Madeleine Labelle, seen here last month at Maplesfest, started at the Classic Theatre Festival as a volunteer and is now President of the Board (photo: Jean-Denis Labelle)

Madeleine Labelle, seen here last month at Maplesfest, started at the Classic Theatre Festival as a volunteer and is now President of the Board (photo: Jean-Denis Labelle)

As the Classic Theatre Festival gears up for its 6th season of professional productions of shows from the golden age of Broadway and the London Stage, there are many ways for community members to get involved.

As part of the Festival’s preparations, volunteers are being sought for a variety of rewarding opportunities to get involved with this summer’s productions, which include Neil Simon’s comedy “Barefoot in the Park” (July 10-August 2) and Frederick Knott’s “Wait Until Dark” (August 7-30). Volunteer roles include front-of-house staff, working on the painting and construction of sets (in conjunction with Stratford Festival designer Jennifer Goodman), assisting with marketing the Festival and the Town of Perth as a tourist destination, and helping out with concessions.

“We have been blessed with great volunteers who really get into the spirit of welcoming the thousands of visitors to Perth who attend the Festival each summer,” says Artistic Producer Laurel Smith. “One of the most consistent comments from those visitors is how warm and friendly our volunteers are, which leaves a great impression, and encourages repeat visits, which benefits everyone in Perth.” Those volunteers also earned the Festival top marks in the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization’s OHVation customer service program.

One of those volunteers is Madeleine Labelle, a theatre fan who began volunteering with the company in 2011 and has since become President of the organization’s Board of Directors.

“As a theatre lover, I was so excited 6 years ago when I heard that the Classic Theatre Festival was bringing professional theatre to Perth,” Labelle says. “I wanted to be part of it – and what better way than to be on the  volunteer team?   I love the experience of working in such a positive environment and meeting the patrons who come to be entertained and to have a good time. You hear such wonderful stories about people after they see a good show. They want to share what is going on in their lives, and relate it to what they just saw on stage. It makes for a lot of wonderful moments.”

Individuals who wish to volunteer can either email info@classictheatre.ca or call Labelle who, in addition to working as President, is also the volunteer coordinator, at (613) 279-1991.

Community Hours, Co-op Placements
Because the Festival is a registered charity, it can sign for the community hours required by high school students; it also offers co-op work placements during the summer. Some of the previous years’ volunteers and co-op students have gone on to find summer employment with the Festival.

This year, there’ll be a new volunteer role: that of the costumed greeter.

“We’re looking for folks who love to dress up and promote the town of Perth, and on a daily basis, they’ll be roving the streets in period costume promoting our Perth through the Ages walking tour, the Lonely Ghosts Walk, the Festival’s mainstage shows, and all the other great summer attractions Perth has to offer,” says Smith.

Hosting Actors
In addition, the Festival is still looking for a few more places where the out-of-town actors and stage managers can live for anywhere from a two-week to a six-week period over the summer. Billets provide a spare bedroom, and actors share a bathroom and kitchen (and pay for their own food) during their stay in Perth, and many close friendships have developed as a result.

While billet hosts receive a season pass for two and an invite to all Festival social gatherings and opening nights, many offer to host because of the unique experience of living with a professional performer. Some individuals have hosted performers every year since the Festival began, developing facebook friendships, following the actors in subsequent TV, film and stage roles, and often meeting their families as well.

Festival Book Sale
While the Festival does not open until July 10, there is still much activity on the horizon, including the collection of books for the summer-long sale that will benefit the Save-a-Seat program, which opens up free theatre seats to low-income members of the community.. To donate books call 264-8088 or email info@classictheatre.ca.Meantime, the Early Bird Special, which offers audience members the opportunity to enjoy a 10% discount along with the freedom to choose their dates closer to summer, is on until May 31. Tickets can be purchased at classictheatre.ca, by calling Tickets Please at (613) 485-6434, or by visiting the ticket outlet at 39 Foster Street in Perth.

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