A Touchstone of the Port Hope Arts Community

Joe Szekeres

  • Chief Toronto Critic

Recently, a quick ten-minute pre-show discussion before a highly successful matinee performance of Fiddler on the Roof at Port Hope's Cameco Capitol Arts Centre inspired me to learn more about the indelible mark Antonio Sarmiento has left on the thriving arts community in this pretty town, about a forty-five-minute drive east of Oshawa.

He may be reluctant to call himself a touchstone, but Sarmiento is an articulate fireball of creative energy. Just from my brief introduction to him came a swirling tornado of ideas, thoughts and words with what he calls "the need not just to live in the community but to create, to contribute and to do something special".  Sarmiento believes The Capitol is recognized and respected as an innovative regional theatre now and, through further innovation and passionate drive of interested parties, it can evolve in the twenty-first century. Technological and digital advancement will allow this growth to occur.

"Northumberland County is in many ways traditional while, in other ways, growing and evolving", Sarmiento further adds. There are many professional and non-professional artists of all genres who live here, who inspire him, and those whom he hopes to inspire. Sarmiento wants to ensure these artists receive that recognition.

Along with his demanding responsibilities as Artistic Director and General Manager, Sarmiento's programme bio states Fiddler marks his twentieth production at the Capitol as Director. I was also impressed in recognizing he has hired cast members from other professional Equity based Toronto/Stratford Festival shows, and some of these individuals will return for the Capitol's next musical, Disney's The Little Mermaid, which runs August 14 - September 9, 2018.

My curiosity also peaked when I read that Canadian playwright Norm Foster appeared in a professional production of his play Jonas and Barry in the Home several weeks ago.  Dang! I'm now kicking myself I didn't make the drive to Port Hope to see this production.

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