Rose­bud Theatre plans sea­son of heart­felt shows

Calgary Herald - - YOU - LOUIS B. HOBSON

In un­veil­ing his 2019 sea­son, Rose­bud Theatre’s artis­tic di­rec­tor Mor­ris Ert­man stresses Rose­bud is proud to be a small town that tells big-hearted sto­ries.

The sea­son opener in March will be the Cana­dian pre­miere of Bright Star, a mu­si­cal writ­ten by Steve Martin and Edie Brick­ell. Set in the Blue Ridge Moun­tains of North Carolina in 1945 with flash­backs to 1923, Bright Star “tells the story of a woman who finds her long-lost son.

“It’s a great banjo-pick­ing, fid­dle-play­ing blue­grass mu­si­cal and a re­ally great mother and son story,” says Ert­man, adding he’s been “lis­ten­ing to this won­der­ful mu­sic for two years now ever since I first heard it. This is a show I re­ally wanted to do. It’s about love in­ter­rupted and, like the sto­ries we love most to tell, it’s set in small town land.”

Bright Star fea­tures a 15-mem­ber cast, which Ert­man says “will be com­posed of ac­tors who are also mu­si­cians so the band is also part of the cast. Our story will be played, sung and told all at once.”

Rose­bud’s sum­mer show will be the re­turn of W.O. Mitchell’s beloved prairie com­edy The Kite, the story of a re­porter who is sent to write a mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle about Daddy Sherry, the old­est liv­ing per­son in Shelby, Alta.

“We did The Kite 13 years ago and when­ever we ask our pa­trons what plays we should bring back, The Kite is al­ways on the list. Nathan Sch­midt nailed Daddy Sherry the first time he played him so he’s go­ing to head up the new cast as well,” says Ert­man.

“W.O. be­longs on our Rose­bud stage. His crazy, laugh-out-loud prairie char­ac­ters are very much at home here.”

Be­gin­ning in Septem­ber, Rose­bud will present Ka­tori Hall’s gen­tle drama The Moun­tain­top, about the night Martin Luther King was as­sas­si­nated.

“It’s a beau­ti­ful story of how Martin Luther King is vis­ited by an an­gel in the form of a ho­tel maid who has been sent from beyond the grave to take him to the grave.

“We never shy away from sto­ries like this be­cause the spir­i­tual world per­me­ates all of our plays.”

Ert­man says what he likes best

about The Moun­tain­top is “it shows Martin Luther King as a real per­son with all his flaws. It’s a re­ally hu­man por­trait of this great man.”

The 2019 hol­i­day show at Rose­bud will be A Christ­mas Story, the beloved story of lit­tle Ral­phie who wants an air ri­fle for Christ­mas, which turns out to be the least of his par­ents’ prob­lems, though by no means an in­signif­i­cant one.

“I con­fess I wasn’t aware of the movie ver­sion,” says Ert­man about the 1983 clas­sic that ranks as one of the top hol­i­day films of all time.

“I looked at sev­eral ver­sions of this story and set­tled on a non­mu­si­cal ver­sion, which I think is scream­ingly funny. It’s about a Christ­mas where ev­ery­thing goes wrong and still it ends up be­ing a won­der­ful pic­ture of fam­ily life at Christ­mas.”

Rose­bud has a sec­ond, smaller stage and in July it will present Libby Skala’s up­lift­ing, true-life drama Lilia, based on her grand­mother who was an Aus­trian ac­tress who fled Nazi Ger­many for New York. She worked in a zip­per fac­tory, even­tu­ally mak­ing it back to her real pas­sion on­stage and even­tu­ally play­ing the Mother Su­pe­rior op­po­site Sid­ney Poitier in the Os­car-win­ning movie Lilies of the Field.

W.O. Mitchell’s prairie com­edy The Kite will be on Rose­bud’s stage in 2019.

Mor­ris Ert­man

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