Lots to see on stage

Pro­duc­tions of­fer wide va­ri­ety of en­ter­tain­ment

Cape Breton Post - - ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT - Ken Chisholm Ken Chisholm lives in Syd­ney and has writ­ten plays, songs, re­views, mag­a­zine ar­ti­cles. He can be reached at kchisholm100@gmail.com.

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?

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO/ST. ANN'S BAY PLAY­ERS

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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO/BELLS OF BADDECK

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.

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