Sisters doing it for the big win
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.
Gabrielle Jones, centre, and the cast of Sister: The Belles Soeurs Musical will entertain and perhaps shock you at Theatre Calgary.