By Mary Alderson
Port Hope’s Cameco Capitol Arts Centre has announced a new season with their new artistic producer. Rob Kempson has taken on that role and has planned an interesting line-up for 2022. In the meantime, The Capitol has two big on-going events celebrating this Christmas season.
It’s the 25th anniversary of their Festival of Lights and Trees. Area businesses and organizations decorate trees throughout the lobby, halls, and theatre at the Capitol. Visitors can view the array of lights and decorations on the trees, and purchase tickets to enter a draw and win a tree. The trees are spectacular as each decorator tries to outdo the next.
Instead of the usual panto offered by the Capitol, this year’s production is Miracle on Queen Street is an improv show. A cast of comedic actors with improvisational theatre skills will take the stage and the production will be different every night with no script and no lines memorized. But in keeping with the traditional panto, there will both a naughty and nice (child friendly) version.
So after Covid shut the doors for nearly two years, the Capitol is getting back on track for 2022. Kempson stressed the work on stage will be of high quality and they will strive for artistic excellence. He also spoke of his desire for inclusive, diverse, and accessible theatre, where the community feels welcome. As well, he stressed safety and adherence to Covid protocols. With all this in mind, Kempson has a fun-filled season planned.
Kicking off the season early will be Boom, written and performed by Rick Miller. This production was planned for 2019, but had to cancelled, and is now rescheduled for March 10 to 20. Boom takes us on a journey from 1945 to 1969 when baby boomers were being born. We see over 100 influential politicians, activists and musicians in this impressive multi-media presentation.
The summer season opens June 2 with A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline. This show tells the short life of the beloved country singer and includes her hits such as “Crazy” and “Walkin’ After Midnight”. While those who aren’t necessarily country fans might think they won’t enjoy this biographical show, they will be pleasantly surprised at how well Patsy’s music transcends genres.
Opening July 7 will be the hilarious “Stag & Doe”, a comedy written by Mark Crawford, who’s quickly becoming Canada’s most popular playwright. It’s small town humour at its best – the hall is booked for the stag and doe, (the bride and groom’s big wedding fundraiser) when their massive wedding tent blows away. Then they want that hall for their wedding celebration, too, and find it double booked.
In announcing “Stag & Doe”, Kempson talked about his appreciation for Crawford’s humour. Being a big fan of Crawford’s plays myself, I agree with Kempson’s comments. Kempson points out that Crawford’s laughs are not created by one character mocking or putting down other characters. (That’s my main complaint about TV sitcoms today. It’s so refreshing to find a show that doesn’t rely on putdowns for humour.) Kempson says there is no place for misogynistic, racist, or homophobic jokes.
Next up will be “9 to 5 The Musical”, opening August 4. Remember the 1980 movie starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lilly Tomlin? Dolly Parton has written the songs to turn it into a stage musical. Violet, Judy, and Doralee are fed up with their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical boss. This hilarious romp will have audiences roaring with laughter.
The 2022 season will wrap up with the traditional panto, Sleeping Beauty. But this will be a new version written for the Capitol audience by Second City alumni, Paloma Nunez and Kevin Whalen. As usual, there will be naughty and nice versions.