Sis­ters do­ing it for the big win

Calgary Sun - - SHOWBIZ - louis b. hob­son

Life can be a se­ries of lit­tle lot­ter­ies if only you’ll ac­knowl­edge them.

The lat­est lot­tery win for ac­tor Gabrielle Jones is her role as Ger­maine Lau­zon in the tour­ing pro­duc­tion of the smash Quebec mu­si­cal Sis­ters: The Belles Soeurs Mu­si­cal play­ing at The­atre Cal­gary un­til Nov. 4.

This is the English ver­sion of the mu­si­cal based on Michel Trem­blay’s land­mark 1965 play about a Mon­treal house­wife who wins one mil­lion trad­ing stamps in a depart­ment store’s con­test.

Rev­el­ling in her great for­tune, Ger­maine in­vites friends over to help paste the stamps in book­lets so she can claim her prizes, which causes old ten­sions, ri­val­ries and en­vies to sur­face and boil over.

Jones quickly ac­knowl­edges she has a plumb role in an elec­tric new Cana­dian mu­si­cal but it’s hardly a walk in the park, even for a sea­soned ac­tor like her­self.

“It’s a very de­mand­ing part in a very de­mand­ing show but the ma­te­rial sup­ports you emo­tion­ally. You get picked up and car­ried away by the writ­ing, story and char­ac­ters and that all goes back to the source ma­te­rial.

“Michel Trem­blay’s play and char­ac­ters are still as vi­brant and rel­e­vant and truth­ful as they were 50 years ago,” says Jones.

When it opened in Quebec 52 years ago, Les Belles-soeurs caused quite a sen­sa­tion.

It def­i­nitely had its de­trac­tors who claimed the lan­guage was too racy and the fe­male char­ac­ters far too out­spo­ken and, per­haps, even out­landish.

Still, Les Belles-soeurs con­tin­ues to be pro­duced all over the globe and re­mains Trem­blay’s most beloved and pop­u­lar work.

“There will be some au­di­ence mem­bers who will be shocked by some of the lan­guage and some of the sub­ject mat­ter in the play, but that’s part of its last­ing ap­peal.

“This is a beau­ti­ful ex­am­ple of French-Cana­dian kitchen sink drama and it is so won­der­fully fe­male-cen­tric,” says Jones, who won a Cal­gary Crit­ics’ Award nom­i­na­tion for her star­ring role as Golde in Stage West’s Fid­dler on the Roof.

Jones ex­plains that, for Ger­maine, win­ning the trad­ing stamps “is the high­est mo­ment of her life.

“She lives such a small, con­strained ex­is­tence. She lit­er­ally thinks th­ese stamps are her ticket to eter­nal happiness.

“In her work­ing class cul­ture, be­ing able to buy things, have things and get things is what makes a per­son happy.

“We have this won­der­ful prop cat­a­logue in­spired by an ac­tual one from the 1960s, show­ing all the things avail­able for the home and now Ger­maine can buy them all.

“She in­vites her friends over for a stamp pasting party. It’s more than free labour.

“Ger­maine lives in a neigh­bour­hood where ev­ery­one knows ev­ery­body’s busi­ness so she’s happy for the news of her land­fall to get out. She rev­els in the envy and ado­ra­tion this win is bring­ing her.”

Jones says she has an inkling of how Ger­maine feels.

“When I moved into my first apart­ment in Van­cou­ver, there was an IGA su­per­mar­ket that gave out stamps. I saved and saved my stamps and pasted them into my lit­tle book un­til I could re­deem them for Corelle Din­ner­ware.

“I was so ex­cited I thought I’d won the lot­tery and it spurred me on to keep get­ting more stamps un­til I could get the set of sheets they were of­fer­ing.

“They turned out to be dread­ful qual­ity but I was ec­static be­cause they were free, so I un­der­stand the envy of all the other women as well as Ger­maine’s ex­cite­ment.

“It re­ally is fun to gloat when you feel you have great for­tune.”

Jones also prom­ises the songs in Sis­ters: The Belles Soeurs Mu­si­cal “range from funny lit­tle folk songs to the belt them out to the back of the the­atre grand mu­si­cal the­atre style songs.

TrUdIe Lee PHOTO

Gabrielle Jones, cen­tre, and the cast of Sis­ter: The Belles Soeurs Mu­si­cal will en­ter­tain and per­haps shock you at The­atre Cal­gary.

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