Thursday, 01 February 2018 10:05

Lyric Theatre benefits from success of historical musical drama

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Lyric Theatre Board President Denise Wall makes a presentation to members of the production team and cast of the play about the Cypress Hills, Jan. 16. From left to right, Keegan Browne, Denise Wall, Cyndi Tasche, Stew Tasche, Ed Doyle, Stefan Rumpel, Doug Sawatzky, Hugh Henry (kneeling), Gord Nodge, and Skip Neufeld. Lyric Theatre Board President Denise Wall makes a presentation to members of the production team and cast of the play about the Cypress Hills, Jan. 16. From left to right, Keegan Browne, Denise Wall, Cyndi Tasche, Stew Tasche, Ed Doyle, Stefan Rumpel, Doug Sawatzky, Hugh Henry (kneeling), Gord Nodge, and Skip Neufeld. Matthew Liebenberg

Swift Current’s Lyric Theatre is benefitting from the recent success of a historical musical drama about the Cypress Hills.


All five performances of the play “The Cypress Hills would never be the same” were sold out when it was presented for a third time at the Lyric Theatre in November 2017.
The profits from this production of the play and the wireless headset microphones used during the recent performances were donated to the Lyric Theatre.
Members of the Lyric Theatre’s board of directors met with members of the play’s production team and cast on Jan. 16 to express appreciation towards the group for supporting the theatre.
Board President Denise Wall made a presentation to playwright and director Stew Tasche and producer Cyndi Tasche.
“We just wanted to show our appreciation to Stew and Cyndi and the cast for such a great run of ‘The Cypress Hills would never be the same’,” Wall said. “The Lyric just benefits so much from things like this. Stew and Cyndi did such a great job of finding sponsors for the event, which takes a lot of the work off our hands, and then they purchased the wireless microphones and they have left those here at the Lyric for us to use. So it’s a huge asset for us.”
The wireless headset microphones will be especially useful during future drama performances at the Lyric Theatre.
“Most of the time it’s not mic’d and what we have found in the past is that seniors find it hard to hear sometimes,” Wall said. “I think it will really improve the experience of the audience of the Lyric. So that will be great.”
This historical musical drama about the Cypress Hills was first performed at the Lyric Theatre in November 2014 and thereafter in April 2015.
“The Lyric Theatre has become an icon in the community and we’re just so happy to be able to contribute some little part to the development and the future and the activities that go on here,” Stew Tasche said. “So we were really pleased with that and we really thank the Lyric Theatre for hosting us and you never know, there might be another one down the road somewhere.”
They felt it was important to leave some legacy for the Lyric Theatre as part of performing the play at this historical theatre.
“One of the things we wanted to do was make it as a fundraiser for the Lyric Theatre,” he said. “So the microphones were part of the legacy and then any of the profits that were left over from the play also went to the Lyric Theatre. I think it’s just one more way of keeping the Lyric Theatre viable.”
This play has only been presented to audiences at the Lyric Theatre and each time the performances were sold out.
“They’ve been so good to work with,” he said. “They’re very supportive. They partnered this time with the Living Sky Casino. So we had two groups working together to help us out and the people at the Lyric are just very helpful and they’re very interested in making this theatre viable. … So we just have to congratulate them and thank them for hosting us.”
This historical musical drama highlights a tumultuous time in the history of the Cypress Hills. It depicts the events that resulted in the Cypress Hills Massacre and the march westward by the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) through a series of monologues and musical performances by different characters.
The play has evolved each time it returned to the stage. Stew added the character of Silas Hawkins, an American wolver, for the April 2015 performances. For the most recent performances he included a new monologue and song for the character Crow Mary, an indigenous woman who was married to the trader Abe Farwell.
“I think people were here for all three of them, and there were quite a few who have watched the play evolve from something that was quite basic to something that is getting more sophisticated and more mature and more representative even of the history of the Cypress Hills,” Stew said.
At first Stew and Cyndi were not sure if there would be sufficient interest in a third-time performance of the play, but any doubts were soon dispelled.
“There was an appetite for it in that the tickets sold our very quickly,” Cyndi said.
What will happen with this play in the future is not yet clear. One of the options under consideration is to make it available to other theatre companies for presentation in larger theatres elsewhere in the country, but another local production of the play might also happen.
“We’ve got a cast that’s just gung-ho to do it again,” Stew said. “So I guess there have to be some changes made. I’ve been looking at another character to add the next time. … So we’re definitely thinking of where we’re going to go from here.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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