By Dave Ferguson
The threat of a storm popping up can be a common occurrence, especially during a warm summer. But “Storm Warning”, presently announced on signs parading around the lakeside community of Port Stanley is also a reality that comes to life till September 8th on stage at the Port Stanley Festival Theatre.
“Storm Warning”, written by Norm Foster and directed by Simon Joynes, delivers a blockbuster performance - a powerfully poignant, yet humorous, love story, marvellously acted on a great set. There's a lot to like here.
Photo Courtesy Periscope Playhouse
The Periscope Playhouse players have the first performances of their premiere production, "Smart Ass", under their belts. During a Saturday evening viewing, all of the actors appeared to be putting heart and soul into their parts in Patrick Harding’s play which touches on (and sometimes trounces on) politics, romance, community and comedy in a small Port town. All of the actors, Director Jeff Rogers (who also plays one of the roles), Producer Marion Rogers, and everyone else who has supported getting the fledging group off the ground is to be congratulated.
By Dave Ferguson
As the lights come up, revealing the inside of a country home in various states of disrepair, a hand grasps the top of the couch from behind. The audience doesn’t know what to expect as the groans of agony increase while the person continues to pull themself up. Carolyn Bingham, played convincingly by Molly Kidder, now completely facing the audience, reveals her very pregnant body and is in the throes of labour.
We know from the meticulously set table in the rustic kitchen that a meal might be taking place while we may become witness to a birth.
By David J. Ferguson
If a title or caption contains the word ‘sex’ or ‘sexy’ it is a sure-fire way to add enough zip, zing and zowie to grab the attention of most. But once you have titillated the naughty side of the mind the onus is now upon the performance to deliver.
The Port Stanley Festival Theatre bares their bloomers in the breeze with the third instalment of the 2012 season as “Sexy Laundry” is displayed on the stage.
By David J. Ferguson
Elana Post & Rachel Jones
Being married for a number of years, or not being married at all, can put one in a terrible predicament when it comes to the task of dating again. Life does toss you a turn or two and when couples separate or people have never gotten immersed in a relationship, they may find it difficult to turn the page to the next chapter of their lives.
"Dating by the Book", written by Uwe Meyer, brings a calamity of dating mis-haps to the Port Stanley Festival Theatre stage from June 13th to June 30th.
Director Simon Joynes has assembled a cast whose members dovetail together fluently, appearing to the audience as though we are looking in on the private lives of Carolyn, Evelyn, Herbert, and Mark.
Waiting for a live performance to begin, members of an audience may find themselves examining the set for a good few minutes or so – some invite more curiosity than others. The set-up for Bedside Manners, with its multi-levels and many doors was intriguing and, I thought, a bit disconcerting. A short little bed predominated each side of the set and reminded me of the truncated ones often seen in historic house-museums where they point out that people used to be much shorter. And for the first few minutes of the show, those beds continued to be distracting.
However, once Bedside Manners got into full swing, the unfolding of the evening’s totally fun, farcical, entertainment obliterated that distraction. By the play’s end, one could appreciate just what an impressive job the set-designer and builders had done – creating in a small space, the bedrooms, hallways, restaurant, foyer, etc. of the seedy country inn that was the backdrop for the outrageous comings and goings of the guests.
Bedside Manners is a belly-laugh sort of show, a perfect pre-spring pick-me-up. Peter Leack plays the central character of temporary inn-keeper Ferris with remarkable energy and humour. Often-bewildered, but mainly in-command of the situation, Ferris is opportunistic but compassionate. He shines a light on both the shortcomings and more endearing qualities of each of the other characters as “husbands, wives and lovers in assorted compromising situations” storm from one deceit to another.
The rest of the cast (Harry Edison, Greg Mizon, Andrea Edison and Jayme Cannon) does a fine job of keeping up with Leack’s lead, each maintaining some likeable charm as their less admirable qualities are revealed. Sally (Andrea Edison) becomes steadily more hilarious with each gin & tonic consumed over the course of the evening.
Bedside Manners is a lot of fun, and it’s a play wherein nuances of pacing are sure to become more fine-tuned with each performance, so it is likely to become increasingly outrageous with each showing.
The cast (Andrea Edison, Greg Mizon, Peter Leack, Harry Edison & Jayme Cannon) enjoys audience approval following the Thursday February 16 preview of Bedside Manners.
Bedside Manners was written by Derek Benfield and is Directed by Barbara Warnock. It continues at the Aylmer Old Town Hall Theatre, Feb 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25 with Thur – Sat shows at 8pm and Sun show at 2pm. Find out more by calling 519-773-3372 or visiting http://www.aylmertheatre.ca/.
The Princess Avenue Playhouse made full use of their new sound system this past weekend with performances by Quartette Friday, and by popular local entertainers, The Sheridan Band on Saturday and Meg Barber McTaggart on Sunday.
The Quartette show, sold out well in advance of Friday’s engagement, was also a celebration of the many improvements made possible by a generous donation from the estate of Dorothy Palmer. The gift has enabled the theatre to make upgrades to roof, stained glass, sound system, stage and more.
Executor Andrew Gunn was on hand Friday evening to present a plaque commemorating Dorothy Palmer’s donation. Elgin Theatre Guild president Peter Leack noted the Guild’s delight with the help - upgrades which had been planned to take place over the next several years, have suddenly been possible in a matter of months.
Andrew Gunn highlighted the last sentence from the plaque, “Let members of the Elgin Theatre Guild and all others who perform here do so secure in the belief that music and theatre are significant parts of what constitutes the good life in this community.”
Members of the four-woman Quartette and their excellent back-up musicians presented a line-up Christmas music which showed off their rich harmonies, and also demonstrated just how superb that new sound system is.
At show’s end, Quartette member Sylvia Tyson complimented the quality of the theatre for music, noting that in their travels over several years Quartette has found that such lovely, small venues are becoming fewer in number. She reminded the audience how important it is for the community to give the Playhouse its on-going support.
The Sheridan Band
Here is the full text from the new commemorative plaque.2011-2012
The renewal and restoration of the Princess Ave. Playhouse was made possible by a very generous donation from the Estate of Dorothy Fay Palmer (1925-2010).
A graduate of St. Thomas Collegiate Institute, Dorothy Palmer taught elementary school children in Eden, Sparta, and at Myrtle Street School in St. Thomas. An accomplished pianist and singer, she particularly enjoyed her role as music instructor in the schools and as a member of church and community choirs. Mrs. Palmer lived her whole life as a resident of Elgin County.
Let members of the Elgin Theatre Guild and all others who perform here do so secure in the belief that music and theatre are significant parts of what constitutes the good life in this community.
For more about the Elgin Theatre Guild and upcoming shows, visit www.elgintheatreguild.ca