Sun­day night at the Sky­line

The Compass - - OPINION - BY LEE EVERTS

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.

Photo by Lee Evert/Spe­cial to The Com­pass

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.

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