RLT STAGES MODERN VERSION OF MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE
Company ready for ‘fun challenge’ of staging Liberty Valance: director
When it comes to selecting productions, Regina Little Theatre isn’t afraid of tackling a relatively new play.
Such is the case with The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, the latest RLT production, which runs April 4-7 at the Regina Performing Arts Centre.
Many people are aware of the 1962 movie starring Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne but while this production is based on the 1953 short story from Dorothy M. Johnson, the script for the play was written by Jethro Compton in 2014.
Bryce Schlamp isn’t apprehensive about taking on a new work.
“I think it’s a fun challenge for our actors, for sure,” said Schlamp, who has taken on numerous roles with the production — director, sound designer, lighting designer and set designer.
“It’s a play that’s a little more modern with some themes and ideas that we can relate to and talk about in terms of our modern times, as opposed to something written in the ’60s or ’70s where some of it may apply but you’re bringing other stuff forward. It’s nice to be topical that way.”
The story follows a young scholar from New York City who arrives in a dusty midwestern town. As he fashions a new life that includes the love of his life, he faces the decision of running from a vicious outlaw or standing and fighting for what he believes in.
What sets this production apart from the movie is that the entire play is set in a saloon. On one hand, this is a benefit to the production as there isn’t the additional challenge of numerous sets. But on the other hand, it’s also tougher because of the restriction of a single setting.
“It provides some technical challenges,” Schlamp explained.
“We’ll try and use a few things like lighting to try and set different moods and move the story around. We do move through time with a prologue and an epilogue that takes place 20 years into the future so we get a little bit of a different feel that way. It’s actually kind of interesting because when you get some of these type of limitations put on you, it makes you flex the creative muscle a little bit more. It’s always an interesting challenge that way. We’re technically limited in some ways for this show, for sure.”
For Schlamp, the production works because of Compton’s writing.
“The characters are very well written. The story itself hangs together very nicely, the pacing I think is really well done,” said Schlamp. “The author has done a really good job in keeping you hooked, giving you enough information as you go to follow along and hook you into these characters and their motivations.”
The script is also slightly different than the film version.
“It focuses a little less on the political and legislation side than the film did,” said Schlamp. “It really gets into the characters and their motivation. It’s an interesting look at the old and the new, the changing of the guard and how that affects people who are one side or another of that change.”
The main cast is comprised of Ryan McLeod, Abbey Thiessen, Dan Carr, Omari Wilson, J.E.D. LaCoste, Terry Bell, Cole Boyko and Amanda Schenstead.
Joining Schlamp on the production crew are Andrea McNeil-Wilson (stage manager), Pat Wilson (assistant stage manager), Sandra Preikschat (costumes), Lacey Frigon (costumes), Jolie Brewer (props) and Declan Slater (lighting technician).
Tickets are $23 for adults and $21 for seniors, students and youth. Tickets are available from the Regina Performing Arts Centre box office, by telephone, 306-7792277, and online at reginapac.com.