Thou­sand Is­lands Play­house

New sea­son, new artis­tic direc­tor

The Gananoque Reporter - - FRONT PAGE - LOR­RAINE PAYETTE

The Thou­sand Is­lands Play­house had a very busy week as it an­nounced its new sea­son for 2018, said goodbye to artis­tic direc­tor Ashlie Cor­co­ran, and wel­comed a brand new artis­tic direc­tor to con­tinue on with ev­ery­thing that is in the works.

Al­though she will be re­turn­ing to Van­cou­ver to take a job as In­com­ing Artis­tic Direc­tor with Arts Club Theatre Com­pany, Cor­co­ran played a ma­jor role in pro­gram­ming the 2018 sea­son.

“I’m ex­cited about this sea­son be­cause it feels both new and fa­mil­iar,” said Cor­co­ran. “I wanted to bring back some of the folks peo­ple know and love, but also in­vite new voices and new ideas into this theatre. I love pro­gram­ming for Play­house au­di­ences be­cause they are in­ter­ested in such a wide va­ri­ety of work; so this last sea­son is an eclec­tic one— full of sur­prises.”

On the menu for next year are seven plays for the Springer and Fire­hall Theatres, with a new selec­tion for the Young Com­pany.

For the mu­sic lovers, they will be pre­sent­ing “2 Pi­anos 4 Hands” and “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story”.

“This play (‘ 2 Pi­anos 4 Hands’) was a huge hit when it was last per­formed here in 2001,” said Cor­co­ran. “From clas­si­cal to pop to jazz, the play pro­vides the chance for two per­form­ers to give their all in a 120- minute vir­tu­oso per­for­mance. Since its Toronto pre­miere in 1996, it has had nearly per­formed for 2 mil­lion peo­ple around the world.”

The Buddy Holly story was se­lected after the ex­treme suc­cess of “Mil­lion Dol­lar Quar­tet”. It tells of the life of the­man who gave us a whole new spin on mu­sic as a father of rock and roll be­fore dy­ing trag­i­cally in a plane crash with sev­eral other le­gends of his day.

“Harvest” and “The Cana­dian” con­tinue in the Play­house tra­di­tion of come­dies to brighten up the sum­mer sea­son. “Harvest” in­volves a re­tired cou­ple leas­ing their home to a “nice young man” who de­cides to put in a spe­cial cash crop tat ads un­ex­pected ex­cite­ment to their lives. “The Cana­dian” is a world pre­mier farce by Ja­son Hall in­volv­ing a small Cana­dian town, a wa­ter­front re­sort try­ing to sur­vive un­der a crush­ing debt load, and a con­do­minium de­vel­oper just itch­ing to build on the site. How­ever, an ec­cen­tric Hol­ly­wood writer also sees po­ten­tial here, and hi­lar­ity soon en­sues.

“‘ Harvest’ is a com­edy that tells a mean­ing­ful story ,” said Coro­ran. “It speaks to the chal­lenges of let­ting go, of ag­ing, of the chang­ing ru­ral com­mu­nity in Canada. It is as heart­warm­ing as it is hi­lar­i­ous, and I think it’s a per­fect piece to cel­e­brate this com­mu­nity.

“On the other hand, ‘The Cana­dian’ hi­lar­i­ous new farce is about a town deal­ing with the con­tem­po­rary pres­sures of small town life. The play is a hi­lar­i­ous love let­ter to the Gananoque com­mu­nity. This is the first time in my ten­ure that we’ll be pre­mier­ing a new farce on the Springer stage. Com­edy is in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to write, but with this piece, Ja­son has built a very funny set of cir­cum­stances around lo­cal themes.”

“Mid­sum­mer” en­ters the line-up as amu­si­cal ro­man­tic com­edy, grad­u­ally shift­ing the ground to bring in “Prairie Nurse” and the clas­sic, “Shirley Valen­tine”.

“I have wanted to pro­duce ‘Prairie Nurse’ since read­ing it a few years ago,” said Cor­co­ran. “This play is based on the real story of the play­wright’s mother com­ing to Canada as a nurse. I love the way that it tack­les mod­ern mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism in Canada ( and the beginnings of that in the 60s) with hu­mour, wit, and hi­lar­i­ous char­ac­ters.”

A funny yet touch­ing story, “Prairie Nurse” in­volves two Filip­ina nurses who set­tle in small town Saskatchewan in the 1960s. They bear a strong phys­i­cal re­sem­blance to each other, and no one can tell them apart. The play teaches us about mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and how far we have come since that time.

Many in the au­di­ence will al­ready be fa­mil­iar with “Shirley Valen­tine”. An empty nester in Liver­pool, she spends her evenings cook­ing for her less than attentive hus­band and talk­ing to the wall, when a friend sud­denly of­fers her the chance of a life­time.

“This beloved play has been a hit with au­di­ences and crit­ics since first pre­mier­ing in Lon­don in 1988,” said Cor­co­ran. “Since then it has been pro­duced around the world, and was made into a fea­ture film. Shirley is a woman in cri­sis ; she is in a mar­riage that isn’t work­ing, in a life that she never wanted, and search­ing for some­thing more. Her re­flec­tions on her life are hi­lar­i­ous, as she searches to find the life that she knows she’s miss­ing. It is a story of em­pow­er­ment, of change, and of find­ing your­self.”

For those who are young and young of heart, there is the Young Com­pany. This year’s team will be tack­ling “The Man Whose Mother Was a Pi­rate”, a play by Paula Wing based on the pop­u­lar book by Mar­garet Mahy.

“Mar­garet Mahy is an award- win­ning New Zealand au­thor of chil­dren’s and young adult books,” said Cor­co­ran. “‘The Man Whose Mother Was A Pi­rate’ is con­sid­ered a national clas­sic, and this won­der­ful adap­ta­tion hon­ours the joy of the original.”

If this ter­rific line- up weren’t enough, the Play­house is also proud to an­nounce that their new Man­ag­ing Artis­tic Direc­tor will be Brett Christo­pher.

“In his most re­cent role, he has brought sig­nif­i­cant sta­bil­ity to the com­pany, built strong re­la­tion­ships with staff, strength­ened re­la­tion­ships with key donors, and raised the pro­file of TIP in the com­mu­nity,” said board chair Lynda Gar­rah. “That, com­bined with his ex­ten­sive artis­tic ex­pe­ri­ence on Cana­dian stages, proved to us that he was ideal per­son to lead the or­ga­ni­za­tion into the fu­ture.”

Christo­pher is well known to Play­house au­di­ences and per­son­nel as a pow­er­house be­hind all kinds of ac­tiv­i­ties. He has per­formed on both stages, and taken on a range of ad­min­is­tra­tive re­spon­si­bil­i­ties such as Mar­ket­ing Direc­tor, As­so­ci­ate Artist, and, most re­cently, Gen­eral Man­ager. He re­turned home to Kingston after ten years in Toronto and be­came a driv­ing force in our re­gion’s arts com­mu­nity as Artis­tic Pro­ducer of Theatre Kingston. Along with pro­duc­ing a 3-show sea­son an­nu­ally, he sat on nu­mer­ous boards, worked with a se­ries of lo­cal cul­tural groups, and founded both The Kick & Push Festival, and the Store­front Fringe Festival.

“I am hon­oured and hum­bled to take on the lead­er­ship of this in­cred­i­ble com­pany,” said Christo­pher. “Over the past twenty years, I have been au­di­ence, artist, and ad­min­is­tra­tor at the Play­house and I plan to use all of that shared his­tory to de­velop a vi­brant and vi­tal plan for the com­pany’s bright fu­ture. Hav­ing lived and worked in the re­gion for the last decade, I un­der­stand the many chal­lenges that are ahead. How­ever, I am ea­ger to jump in and es­tab­lish the com­pany as a lead­ing voice for cul­ture in the area.”

For more on the up­com­ing sea­son or to buy your sea­son’s tick­ets now, please go to www .1000 is­lands play house. com/2018-sea­son/ or call the Box Of­fice at 613-382-7020.

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