Playhouse Elf Delivery Service

For the last minute shoppers who are stressed about mailing times, do we have a solution for you!

The Playhouse elves are here to help, offering last minute deliveries of gift certificates directly to your mailbox.

If you live in one of the postal codes below, we will hand-deliver your gift certificate, subscription or patron membership gift purchase between December 19th and 24th.  

Purchases can be made online or over the phone, but you must contact the Box Office via phone if you would like a gift certificate delivered – 613-382-7020.



K7G, K7K, K7L, K7M, K6V


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Make Your Long Weekend A Little Cheesy

If you’ve been to an opening night reception at the Playhouse, you’re probably already acquainted with Sue Alford’s cheese dips, which are a crowd favourite. Sue started helping with catering opening nights around 2009, eventually taking on the task herself. With Sue’s blessing, we’re delighted to share her outstanding Artichoke Dip recipe.


✨ 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
✨ 1 cup mayonnaise
✨ 1 cup parmesan cheese
✨ 4 oz. jar mild diced green chilies (optional)
✨ 12 oz. can artichokes, drained and chopped
✨ 2 cloves garlic, minced

You can also add asiago or cheddar cheese. If you like some heat, just add a few splashes of tabasco, any hot sauce, or diced jalapeno peppers if preferred.


  1. Soften cream cheese, then add mayo, parmesan, and other cheese (if using).
  2. Dice chilies, chop artichokes, and mince garlic, then add.
  3. Mix well with wooden spoon and spread evenly into an oven safe dish. You can sprinkle a little more parmesan or other cheese on top if you like.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25min, or until bubbly.

Note, the recipe is easily doubled.

You can’t go wrong with this dip. Thanks Sue!

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Page to Stage Recap: The Music Man

On August 20, a special group of donors were invited to attend an exclusive ‘Page to Stage’ event online via Zoom. This event explored our planned 2020 production of The Music Man.

Director/choreographer Stephanie Graham (Anne of Green Gables, 2019) gave us a thoughtful look into her research, audition process, and her personal connection to the show (she performed in TIP’s 2004 production). Designer Brandon Kleiman wowed us with his set design — everything from architecture, antiques, advertisements, and quilts that inspired elements of his design. Costume designer Robin Fisher and TIP’s Head of Wardrobe Jayne Christopher gave us a look into their collaborative relationship and Robin’s beautiful colour palettes and drawings.

With the help of Dance Captain Lyndsey Britten, we explored Stephanie’s choreography and enjoyed Kate Blackburn (Marian the Librarian) singing My White Knight and David Leyshon (Harold Hill) performing 76 Trombones. Because the production was suspended due to COVID-19, the event was a bittersweet endeavor, but left us excited for the day we can finally produce this classic musical!

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A Renovation 16 Years in the Making

Here at the Playhouse, we put a lot of energy into building visually striking sets and keeping our auditoriums and lobbies looking sharp for our audience. Most people don’t consider what things look like behind the scenes, but Bob Thomas isn’t most people.

Bob was the Chair of the Board in 2004 when the Firehall Theatre first opened. Due to SARS and the resulting financial setbacks, the finishing touches on the Firehall’s backstage area and dressing rooms were never completed. 16 years later, Bob has found a silver lining to TIP’s COVID-19 cancellations: he’s spearheading a matching campaign to renovate the dressing rooms to what he always imagined them to be.

(Bob Thomas standing backstage mid-renovation, July 2020)

As a long-time supporter of the arts, Bob is quick to acknowledge: “It’s something some board members will know — I’ve been nagging them for years for this.” Ever humble, Bob emphasized that there are far bigger donors at the Playhouse and he’s only falling in line with many other generous supporters over the years. He’s not looking for accolades, only for the “quiet satisfaction” of finally finishing the job.

He joined the board in 1997 and served as Board Chair from 2001 to 2006. During his tenure, Bob worked closely with founding Artistic Director Greg Wanless to acquire, renovate, and open the Firehall Theatre. Bob shared that “Greg always dreamed of growing, and the Firehall was an obvious target because of location and the size.” The building became available when Gananoque’s Emergency, Fire and Police Services, which called the building home, planned to move to larger accommodations.

In 2004, with sizable support from Canadian Heritage, the Playhouse team had only three months to convert the Firehall into a theatre space, lobby, and admin office. Unfortunately, the 2003 SARS outbreak took its toll on the company — including diminished ticket sales, especially from American patrons. That, and the need to rent and renovate a new rehearsal space resulted in the Firehall backstage never being completed as per plan.

(Various photos of the backstage area before construction started)

16 years later, it’s still a thorn in his side. But, not for long.

Bob’s donation campaign will match all donations up to $15,000. The $30,000 renovation is already underway, and will feature an expanded washroom with accessibility in mind. It also reconfigures the layout: expanding one of the two dressing rooms; building dedicated laundry facilities; relocating the stage management office upstairs; repurposing the old office for paint and prop storage; and turning TIP’s archives room into a meeting space. In addition to new floors, lighting, furniture, a stage door, and a fresh lick of paint, the walls of the backstage area will be fully insulated for winterization.

In response to Bob’s generosity, Brett Christopher said: “Once in a blue moon, an arts organization is blessed with a ‘super-volunteer’ like Bob Thomas. The time, consideration, and financial support that he has contributed over the last 20 years have been key to our growth and longevity as an organization. It is no surprise to me that, during this fallow period, he would step forward in support of building better facilities for the artists that work at TIP. I have the greatest admiration for Bob and look up to him (both figuratively and literally) as a mentor for my leadership of this company.”

(Bob outside the Firehall Theatre)

The Playhouse’s own production team (Brian Frommer, Mark Hunt, Dirk Ave, Jayne Christopher, and Nicole Groen) will do the heavy lifting on the renovation, which will highly subsidize the cost. The donated funds will be spent on materials and the contract work that’s needed.

As a participant in productions with Riverbank Productions of Gananoque in 2014-5, Bob became fully aware of the backstage deficiencies. He sees the renovation as “being of value in recruiting good performers” and as a sign of respect to artists. Bob’s goal is for the Playhouse to have a great reputation for high-quality productions and for our equally excellent backstage facilities.

While his pride for the Firehall Theatre is clear, so is his pragmatism. Bob emphasized that the renovations should be clean and comfortable, not lavish. “It doesn’t have to be a palace for Celine Dion.”


Click here to help support Bob’s campaign to renovate the Firehall Theatre dressing rooms. Every dollar up to $15,000 will be matched.

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Page to Stage: Million Dollar Quartet

On Thursday July 23, a special group of donors were invited to attend an exclusive ‘Page to Stage’ event online via Zoom. The evening was a deep dive exploration of our 2017 smash hit Million Dollar Quartet and featured host Sophia Fabiilli interviewing the creative leaders and cast for an entertaining and informative two hours.

The conversation began with former Associate Artistic Director Rob Kempson, who directed and choreographed the show. It was fascinating to hear about Rob’s vision and research, and how he facilitates casting and rehearsals. Set and costume designer Anna Treusch offered an incredible behind the scenes look at her work: from 50’s iconography reflected in the set design, to coordinated colour palettes, to choosing wardrobe pieces for each character.

Four cast members — Michael Vanhevel (Elvis Presley), Jesse MacMillan (Johnny Cash), Josh Wiles (Carl Perkins) and Calvin Laveck (Jerry Lee Lewis) — joined in, adding their charming chemistry and musical talent to the night. Each actor recorded a song from the show, and we loved their renditions of How Great Thou Art, Ghost Riders in the Sky, Blue Suede Shoes, and Great Balls of Fire.

Even though the Zoom event was a far cry from the norm, it was a fantastic way to celebrate what we do and keep the theatre magic alive. Many thanks to everyone who joined us!

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A Journey to Glory: The Inspiring Rise of the Preston Rivulettes

Catch GLORY on stage July 24 – August 17. 

New Beginnings – 1930
While looking for a winter sport to play, teammates Hilda and Nellie Ranscombe, and Marm and Helen Schmuck decided to form a hockey team with fellow members of their baseball team, the Preston Rivulettes. With the help of women’s sports reporter Alexandrine Gibb, they formed Preston’s first women’s hockey team and acquired local arena manager Herb Fach as their head coach.

A Record-Breaking First Season – 1931
After only a few months of practice, the Preston Rivulettes officially debuted in the Ladies Ontario Hockey Association (LOHA) and won their first game against the Grimsby Peaches. Since the team had joined the league late in the season, this was also the qualifying game for the Division Championship playoff. The Rivulettes would continue on to defeat the Port Dover Sailorettes, the London Silverwoods, and the Pembroke Ladies to become Division Champions.

A Heart-Wrenching Loss – 1933
As the Western Canadian Champions, the Edmonton Rustlers paid for the Preston Rivulettes to travel to Edmonton and face them in the first-ever Dominion Championship. Unfortunately, the flu-ravaged Rivulettes lost to the Rustlers in the first playoff game and tied in the finals. These playoffs would mark the first time the team played outside of Ontario as well as the first loss of the Rivulettes’ career. The Championship loss was questioned by some, as the referee came into the Rivulettes’ dressing room after the playoffs and apologized, stating “Sorry girls, I couldn’t let you win”.

The Great Depression Takes Its Toll – 1934
Despite beating the Toronto Vagabonds to become the Eastern Canadian Champions, times were hard for the Preston Rivulettes. They could not secure funding to host the Edmonton Rustlers for the Dominion Championship, which resulted in the team having to default the victory title to the Rustlers.

Back On Top – 1935
The Preston Rivulettes defeated the Montreal Maroons and the Summerside Primrose A.C. to become the Eastern Canadian Champions. The team would go on to beat the Winnipeg Eatons on home ice and claim their first ever Dominion Championship. The town held a gala banquet in their honour, and sports leaders from across the nation joined in the celebration. This season also saw the retirement of founding member Helen Schmuck (who would later return to the Rivulettes in 1938).

The Factor of Cost – 1936
To keep costs down, the Preston Rivulettes sent only eight players to face the Montreal Maroons in the Eastern Canadian Championship. They beat the Maroons 9-2, and their victory was reported in the New York Times. Facing financial challenges after traveling to Montreal, the Rivulettes were unable to travel to Winnipeg for the Dominion Championship. This forced the team to default the title to the Winnipeg Olympics.

A Golden Opportunity – 1939
After winning three consecutive Dominion Championships (1937, 1938, 1939), the Preston Rivulettes were invited to Europe to demonstrate their skills against men’s teams in an exhibition tour. Unfortunately for the Rivulettes, the tour was cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II.

The End of an Era – 1940
Due to the financial constrictions of war, the Ladies Ontario Hockey Association shut down, forcing the Preston Rivulettes to disband. The women also found themselves otherwise engaged, as many took on new roles assisting with the war, as well as being new wives and mothers.

Well-Deserved Recognition – 1963
The Preston Rivulettes were recognized by Canada’s Hockey Hall of Fame for their excellent winning percentage of over 95%. Over a ten-year span, the team had a record of 346-2-2 (346 wins, 2 losses and 2 ties) and accumulated 693 points (of a possible 700). This record is still unmatched in the history of Canadian women’s hockey.

Canadian Pride – 1996
The still-impressive record of the Preston Rivulettes saw them inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. Captain Hilda Rancsombe would later be inducted as an individual player in 2015. Fellow LOHA players and NHL players alike credited Ranscombe as being “without a doubt the best female hockey player in the world.”

Hometown Legends – 1997
In 1997, the Preston Rivulettes were inducted as a team into the Cambridge Sports Hall of Fame. Team captain Hilda Ranscombe was inducted as an individual player the same year. When asked about her hockey accomplishments, Hilda would only say, “The whole team was the most valuable player”.

A New League – 2004
As part of the Cambridge Roadrunners Girls Hockey Association, a new Intermediate AA team known as the Cambridge Fury joined the Provincial Women’s Hockey League (PWHL).

The Rivulettes Reborn – 2012
After 8 successful seasons in the PWHL, the Cambridge Fury underwent a rebrand. Going back to their roots, the team adopted the Rivulettes name once more, and have been the Cambridge Rivulettes ever since.

Sports Legends – 2016
On February 15, 2016, the formation of the Preston Rivulettes team was named a National Historic Event. In December 2017, a Federal Historical Marker Plaque was unveiled at Preston Memorial Arena. This solidified the team’s status as Canadian Sports Legends, who opened doors for women in hockey.

Sharing Their Story – 2018
In 2018, writer and choreographer Tracey Power retold the inspirational story of the Preston Rivulettes as a live theatre production. Titled GLORY, the play takes audiences through the inaugural ten-year run of the team and their many struggles and victories. The play premiered at Western Canada Theatre in 2018 and comes to Ontario for the first time this summer. Catch it at the Thousand Islands Playhouse July 24 – August 17.

Article written by Drayton Entertainment. Photos provided by the City of Cambridge Archives Photo Collection and the Cambridge Sports Hall of Fame.

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From Page to Stage: Creating The Canadian [Entry #4]

This blog series takes you behind-the-scenes of the world premiere of The Canadian at the Thousand Islands Playhouse. 

Entry #4 is from Sophia Fabiilli, who plays Nessa in the show. 

Double-take! Spit-take! Gasp! Farce is Harder than it Looks
Have you ever seen a phenomenal stand-up comic? It looks effortless. Spontaneous. The truth is, every punchline has been carefully crafted and rehearsed a thousand times. Stand-up comedy requires huge technical skill, but a great comic makes it look easy.
The same rehearsed yet effortless magic also needs to happen in farce. Except that you add multiple actors, multiple storylines, and physical comedy that requires split-second timing.
As an actor and a playwright who adores farce, I’ve put together my top ten reasons why farce is harder than it looks – from an acting and writing perspective. Read on for behind-the-scenes insights into how we turn tedious technical work into hilarious magical mayhem.
1. Pace! Pace! Pace!
Why do farces go so fast? Think of this: sad songs are slow and heartfelt. Happy songs are fast and zippy. Farces aren’t funeral durges, my friends. They’re pretty much the exact opposite.
2. Gotta want it bad…
I’m not talking about sex (YET – KEEP READING). Someone once told me that in farce characters have such strong objectives that getting hit in the face doesn’t slow them down. Bottom line: every character must want something. And they gotta want it bad (WAIT – maybe I am talking about sex…).
3. Red Leather, Yellow Leather
Actors use tongue-twisters as warm-ups in order to execute the quickfire dialogue and hilarious banter. Playwrights must write two hours’ worth of LOL-worthy punchlines… Easy peasy lemon squeezy? It may look that way, but it’s not.
4. Mistaken Identity
A character being mistaken as someone else is a classic gag. This is tricky for the writer (to incorporate into their script plausibly) and for the actors (to portray convincingly and hopefully hilariously). Mistaken identity appears in Jason Hall’s The Canadian in two very unexpected ways… but I’m not giving them away. Mystery! Intrigue! Do you have your tickets yet?
5. Safe Violence
Farce also traditionally features lots of physical comedy (slaps, jumping over furniture, etc.) and a set with many doors (for sharp entrances and exits). All stage violence must look realistic and be 100% safe. Remember we do eight shows a week and don’t have understudies. Our fight director Zachary Counsil spent hours with us rehearsing hijinks that take mere seconds onstage.
6. Eros
I used a Greek word. Are you impressed? ‘Eros’ means love and desire and that’s what comedies are about: love and sex! (SEE? Good things come to those who wait!) The writer’s challenge is to craft eros-fueled storylines that are original. The actor’s challenge is to fully realize that budding flirtation, that steamy seduction scene, that big smooch – while always respecting their scene partners and getting consent for any and all onstage intimacies.
7. Find the funny
This is the task of the entire team. Dialogue. Stage business. Props. Costumes. Lighting. Music. Even our stage manager (the outstanding Natasha Bean-Smith) perfectly timing her cues. Every element counts! Which begs the question: how do you know what’s funniest? Well, you try it. And your director (the luminous Rob Kempson) weighs in. And you try it again. And again. And again. And again until you…
8. Lose the funny
By the time the play is fully rehearsed, it doesn’t feel funny anymore. Rehearsing a comedy in front of an empty auditorium is like singing and no sound coming out. It’s impossible to know what’s working until…
9. The audience arrives (dum dum duuuum)
If a joke works and the audience erupts into laughter, actors have to pause and wait. If there’s coughing or restlessness during a particular scene every night, that’s a sign to the writer and the team that the audience is continually losing focus and something may need to be adjusted. Audience energy, laughter, and feedback are fundamental to our understanding of what’s working and what’s not. Audiences inform everything.
10. Working against sexist tropes
Buckle up, folks. A lot of recurring jokes in classic farces don’t respect women. Ladies running around in their underwear? Male characters written as smarter than their female counterparts? Innuendo where a woman, her body, or her sexuality are the punchline? The truth is we’ve all been brought up laughing at jokes like that. As we turn a corner into our post-#MeToo world a lot of people aren’t finding those jokes so funny anymore (HUZZAH!). So, I wholeheartedly commend Jason Hall who has subverted tropes and steered clear of those tired old jokes. I think he’s done a truly admirable job at writing a feminist-approved farce for 2018 audiences. I hope you’ll take in The Canadian and see for yourself!
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From Page to Stage: Creating The Canadian [Entry #3]

This blog series takes you behind-the-scenes of the world premiere of The Canadian at the Thousand Islands Playhouse. 

Entry #3 is from set & costume designer Anna Treusch. 

Explaining my design process can be a daunting task, but no more daunting than designing a set and costumes for a new farce! With The Canadian, written by the clever Jason Hall, I had some pretty common challenges when it comes to designing a farce, like fitting a million doors onstage. But Jason also wrote in many fun new tasks for me. He writes with so much detail that the aesthetic of the world was so clear to me from the first time I read the script. The challenge was figuring out just the right layout that would accommodate all of the humorous movement his script demanded.  

Designing is never a one person task – it’s always a collaboration. It starts with the playwright and the director. I have worked with director Rob Kempson on seven shows now, and during that time we have created our own design vernacular. Rob and I touch base early in the process, months and months before we set foot in the production facility. Generally he will give me a few key things that are important to keep in mind when designing. For this show, he said that he wanted the space to feel like the cabin he lived in during his summers in Gananoque. Another important thing is movement, which is exactly what a farce demands! This means that the layout of the space must have a natural flow so that the actors have a clear path around all the furniture. Rob uses every element in the space, which means that the set had to be solid and safe for climbing, running, and falling, and most importantly he wanted some elements of surprise! I won’t reveal what those elements are, for that you will have to pop in and see for yourself…

For most of my designs, I start by doing research on themes and concepts in the script. I collect images and share them with the director, and I use the visuals that appeal to both of us to inform me of what direction to take the palette in. For The Canadian, the palette came from natural tones found in our Canadian landscape as well as the iconic red colour from the flag. Shopping and collecting things to dress this set with was so much fun because the local area has so many wonderful Canadiana items – our beloved mounted moose head was generously given to us by a local family.  

One of my favourite things about working at the Thousand Islands Playhouse is the incredible team made up of some of the best talent in Canada. From the amazing Jayne Christopher (head of wardrobe), who has been bringing costumes to this stage for years always with skill and style, to Mark Hunt (head carpenter), who has designed and built more sets than I’m sure he will admit, to Megumi Hari (scenic artist), who stays up late into the night making sure each brush stroke is just right. They are just a few of the hardworking people who brought the show to life. This company and the way it functions is so perfectly Canadian!

The Canadian is on stage at the Thousand Islands Playhouse from July 27 – August 18. 

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The Great Canadian Writing Contest

To celebrate our upcoming production of The Canadian, we are hosting a new writing contest!

We are looking for short poetry and prose inspired by your connection to Canada. The top three finalists will win a pair of tickets to The Canadian, and will have their work presented at our pre-show Cinq à Sept on August 9. The winning writer will receive a grand prize that also includes dinner and a boat cruise for two.

Send us a PDF of your Canadian-themed writing (1 page max) with your name and contact information to with the subject line: Canadian Writing Contest. DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION IS AUGUST 5.

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From Page to Stage: Creating The Canadian [Entry #2]

This blog series takes you behind-the-scenes of the world premiere of The Canadian at the Thousand Islands Playhouse. 

Entry #2 is from director Rob Kempson. 

Creating a new play truly involves a community. While the playwright is the ideas person, giving everyone else the scaffolding on which to work, the director is a bit like the driver. Now I’m just mixing metaphors…

Ultimately, the role of a director in a play development process is to offer the playwright everything that they need to tell their story most effectively. For this piece, that started with some dramaturgy (or play-doctoring); I read drafts of the play while Jason was writing, and offered him feedback and questions as he went. Jason and I have a great relationship because I have been lucky enough to develop and direct three of his plays before. For the 2015 (Rose’s Clothes), 2016 (Violet’s the Pilot), and 2017 (Daisy Amazed Me) seasons, the Young Company show was written by Jason and directed by me. We share a sense of humour and have a real fondness for potato chips and The Golden Girls. Well, maybe that’s just me. All that is to say that he and I work well together, which is an important part of play development and dramaturgy. Putting your words out into the world is hard enough on its own, let alone when someone is offering critical feedback on that writing.

Once we had a pretty good draft in place, we did a workshop of the play with actors. That process involves a lot of reading and re-reading and mini-performance in order to hear how the words land in the voices of real people. In this case, we did a three-day workshop in November with about half of this summer’s cast (and a few other actors to fill in the rest of the roles). We talked about what jokes were funny, which ones might be funnier, and where the logic in the play was a bit off. We talked about what was clear and what needed to be clearer. And we talked about how the actors were able to get ideas about their characters from the text on the page.

Ultimately, casting is of the utmost importance, but especially with a new play. Normally, I’m thinking about who is the right voice for the part, taking into account age and look and experience. With The Canadian, I’ve mostly just tried to cast the funniest people I know so that they can help us craft each laugh and make sure the audience spends most of the evening rolling in the aisles.

Design is also an important part of the new play process. Working with my incredible designers, I’ve been insistent that we focus on supporting Jason’s hilarious script. You might not know it, but every single item of clothing, piece of furniture, picture on the wall, lighting you see, and sound you hear has been crafted to best tell this story. You would be surprised how many times a designer has an idea about a hilarious prop or costume that can help us sell a joke. We are constantly looking for any element that will make this new play shine.

All of this visioning and writing and dreaming comes together on the first day of rehearsal. Once we start staging the show with the actors, and discovering new things about the script, it will continue to grow and shift until Opening Night. Rehearsal is my favourite part of putting up a new play—it’s where we find out the most about this new piece of writing, but it’s also when we have the most fun.

I’m looking forward to sharing The Canadian with everyone very soon! See you on the dock!

The Canadian is on stage at the Thousand Islands Playhouse from July 27 – August 18. 

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