Debra McGrath and Colin Mochrie, hosts of the Stratford Signature Series, walk through the city Stratford together as part of the show. The Stratford Signature Series is raising money for an arts and culture centre in Stratford and also features performan
There is no doubting the rich artistic energy residing in Stratford and beginning this Saturday, the Stratford Arts and Culture Collective (SACC) in partnership with Ballinran Entertainment is celebrating that special energy.
Hosted by improv comedy icons Debra McGrath and Colin Mochrie, the approximately two-hour virtual concert combines music, comedy, and conversation. Stratford Signatures features Stratford musicians Loreena McKennitt, Marcus Nance accompanied by Franklin Brasz, and Anika and Brita Johnson. Stratford Signatures also will treat you to conversations with the artists led by Canadian actor and director Graham Abbey.
Ron Dodson is the co-chair of the SACC and he said he believes viewers will get a lot out of the event. "First of all, you're going to get a great evening of entertainment," Dodson told the Independent. "You can also get intellectual stimulation. It'll make people think. The conversations and the music will make them moved." Dodson also noted the world premiere of a song called "I Can't Breathe" that Marcus Nance will be performing, which Dodson said left him with tears in his eyes.
The event's purpose, beyond providing an incredible cache of entertainment, is to help see through the SACC's mission to build an arts and culture centre in Stratford. The centre would be a home for events from dance competitions to expanded symphony performances to roadshows, and everything in between. It would be a versatile arts and culture space that could provide first-class facilities for any type of arts event.
With the ongoing pandemic, the SACC had to find a different way to present the event. That is where the partnership with Ballinran Entertainment came in. Ballinran is a Stratford-based film and television production company founded in 1995 by Craig Thompson, who also spoke to the Independent about their work on the event and why it's important. "It's purpose really, is to shine the light on Stratford's incredible talent and why you should come back and visit Stratford when you're allowed to."
Although not from Stratford, Debra McGrath and Colin Mochrie fell in love with the city and have made annual visits to Stratford for many years. When they were asked to participate in the Stratford Signature Series, they didn't have to think about it too long. "We wanted to do it because, well, why wouldn't you want to do it?" McGrath told the Independent. "It just checked all the boxes of things we wanted to do," added Mochrie. "Focus on the artists, focus on Stratford. Focus on the Knox [Presbyterian Church]."
McGrath and Mochrie also mentioned how important the arts are, especially over the last year, and why they believe people should buy a ticket for the Series. "Pride of community, right off the bat," said McGrath, with Mochrie adding, "It's a way to support world-class talent that is from this area. People you can take pride in. People whose talents you can readily enjoy."
"And for younger people watching it," McGrath concluded, "It's a reminder you come from any small town, anywhere, and you think 'Oh, I can't', and it reminds you, 'Yes, you can', so keep going and keep trying."
The Stratford Signature Series premieres Saturday, June 19th, and for just $35, can be viewed online until June 27th. The program is available on-demand so you can watch it whenever and however you choose. For tickets and more information, go to stageview.ca/stratfordsignatures. Stratford Signatures is being hosted on stageview.ca, a new national digital arts streaming platform developed and launched earlier this year by Ballinran Entertainment.
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