A priest from away

Hu­mor­ous play fo­cuses on quirky neigh­bours, be­ing an out­sider P.E.I.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MITCH MACDON­ALD

Hu­mor­ous play fo­cuses on quirky neigh­bours and be­ing an out­sider on P.E.I.

It can some­times be tough to find your way, es­pe­cially if you’re in P.E.I. and “from away.”

At least, that’s the case in the play “Some Neigh­bours: Episode 3 - A Priest From Away” be­ing held in Mil­ton Com­mu­nity Hall this month.

The comedic play fol­lows an Angli­can priest who moves to P.E.I. and bears a strik­ing re­sem­blance to Dean Martin.

Ken Wil­liams, who wrote and di­rected the play with David Hooper, said it largely re­volves around meet­ings with the quirky neigh­bours in­ter­twined with the priest’s predica­ment.

What fol­lows is a se­ries of hu­mor­ous mishaps and con­fu­sion.

“It could be any com­mu­nity we just hap­pened to use Mil­ton. There’s a priest whose asked to come in and the poor soul looks a lot like Dean Martin, so in­stead of see­ing him as the new cler­gy­man they see him as Dean Martin,” said Wil­liams. “Peo­ple re­mind him that he’s from away, he can’t find mem­bers of his con­gre­ga­tion and he can’t find the church. He’s hav­ing a lot of trou­ble.”

One funny sto­ry­line in­volves a re­cently-wid­owed Martin fan who takes an in­ter­est in the priest.

“She fig­ures her prayers have been an­swered when this man shows up,” said Wil­liams. “So we

have all th­ese con­flicts within the play, a lit­tle bit of mu­sic and some com­edy.”

While the play is light­hearted, it has a se­ri­ous pur­pose.

Shari MacDon­ald, com­mu­nity ad­min­is­tra­tor for Mil­ton­vale Park, says the play is be­ing funded by a $9,300 New Hori­zons for Se­niors grant from the fed­eral govern­ment.

The two-part pro­ject also in­volved im­ple­ment­ing ex­er­cise classes for se­niors last spring.

The group started re­hears­ing for the play in late Septem­ber as the newly-formed “Mil­ton­vale Park Play­ers”.

“It’s been quite a time com­mit­ment but they’ve been en­joy­ing it,” said MacDon­ald. ”It’s all about keep­ing se­niors en­gaged within the com­mu­nity and pro­mot­ing vol­un­teerism.”

Apart from keep­ing them en­gaged, Wil­liams says that the grant has also given se­niors a new op­por­tu­nity.

“A lot of them have done stage work but they’ve never re­ally acted be­fore. The grant re­ally has al­most given some se­niors a new fo­cus to their lives.”

Phil Hooper, who plays the priest, says he hasn’t acted since his 20s. How­ever, re­tire­ment gave him an op­por­tu­nity to try the art again, al­though he ad­mits re­mem­ber­ing it as be­ing a lit­tle eas­ier in his youth.

“I think we’ll have it down by the time the cur­tain rises,” joked Hooper, who is also the brother of co-writer David Hooper.

“It’s a lot eas­ier to mem­o­rize lines when you’re in your 20s than in your 60s, but it’s been in­ter­est­ing and it’s good to test your­self.”

Hooper is a mem­ber of more than 20 vol­un­teer ac­tors and ac­tresses test­ing their skills in the play.

With the heavy theme of neigh­bours, Wil­liams is quick to point out that many in­volved are in fact neigh­bours and rel­a­tives.

That in­cludes sev­eral mar­ried cou­ples, sib­lings, mother-chil­dren com­bos and cousins.

Some even por­tray them­selves on­stage, he said.

“There are a lot of rel­a­tives in this play and, to me, that’s a P.E.I. thing.

“We’re hav­ing a lot of fun with that as­pect.”

MacDon­ald says pro­ceeds from the play will go to­wards se­niors pro­gram­ming in the area.

“We’ll have a lit­tle bankroll for next year’s play and we’ll also tape it (the play) and show it in se­niors homes in the area.”

Wil­liams adds he hopes au­di­ence mem­bers will have as much fun as the ac­tors in­volved.

“And I guess there is a lit­tle bit of a mes­sage in so much that we have this new per­son, he’s from away and he’s try­ing to find his way,” he says.

“In the end, there’s some­one whose will­ing to do that for him.”


Real-life cou­ple Sue and John Whi­taker por­tray the fic­tional cou­ple “El­lie and Ed” in the pro­duc­tion. In this scene, El­lie grows in­creas­ingly frus­trated with her hus­band’s an­noy­ing be­hav­iour.


Mil­ton­vale Park com­mu­nity ad­min­is­tra­tor Shari MacDon­ald, left, and cowriter/co-di­rec­tor Ken Wil­liams stand out­side the Mil­ton Com­mu­nity Hall where the play will be held later this month.


Reta MacDon­ald, right, helps Mary Hooper out of her chair dur­ing a hu­mor­ous scene. The two char­ac­ters in the play,”Reta and Mary”, are based on them­selves. Hooper will be 90years-old by the time the cur­tain rises for the pro­duc­tion later this month.

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