Ships Company announces season

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Andrew Wagstaff
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Three mainstage productions highlight packed lineup for companys 24th annual performance schedule

There was this one time at fiddle camp that Ships Company Theatre announced its entire season lineup. Last Friday, in fact.

Artistic director Pamela Halstead announced another jam-packed season ahead for the theatre company in front of a captive audience gathered at the theatre for the opening of the second annual fiddle camp on May 18.

Ships Company announces season

There was this one time at fiddle camp that Ships Company Theatre announced its entire season lineup. Last Friday, in fact.

Artistic director Pamela Halstead announced another jam-packed season ahead for the theatre company in front of a captive audience gathered at the theatre for the opening of the second annual fiddle camp on May 18.

The 2007 Season is filled with the theme of survival, she said. In some cases it is weather systems and in some cases storms within the community or family. There is much laughter and a few tears. In the plays and in the music there is a great variety that offers something for every taste.

The first mainstage production will be the world premiere of Share, written by Carol Sinclair and directed by Halstead. The play will open on July 6 and run until July 29.

In Share, two couples have plans for a romantic weekend in a rustic cabin in paradise, but both arrive at the same cottage at the same time. An oncoming hurricane results in them becoming stuck together, and personalities begin to clash.

The storm hits and all hell breaks loose, and when they find out what each other is planning to do, all hell really breaks loose, said Halstead.

Sinclair is no stranger to Ships Company, having written the smash hit The Summer of the Handley Page, which played for two seasons in 1987 and 1988, and more recently appeared as an actor in the 2005 production Shatter.

While Sinclair was quick to point out that the play is set in a Parrsboro-like community and not Parrsboro specifically, Halstead said it is particularly timely after the towns recent brush with a proposed games factory.

Cast for the show includes Nova Scotian stage veterans Jerry Etienne, Brian Heighton, Angela Vermier and Glenda Stirling. All four will be performing at Ships Company for the first time, although Stirling wrote and directed last seasons production Lillibet.

The second mainstage production will be the Atlantic premiere of MacGregors Hard Ice Cream and Gas by Daniel Macdonald, also directed by Halstead. It will open on Aug. 10 and run until Sept. 2.

The comedy will focus on the MacGregor family as they struggle to come to terms with the past while grappling with the present and attempting to face the future in the days following the death of their patriarch. Halstead described it as a humourous tale of love, loss, hope and redemption.

I am so pleased to be able to introduce the Ships Company audience to Daniel Macdonalds writing, she said. It is quirky and off the wall and yet rings true in our recognition of these characters as people we know. In MacGregors Hard Ice Cream and Gas, the mother has stopped going outside to walk because she is tired of waving to the same four people over and over again. Who of us that comes from a small town does not recognize that frustration?

Cast for the show will include Ships Company alum Gay Hauser, as well as Live Bait Theatre co-founder Charlie Rhindress and newcomers Natasha MacLellan and Nathan Pilon.

The creative team for the mainstage productions also includes familiar names such as lighting designer Bruce MacLennan, sound designers Greg Simm and Krista Wells, costume designers Krista Levy and Jennifer Coe, and set designer Cory Mullins.

Capping off the mainstage this year will be a touring production of Gods Middle Name, the award-winning play by Jennifer Overton directed by former Ships Company artistic producer Scott Burke and aided in development with commissioning funds from Ships Company. It will run from Sept. 11-16.

Based on Overtons book Snapshots of Autism, the play chronicles her real-life experience of raising an autistic child. It received the 2007 Robert Merritt Award for outstanding new play and outstanding new production.

Also featured this summer will be the Second Stage production of Tuesdays and Sundays, written by Daniel Arnold and Medina Hahn and starring Ships Company alumni Kate Lavender (Shatter) and Matthew Stephenson (Shatter, Lillibet).

The Monday Night Concert Series will feature a loaded lineup of talent in eight different shows, concluding with a three-day tribute to Patsy Cline performed by Margot Sampson. The summer will also include a kids stage, reading series, drama camps and much more.

awagstaff@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Ships Company Theatre, Live Bait Theatre, Concert Series

Geographic location: Parrsboro, Handley Page

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