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originally published January 2008

With more then 200 productions around the world, Salt Water Moon is one of the hallmark theatrical contributions from Newfoundland and Labrador.  Our Gone with the Wind of sorts, the Globe and Mail described it as “an old-fashioned love song that is as affecting, funny and as evocative as a dream.”  It tells the story of Mary who is a teenager with “steel in her heart,” but when her ex Jacob returns from Toronto he decides to try and win her back, except she’s engaged to a school teacher.  The story unfolds in Coley’s Point back in 1926 during the month of August and the production will feature a fully custom built set.  With the production running right through Valentine’s Day, this story of rediscovering love might be best offered up and shared with that special someone.  Current caught up with the production’s producer from Theatre St. John’s, Keith Pike for more details on what you can expect!

Can you tell me about Theatre St. John’s?
The idea for Theatre St. John’s was born at a fundraising gala in October of 2007. The gala showcased some of the finest actors and singers in the province. This diverse talent within Newfoundland inspired the creation of TSJ.

We are committed to growth and development, following our mandate.  Our goals are to produce professional-calibre theatre; to produce and workshop new pieces from within the province and Canada; and to nurture the talents of up-and-coming actors and directors from across the province and across the nation.

With the young people of Newfoundland and Labrador in mind, we will also enact an educational initiative. Our casts and personnel will work one-on-one with high school students in and around St. John’s to foster the development of their talent.

Why this ‘classic’ script?
Salt Water Moon is play known internationally, one of Newfoundland’s greatest hits. I thought it was a good time for it to be produced in St. John’s.

Is there anything in the script that attracted you to produce it, personally?
When I studied theatre at Sheridan College I did a scene study of the play and immediately fell in love with the characters and their story. Jacob and Mary are funny, smart, bashful and endearing. Who wouldn’t fall in love with them!?

How did you and Petrina come together for this production?
Petrina and I worked on a show this time last year with the company. It was then that I approached her about directing the show. A year went by and many chat’s later, here we are! I’m thrilled to have her on board!

What can people expect from the show?
People can expect a beautiful play – Colin (Jacob) and Willow (Mary) are perfect for their roles. They bring so much to the table and to their characters – they are truly 2 of Newfoundland’s finest.

Who created the lighting design?
Brian Bishop is our lighting designer, it’s my first time working with him. I’ve seen his work with c2c – I’m a big fan.

What was the casting process like?
We held auditions last June, however Willow and Colin were out of town for them. Petrina had worked with Colin and Willow prior to Salt Water Moon and thought they would be perfect for the roles and Petrina was right!

How can people check out the production?
Salt Water Moon will run from February 11th – 15th with a curtain time of 8pm at the Majestic Theatre. Tickets are $20 and are available at the Holy Heart Box office or by calling 579-4424.

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originally published December 2008

c2c theatre has been diligently working to establish itself as a producer of thought provoking scripts. Now in its fifth season they’re starting off with Montreal-born Francois Archambault’s The Leisure Society. This, the first of four in a basement series at the newly renovated Arts and Culture Centre, provided for a rollercoaster kick-start, directed by artistic associate Brad Hodder. Charlie Tomlinson importantly acknowledged that opening night was also the inaugural production in the refreshed space, thanking those involved for the investment and inviting the audience to share the traditional c2c opening night roasted turkey afterwards.

The Leisure Society

The Leisure Society

The four character show tackled everything from adoption to abortion and the difference between a threesome and an orgy. But despite the somewhat controversial subject matter of the events faced by Mary (Petrina Bromley) and Peter (Jonathan Watton) who are married and their ‘friend’ Mark (Aiden Flynn) who brings tag-along Paula (Jessica Power) for his visit, their mutual exposure makes its audience think. The dialogue of the show was engaging and Hodder’s direction combined with outstanding performances on all accounts kept it sharp. Bromley played a convincing drunk when her character’s taste for alcohol gets the better of her thanks to the box full of a dozen 26oz-er’s Mark brought with him. Power’s performance as his 21 year old “special” friend was breakout, believable and real – with her character becoming especially and surprisingly relative as the show unfolded.

The set design by Elyse Summers (5 Very Short New Plays In A Tub) was glossy and cosmo with canvas floor lights, a big furry rug with a leather top coffee table flanked by two leather benches on either side and a baby grand upstage centre. Hidden in the piano were packs of cigarettes and a flask, Peter and Mary’s hiding spots for their respective crutches. Both of which they helplessly try to fight, including the great debate of trying to smoke your last cigarette like your first when trying to quit.

Impossibly ignored, Mary and Peter have a birth child adding to mix of the evening crying constantly on a baby monitor, brilliantly added to the set and used. They are also in an adoption process and Mary’s pregnant considering abortion to protect the adoption procedure. All four evolved from being initially introduced through to the end. Mark who Peter and Mary plan to dump as a friend that night because of his wild ways and because they have nothing in common, eventually shows some disarming moments. Peter slowly seems to crumble becoming neurotic and irrational. The show’s devolution hovers around Peter’s fantasy of having a threesome. Mary ultimately decides that she is ready and suggests involving Mark – once they dump him, because then they won’t have to ever see him again. Problem was, Peter pictured the third party a woman. When Mark shows up with Paula drunken Mary asks to borrow her and the great debate ensues.

The scene transitions were particularly well executed in character, dropping to a dim light with an initial freeze then calm slow casual movement which continued to move the show forward. The soundtrack for the show was almost Charlie Brown styled piano and while subtle, fit perfectly. Notably well done transitions followed Mark and Paula butting heads and the very first with Mary and Peter having sex on the piano. The lighting after this transition scrupulously brought the audience back to the show leaving pause for post-sex satisfaction by back and top lighting both characters while they shared a cigarette before coming up fully once again.

The show was fast paced and crammed a lot into its almost 2 hour running time. The overall tone was almost that of a human drama film like The Shape of Things or Prime, just with way more punch. The show works towards getting to the things that matter, somehow amidst the jaw dropping shock comments, marital disputes and the unhappiness, confusion and boundless spontaneity. A shining start for the basement series which will next feature Paper Bags, Princesses, Puddles ‘n Pigs – Stories by Robert Munch, directed by Sandy Gow from December 11 – 21. c2c is covering all it’s bases with this will be one for the kids just in time for the holiday season, not to be missed!

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