Volume 10 Week 10

Sunday, Dec. 14


Updated March 2

Phil McNeely
Posted Nov. 21





(Posted 5:30 p.m., Dec. 4)
St. Peter Knights lose in final of Bill Wren Classic
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

St. Peter Knights centre Jordan Kirchberger lets a shot go against the St. Francis Xavier Tigers in the senior final of the Bill Wren Classic basketball tournament on Sunday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The St. Peter Knights senior boys basketball team showed why they're one of the preseason picks to go deep in the playoffs this year after they finished second at the Bill Wren Classic on the weekend.

The Knights made short work of the rest of the competition in their pool before registering a convincing 53-41 win over Rock Hanson in semi-final to earn a crack at last year's tournament champions from St. Francis Xavier High School in Mississauga in the final.

St. Pete's countered the small but quick Tigers squad with their superior size through the first two quarters and by halftime the score was tied 28-28, with Brendon Anderson accounting for 15 of the Knights' 28 points..

Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there as the Knights suddenly went ice cold. With the game tied 32-32, they failed to score on their next six trips down the floor while St. Francis went on a 15-0 run to take a commanding 47-32 lead into the final quarter.

Jordan Kirchberger eventually stopped the bleeding with a layup at the 6:18 mark of the fourth quarter that sparked a 6-0 run by the Knights, but by then it was too little, too late.

The Tigers eventually won the game 67-53. The Knights' top scorer was Anderson with 25 points, while Kirchberger finished the game with 15 points.

The Knights junior fell a game short in their quest to make the tournament final when they lost 61-45 to Immaculata who, in turn, lost St. Francis Xavier in the junior final.

The tournament hosts had a rough weekend. The St. Matt's senior team failed to make it out of their pool after going 2-1 in round robin action. The defending city champions ended up losing a tiebreaker by a single point to Rick Hanson and Louis Riel who were also 2-1 in the round robin portion of the tournament.

The high school basketball season gets underway this week with action on Tuesday and Thursday. St. Matt's will be looking to defend their AAA title, while the Knights will be gunning to regain it back after lop" HEIGHT="59">

Dick Whittington, played by Sam Stephens and Tommy the Cat played by Miranda Tofflemire prepare to set sail during the East End Theatre's traditional pantomime production of 'Dick Whittington and his Cat' on this weekend at the Orleans Theatre. Fred Sherwin/Photo

One of my favourite Christmas traditions is the East End Theatre Company’s annual pantomime production which in the past have included “Aladdin”, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, and “Mother Goose”.

This year the amateur theatre company tackles the lesser known of the traditional pantomimes "Dick Whiittington and his Cat", which is being performed this weekend at the Orléans Theatre.

Pantomime theatre dates back to Victorian England where it was a popular diversion from the drudgery of daily life. Often described as the original variety show, true pantomime is a mix of comedy, song, audience participation, slapstick humour, puns and, of course, a villain.

"Dick Whittington and his Cat" measures up on all fronts, although for my money the second half of the play during Friday night's performance was much more entertaining than the first.

During the first half of the play the audience is introduced to the main characters including Dick Whittington, who in traditional pantomime fashion is played by a female lead – in this case Orleans Young Players instructor Samantha Stephens. The role of his trusted cat Tommy is played by Miranda Tofflemire.

The other main characters include Alice Fitzwarren played by Kelsey Grady-Willett; her father Alderman Fitzwarren, played by East End Theatre veteran Peter Frayne and Captain Cockle played by Marc Barrette.

But the two key players who deserve a lot of the credit for the play's success are David Ferguson who was originally supposed to play the role of Mr. Mussel, but was pressed into double duty when Dan Ferguson, who was to have played Idle Jack, he fell ill on Thursday. But rather than have David play two separate characters, they combined the two roles into one.

The last minute revision was pulled off brilliantly as only a veteran comedic character actor like David Ferguson could have. In fact, his scene with Peter Courtney, who plays Dame Sarah Suet, in which Idle Jack is attempting to make on move on her while Captain Cockle explains to Sam Seaweed how to fix a wench, is one of the funniest things I've seen on stage in a long time.

The only thing funnier was later on in the play when Sarah who's dressed up as a slave girl, sings "I'm so excited" with the cheeky Sultan, played by Chris Mainwood. Funny doesn't even begin to describe the spectacle.

But no pantomime is worth it's salt without a dastardly villain to draw the boos and hisses from the crowd and panto veteran Ron Kok is about as dastardly as the come as the cunning and conniving King Rat.

First, King Rat tries to have Dick banished from London by making it look like Dick tried to steal a bag of gold that was supposed to be used to pay the crew and then he plots to sink the ship which is carrying rat poison to Morocco.

(How do I explain this. Alderman Fitzwarren owns the store which agrees to supply the Sultan of Morocco with rat poison in order to get of their rat problem. Dick Whittington and Tommy end up going along for the voyage after Fitzwarren realizes that Idle Jack and Sarah were tricked into planting the bag of gold in Dick's pack. All the players including Alderman Fitzwarren, Alice, Idle Jack and Sarah are part of the ship's crew. Whew!)

The scene Idle Jack Mussel, played by David Ferguson, tries to come on to Sarah Suet, played by Peter Courtney, is one of the funniest moments in the East End Theatre production of 'Dick Whittington and his Cat'. Fred Sherwin/Photo

After King Rat manages to sink the ship, they all survive but the rat poison is lost, which is where Dick and Tommy come in. Without the rat poison, it's up to the two friends to defeat King Rat and his band of rodents and rid Morocco of their pestilence. In exchange for defeating King Rat, the Sultan gives Dick half of his fortune. When the gang returns to England, Dick marries the lovely Alice and thrice becomes Lord Mayor of London.

Music is the key ingredient to any successful pantomime and "Dick Whittington and his Cat" is no exception. One of favourite moments of the play is when King Rat and fellow rodents dance to Michael Jackson's "Bad". Sam Stephens was also in fine voice during Dick's solo "If I Ruled The World" and backed up by the chorus in "Once In A Lifetime".

My only real criticism of the play was that the first half didn't quite live up to the same high standards set by the East End Theatre Company's previous panto productions, but I believe that has more to do with the pace of the script than the actual performances on stage, which were superb throughout.

The good news is that the second half of the play more than made up for the slow start. In a word, it was side-splittingly hilarious and well worth the price of admission.

Unfortunately if you want to see the play, you only have two performances left -- tonight at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee performance tomorrow (Sunday, Dec. 14 ) at 2 p.m. The Orleans Theatre is located in the old Cumberland Town Hall building on Centrum Blvd. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children.

Besides the cast members already mentioned the rest of the players include Liz Bakken as Fairy Bow Bells, Conrad Hladik as the the Town Crier, Gilles Bellefeuille as Werafez, Aidan Thies-Thompson as El Macho and Joanne Mainwood as Tuffazel.

The chorus members which at various times played the rats, the sailors, the villagers and the harem girls, included Grace Fox, Amantha Chan, Alexa Hupe, Camille Daly, Samantha Chan, Zoe Kok, Emily Nasmith, Kathleen Courtney, Page Kendall, Danica Tofflemire, Kristen Mainwood, Elias Kok, Alison Courtney, Graham Mainwood, Meghan Payant, and Emily Ouellette.

The musical accompaniment was provided by Pat Messier on organ and Troy Tofflemire on guitar. The play was directed by Diane Barnett and stage managed by Sally Osborne.

For more information about the East End Theatre Company's upcoming productions visit www.eastendtheatre.com.

Panto veteran Ron Kok (right) plays the dastardly King Rat in the East End Theatre production of 'Dick Whittington and his Cat' on this weekend at the Orleans Theatre. Fred Sherwin/Photo

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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