Confessions come to life in Theatre Orangeville’s new show

September 6, 2018   ·   0 Comments


In separate conversations with Dan Needles and Ian Bell, the Citizen learned a good deal about their joint upcoming evenings and matinee of entertainment by which they are launching Theatre Orangeville’s new season.

Named after Mr. Needles’ latest book, True Concessions from the Ninth Concession, the performances are a spin of tales told by our own Dan Needles along with Ian Bell’s songs and music.

Mr. Bell explained, “We worked together for 20 years, more off than on,” meaning he and Mr. Needles, “we’d swop a story for a song on stage without too much problem. Then, we didn’t do one for quite a while and then we did do one in Port Dover and that was fun!”

He went on talk about the gem for the upcoming show, “Now, for these Theatre Orangeville shows, we’ve been working through Dan’s stories – I’ve got some songs, one that was written for the show and others that we hadn’t used before – they work well. They are funny songs,” he assured us.

Mr Needles confirmed, “We’ve been on stage lots of times. He’s a great musician.” He offered a synopsis of the entertainment. “We’re talking about this place we call home in rural Ontario. I’m reading one or two stories from the book but the rest is my telling stories from my life here.

“It’s a time of laughter and song. He’s very funny. He’s got one song about a mammoth – I thought I had stolen the idea from him for a story and he thought he had stolen it from me – we didn’t know which but we do know it’s stolen…”

Mr. Needles will make us laugh, “the way I do, about where I grew up [near Rosemont], a bit of my life story.”

Mr. Needles has never taken all the credit for writing his award-winning tales and plays: “I didn’t think I could write, I just listened to old cattle farmers. My neighbours are surprised to find themselves as a source of literature.”

Mr. Bell comes to us from a long history in music, primarily based in Ontario, where his name is listed on a lengthy number of credits.

For this show, he told us, “The theme is about going home whether physically, relating the turf from which you’re sprung, or returning to who you were – it is about the people that were an influence. When you do go home, … some things are the same and some aren’t whether for the better or not.”

This theme is carried through Mr. Needles’ regaling us with reflections of his personal history. His father was an actor, one of the first performing casts at Stratford Festival.  His mother “wrote books and was in broadcasting,” including plays for young audiences. His grandfather was also an actor.

“Massey Hall was built by my great-great grandfather, Hart Massey. He was just a businessman who liked music and he thought Toronto should have some place for concerts. The Board of Directors he set up goes back to the 1890s and it is basically the same – different people, of course…”

The family farm near Rosemont which was the Needles home, and Laura Ryan, Mr. Needles’ sister, still lives there, very often played host to out of work actors and their destitution made a strong impression on the young Dan Needles.

As he said, “I ran away from the circus” and took up a life in the city, selling insurance. “It never occurred to me that you could make a living in the theatre.”

His mother, Dorothy J Goulding, as he told us, was never in doubt. “I’d come home in a blue suit and tie and she’d say ‘That’s just a costume – you’ll see.’”

While he was still living his city life, “it was a bit daunting for my girlfriends, to bring them home. You were judged by your ability to entertain. You could do anything you liked – just don’t be dull…”

Dorothy Goulding also founded the Globe Restaurant in Rosemont.

She died on May 6, 2017 and, said Mr. Needles, “I miss her every day. I was always a little jittery at accounting for myself to her. She travelled all over Europe, she studied the piano and ran a salon for 60 years . . . for Stratford actors, musicians . . .”

Dan Needles’ cut his teeth on theatre in Theatre Orangeville, premiering his Wingfield plays here and commenting, “I can remember when the theatre space just held files. The town realized its potential and hired Jim Betts to put it together.” Thus, creating Theatre Orangeville.

On the other hand, Ian Bell is coming to us for the first time to Theatre Orangeville.

He told us, “I’ve performed in places around but never in Orangeville. People will want to see this show because what they’re going to find is a view of themselves. I think anybody who has come to love rural Ontario will enjoy this. There are endearing characters – even people they know. This is very much fun. I certainly love his [Mr Needles’] stuff.”

Confessions from the Ninth Concession, originally a collection of Mr. Needles’ columns and writings for many publications over the years, is running for five days, from Sept. 19 to Sept. 23, a hilarious show at Theatre Orangeville.

Tickets as always at the Box Office at 87 Broadway and the Information Centre on Buona Vista and Hwy. 10; by telephone at 519-942-3423 and on line at tickets@theatreorangeville.ca



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