by Mike Keenan
Winter has finally disappeared (we hope), the daffodils, forsythia and tulips now add vibrant colour to our hum-drum days and yes, it’s festival time again in St. Catharines, high time to celebrate and enjoy our more temperate clime. Three upcoming festivals are worthy of your attention.
First, the Garden City Comedy Festival runs from May 25-27. The fun begins with the Festival Kick Off Variety Show hosted by comedy star Ben Guyatt, featuring stand-up comedy by Tom Holman, comedy/hypnotism from Danny Zzzz, and the show is headlined with sketch comedy by St. Catharines’ own Suitcase in Point Theatre Company.
On Friday May 26, the Niagara Comedy All Stars Charity Night features Niagara’s finest comedians who unite to give back to their community with an evening of comedy that benefits Pathstone Mental Health Niagara.
And Saturday May 27, the festival closes out with a bang with a night of world class comedic entertainment at the inviting First Ontario Performing Arts Centre. Darrin Rose (Just for Laughs/Mr. D/ Late Late Show) and K. Trevor Wilson (JFL/Letterkenny/Jimmy Kimmel) take to the stage to bring the big time laughs to the Garden City!
More information at: http://www.gardencitycomedyfestival.com/
Next, we have a truly significant and an ongoing festival right here in St. Catharines, The Foster Festival – Humour with Heart running at the attractive Cairns Recital Hall. This summer, we are blessed with a flight of Foster comedies, three plays that will keep you laughing by Canada’s best loved playwright.
Screwball Comedy runs from June 21-July 7, and it’s full of snappy period dialogue reminiscent of the best cinematic screwball comedies, a world premiere that bubbles with merriment and packs a punch. Set in 1938, the story centres around Mary Hayes, a budding reporter who tries to break into the male-dominated newspaper world.
Old Love runs from July 12 – July 28. In this scenario, Bud is recently divorced. Molly is newly-widowed. At her husband’s funeral, he appears to offer his condolences and much more, a story of courtship, rekindled romance and the indomitability of hope. Patricia Vanstone, the festival’s Artistic Director, says that Old Love is one of her favourite, “a little valentine to hope fueled by long burning embers of love.”
Finally, there is Foster’s Lunenburg which runs from August 2-18, yet another world premiere for St. Catharines! American widow Iris Oulette and her good friend Natalie arrive in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to a house that she has inherited from her recently deceased husband. The only problem is that Iris doesn’t know anything about her Canadian abode and next door neighbour, Charlie, brings the ladies up to speed with lots of twists and turns.
Complete information is available at: https://www.fosterfestival.com/site/home
Last, instead of comedy, there is music, the TD Niagara Jazz Festival which runs from July 28-30, a cutting edge celebration of all types of jazz, performed in intimate indoor and outdoor venues in the heart of Niagara’s stunning wine country. Events will take place at vineyards, breweries, parks and other select locations.
The Festival weekend features – July 28, Jazz in the City in St. Catharines, July 29, Jazz in the Park in Simcoe Park, NOTL, July 29, Soul Jazz in the Vineyard at The Hare Wine Co., NOTL, July 30, Jazz on the River at the Niagara Belle, NOTL and Jazz on the Rise at Megalomaniac Winery in Vineland.
Each event is individually priced and season and weekend passes are available as well as weekend getaway packages. More information is available at The Niagara Jazz Festival http://niagarajazzfestival.com/
There you have it, three exciting festivals to share with friends and family, all readily available for you to take advantage of in Niagara.
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