David Hogan, co-artistic director at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia, says that the 2016 season will be packed with audience favourites. “I make myself available to the audience. I’m approachable, and I listen to what they have to say,” Hogan explains. With their patrons’ requests in mind, Hogan, along with co-artistic director David Rogers, are bringing back the shows their audience loves.
So what is Hogan most excited about? “I am really pumped that David (Rogers) is back!” he says. Rogers has been absent from the VPP stage for two years: In 2015 he starred in The Music Man and in 2014 he was Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, both with Drayton Entertainment. So this summer he returns to the VPP stage in Around the Piano – The Music of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Rogers, in conjunction with VPP music director Mark Payne, will present one of their tried and true concert shows.
Driving Miss Daisy is another tried and true production – the two Davids first presented it at the Imperial Theatre in Sarnia, and they are bringing back Michael Learned to do it again. They also know that Learned, the former Mom of the popular seventies TV show, The Waltons, has the star power to bring in an audience. Learned, and her TV partner, Ralph Waite, proved very popular in 2012 when they presented the play Love Letters at VPP. Sadly, Waite died at age 86 in 2014. Hogan noted that the Waltons was a very popular TV show in Michigan, so he is expecting many tour buses coming across from the U.S. for Driving Miss Daisy. It’s a heart-warming comedy set in the Deep South over several decades. The story examines the divides created by race and class.
VPP is presenting the third in the series about the Church Basement Ladies. This one, A Mighty Fortress, is a prequel telling the story of the Lutheran ladies prior to the 2014 production. This show is also expected to attract busloads of theatre goers from church groups.
Scotland Sings will open the season, with Brian McKay as host. McKay is an area favourite, often appearing on stage at VPP, Huron Country Playhouse and Stratford. This concert with a Scottish touch is another of the two Davids’ creations.
Little Miss County Fair will be a “cheeky and catchy” original show, Hogan says. David Rogers and Mark Payne have written this musical spoof on county fair pageants. Michael Vanhevel, popular with VPP audiences, will be the emcee of the contest, with six lovely competitors.
After last year’s very successful Women of Country, Hogan says they were compelled to present The Men of Country. “The audience asked for it”, he stressed, “and we’re doing it.”
“I am so grateful that this is what I get to do for a living,” Hogan explains, “I love our loyal patrons, and I am thankful that they trust us enough to be subscribers.
For more information about the 2016 season, go to www.thevpp.ca.