Play­house opens sea­son with a ‘Boom’

Kingston Whig-Standard - - NEWS - PETER HENDRA

Even though this is her fifth year as artis­tic di­rec­tor of the Thou­sand Is­lands Play­house, Ash­lie Cor­co­ran’s job has be­come any­thing but rou­tine.

“It has just flown by,” Cor­co­ran said of the past five years.

She is speak­ing from Ni­a­garaon-the-Lake, where she is di­rect­ing the musical as part of the pres­ti­gious Shaw Fes­ti­val, be­fore she makes her way back to her her­itage home in Gananoque be­fore Thurs­day’s open­ing night.

“It’s to­tally amaz­ing. I was an in­tern di­rec­tor here in 2009, but to come and get to di­rect for them, and to di­rect the big show on the big stage, it was lit­er­ally a dream come true,” said the al­ways busy Cor­co­ran, who also worked with the Cana­dian Opera Com­pany on a cou­ple of projects dur­ing the off-sea­son.

Cor­co­ran isn’t the only one mark­ing an an­niver­sary this sea­son, as the Thou­sand Is­lands Play­house turns 35.

“Be­cause it’s our 35th an­niver­sary, we’re go­ing to do lots of cel­e­bra­tions to mark that,” as­sured Cor­co­ran.

One of those cel­e­bra­tions will be on­stage, as the play­house brings back one of its first-sea­son pro­duc­tions — Wil­liam Shake­speare’s — but with a twist. This ver­sion, which starts Aug. 25, is set in the vaude­ville era and fea­tures only five ac­tors in­stead of the usual 13 or 14, Cor­co­ran said, mean­ing there will be plenty of cos­tume changes off­stage.

It is but one of a few dif­fer­ent come­dies that will be staged at the Springer The­atre this sea­son, the big­ger of the two and the one clos­est to the wa­ter (where the dock has now been fixed).

There will also be the gen­der­bend­ing (with shades of

in which two down-on-their-luck Shake­spearean ac­tors scheme to win the in­her­i­tance of an ail­ing woman. Noth­ing turns out, nat­u­rally, as planned.

A past mem­ber of the play­house’s play­wright pro­gram

Mark Crawford re­turns with

“We’re call­ing it a mod­ern-day ru­ral farce, so there’s go­ing to be the same, like peo­ple in un­der­wear and doors slam­ming and open­ing,” Cor­co­ran noted. “It’s set in a small town of On­tario, which I love be­cause it re­flects our com­mu­nity.”

Open­ing the sea­son in­side the big­ger the­atre on Thurs­day, though, will be The one-man show — the most pro­duced in Canada right now, Cor­co­ran noted — is writ­ten, di­rected and per­formed by Rick Miller. Miller plays more than 100 dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters — some of whom you’ll rec­og­nize, oth­ers with whom you’ll em­pathize. The show looks at the defin­ing mo­ments of the baby boom gen­er­a­tion over 25 years, and while Miller is the only ac­tor, it won’t be just him on­stage. He will be en­veloped in a cir­cle of scrim ma­te­rial, onto which im­ages are pro­jected.

“To have it here is ex­cit­ing,” Cor­co­ran, who first saw the play a cou­ple of years ago at the NAC, said. Fol­low­ing that will be

(June 16), a fic­tion­al­ized ac­count of the day Elvis Pres­ley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash jammed to­gether at Sun Records.

“It had more con­tent than I was ex­pect­ing,” Cor­co­ran said, “but at the same time it was packed with in­cred­i­ble tunes, so, for me, it checked off all of the boxes.”

The smaller Fire­hall The­atre won’t be as busy this sum­mer, at least in the num­ber of shows. Last sea­son, there were more shows (four) but with shorter stays. This sum­mer, there will be two: (July 7), about the fa­mous ro­mance of young Mag­gie Sin­clair and politi­cian Pierre Trudeau; and

(Aug. 11), Drew Hay­den Tay­lor’s hu­mor­ous tale about an in­dige­nous woman named Grace, who was adopted, as she re­turns home to the re­serve for her mother’s fu­neral. There was to be a third play,

writ­ten by Queen’s Univer­sity alum Kat San­dler. Some of the ac­tors had to pull out of the pro­duc­tion, though, so Cor­co­ran cut from the lineup.

“It was a bit dis­ap­point­ing to not to be able to do af­ter we planned for it, but I think it was the right lo­gis­ti­cal and or­ga­ni­za­tional de­ci­sion to make,” she said.

San­dler wasn’t to be the only Kingston con­nec­tion to the play­house this sea­son. In fact, this sea­son hosts a num­ber of Kingston­raised ac­tors, in­clud­ing Anne Hard­cas­tle, Sophia Fabi­illi and Ja­cob James, among oth­ers.

“This year there hap­pened to be a lot of “right fits” for the ac­tors who were avail­able, which is fan­tas­tic,” Cor­co­ran noted.

There’s an­other Kingston con­nec­tion this year as well, as Brett Christo­pher of The­atre Kingston has taken over as gen­eral man­ager.

Over the past five years, Cor­co­ran feels that her play­house team has “just been get­ting stronger and tighter,” and she’s look­ing for­ward to re­turn­ing for the sum­mer sea­son.

“I feel very much at home in Gananoque,” she said, “and that’s a won­der­ful feel­ing.”

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