Pictou Advocate Arts and Entertainment

Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre opens July 3

Arts & Entertainment Community

ANTIGONISH – Rehearsals are on in full swing for the 31st season of Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre. The season begins July 3 and continues for eight weeks with five different shows in repertory.

This year’s company once again brings together top professional artists from across the country, including Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg.

The Main Stage series opens with Lunenburg, a delightful romantic comedy by Festival-favourite and acclaimed playwright Norm Foster. Next in the series is a special presentation of Path Productions’ Being Hank & Patsy, a tribute to country music icons Patsy Cline and Hank Williams, created by Antigonish native Laura Teasdale. The musical theme continues in the season with Burnin’ Love by Sharon Bajer, a madcap and music-filled comedy with heartstrings and wild rides, and Elvis! Capping the Main Stage series is the Canadian premiere of Hope and Gravity by Michael Hollinger, a brilliant and profound comedy about fate.

The Family Stage opens on July 24 with Big Sister, Little Brother by UK playwright Mike Kenny. This fast-paced and funny play reimagines the story of the The Emperor’s New Clothes in an adventurous and playful world. It is fun for all ages, but especially for the youngest audiences.

As in past years, all five plays will run in repertory, offering a full roster of entertainment options to audiences all summer long. Festival Antigonish  also offers pay-what-you-can shows at the first performance for each play. All evening shows start at 8 p.m., and matinees start at 2 p.m.

The cast for the Main Stage includes a mix of new and familiar names – Christian Murray, Michelle Piller, Laura Teasdale, Gordon Gammie, Gillian Clark, 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 consists of Ian Pygott, Emlyn Murray and Chelsea Conn.

A special feature in this year’s schedule is the Relaxed Performances initiative, extended to three plays during the Special Olympics week in 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. The Relaxed Performances will be held between July 30-August 3, and tickets are subsidized at $10.

Also featured this season is a Play Reading Series and special “Meet the Playwright” events for those looking to have extra opportunities to interact with artists beyond the stage.

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

A complete schedule and show details can be found online at www.festivalantigonish.com or by calling (902) 867-3333.