Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre announces 2018 lineup

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ANTIGONISH – Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre unveiled its 2018 season lineup to a large crowd gathered at the Bauer Theatre on Friday evening.

“We are pleased to present Life on Stage as our theme for 2018,”  said artistic director Andrea Boyd. “Our season is filled with characters who struggle through their stories, and who show us that the struggle is worth it. Through brilliant twists and turns, each story follows a comedic journey, intermingled with poignant moments that remind us to be compassionate with ourselves and the humans who are close to us.”

The Main Stage series will include the Canadian Premiere of Hope and Gravity, a non-linear comedy about fate by American playwright Michael Hollinger; a dramatic comedy called Lunenburg, by acclaimed Canadian playwright Norm Foster; a wacky and musical comedy featuring Elvis – Burnin’ Love, by Sharon Bajer; and a special presentation of Path Productions’ Being Hank and Patsy, created by Antigonish native Laura Teasdale. The Family Stage production for this year will be Big Sister, Little Brother by UK playwright Mike Kenny, which reimagines the story of the The Emperor’s New Clothes in an adventurous and playful world.

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Once again, all five plays will run in repertory, offering a full roster of entertainment options to audiences all summer long. The 2018 season will also offer one extra week of performances with the season starting on July 3 rather than in mid-July. Pay-what-you-can previews will be offered for all shows, along with extra opportunities to interact with artists beyond the stage, including Meet the Playwright events and a Play Reading Series.

The cast for the Main Stage includes a mix of new names and returning festival favourites – Christian Murray, Michelle Piller, Laura Teasdale, Gordon Gammie, Lesley Smith and Henricus Gielis. Starring on the Family Stage will be Gina Thornhill and Sam Vigneault. Directors for the season include Andrea Boyd, Sharon Bajer and Richie Wilcox, and the design team includes Ian Pygott, Emlyn Murray and Chelsea Conn.

Also returning this year is the Relaxed Performances initiative, introduced for the first time in 2017 by Festival Antigonish. At a Relaxed Performance, the show is adapted specifically for people living with autism, sensory and communication disorders or intellectual disability. The sound and light effects on stage are reduced, house lights are turned up, audience members can move around or leave their seats and return, a quiet space is provided outside, and the atmosphere is generally more sensitive and welcoming for all.

“We are pleased to expand our Relaxed Performance initiative to three shows this year,” says managing director Reema Fuller. “As Antigonish prepares to host the 2018 Special Olympics National Games, we wanted to do our part and extend a warm welcome to all athletes and their families by opening the doors to the theatre to as many visitors as possible.” The Relaxed Performances will be held between July 3 and August 3, to coincide with the dates of the Special Olympics.

The 2018 season for FAST is dedicated to the memory of actor, director and beloved Antigonish native Ronald Lionel “Buddy” Doucette, who passed away suddenly in February.

Season passes are on sale now, and available by calling the box office. Complete show details are below.

LUNENBURG by Norm Foster (July 3 – Aug 25)

Directed by Sharon Bajer

Love on the rocks. When Iris and her best friend Natalie travel from their home in Maine to Lunenburg, they discover an unpleasant surprise. Unbeknownst to Iris, her recently deceased husband had a house … and another wife … in this small Nova Scotian town. The charismatic neighbour, Charlie, fills in the gaps of the mystery while romantic sparks fly between him and Natalie. The play is warm, funny, and filled with relatable characters and moments.

BURNIN’ LOVE by Sharon Bajer (July 18 – Aug 25)

Directed by Andrea Boyd

Heart strings and wild rides … and Elvis! This wacky, moving, and music-filled comedy about life and death tells the story of a nurse named Tina who is telling an Elvis impersonator about her comatose daughter who will soon be taken off life support. What she doesn’t know is that her daughter, Mary, has met the “real” Elvis as her spirit guide up in limbo and, with his help, she is desperately trying to come out of her coma. This moving, dramatic comedy takes its characters on a journey through strange lands to find one of grace… a Graceland, if you will.

CANADIAN PREMIERE

HOPE AND GRAVITY by Michael Hollinger (Aug 8 – 24, 2018)

Directed by Andrea Boyd

Unfortunately, everything is possible. When an elevator crashes in a major city, nine lives intersect in surprising ways – through love and sex, poetry and dentistry, in offices, homes, and hotel rooms.  By turns comic and profound, Hope and Gravity traces the barely perceivable threads that connect us all.

SPECIAL PRESENTATION

Path Productions’ BEING HANK AND PATSY (July 12 – Aug 1, 2018)

A top-notch concert with a true story. Written and Directed by Laura Teasdale.

The stories and songs of country music icons Patsy Cline and Hank Williams, revealed through the eyes of two passionate actors learning to portray them. This is a charming, intimate memoire that is ultimately a testament to the power of great music to bring people together.

FAMILY STAGE

Big Sister, Little Brother by Mike Kenny (July 24 – Aug 18, 2018)

Directed by Richie Wilcox

Rita and Archie meet a big-headed emperor, a foolish chief-minister, an exquisite empress and a host of courtiers, and in a vast palace, with rooms full of clothes, they weave magic garments. But when everything goes wrong, whose fault is it? Big Sister, Little Brother tells the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes with an unusual twist, and is a funny, fast-paced, heart-warming tale.


Artistic Director Andrea Boyd introduces the lineup for the 2018 season of Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre to a packed crowd at the Bauer Theatre on March 2. (Photo by Ashley Pettipas)

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