Theatre Woodstock will perform 37 Postcards - a comedy by playwright Michael McKeever - that opens Feb. 14 to 16 and 20 to 22 at 7:30 p.m. The Feb. 16 and 22 shows are matinees at 2 p.m.
The latest production for Theatre Woodstock shows you really can go home again.
The local theatre group will perform 37 Postcards, a comedy by American playwright Michael McKeever that ultimately celebrates a sense of family.
The play features Avery Sutton and his fiancée Gillian Moore returning to his hometown to see his family after he’s travelled abroad for eight years.
While Sutton left home in his early 20’s, his fiancée insists they return so she can meet his quirky family, only to find they’ve lost their minds. The family home is partially in a sinkhole, but the family members are either pretending to be – or are genuinely unaware – of their jeopardy. They’re also not sure if some of the family members still in the home are alive or not.
“There’s been a loss in the family and that’s what originally separated them. It’s a story on how they find their way back to each other,” Dianne Ingram, the show’s director, said. “It’s a comedy with a lot of laughs, but at the same time there’s some heartwarming moments in it.”
Ingram said the show was selected by the company’s reading committee and approved by Theatre Woodstock’s board of directors about a year ago.
The company members began planning last summer, held auditions in the fall and then started rehearsals in November. The crew and cast gathered about three times a week in preparation until they moved into the theatre proper about two weeks ago, which has seen them meeting daily in some capacity.
The biggest obstacle to getting the play prepared was the set design.
With the family home partially in a sinkhole, it meant the set would have to be slanted.
The stage manager, Mark Mullaly, was charged with using risers – a theatre platform – to build angled cross braces with plywood attached. The set starts from the right side of the stage, where it’s level with the floor, and gradually rises about 36 centimetres to the left side, Ingram said.
The design needs the furniture to be tilted, but also means the cast has to remember their lines while keeping their balance. The set also has a white line to show how the set is sloped.
The risers came from the group’s STAGES youth theatre company and required the crew to put in long hours to prepare.
“This production is a fantastic example of community and the wholeheartedness people have launched into this to make it happen,” said Ingram, who’s also the theatre’s artistic director. “Everyone’s been involved in helping in some way. The one thing I love about Theatre Woodstock is it’s all hands on deck and whatever it takes to get the show up. They’re all volunteers, so it’s very extraordinary. It’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours.”
The show is also Theatre Woodstock’s selection to be adjudicated for the Western Ontario Drama league. The show is in competition against nine other productions for five slots but, if it’s selected, they’ll perform once again in Cambridge this March.
Including the intermission, Ingram said the performance will be about 95 minutes.
And while the show will look to make people laugh, it will also have serious moments on the importance of family.
“There are difficult things that happen in life and, when something tragic happens in your family, everybody can react in different ways to the tragedy,” Ingram said. “It can be hard to keep talking and get through the tragedy and because the humour in the play softens it, it can make it easier to talk about or identify with it.
“We’re hoping people see it’s possible that even though something has broken the family, you can come back together and that’s what family is all about.”
The show runs from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16 and from Feb. 20 to Feb. 22. While the Feb. 16 and 22 shows are 2 p.m. matinees, the other performances begin at 7 p.m.
For tickets, visit: www.theatrewoodstock.com.