Little Theatre hits the stage

Director Ken Johnson discusses some details with actors during a rehearsal. On stage, from left, are Kurtis Bakanec, Jarod Johnson, Sean Finell, Miranda Woodrow, and Breanna Clark.

Swift Current Little Theatre is returning to the stage with a hilarious farce that will keep audiences laughing throughout the riotous plot with many twists and turns.

The community theatre group is hosting five performances of Clothes Encounters by playwright Roger Karshner between March 29 and April 6.

The two-act play is directed by Swift Current Little Theatre veteran Ken Johnson, who has directed over 30 times.

“It's what I started tagging as an eight-door farce,” he said. “Anytime you have a set with that many exits and entrances, you know that there's going to be a lot of coming in one door and leaving the other, close call scenes. It's in the line of some of the good farces we've done before. There is a lot of physical comedy and a lot of movement, a lot of chase scenes and a lot of mistaken identities.”

Husband and wife real estate brokers Alan and Kathy Masters, played by Sean Finell and Breanna Clark, unwittingly end up taking a client to the same house. The potential home buyers are Betty and Ralph Parker, played by Miranda Woodrow and Jarod Johnson. They have decided to look at properties with different realtors, and are also not aware they are going to end up in the same house. The presence of the bungling handyman Heinz, played by Kurtis Bakanec, adds to the strange situations that develop.

“It leads to a lot of good comedic situations,” Johnson said. “All the fun starts when they go to check the plumbing and turn the tub on, and the shower is on instead and the two people that are there to look at the house end up wet and have to find alternate clothing.”

It results in a farce of double-meanings, mistaken identities, and sexual innuendo. Four of the actors have appeared before in Swift Current Little Theatre productions and Clark is making her debut appearance with the group.

“It's always fun to work with the new people,” Johnson said. “I enjoy that a lot, but it's also great when you're dealing with past actors that you worked with that are very good comedians and very intuitive to a good script.”

He has been involved with the group for about 30 years in various roles, including as an actor and a director, and he still enjoys it.

“I find excitement in watching the progression and helping to mould the abilities of the actors, because it's really a creative process and you're part of somebody else's creative process,” he said about his role as director. “You're coaching them through the creative process of being somebody different, and that's fun.”

It takes hours of preparation and rehearsal to bring a production to the stage, and part of the reward is in the response from audience members.

“The payoff has always been when you hear the audience starting to enjoy it for the first time, because you've been watching that production for two months,” he said. 

“What was funny when you first got into it, has probably faded away or you're even looking for other ways to make it funny, because it's not funny to you anymore. When the audience sees it for the first time it's the payoff for the actors and for all the people that are involved in the production.”

Laura Beddome has been involved with about six productions over the past four years. She is taking on a new role as producer for this spring production.

“Many people come to community theatre because they want to be on stage, and that is not how I found my way here,” she said. “I just wanted to join a creative group of people who wanted to bring a story to life and just be a part of it. My favourite things are to be behind the scenes and to contribute in that way.”

She oversees all the various components of this large production in her role as producer, which has been a steep learning curve.

“It's learning from all of these incredibly experienced, talented members that make up this club, all of the things that go into a production happening, and then making sure that everything was moving along as it needs to be,” she said. “So I've been learning and really enjoying that piece of it.”

Over 40 people are involved in the work to bring this production to the stage. Some have been with the group for many years and therefore have a lot of experience to share.

“So any nerves that I might have felt at any moment were very quickly relieved by the quick response and the confidence and the action of those members as well as the newer members,” she said. “We've had some fantastic new people join our group this season who dove right in and are really fun, open-minded creative individuals. I think everyone involved with Little Theatre really cares about its success and bringing really fantastic theatre to this community for many years to come.”

Swift Current Little Theatre did not present a fall production in 2018 and the group is eager to present their latest production to audiences.

“I think that the members of Swift Current Little Theatre were just itching to get back together again and work on a production,” she said. “We've been staying connected and celebrating together past successes and reading plays and looking forward to our next opportunity to invest our time and energy in making a production happen. So it's really exciting to see this group at it again and all working together to bring this show to Swift Current.”

Beddome felt this production will have special interest and appeal to people who work in the real estate industry.

“It really captures the experience of people in the real estate industry,” she said. “So I would really encourage all those in our community who work in that industry to come out. I think that staff teams at those places would really have a great time, but for anyone in any professional setting this would be a great thing to do for staff parties or any group, and also for anyone who's ever wanted to buy or sell a home, it's pretty hilarious as well.”

Tickets for Clothes Encounters are on sale at Pharmasave. Dinner theatre tickets are $40 each and only available in advance. The pub night tickets are $20 each and the regular performance tickets are $10 each. Performances take place at Beatty Playhouse, which is located in the gymnasium on the Swift Current campus of Great Plains College.

All five performances start at 8 p.m. The production opens with the dinner theatre on March 29. Doors open at 6 p.m. and dinner is at 6:30 p.m.  

The pub nights are on March 30, April 5 and 6, and the doors open at 6:30 p.m. The regular performance is on April 4, and doors open at 7 p.m.

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