On Thursday evening I had the privilege of attending the opening night of the third annual SpringWorks Indie Theatre and Arts Festival which runs in Stratford from May 9 – 19, 2013.
SpringWorks is a juried multi-disciplinary arts festival providing high-quality programs in a friendly welcoming atmosphere. There will be cabarets, dance, comedy, dinner theatre, shows for the younger set, visual arts, coffee houses, poetry and dramatic readings of several new plays. More than 100 artists will be featured in over 50 events in a variety of venues in Stratford, St. Mary's and Listowel. Companies come to take part in this festival from as far away as Kingston, and even from Nova Scotia!
If last night's presentation of Three Little Maids, Musical Revue, featuring Stratford resident Barbara Dunn-Prosser and her equally talented friends Debora Joy, and Janet Martin is any indication, we are in for a fabulous two weeks of entertainment. These singers, all very busy with careers as performers and vocal teachers, came together in a hilarious jaunt through the intertwining lives of three good friends. Starting off as carefree children, they then took us into the melodramatic period of adolescence with a vocal swing through the 70's. A visit to the Kiwanis Music Festival competitions had us almost rolling in the aisles as we savoured memories of our own efforts to please the almighty adjudicator! We cruised along with the maids through snippets of many Broadway hits as they became young women and pondered the theme of love and the stress of auditions. Adding their own lyrics to familiar Gilbert and Sullivan tunes provided quite the spoof on their early career days touring with the Stratford Theatre. Growing up they all found love, a time of life that was beautifully expressed with an intertwining of three separate love songs. Along with love came children, who grew into teenagers, once again bringing the house down with new lyrics to a well-known medley from musical theatre. Eventually they took us into the 21st century with cell phones and emails, and life that was just too, too busy to keep contact. That is - unless they got together to write a show! Three Little Maids is definitely worth the $20 for admission when it plays again at City Hall on Sunday May 19 at 8 p.m.
After the concert I spoke with artistic producer Eileen Smith, who birthed the idea of such a festival in 2011. I was surprised to learn that the artists do not receive a set fee. Because this is a designated “festival”, they come and perform for love of their craft and are rewarded with 70% of the ticket sales, however high or low that may be. The festival itself runs on 30% of the take plus whatever they have been are able to garner from the generous sponsors who have stepped up to the plate.
The city hall auditorium was not full last night. As the festival progresses I hope that Stratfordites and tourists alike will realize what a gem we have here. I trust that you will make an effort to support these artists and take in the wealth of culture that is made available to us through SpringWorks!
For tickets contact www.springworksfestival.ca or 1-888-559-5077.