In 1981 Dr. Margaret Arkinstall had a vision of putting together a musical theatre group that would perform Gilbert and Sullivan productions. She discussed her idea with Ron Stoneman who also was a Gilbert and Sullivan lover and they decided to forge ahead to see what the outcome would be. With a quick announcement in church they saw the beginning of what is now a thriving and exciting theatre group. The group first performed in the basement of the Queensville United Church to sold out houses with standing room only. After the first couple of years the productions were moved to Newmarket to a place called Greenacres, which had a beautiful auditorium with a larger capacity to hold audiences. By this time the group had reached into the Broadway Musical shows. Their first large scale musical was Oklahoma. The group continued to grow and there was a very definite need in the community to move forward.
In 1985 the Town of Georgina decided to build a lovely theatre in their town midst and in 1987 the Queensville Players took their show of “The Mikado” on the road to the Keswick venue. It was very well received. Since that time the Q.P. have called The Stephen Leacock theatre in Keswick their home. Over the years we have seen many changes. As in all groups cast come and go but many come back over and over again. Open auditions are held for all of our productions and never is there a pre-casting of leads. The groups motto is “Bringing Quality Music to York Region” and we try our very best to do exactly that. We do two major musical productions a year.
As with most groups fund raising is a huge part of our mandate and with the strong leadership from our volunteers we have been very successful over the years.
For 5 years we ran a weekly T.V.bingo to raise funds for the group, along with many alternate fundraisers as well. Volunteers are so necessary to keep a group healthy and well and we are always looking for people to help out in many capacities. From this venture the group donated to the Keswick High School on its opening in June of 2001 – $1,000.00. This amount was to be held in trust and over the next 5 years disbursed as bursaries to a young adult moving into a community college or university course involving the arts. We have just attended another graduation and handed out the bursary to a very happy graduate.
Dr. Margaret has now passed on but her memory will live in our minds and activities forever. She was a hard worker who was recognized by receiving The Order of Canada prior to her death and we are very lucky to have had her as part of our group. Thanks Dr. Margaret for taking the initiative to form this wonderful, fun loving group!!
Her talents were many and remarkable. The lives she touched and healed are too numerous to count. We will miss her sharp wit, her intelligence, her tenacity, her decency and her grace.