Sunday night at the Skyline
It was a full house as audience members settled into their seats at the Placentia Bay Cultural Arts Centre on July 30 to watch “Sunday Night at the Skyline,” the latest dinner theatre staged by Placentia Area Theatre d’Heritage (PATH).
While doing so, several audience members exchanged a few knowing glances when they remembered the Skyline.
In the sixties — the setting for the play — the Skyline was a bar situated at the intersection of Southeast Placentia, Dunville, and Colinet on the gravel road that used to be the only link between Placentia and St. John’s.
When the play opened, we met Suze, a person we soon realized has seen a bit of life. She’s nobody’s fool.
There’s a bar and a few tables scattered around on the floor. Deep in his own thoughts, the piano man played his tunes.
While Suze gave some of the tables a wipe, we met Freddie, who sat like he was holding the weight of the world on his shoulders. Trapped in his life for the moment, the Skyline may have offered some tonic. It was a place to be.
It seemed like it was going to be the usual quiet Sunday night when a crowd suddenly entered the bar. They explained how they were on their way to Placentia, but the taxi had broken down. They had to wait until they could get another taxi to fetch them.
An uncomfortable si lence descended as everyone gazed down and fidgeted restlessly. But then, to pass the time, they decided that maybe they could each tell a story. After all, it was Sunday night and sure to be quiet. Later, they would decide on who had told the best story.
The stories ranged from heartbreaking and moving to funny. As the teller shared his or her story, the other characters, as well as the audience, were at times spellbound. Like every good story, the listeners hung on every word, sometimes suspecting where it was leading. At other times, the characters and the audience alike were delighted when the story led to a quite unexpected conclusion.
Throughout the play, there were points in the story, which acted as the perfect segue into a break in reality, when the audience was served their entrée.
Later, at another intermission, the storyline paused for the tea and desert.
Written by Connie Newhook, the play excellently interwove the large and small human dramas that afflict everyday lives. Touching on different sentiments, the stories offered the audience a valuable key into the world on stage. The actors effortlessly drew the audience into the story. Like the characters in the play, the audience was also able to be moved by or laugh at the stories being told.
As the director, Newhook found a way to further welcome the audience into the play. The characters were to vote on who told the best story. This was left to the audience, who were given ballots to decide. The director was also able to play with the customary tension between fiction and reality that exists in a dinner theatre.
Like other dinner theatres staged by PATH, the music was second to none. The Placentia area is known for being a centre for music, and PATH did not disappoint.
Under the musical direction of Amy Wilson, the songs worked perfectly with the stories within a story. From the “Piano man” at the beginning to “Where everybody knows your name” at the end. The songs were chosen to give meaning to the story.
Being a dinner theatre, the meal is very much a part of the evening. The meal — catered by Sams Place at the College of the North Atlantic — provided a delicious accompaniment.
And so, everything worked in unison to create an evening that allowed audience members to enjoy a quiet night at the Skyline, one filled with a medley of food, story, and song.
The actors from a dinner theatre production at the Placentia Bay Cultural Arts Centre July 30 perform Sunday night at the Skyline to a sold out crowd.