Lots to see on stage
Productions offer wide variety of entertainment
I finally made it to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck to see a performance of Lorna MacDonald’s light operatic musical, “The Bells of Baddeck.”
I enjoyed the musical re-telling of the lives of the great inventor Alexander Graham Bell and his wife Mabel, who came to Cape Breton and fell in love with its people, music and Gaelic charm.
It is a lively show with an authentic Cape Breton flavour, a highly talented cast, a sparkling score and even some spirited traditional dancing (with fiddle music provided at that performance by Dwayne Cote) and even some lovely Scottish ballads interspersed in the score.
MacDonald is a proud daughter of Port Morien, and as the show’s program notes, many of the production team members have strong Cape Breton roots.
Stuart Calver, for example, the show’s musical director and a much sought after conductor and composer in London’s West End, grew up in Glace Bay.
The featured cast has Cape Breton talent including Robyn Cathcart and George MacKenzie as well as Bethany Reid and Sarah Reid (who share the role of young Mabel Hubbard Bell on alternating nights). And the technical and stage crews are almost entirely Cape Bretoners.
This is a great boon to the island’s theatre community to gain experience with a professional level production, especially one that includes so many Cape Bretoners that have achieved such high success in their careers.
It is always a positive experience to be part of a hit show. The capacity audience showed their appreciation of the production and the performance with a standing ovation.
“The Bells of Baddeck” has six more performances in the Water Room, with its full-sized replicas of Bell’s hydrofoil and Silver Dart airplane, at the Bell historic site.
Book your tickets in advance because this show tends to sell out.
I also enjoyed the latest murder mystery at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, “The Condemned,” written and directed by Eric Letcher.
And think about that: two national historic sites vigorously supporting island theatre — makes you proud to be a Canadian.
The Louisbourg audience becomes an impromptu search party hunting through the fortress’s many reconstructed buildings for a woman con- demned for murdering her abusive husband.
Many of the characters are sympathetic to the woman’s plight and could be accomplices in her escape. There is a murder boldly staged in front of the entire audience who must share and weigh the many clues they’ve gathered before they can solve the case.
Letcher’s script succeeds as a solid mystery and real drama and boasts a talented cast of local actors including Mark Delaney, Jenny Lahey, Kathleen O’Toole, Rory Andrews, Lindsay Thompson, Aaron Corbett and Letcher.
“The Condemned” plays Thursday evenings through July and August and ticket information is available at http:// www.fortressoflouisbourg.ca/Condemned/. Try to see it on a foggy evening especially since there is no extra charge for the additional spookiness.
Earlier this month, I visited the Gaelic College and saw the St. Ann’s Bay Players double one-act bill of “Jesus Christ Murdeena/Still Game” and had a great time laughing my face off as did the dozens of other people in the audience.
“Murdeena” is director Bev Brett’s adaptation of Cape Breton author Lynn Coady’s short story of the same title. A young woman feels her voice isn’t being heard in her small Cape Breton town and her efforts to find that voice takes surprising and hilarious turns.
“Still Game” is another adaptation by Brett from a Scottish television comedy about the inhabitants of a seniors' residence. It is, like “Murdeena,” darkly funny at times and boasts a spry, dryly funny cast of St. Ann’s Bay Players’ regulars.
The Players, under Brett’s artistic direction, have been creating dozens of plays over four decades all of them inspired by Cape Breton stories or with deep relevance to island culture.
Performances for “Jesus Christ Murdeena/Still Game” are on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 6-7, 13-14, 20-21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of The Clans at the Gaelic College in St. Anns. For ticket information, phone 902295-3441.
And The Highland Arts Theatre in Sydney continues its summer shows, including “No Great Mischief ” and “Heart of Steel.”
So much theatre to see but it’s not like we’ve had a lot of beach weather, right?
The cast of the St. Ann’s Bay Players’ production of “Jesus Christ Murdeena," Peggy Jenkins, Sue Browne, Nancy Smith, Yvonne Leblanc and Jitka Zgola. relax during a rehearsal at the Gaelic College in St. Anns. The play runs Thursdays and Fridays in August.
Geoffrey Sirett as Alexander Graham Bell is supported by The Airmen Quintet: Robyn Vaughn Cathcart, Chris Enns, Johnathon Kirby and Giles Tomkins in Lorna MacDonald’s “The Bells of Baddeck” playing until Aug. 2 at Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck.