Our history

Theatre Orangeville has a rich history.

Once upon a time, in 1993... wait. You know what would be better? We’ll show you.


Orangeville Town Hall and Market Hall in the early 1900s
The Town Hall and Market Hall, from a postcard which is post-marked 1907

This is where the story begins. Originally built in 1875, the Opera House is located on the second floor of the Orangeville Town Hall.


Theatre Orangeville

More than one hundred years later, The Opera House was fully restored—and a dream was born.


Founding Artistic Director Jim Betts' first message to future audiences in 1994
Founding Artistic Director Jim Betts' invitation to join him for the inaugural season in 1994

Founded by Jim Betts, Theatre Orangeville is established as a fully professional summer theatre, incorporated, with charitable status.

Together with the Orangeville Banner, we released a commemorative publication to mark the occasion entitled “Let the Show Begin”.

Featuring a message from Betts, articles on the Young Company, the restoration of the theatre, and more, this edition is a treasured artifact in our history.

Read “Let the Show Begin” in full.


Theatre Orangeville Youth Singers with Donny Osmond in 1997
T.O.Y.S. in 1997 with Donny Osmond

The Theatre Orangeville Youth Singers (TOYS) launched! TOYS has been bringing young people together to bask in the joy of choral singing ever since.

One highlight, not too long after its founding, was when the TOYS of 1997 sang with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat star Donny Osmond in the Toronto production.


Artistic Director David Nairn's first message to Theatre Orangeville patrons
Artistic Director David Nairn's first message at the beginning of the 6th season

A magical year of change. We welcomed new Artistic Director David Nairn.

We also transitioned from a summer theatre to a regional theatre, programming our season from September through May.


We established our New Play Development Fund, which solidified funding for one of our core mission tenets: develop and showcase original Canadian works.


We partnered with our friends at Community Living Dufferin on several major projects: the Creative Partners on Stage Program and the Dream Factory (more on that later!).

Creative Partners on Stage (CPOS) is a theatre program designed specifically for adults with neuro-diversities.

Theatre Orangeville Creative Partners on Stage putting their hands into a circle to cheer in the production of School for Superheroes
Creative Partners on Stage actors in School for Superheroes

The actors work with our directors and choreographers to develop two original scripts each year, fully supported by our professional production team and the accredited support workers of Community Living Dufferin.

There is nothing quite like C.P.O.S. anywhere in Canada and it happens here at your theatre!


Theatre Orangeville Exceptional Players in the rehearsal hall
Theatre Orangeville Exceptional Players in the rehearsal hall, playing theatre games

We partnered with our friends at Dufferin Child & Family Services to establish the Theatre Orangeville Exceptional Players (TOEP) program.

TOEP is a skills-based theatre program using theatre games, music and improv for youth with neuro-diversities.


Two major events happened in 2010: 

The Dream Factory opened—complete with our new rehearsal hall, workshop, and storage facility. Finally, we had everything under one roof, and a permanent home for our Academy programming.

Theatre Orangeville rehearsal hall
Theatre Orangeville Dream Factory and Community Living Dufferin's new home

The front of the building serves as Community Living Dufferin's home.

In the middle of the building, we have our beautiful rehearsal hall (which doubles as a black box theatre!) and a green room. This is where the magic happens when we are rehearsing a new show, running our Academy programs, or developing new works.

At the back of the building, we have our workshop and storage. That's where we make all of our sets (and sets for other theatres!). We also store costumes and props for future shows.

We also launched our Playwright-in-Residency program. With this program, we took our commitment to developing new Canadian works to the next level.


Funded by Canadian Heritage, we completely renovated the theatre and lobby with a focus on accessibility, high-efficiency lighting, and improved functionality.

South windows exposed during renovations in the theatre
The southern windows of the Opera House exposed for the first time in a long time

First, we removed everything. Like a good spring cleaning, but... more.

A completely bare auditorium during renovations of Theatre Orangeville
A completely bare theatre 🤯

Next, we built the new bones of the theatre. Hello wheelchair-accessible ramped floor; hello LED fixtures (we replaced over 90% of the incandescent instruments!); hello back rows with phenomenal visibility of the stage.

The new structure being built during Theatre Orangeville renovations in 2013
Glimpse of the underlying structure for the new ramped theatre and stepped back seats

Finally—skipping hundreds of steps in between the previous step and now—we arrived at our current theatre. Beautiful, functional, and accessible... isn't she gorgeous? 😍

Completed Theatre Orangeville renovations in 2013
Renovations complete!


We collaborated with our local women's shelter, Family Transition Place, and 12 community members to present Rage Against Violence.

Rage Against Violence, written by Gary Kirkham & Dwight Storring, is a powerful, poignant performance offering a theatrical glimpse into the real-life stories of women who have experienced domestic violence.

We want to credit Women’s Crisis Service of Waterloo Region as the original commissioning agency.


The year of youth-powered goodness. We re-invigorated our Theatre for Young Audiences show, touring professional theatre into over 20 schools.

In the summer, our Young Company inaugurated the waterfront stage at Island Lake with a smashing production of J.M. Barrie's classic Peter Pan, directed by Daniel Reale.

Theatre Orangeville Young Company actors carrying the crocodile puppet in a production of Peter Pan
Young Company actors with a crocodile puppet

In fact, Peter Pan won the Creative Cultural Event of the Year award at the Mayor's Breakfast for the Arts!


In the Toronto Fringe Festival's first-ever partnership outside of the Greater Toronto Area, we launched FRINGEnorth(519). Two brilliant plays, at two fantastic venues, in two marvellous, theatre-filled days.

A performance of a Fringe show at Fringe North 519
Artistic Director David Nairn introduces performers during FRINGEnorth(519)
A performance of a Fringe show at Fringe North 519
Performance at FRINGEnorth(519)
A performance of a Fringe show at Fringe North 519
Performance at FRINGEnorth(519)


In celebration of our 25th year, we created the largest-scale production in Theatre Orangeville history.  

The phenomenal cast included actors from the Young Company, the Creative Partners on Stage (CPOS) program, local actors, aspiring actors, and professional actors together on the same stage for the first time in the theatre’s 25-year history. Joining the cast were members of the Orangeville Show Chorus.

The Players perform their side-splitting, terrible play in Theatre Orangeville's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2019
The Players performing their side-splitting play in A Midsummer Night's Dream

With a stunning set designed by Brian Ball, Jennifer Lennon’s beautiful lighting design, and stunning costumes by Wendi Speck, A Midsummer Night’s Dream transformed the waterfront amphitheatre at Island Lake Conservation Area.

Audiences watch Theatre Orangeville's A Midsummer Night's Dream
A large audience enjoying The Dream at the Island Lake amphitheatre

It was a once-in-a-lifetime production on a massive scale: a 24-person cast, a 30-person choir, and a giant 60-foot outdoor stage.

This production celebrated the community, and was only made possible by the incredible level of community collaboration.

An excellent example of the communal effort to create this show: the 800+ mushrooms in the fairy ring were hand-painted by cast, crew, and community members at the Orangeville Farmer’s Market over four weeks.

A little snapshot of the mushroom adventure!


Over the course of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we produced over 20 virtual productions and programs. Yes. Not even a global health crisis could stop us from making world-class theatre.

While many theatres hit pause, Theatre Orangeville’s team pivoted and immediately started thinking: “If we can’t have our community come to the theatre, how can we bring the theatre to our community?”

Videographer Sara May filming a ghost light on stage in an orange spotlight
Sara May, videographer, working on Phantoms of the Opera House

We brought new talent to our team and explored multiple ways to deliver the same artistic excellence to our community in the safety of their own homes.


After 585 days without a live audience, we launched a sensational summer series of one-man plays.

Featuring Mark Crawford in Chase the Ace and Cassel Miles in Josiah, our summer series was safely held outdoors at the beautiful Mount Alverno Luxury Resorts.

Chase the Ace and Josiah posters
Chase the Ace by Mark Crawford, directed by Miles Potter
Josiah by Charles Robertson, starring Cassel Miles

Distanced, masked, and outside, with rapid-tested performers—we brought live theatre back to Dufferin County in a safe, responsible way.

Social distancing sign from Theatre Orangeville's summer series
A slightly cheeky social distancing sign


Thanks, COVID. We took what we learned from the first year of the pandemic and decided it would be good idea to future-proof.

The result? StageTOScreen. Combining theatre-on-demand and live-streaming productions, StageTOScreen embraces the hybrid approach we perfected over the pandemic.

StageTOScreen logo on multiple posters of available content


  • Able to join us in-person? Watch our world-class shows in the theatre.
  • Unable to join us in-person? Watch our world-class shows live from home.
  • Wanna watch theatre? Watch on-demand at anytime, from anywhere.

If that ain’t magic, we don’t know what is.