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Edmonton Fall Theatre Guide

The stage has been set for another great theatre season! From provocative, edge-of-your seat dramas to rolling-in-the-aisles comedies, Edmonton’s diverse theatre scene has something for everyone.

The cast of Die-Nasty: An Improvised Soap Opera

The cast of Die-Nasty: An Improvised Soap Opera

Varscona Theatre

Soap-a-Thon
September 13 – 15
To preview the return of Edmonton’s legendary Die-Nasty improvised soap opera show, this marathon 50-hour long show features continuous improv performances from cast members (most of them going without sleep!) for an entire weekend. You can come-and-go throughout the performance, though you can bet things get the most zany around the wee hours of the morning!

Whiplash Weekend
October 10 – 20
What do an award winning swimmer, a race car driver, and a serial divorcee have in common? They’re all characters in this hilarious situational comedy! Set in 1966, this play depicts the antics, misguided romantic pursuits, and vengeful plots that unfold during an unforgettable weekend in Cape Cod. Presented by Teatro La Quindicina.

Mayfield Dinner Theatre

A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline
September 6 – November 3
This musical tribute follows the career of Patsy Cline, one of the biggest legends of country music, from her humble beginnings in small town Virginia to the big time playing Carnegie Hall in New York. Featuring 20 of her biggest hits including “Crazy”, “Walkin’ After Midnight”, and “Sweet Dreams”, this story of a powerful woman with an unforgettable voice is a delight for audiences of all ages.

A Conversation with Van Wilmott, Artistic Director at Mayfield Theatre

Where Edmonton (WE): What is your vision for the production of A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline?

Van Wilmott (VW): To make it as good of a production as it can be. It has all the prerequisites of a great show. Great music, and a good book.

WE: How are you making it accessible for those who might be unfamiliar with her story or her music?

VW: The show is very accessible. If an audience member is not familiar with the bulk of the material that is being presented in the show, they are in for a real treat. The music is bright and catchy with a  lot of tap along kinds of songs, and of course she has the huge hit “Crazy” maybe one of the greatest popular songs of all time!!

WE: What about the show do you think will most intrigue fans of Patsy Cline who have already heard her music and her story?

VW: If on the other hand you are a Patsy fan, you will know every song and will just sit back  and be amazed at how well Sarah Jeanne  Hosie delivers them. That’s no easy task. Patsy Cline has one of the greatest voices ever recorded, and Sara Jeanne nails it !The show is also very well balanced with comedy, resting in the very capable hands of the character Little Big Man, played by the equally amazing Sheldon Bergstrom. The combination of the two make for a great night out!

WE: Do you have a particular favourite song/number in the show?

VW: As far as a favourite song,Im going to have to go with “Crazy”. They just don’t get much better than that!

WE: This year’s lineup of shows features comedy, drama, and musicals. What do you think all good theatre presentations should strive to do well, regardless of genre? What do you keep in mind regardless of whether you’re directing a drama, comedy, musical, etc?

VW: Telling a good story. Every good play of any genre does that. It is our job to make sure that the  production is engaging and entertaining. The audience needs to be invested in it. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a comedy, tragedy, musical  or drama, it comes down to good story telling. It’s very important to get the right people involved. Every production is a different animal , and requires an ensemble with a variety of talents, whether they are actors or designers, directors, or musicians. It’s a bit of a job to get that sorted out at the beginning but it’s a huge step into getting it right!

Citadel Theatre

Long Day’s Journey Into Night
September 21 – October 13
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Eugene O’Neill, this moving, emotional play explores the day in a life of a dysfunctional family affected by addiction, resent, and loss.

Daisy Theatre
September 28 – November 17
Originally performed at Toronto’s renowned annual Luminato Festival, this cabaret-style theatre show blends improv, variety acts, music, monologues, short plays — and puppets! Inspired by underground theatre “daisy” puppet shows that were performed in secret during World War II, the mostly-improvised show means that not two performances will be the same — yet they will all be hilarious, a little bit ridiculous, and a lot of fun.

2 Pianos 4 Hands
October 26 – November 17
This hilariously silly musical comedy details the story of two young boys working towards concert pianist stardom. It has been performed 4,000 times around the world since 1996, and now the shows original stars Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt are back to perform in the farewell tour.

A Conversation with Bob Baker, Artistic Director at Citadel Theatre

Where Edmonton (WE):  The 2013-14 season includes a wide variety of themes and genres. What do you think is one thing that all good theatre presentations should strive to do well, regardless of genre? What do you keep in mind regardless of whether you’re directing a drama, comedy, musical, etc?

Bob Baker (BB): No matter what genre or style of play (comedy, drama, musical, classical, contemporary), it is essential that the play connects with an audience on an emotional level. Everything has relevance if it is truthful. The audience comes to see a story and to see themselves reflected from the stage. If the actors have integrity and emotional honesty, the audience will care about their characters, engage in their journey and experience a variety of emotions.

WE: In regards to the first play of the season, Long Day’s Journey Into Night: This play has won prestigious Tony and Pulitizer awards for excellence in writing and performance. What about this makes it easier and/or more difficult to direct — how do you preserve what is perhaps inherently excellent about the play while still allowing room to make it your own unique adaptation?

BB: Our job is to bring life to the playwright’s vision. Initially, it is daunting to take on a Great Masterwork because of its history and massive preconceptions. But these plays are great because the author, with great skill and humanity, has told a compelling story and created emotionally and psychologically complex characters. If we, the interpreters, passionately commit ourselves to truth and honesty in portraying these characters, we will have created a unique and relevant experience.

Jubilations Dinner Theatre

Best of Friends Reunion
September 1 – October 27
What if Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross — the characters from the beloved TV show Friends — reunited, 10 years after their show ended? Set to hit songs from the 1990s, this fun musical is your chance to catch up with the gang!

In the time since we last saw six of our favourite “Friends,” Monica’s decided to buy Central Perk and turn it into a restaurant, Joey and Phoebe are married (or so they say), and Rachel is not convinced Ross is putting his best effort into the relationship. The humour characteristic of the popular 90s sitcom is revived in this musical with “flashback” re-creations of classic Friends moments (including the time Monica and Rachel lose their apartment), new silly shenanigans, and plenty of catchy 90s songs (I was hoping to hear a Spice Girls number and, to my delight, there were two!) Dinner is served one course at a time, starting with soup, salad, and bread, followed by a choice of one of four entrees, and finishing with dessert. You may recognize some “friends” wandering around the dining area before the show begins; don’t be surprised if Rachel wants to gossip about Monica, or if Joey attempts to get your phone number. The actual stage show takes place in between courses, which makes for a nicely paced evening of good food and entertainment. Fans of the series will enjoy how well the actors convey the mannerisms of the characters (they must have watched several episodes of the show in preparation; hard work!), and love the throwbacks to favourite episodes. If you weren’t familiar with the original sitcom, this show has a lot of situational humour and a lot of quirky, fun moments that can be enjoyed without further knowledge of the show.

Walterdale Playhouse

Dracula
October 16 – 26
This lyrical adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic novel is provocative, whimsical, and chilling. The vengeful creatures in this story are definitely not the Twilight kind of vampires!

 

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