Thousand Islands Playhouse
New season, new artistic director
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.