The play that goes wrong – Mariposa Arts Theatre

By Shannon Hawke

Rehearsal The Play That Goes Wrong Mariposa Arts Theatre

“The show must go on!” and in Mariposa Arts Theatre’s upcoming production, The Play That Goes Wrong, the statement has never been more true. 

Running at the Orillia Opera House from February 8th to 18th, this murder mystery turns into a comedy of errors with disastrously hilarious results. A play-within-a-play, it’s the opening night of the Cornley Drama Society’s 1920s whodunnit, The Murder at Haversham Manor, but the show takes an unexpected turn as it starts to unravel. What do you do with an unconscious leading lady? Actors who can’t remember their lines? And where on earth is Winston?

Part Sherlock Holmes, part Monty Python, The Play That Goes Wrong is an Olivier Award winning production, written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields, and presented by MAT in arrangement with Dramatists Play Service under license from Mischief Worldwide Ltd.

Bringing it to the Mariposa Arts Theatre and the Orillia Opera House stage has been a creatively satisfying, albeit daunting, task. Director Dave Graham has been performing and directing with Mariposa Arts Theatre for 40 years and was excited to jump into this show, “I haven’t directed a MAT show since 2019 and had been looking to get back into it.  When I saw the title, I felt like that was my kind of show –  something silly and farcical.” 

Mariposa Arts Theatre Rehearsal

The antics ramp up with an incredible cast of local actors. Some familiar faces to Mariposa Arts Theatre include Ian Munday, Josh Halbot, Laura Bainborough, Samantha Cole and Spencer Hipwell. The show has also brought on some newcomers to MAT including Matthew Peart, Shannon Howes, and Kristen Jones. The show’s superstar team of understudies, Peter Merkle, Mike Frustaci, Savana Collier and Veronica van Muyen, add their own hilarious flare and will be on center stage during the run’s Thursday, February 15th performance.

“The highlight of the rehearsal process has been marvelling at the creativity and imagination of the cast and the crew,” says Graham, “So much of this show is dependent on the cast’s willingness to be open to try different (usually silly!!) things, and on the crew’s support and ingenuity.  It’s been such a joy to work with such an open-minded team.” 

One of MAT’s most technically challenging shows to date, the production and stage crew have been working miracles to bring the comedy to the stage alongside the acting troupe. Graham teases the masterful work happening behind the scenes, “but I can’t give a lot of things away! I just know that you’re going to laugh some of those winter blahs away. When you discover the secrets behind Brian Halbot’s set design and the performances of this talented cast, get ready for a bit of mystery, and a whole lot of silly!”

For more information and tickets, visit or call the Orillia Box Office at 705-326-8011. Group rates are available where you can save $5 on each ticket for 10 or more tickets. Offer available through phone sales only. 

Please note that the Orillia Opera House is undergoing an elevator renovation during the run of this production and the Gordon Lightfoot Auditorium will not be fully accessible. For more information please contact the Orillia Opera House Box Office. 

Photos courtesy of Through My Eyes – Photography by Deb Halbot