The future meets the past as Orillia Opera House goes digital

Updates underway at the Orillia Opera House blend a dash of the old with the new as the local landmark goes digital while seeking to retain its original charm.

Work is beginning on the outside of the historic building as crews install slate roof tiles and added structural support. The project is designed to enhance the theatre’s presence and make it more reminiscent of the original style, mirrored in the two turrets repaired in 2014.

In addition to exterior improvements, council through its 2021 budget process invested in video-streaming technology to support the delivery of virtual programming.

“’We don’t think livestreaming of theatre is going anywhere after the pandemic is over and are now able to offer our clients an alternative to in-person events, or a hybrid event where people can view online or in person,” said general manager Wendy Fairbairn.

The roof renovations, meanwhile, are part of the ongoing Orillia Opera House Conservation Plan to maintain the historic presence of the red-brick building that has played host to a who’s who of world-class performers over the years, among them hometown troubadour Gordon Lightfoot.

Scaffolding has been installed and will remain in place during construction, but access to the box office and visitor information services and entrance will not be impacted, the city said. It is anticipated the work will take two months to complete.

Mayor Steve Clarke described the downtown theatre as one of Orillia’s “greatest historical landmarks,” adding it remains a source of pride for residents and a destination for visitors.

“Equipping the theatre with video-streaming technology and updates to the exterior of the opera house will help keep this premiere facility current while maintaining its historic integrity as we continue to work towards post-pandemic recovery efforts for our community,” Clarke said.

The public response to the return of live events “has been resounding,” said Fairbairn. “We look forward to continuing to offer both types of events at the quality that has come to be expected at the Orillia Opera House.”

Information about the fall lineup is available at .