Kanata Theatre Making Audiences Laugh Again

by Clare Flockton

Kanata Theatre is wrestling with some key questions in its next comedic production of its 38th season, called Happy Birthday Dear Alice, written by Bernard Farrell. What is considered old age? Is it a state of mind or a state of being? As we age, we often look to the family that surrounds us to bask in the success of the legacy we have created. Farrell’s play takes a close look at how this legacy repays its matriarch on her 70th birthday. Alice’s two adult children, played by Bev Brooks and Guy Buller, equate their mother’s inevitable aging process with her inability to make sound decisions on behalf of her own welfare.

The play is set in a town in Ireland; however, it could be happening in any home across the globe where children are habitually and unsuccessfully trying to shift their elderly parents into a nursing home.

The play opens with Alice, played by Dorothy Beak, awaiting the arrival of her two children to celebrate yet another of her birthdays. Alice has been widowed after a puzzling accident involving a bull and she finds that her birthdays have lost all aspect of celebration and have become an arena for her family to bully her into leaving her home and taking residence in an old age home.

Alice’s only respite from the constant nagging of her children is the close relationship she develops with Jimmy, a neighbour and the partner of her deceased husband. Jimmy, played by Jon Alkan, breathes an immense amount of humour into the play by misunderstanding conversations due to a faulty hearing aid and repeatedly dropping in on Alice at the most inopportune times. Alice is able to use these impulsive visits as a diversion. The constant misunderstandings get her children worked up into quite a tizzy.

Gwen Knight directs this play for Kanata Theatre and she incorporates some very clever uses of flashback within the context of the play itself. Despite the children’s continuous badgering, it is Alice who remains in control of her life much to the upset of those around her.

Happy Birthday Dear Alice runs in the Ron Maslin Playhouse, 1 Ron Maslin Way, Kanata, on Tuesday to Saturday November 14th to November 25th with blackouts on Sunday and Monday. Curtain is 8pm sharp. All tickets are $15.00 each and can be purchased from the box office two weeks prior to opening night. Please call the box office at (613) 831-4435 or visit www.kanatatheatre.com for more details.

This page generated on 2006-08-17



Lights Go Up on Funny Treatment of Not-So-Funny Theme

Next week Kanata Theatre aims its lights on a funny treatment of a poignant topic.

Happy Birthday, Dear Alice by award winning Irish playwright Bernard Farrell focuses on the efforts of a dispersed, dysfunctional suburban family to commit their ageing, gentle, yet resilient mother to the uncertain fate of a nursing home.

The task of giving life to this theme is in the hands of a seasoned cast under the guidance of an experienced director. Gwen Knight, whom the Critics Circle named best director of a community theatre production for The Snow Ball several years, ago is at the helm. She most recently directed last year’s black comedy/drama, The Beauty Queen of Leenane.

Dorothy Beak plays the beleaguered Alice of the title. She will be remembered for her lead role in Timothy Findlay’s The Stillborn Lover. Her friend Jimmy is played by veteran actor Jon Alkan, who has appeared with The Savoy Society and other companies within the city, as well as with Kanata Theatre.

Bev Brooks, who directed last year’s hit Enchanted April and who played the hapless spinster with the tyrannical mother in The Beauty Queen of Leenane, is Barbara, one of Alice’s nasty offspring. .Paul Behncke, who played the charming ne’er do well Jerry in Dancing at Lughnasa is Barbara’s husband Cormac

Guy Buller, who was directed by Brooks in Enchanted April, plays her brother, Barry. He is also familiar to Kanata audiences, perhaps most unforgettably as Count Dracula in The Death of Dracula. His intelligence-impaired young love interest is portrayed by Katie Ryerson whose memorable introduction to Kanata Theatre audiences was just last May in Staff Room.

Set designer Peter Jefferson has faithfully reproduced Alice’s kitchen, where all the action unfolds, complete with appliances. Lighting design is by Steve Truelove. Sound design is by Rob Fairbairn. The stage manager is Gwendy Tolley.

Happy Birthday, Dear Alice runs in the Ron Maslin Playhouse, 1 Ron Maslin Way, Kanata, on Tuesday to Saturday November 14 to 25. The Playhouse enjoys abundant free parking and is fully accessible. Curtain is at 8 pm sharp. Tickets are $15. The box office number is 831 4435. You can visit the website at www.kanatatheatre.com.

This page generated on 2006-11-27



For The Love Of It

They say that when you do something “for the love of it”, it shows. Those that create the magic that is Kanata Theatre are proof of just that. Operating solely on the efforts of 250 volunteers, this theatre, well into its 38th season, is thrilled to be nominated for 3 Critic’s circle awards in the community theatre category: Brooke Keneford for Best Director for Noises Off; Noises Off for Best Production; and Beverley Brooks as Best Actor in The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Award announcements will be made November 27. While theatre members are pleased to have the critic’s attention, they are even more appreciative and attentive to the feedback that they receive from their audiences. If ever climbing attendance and sold out performances are any indication, the passion that has always inspired this group to the highest level of excellence is alive and strong.

Great news, you can see Beverley Brooks (nominated for best actor) in the current Kanata Theatre Production Happy Birthday Dear Alice (November 14-26, 8 p.m.). Bev skillfully portrays the stress and deep caring of a daughter caught in the demands of a successful career, and a needy elderly parent. Come out and enjoy the show.

Tickets can be purchased in advance: call 831- 4435 www.kanatatheatre.com