Hitting the Road: Tweed troupe travels Hastings County

By Nancy Hopkins

 After a successful run at the Tweed Dance Pavilion, HASTINGS! The Musical will visit Belleville, Bancroft and Perth this summer. Photo Courtesy Tweed and Company Theatre

After a successful run at the Tweed Dance Pavilion, HASTINGS! The Musical will visit Belleville, Bancroft and Perth this summer. Photo Courtesy Tweed and Company Theatre

Tweed and Company Theatre is taking the show on the road. This summer, HASTINGS! The Musical, will light up the stages at Bancroft’s Village Playhouse, Belleville’s Empire Theatre, and The Studio Theatre in Perth.

A memorable Canada 150 celebration, this original production debuted in the summer of 2017 with sold out shows during a two-week run at the Tweed Pavilion.  

So how does a troupe create a history of the county in the form of a musical - from scratch? They wisely reached out to the Hastings County Historical Society, who provided not only invaluable collaboration but a very large box of local history books, by local authors. So they dug in and read, and read, brainstormed, and countless hours and rehearsals later, with seven composers and nine professional actors they gave birth to an irreverent retelling of Hastings County history. At turns funny and dramatic the show had audiences hooked.

“Wow….that was an incredible show… Blew us away with all the talent… A MUST SEE show! The talent this cast presents is nothing short of awesome!” “Best show/production ever!” were a selection of the accolades posted on the theatre company’s website.

Like many great ideas Tweed and Company Theatre (originally IANA Theatre) started to take shape over a passionate conversation.  “I was performing in EVIL DEAD: The Musical and after the show sitting in wardrobe with cast members we started talking about this,” conveys Tim Porter, Artistic Director & Tweed native. “I always kind of had this real passion for Canadian work. I was disappointed at the lack of Canadian musicals being produced.” It wasn’t long before important first steps were taken. 

Fast forward 10 years and with four large scale original productions under their belt the company has remained true to its mandate to present professional Canadian productions and have the distinction of being the only theatre in Canada to do so.  At the helm along with Porter are Emily Mewett, General Manager; Tricia Black, Artistic Producer and Joel MacMeekin, Associate Artistic Director.

So what will the next 10 years hold? “We see no reason why we couldn’t create the Stratford or Shaw of the east,” says Porter. The Shaw Festival started with two performances in a 100 seat courthouse. Tweed and Company is well beyond those days, having performed countless shows in venues in Tweed, Stirling, Toronto and more. 

With the proven support of area theatre goers and the ability to draw patrons from Ottawa, Kingston and other communities the goal is to run upwards of seven theatres in Eastern Ontario, outlined Porter, a model based on the success of the Drayton Theatre Company in western Ontario.

So yes, that means a playhouse of their own in Tweed followed by other theatres in eastern Ontario. But Porter emphatically confirms, “Tweed will always be our home for original Canadian theatre.” 

Hold on to your seat. The Tweed and Company Theatre story is really just getting started. 

Tickets are on sale for all 2018 shows. Visit www.tweedandcompany.com

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