Bed and Breakfast – 2023

Two Men; 22 Characters

Reviewed by Mary Alderson

Another excellent comedy is on stage at the Orillia Opera House. But this time there’s a difference. When you go to see Bed and Breakfast, take along your tissues, too. While you will have plenty to laugh about, you may also be wiping a few tears. (Note: This show moves from Orillia to the Rose Theatre in Brampton.)

There are two sources of comedy in this play: first, Mark Crawford’s clever writing and witty comebacks are always good for laughs, and secondly, there are only two actors playing 22 parts. That in itself is crazy funny. But these two comedic actors also know how to pull our heartstrings.

Thomas Alderson plays Brett and Matt Pilipiak plays Drew, a gay couple living in Toronto. Brett is an interior designer who appears on the Marilyn Dennis TV show, while Drew works the front desk in a big Toronto hotel. They are trying to buy a home, but the prices are high and they lose out in the bidding wars. When Brett’s Aunt Maggie dies suddenly, he inherits her big house in a small town outside of Toronto. They decide to move in, do some renovations, and open a bed and breakfast. They deal with an assortment of people including Brett’s parents, the building contractor, a coffee shop owner and her partner, Brett’s brother, a neighbour, a couple of teen-aged boys, and of course, various guests at the bed and breakfast. As well, they face some challenges from nasty homophobes. There is also a surprise revelation just when you think the story is all wrapped up.

Alderson and Pilipiak have excellent comedic timing. Under the direction of Fiona Sauder, they have made this a very fast-paced show. Their action is almost frenetic, as they shift from scene to scene taking on a different persona for each of the 11 individual characters they play apiece. Sometimes it’s a shrug to change the fit of a jacket, sometimes it’s a spin around as they change the tone of their voice, and sometimes it’s simply a mannerism and you know they are a different person.

One minute Alderson is playing his mother Lynda, the next minute he plays his brother Steve. Later he plays a six-year-old girl, freaking out when she sees Santa in the parade, and after that a 70-year-old right-wing thinking woman. In between, he’s a pregnant café owner. Pilipiak handles the part of Cody, the 18-year-old sullen nephew and Carrie, the overzealous real estate agent. It’s especially hilarious when he plays both Travis and Alexa, a drunken, amorous couple on their honeymoon. Pilipiak is also Doug, the grumpy renovations contractor.

All these characters and more are carefully maneuvered through the plot, which works its way to the shocking conclusion.

Credit also goes to artistic director Jesse Collins for the set and sound design, and Andrew Dollar for lighting,  which help differentiate the scenes. A table is the only prop throughout the show. And of course, hats off to playwright Mark Crawford who has given us comedy hits like Stag and Doe, The Birds and The Bees, The New Canadian Curling Club, and Chase the Ace, all of which are making the rounds of summer theatres. Crawford, who grew up in the small town of Glencoe, Ontario is a master of rural/urban comedy. He is Canada’s next Norm Foster.

You have two opportunities to see this hilarious pair of actors as they bring Brett and Drew (and so many others) to life. The chemistry between them is evident, and you will get a lump in your throat when their lives get rough. You don’t want to miss this play, and I’m not saying that just because one actor happens to be my son. Be sure to book tickets at the Orillia Opera House or The Rose Theatre in Brampton to catch this show. They get a full-house standing ovation after every performance.

Bed and Breakfast continues at the Orillia Opera House in Orillia until August 11. Tickets are available at the OOH box office at 705-326-8011 or online at  Also at the Rose Theatre, Brampton until August 26. Tickets are available at the Rose at 905-874-2800 or online at

Photo: Thomas Alderson as Brett and Matt Pilipiak as Drew. Photo by Kristi May.

Note:  This show has mature content and language.
Disclaimer: Actor Thomas Alderson is the reviewer’s son.

Bed and Breakfast
By Mark Crawford
Directed by Fiona Sauder
Performed by Thomas Alderson and Matt Pilipiak
Orillia Opera House – July 26 to August 11, 2023
Rose Theatre, Brampton – August 24 to 26, 2023
Reviewed by Mary Alderson


Sign up here if you would like to receive notice when news, reviews, and musings are posted. You can unsubscribe at any time.