 6pm 
Dinner: 7pm 
Mar 02, 2019
Dinner & Show
Closing Night
Doors Open: 6pm 
Dinner: 7pm

Dinner Theatre History

The Embro and Zorra Agricultural Society just finished its 22nd annual dinner theatre in 2010.

Dinner theatre was started in 1989 when the fair was having difficulty making a consistent profit each year. Laurence MacKay was Fairboard President at the time. He and his wife Mary had successfully produced Junior Farmer productions in Woodstock and believed that there was talent and leadership in Zorra that could make dinner theatre successful.

Laurence approached Keith Garner to see if he could figure out how to turn the Community Centre hall into a theatre and if he and his wife Sue would consider directing. Keith drew up plans for a stage, backstage area and audience seating for 200.

When Laurence put his quiet determination behind a project, people believed it would be possible, and so the Dinner Theatre idea was approved by the Fairboard.

The Fairboard Homecraft directors agreed to take on the considerable organization effort needed to serve dinner three nights in a row. The entire Fairboard worked hard on each show. In early years there were only 4 days from when they first got the hall until opening night. During this time the whole stage had to be built, curtains hung, set built, decorated, furniture put in place, risers for the audience installed and a platform for the lighting and sound people put in place. Theatrical lighting had to be rented and installed. Everyone on the Fairboard came with a hammer to “bee” days and helped . Also during those 4 days the cast and crew had to fit in some rehearsals on the new set!

Cast of the first play “Black Comedy“ included John Hazeleger, Sharry Vanderhorn, Judy and Ivan Buchan, Grant Innes, Ron Marshall, Frank Tousaw, Anne Mackay. Friday was one of the regular rehearsal nights and a weekly social time was held afterward. Frank Tousaw christened this party “FAPPP” – Friday After Play Practice Party. The name and the Friday festivity have become an ongoing tradition and every Fairboard and Thistle Theatre play in Embro since has always had Friday practices.

Nancy A. Hazeleger was Producer for Black Comedy. She was tireless in her efforts to ensure a quality production.

The “It’s only Embro – why worry” attitude was not allowed. Everyone rose to the challenge.

The tickets had sold out almost as soon as the show was announced and expectations in the community were high. Sue recalls arriving at the hall on opening night. 200 people filled the hall. Dinner was already in progress. The kitchen was full of Fairboard lady directors and their friends serving up platters of excellent food. The hall itself had been transformed… candlelight glowed, centrepieces and linens were beautiful, piano dinner music tinkled, waiters and waitresses moved efficiently serving the meal, the set surrounded by new black draperies and lit with preshow theatrical lights looked striking. Sue says that she was never so proud of the community as in that moment… or so nervous that a play would live up to expectations.  

2 years later, a new director from outside the community was brought in. Terry Todd had a lot of experience but had never done a play where actors could be late for rehearsal because they were pulling a calf or where there were only 4 days to set up. The Fairboard by now had getting the play ready down to a science. They thought this was a normal way to do a play, so they neglected to tell Terry about the ‘bee’ day. By the end of the second night, there was only the stage built – no set. Terry was completely panicked – but he was a great set builder. He took the next afternoon off work, lined up some friends and brought his tools. When he arrived, he was amazed to see the full set up, and the decorating well in hand. A whole new meaning of “running on Embro time” was born.

At the 1998 fair, the Saturday night entertainment was a salute to 10 years of dinner theatre. Short scenes were re-staged from each play and all but 3 of the original characters returned to play their roles. 

Now, 27 years later, the dinner theatre has grown to include a play & social night and a brunch catered by a youth group along with the 3 dinners. Tickets are still a hot commodity and it is an event enjoyed by all. And they have gotten smarter – they now get in the hall 10 days before opening night.