The World is a Stage

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From 1981 to 2017, Theatre Tillsonburg has produced 150 events and shows! What a ride it has been from the Tillsonburg Community Centre stage to our own Otter Valley Playhouse. From a handful of people believing we could start a group, to penny pinching, to buying and renovating a building, to penny pinching again.

'We’ve come a long way baby' from our first show Come Blow Your Horn to the 150th - The Games Afoot or Holmes for the Holidays, which opens Nov. 2.

Celebrate our 150th show with us. It is a ‘murderously funny’ murder mystery about William Gillette (Ross Hepburn), a successful, dashing actor, famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on stage. In fact it was whilst live on stage, that William is attacked and wounded. While recovering he invites friends over for a Christmas Eve celebration at his Connecticut mansion. Murder ensues and William puts his well-honed Sherlock Holmes skills to work to solve the dastardly crime.

William’s friends and family include Martha Gillette (Karen Tripp), a delightful, clever, fierce old lady; Young Simon (Jason Leighfield) and his girlfriend the spunky Aggie (Hailey McAra). William’s best friend and sidekick, Felix (Dave Deelen), and his wife Madge (Janice Lundy), who is a leading lady, passionate and smart mouthed. Then there is Daria (Pamela Simmons), a self-made woman who is catty, funny and at times vicious. Inspector Goring (Melanie Watts), called in about the murder is a smart, insightful woman, rare in this time period.

The really unusual thing about this play, written by Ken Ludwig, is that William Hooker Gillette was a real, living American actor, manager, playwright and stage-director who did played Sherlock Holmes on stage for 33 years and became a premier matinee idols in the 1920-30s. His first acting job was in 1874 in his neighbour Mark Twain’s The Gilded Age. He also is known for expanding sound and lighting technologies on the stage.

It was William who adapted Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes to the stage and the two men developed a personal friendship and profitable professional relationship. It was William who introduced the deerstalker cap, long cloak and curved briar pipe.

William actually lived in an extraordinary stone castle with secret doors, puzzle locks, and hidden mirrors that allowed him to spy on guests, including Albert Einstein and Calvin Coolidge.

In community theatre a director must be very versatile, and the Game’s Afoot director Janice Lundy suddenly discovered she would have to take over a role as rehearsal neared completion.

Producers for the show are Sheila and Jeff Tripp; and Stage Manager is Lynda Nevins. Set design was done by Anne Corcoran, construction Paul Bechard, Peter Beechey, Ward and Rick. The set décor team includes Tracey Whitworth, Janie Forsythe and John Matzig.

Costumes for the 1930s and eccentric William/Sherlock are headed by Jane Brown and props by Joan Weston. Lighting and sound design are by Sean Goble, with lights operated by John Sherman, and sound Jeff Trip. Stacey Riley dared the heat while up in cherry picker to set and focus the lights with Harry VandenBiggelaar telling her what to do. It was very entertaining to watch them do this! Harry will also be on the set crew during the show.

A stellar cast and crew! A Christmas time show! A who-dun-it-murder mystery with an almost Sherlock Holmes that has devious twists and turns to a plot! Could you ask for anything more?

Actually Theatre Tillsonburg could ask for a wee bit more. We are always looking for volunteers to help in every department, but at show time we also need people ushering, taking tickets and running the canteen. If you are interested in lending a hand, you get to see the show too! Please contact our Volunteer Co-ordinator at 519-550-4614 or 519-409-1112 or

Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot or Holmes for the Holiday runs from Nov. 2-5 and Nov. 9-12, with 8 p.m. curtain except for the Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Season tickets are $50 each (this is for all three shows). Individual show tickets are $20. Tickets can be booked and paid for online at or in person at the Otter Valley Playhouse, 144789 Potters Rd, Saturdays from 11 am until 1 p.m. or call 519-688-3026 or email the Box Office Manager at



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