Gore Bay Theatre summer season cancelled again, due to pandemic

The Gore Bay Theatre’s outstanding production of “Molly Sweeney” will hit the stage for the third and final time this evening (Friday) at the Gore Bay Community Hall. The cast includes, from left, Tara Bernatchez, Will Smith and John Robertson.

GORE BAY—For the second straight year, Gore Bay Theatre will not be presenting a summer season of plays because of the pandemic.

Established 28 years ago, the theatre has always offered a summer season and for the past 15 years the group has produced at least two, sometimes three, different plays, performed in repertory so that audiences could see all the plays on consecutive evenings.

Directors Walter Maskel and Andrea Emmerton are extremely disappointed that there will be no summer season. Mr. Maskel stated, “in March of 2020 we competed in the annual Northern Ontario drama festival (Quonta) with a play called ‘Molly Sweeney,’ against groups from North Bay, the Sault and Espanola. We swept the major awards including best production, director, lead actress, visual presentation, ensemble acting and original music. We were going to represent Northern Ontario at the all-Ontario Festival in May 2020, but with COVID it was cancelled and unfortunately we could not perform the play for our summer audiences as well.” 

“The actors, Tara Bernatchez, John Robertson and Will Smith, did a great deal of work on this production, mastering Irish accents and were only able to present the play a few times. It was very disappointing to our entire production team,” said Mr. Maskel.

Ms. Emmerton added, “we were hoping to present ‘Molly Sweeney’ again, possibly in the fall but it is so difficult to plan ahead not knowing what the state of the pandemic will be at that time. We have all missed doing theatre and for both Walter and I, this has been the longest we have gone in the past 40 years not doing a show. We are all hoping things will return to normal as soon as possible so that we can return to doing what we love and provide the community with the magic of live theatre.”

Islanders and summer visitors were also hoping for an early return for Gore Bay Theatre. The group has established an enviable reputation for producing award winning community theatre. In fact for the past 15 years the group has competed in various theatre festivals and has the distinction of winning more awards at the regional and provincial levels than any other group in the province. 

With more than 100 competing groups in the province this is a remarkable achievement, particularly since Gore Bay theatre competes against groups primarily from larger communities with the financial, technical and human resources not typically available in a small town. 

We know that community theatre will return. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a fall production.