As I drive south of Thunder Bay, out Ontario Highway 608 towards the Village of South Gilles, the snow is flying and it is clear that winter is upon us. While Northwest Ontario winters are known to be long and cold, a rural community theatre group has found a way to keep warm during the harshest of seasons.
When I arrived at the South Gilles Community Centre to watch a dress rehearsal, I was greeted by some of the cast members and the production’s director Sharon Wasilewski. A small group gathered, while the rest could be heard bustling around backstage preparing for the rehearsal and the group began to explain to me a bit of the history of the troupe.
Mile Hill Melodrama was formed in 1991 by a group of volunteers who were looking for an indoor activity to keep them busy through the long, cold winter months. What began as a one-off idea has grown leaps and bounds as the group is now preparing to perform their 42nd production in their 23rd year.
100 Lunches, written by playwrights Leo W. Sears and Jack Sharkey is a story about theatre critic-turned-playwright Charity, who seeks the professional advice of a successful mystery writer she has negatively reviewed in the past, Chuck. At Chuck’s insistence all of their meetings are held at fancy restaurants where Charity must foot the bill. Hilarity ensues with a ridiculous family of waiters, Chuck’s ‘passionate’ neighbour Yolanda and classic fun and romance.
As Sharon explains to me how the newly-built set rotates to create multiple venues you can see the pride in the faces of everyone involved. This group works hard and plays hard and they couldn't be more excited to share their efforts with an enthusiastic audience.
Mile Hill Melodrama productions consistently sell out and 100 Lunches will be no exception. As of writing there are only a few tickets remaining for the shows which will take place November 21-23 and 28 & 29. There is also a great partnership between Mile Hill and Rose Valley Lodge (located just a few minutes away from the community centre) which offers visitors a Dinner and a Show package. Dinner at Rose Valley Lodge is a spectacular experience on its own and this is the perfect chance to pair two wonderful area experiences in one night.
Don’t miss out on the few tickets left. Call 577-1091 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.