ENTERTAINMENT: Big things at Festival Antigonish
ANTIGONISH: Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre will raise the curtain on its 31st season this week, with the opening of Lunenburg by Norm Foster.
Lunenburg opened on July 4. The show is directed by Sharon Bajer and it stars Gordon Gammie, Michelle Piller, and Laura Teasdale.
The play is a charming comedy. When Iris and her best friend Natalie arrive in Lunenburg from their home in Maine, they find an unpleasant surprise. Recently widowed, Iris has discovered that her husband had a house in this beautiful Nova Scotian town. The charismatic neighbour, Charlie, fills in the gaps of the mystery while romantic sparks fly between him and Natalie. With lots of laughs, warmth, and relatable characters, Lunenburg is a smart and subtle comedy that is sure to please.
This play features a friendship between two strong female characters, played by Antigonish native Laura Teasdale and Nova Scotia newcomer Michelle Piller. The charming, funny-guy-next-door is played by festival favourite Gordon Gammie. The script alternates between laugh-out-loud lines, and moments that are real and poignant. The story engages the audience right from the opening scene as the mystery is revealed and the relationships between the characters develop.
Playwright Norm Foster has been the most widely produced Canadian playwright every year for the past 20 years. Foster’s plays are known mainly for their comedic qualities, but they are not without their serious moments as well. He has had several plays published by Playwright’s Union Press, including Sinners, The Melville Boys, The Affections of May, The Motor Trade, Wrong For Each Other, Opening Night, The Foursome, On a First Name Basis and Ethan Claymore. He has also had his work published in various compilation volumes such as Vintage Foster and The Foster Season.
Foster’s plays have been consistent best-sellers at the Festival Antigonish box office, and organizers say that advance ticket sales for Lunenburg are already going fast.
Director Sharon Bajer is an actress, playwright and director based in Winnipeg. At past seasons of Festival Antigonish, Sharon has directed Outside Mullingar and Run for Your Wife, and has appeared in Molly’s Veil (also written by her) and Boeing Boeing (for which she was nominated for a Merritt Award for Best Supporting Actress). Recently Sharon directed Fly Me to the Moon and Little Thing, Big Thing for Prairie Theatre Exchange, The Best Brothers for Western Canada Theatre and Theatre Northwest and she has appeared as an actress in Kill Me Now at the National Arts Centre and Hand to God for the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, for which she won Best Actress – Winnipeg Theatre Awards 2017.
The theme for the 2018 season of Festival Antigonish is “Life on Stage.” The Main Stage series includes four plays, all running in repertory. Set to open after Lunenburg is Path Productions’ Being Hank & Patsy, a tribute to country music icons Patsy Cline and Hank Williams, created by Laura Teasdale. The musical theme continues with Burnin’ Love by Sharon Bajer, a madcap and music-filled comedy with heartstrings and wild rides, and Elvis! Capping the Main Stage series is the Canadian Premiere of Hope and Gravity by Michael Hollinger, a brilliant and profound comedy about fate. The Family Stage presents Big Sister, Little Brother by Mike Kenny, a fast-paced and funny play that is fun for all ages.
The acting company for the summer includes Gillian Clark, Gordon Gammie, Henricus Gielis, Michelle Piller, Christian Murray, Gina Thornhill, and Sam Vigneault. Directors for the season are Andrea Boyd, Sharon Bajer and Richie Wilcox. Designers for the season include Ian Pygott (set and lighting) and Emlyn Murray (costumes).
The 2018 season for Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre is dedicated to the memory of actor, director and beloved Antigonish native Ronald Lionel “Buddy” Doucette, who passed away suddenly in February 2018.
Tickets are available online (any time) and at the Bauer Theatre box office (10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Monday – Saturday). A complete schedule and show details can be found on-line at: www.festivalantigonish.com or by calling (902) 867-3333.