The Play’s the Thing – ImPort Stanley

The front of Port Stanley Festival Theatre with black, yellow and red lettering and glass doors.

ImPort Stanley is weekly series about life and discoveries by a recent “import” to Port Stanley, ON.

Every time I’ve gone to see a small-town theatre production, it was worth it. Port Stanley’s Festival Theatre included. It’s been many years since I’ve seen a show there. The last time, I drove from my home in Toronto. Now that we live here, it’s time to rediscover this gem of an attraction.

The theatre has been through a rough couple of years, of course. It could use some love in the form of sold out shows as it finally returns with a full season schedule. It’s heavy on comedy with some music and three world premieres. Here’s what’s coming:

The season launches on May 31st with Gabs Sings Babs. Toronto actor, singer, writer, producer, recording artist, Gabi Epstein “uses the iconic music of Barbra Streisand to tell the story of her own showbiz journey”. Gabi is often referred to as Canada’s Queen of Cabaret. An album based on this show is due out soon. Gabs Sings Babs continues until June 4th.

The Crooner Show is a returning favorite, June 7-11. Created by Rick Kish, one of its stars along with Connor Boa, they croon the hits through the years right up to Michael Bublé. Kish is a Forest City London Music Award Winner as Best Jazz Vocalist.

Radio (and former radio) pros have a soft spot in our hearts for the work of playwright Norm Foster. After all, Norm was a radio morning man in New Brunswick when he wrote his first play. That was 55+ plays ago and radio has long been in his rear view mirror. Norm’s latest comedy, My Hero, will get its premiere here June 15 and run until July 9. My Hero concerns a divorced man who moves back in with his Mother and has some decisions to make after Mom’s life moves forward while his stalls.

Another world premiere follows on July 13th. Our House is a comedy about a couple who find “retirement might not be all it’s cracked up to be”. Murray Furrow, playwright and actor, wrote it. Furrow’s known for roles in TV and streaming series ranging from Orphan Black to The Umbrella Academy to Murdoch Mysteries. Our House’s run continues until July 30th.

The View From Here by Jamie Williams completes the season’s trifecta of world premieres on August 3rd. Jamie has a long history as a actor and a (so-far) brief but successful one as a playwright. The View From Here is a comedy about Michael and Mary and a very different view of the world than they expected. It runs until August 20th.

The season closes with the comedy Meet My Sister, August 10 to September 24. Bonnie Green’s play is about two very different sisters who disagree about how to deal with their aging Mom. Secrets emerge as they bicker their way through finding a solution for Mom and common ground.

The Port Stanley Festival Theatre is a not-for-profit venture. They’re not quite back up to full steam since the peak of the pandemic. For example, there won’t be a Youth Theatre Camp this year. But this full show season proves they’ve survived and weathered the storm of COVID. I hope visitors and Port Stanlians alike come out to support them. Break a leg, everybody!

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