Mariposa Arts Theatre Hosts Anniversary Celebration And Exhibit

Mariposa Arts Theatre
Photo courtesy of Joan Mizzi-Fry

Did you know, that for more than 50 years, Mariposa Arts Theatre (MAT) has staged 150 live productions ranging from Chicago to Shakespeare to The Wizard of Oz? Join us to relive popular productions as we celebrate our golden anniversary.

Orillia’s arts and culture scene is the beating heart of the Sunshine City, and Mariposa Arts Theatre has established a legacy as one of the premiere performing arts organizations in the region. MAT is a community theatre located in Orillia, offering entertainment for audiences of all ages. Be it performances at the historic Orillia Opera House or the intimate stage at the Mariposa Arts Theatre Centre, community members spanning generations have had the opportunity to be part of highly acclaimed productions that audiences still talk about today.

According to Producer Phyllis Johnson, MAT is a success story in itself. “With more than 150 productions to choose from, it was hard to select a few songs or skits to really share the wide range of productions,” Johnson said. “The cast is an impressive variety of age and experience.

“They not only want to sing their favourite character’s song but are loving the opportunity to sing out the outstanding ensemble numbers from many different musicals with old and new friends. You may not have been in Fiddler on the Roof, but who doesn’t want the chance to sing ‘To Life’? The sound is unbelievable, there’s also funny skits, tons of photos, and when you put it all together, it will be a magical night of entertainment.”

During any time in MAT’s history, musicals are a welcomed distraction and are among MAT’s most successful productions.

“We are honoured to have Blair Bailey as the musical director,” Johnson said. “He has more than 30 years of experience in a wide range of productions. Add Sheri Nicholls as the choreographer and Stevie Baker as the stage manager, we have a winning combination for a memorable experience.”

How many theatrical groups can boast multi-generational cast members? Director Michael Clipperton says this is a family affair and so much more.

“Included in the cast are three members of one family: John Jefferies, well-known to MAT audiences for his many roles over the years; his son, David, best-known as Captain Von Trapp and Emile deBeque; and his grand-daughter, Bella Frances, who received a THEA award for her performance in Urinetown in 2019,” Clipperton said. “There are so many others who round out our brilliant cast and crew. I highly recommend everyone check out our website for more details.”

Recently elected MAT President Stevie Baker envisions the next generation of MAT supporters and audiences will have an even brighter future. “MAT’s ongoing growth and welcoming culture is integral to encouraging future theatre artists to participate in productions for another 50 years”.

MAT’s fiscal and creative success has benefitted other organizations, including the historic Orillia Opera House, as well as supporting bursaries for Orillia-based high school students. One of MAT’s key fundraising events is the monthly Film Night screenings. For more than 18 years, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) entries have been screened at the local Cineplex cinema.

It was the sizeable financial proceeds from these screenings that enabled MAT to fulfill its own lifelong dream of owning its own theatre space. In 2006, the Mariposa Arts Theatre Group’s custom-built rehearsal/performance hall was ready for its own “closeup.”

Located at 12 Brammer Drive in north Orillia, the intimate 43-seat theatre offers theatregoers from across Simcoe County, Muskoka and even the GTA world-class live entertainment within a short drive from their home or cottage.

MAT’s success is also attributed to the generous support of local sponsors. Community-minded businesses ranging from real estate companies and restaurants to law firms and retail outlets have offered support in the form of either financial contributions or with goods and services. Plus, MAT received a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to improve the warehouse space facility.

You’re invited to our Anniversary Party!

The Orillia Museum of Art and History has a new special exhibit 50 Years of Mariposa Arts Theatre. This unique interactive exhibit features playbills, props, costumes and more from MAT’s productions. The exhibit runs until Jan. 6, 2024.

Please join us for a complimentary open house and anniversary party social with food, festivities and lots of memories on Saturday, Nov. 11 from 1 to 5 p.m. Celebrations will take place inside the MAT Centre at 12 Brammer Drive in Orillia.

We’ll reminisce about the good times, anyone and everyone can bring in memorabilia (and/or take a poster home with you!) at the Take A Memory Leave a Memory section, and we’ll all cheers to a great future in this thriving community!

Interested in attending? Help us plan for numbers click here to submit a quick RSVP.

MAT’s 50th(ish) Anniversary Musical Production is sure to be a nostalgic look back at some of MAT’s great highlights as well as an inspiring look at the company’s future. Don’t miss your chance to see this unique show! Tickets are $30 and can be purchased through the Orillia Opera House Box Office, online at or by phone at 705-326-8011. Group Rates are available for groups of 10. Call the box office to book.

This article was submitted by the Mariposa Arts Theatre and lightly edited for clarity.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here