Win­nipeg theatre tal­ent graces stages across coun­try

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - KEVIN PROKOSH

WIN­NIPEG is rightly known as a theatre town but its ranks of ac­tors, di­rec­tors and de­sign­ers also fan out to stages all over the coun­try.

Regina’s Globe Theatre is clos­ing its sea­son with the crowd-pleas­ing The Drowsy Chap­er­one, a pro­duc­tion full of Win­nipeg con­tent. Robb Pater­son is mostly the rea­son that Brian Per­chaluk is de­sign­ing the sets and Scott Hen­der­son the lights and Kathryn Ball is the stage man­ager. The cast in­cludes Jennifer Lyon in the ti­tle role and Tim Gled­hill as Robert.

“They kept ask­ing me who I wanted and I kept telling them,” says Pater­son, over the tele­phone dur­ing a break in re­hearsals this week. “You only have three and a half weeks of re­hearsal in this coun­try so you need peo­ple you can trust.”

It would seem that he trusts Lyon the most. This is the 10th time that he has cast the daugh­ter of the late for­mer Man­i­toba Pre­mier Ster­ling Lyon. The list in­cludes Steel Mag­no­lias, My Fair Lady, Guys and Dolls, Pride and Prej­u­dice and Next to Nor­mal at Royal Man­i­toba Theatre Cen­tre as well as Big and Foot­loose at Rain­bow Stage.

“She’s good, that’s why,” says the RMTC as­so­ciate artis­tic di­rec­tor, who first chose her to play a mother in Two Times, Twice a Year at Man­i­toba Theatre for Young Peo­ple in 1991. “With Jen, the eye goes to her on stage. She’s smart, funny and sings well.

“Ev­ery time I’ve cast Jen, I’ve counted on her to do the great job I as­sume she will do be­cause she has done it be­fore. It makes me look good if she is that good.”

Lyon is not Pater­son’s most fre­quently cast ac­tor. That hon­our goes to Chris Sig­urd­son, who he as­signed a part in his pro­duc­tions 11 times.

Regina is not the only western city flush with Win­nipeg per­form­ers. In Ed­mon­ton, you can find Kevin Aichele play­ing Dennis Gala­had in a cur­rent Citadel Theatre pro­duc­tion of Spa­malot. Across town at May­field Din­ner Theatre, Laura Olaf­son has donned a blond wig to star in 9 to 5, the Mu­si­cal in the Dolly Par­ton role of Do­ralee. The Al­berta cap­i­tal re­cently hosted a five-day run of Strike: The Mu­si­cal, by Danny Schur and Rick Chafe. Di­rected by Arne MacPher­son, the im­mi­grant story told against the back­ground of the 1919 Win­nipeg Gen­eral Strike played to over 80 per cent ca­pac­ity and earned good re­views (Strike! A stir­ring trib­ute to his­toric event — Ed­mon­ton Jour­nal).

On­tario will also see its share of for­mer Win­nipeg tal­ent. Jeremy Kush­nier ( Foot­loose, Je­sus Christ Su­per­star) is back at Strat­ford Fes­ti­val, this time as Cap­tain Walker in the rock opera Tommy, helmed by its co-cre­ator and orig­i­nal di­rec­tor Des McAnuff. In the cur­rent Shaw Fes­ti­val re­vival of Guys and Dolls two ex-Win­nipeg­gers ap­pear: Thom Al­li­son as Nicely-Nicely John­son while Patty Jamieson is Gen­eral Cartwright.

Later this month at Toronto’s Pana­sonic Theatre, MaAnne Dion­i­sio (Canada’s first Miss Saigon) will play Griz­abella in an all-Cana­dian pro­duc­tion of Cats. Sa­man­tha Hill, cur­rently on Broad­way as Chris­tine in The Phan­tom of the Opera, will next fall join the new 25th an­niver­sary pro­duc­tion of Les Mis­er­ables as Cosette.

Theatre Projects Man­i­toba will re­turn to stag­ing a pair of new Win­nipeg plays in 2013-14, af­ter a sea­son of pre­sent­ing two Que­bec dra­mas.

The pre­miere of The Miser of Mid­dle­gate by Win­nipeg’s Carolyn Gray will launch the com­pany’s sea­son Oct. 3 at the Univer­sity of Win­nipeg’s Asper Cen­tre for Theatre and Film. Gray, who was just ap­pointed ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Man­i­toba Writer’s Guild, will give a mod­ern Win­nipeg spin to Moliere’s 17th cen­tury satire The Miser, a com­edy about fam­ily, love and money.

Zone 41, which col­lab­o­rated with TPM in 2011 on Bruce McManus’s adap­ta­tion of Chekhov’s Three Sis­ters, will again team up with Zone’s artis­tic di­rec­tor Krista Jack­son di­rect­ing.

The other of­fer­ing next year is Sar­gent & Vic­tor & Me, writ­ten and per­formed by Deb­bie Pat­ter­son, and di­rected by her hus­band Arne MacPher­son. Pat­ter­son ( Head, Molo­tov Cir­cus) gath­ered a se­ries of first per­son ac­counts of the neigh­bour­hood which was once a cen­tre of Ice­landic cul­ture but has be­come rife with gang vi­o­lence, prostitution and gang vi­o­lence. The piece has evolved to in­clude Pat­ter­son and ex­plores the neigh­bour­hood through her strug­gles with the symp­toms of Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis.

Sar­gent & Vic­tor & Me runs Feb. 27March 9, 2014.

At 3 p.m. Sun­day, Win­nipeg Men­non­ite Theatre is host­ing a per­for­mance of For­given/For­got­ten at Univer­sity of Win­nipeg’s Eck­hardt-Gra­matté Hall. The On­tario tour­ing show cen­tres around a fam­ily that learns an of­fender will be serv­ing his pa­role in their com­mu­nity and must choose be­tween clos­ing their doors and reach­ing out to those in need. Tick­ets are $10 and are avail­able at the door or call­ing 204-783-8977.

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