As temperatures drop and more Albertans are vaccinated, there’s a noticeable spotlight on the return of live performances. Joining the chorus is St. Albert Dinner Theatre, celebrating its 10th anniversary.
If permitted under provincial COVID protocols, the community theatre company is going ahead with a three-show season at the Kinsmen Banquet Hall, its official performance venue.
“We’re very happy to have got to this point considering the shutdown in the last two years. And we’re all very excited this is our 10th year. It shows we have staying power. It shows we have talent and great support from our community,” said Donna Beeston, St. Albert Dinner Theatre president.
While the stage went dark these past 18 months, the play committee read more than 25 scripts and whittled the number down to three productions.
For the season’s first production, the committee selected a return of the company’s inaugural comedy. Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s Self Help, originally performed in February 2011, returns with a brand-new cast and a fresh twist Nov. 11 to 13, Nov. 18 to 20, and Nov. 25 to 27.
Beeston explained Self Help revolves around a couple of life-coaches. Over the years, Cindy and Hal Savage have lined their pockets dispensing advice. But everything spins out of control when the gardener is found lying dead in the study with a stiff erection. As the couple tries to hide the body, their agent, a snoopy reporter, and a romantically challenged detective start asking questions.
“We wanted to do a throwback. We looked up what we’d done in the past and found this one the most suited for what we were doing. The second reason was that this show allowed a fair amount of space between the actors,” said Beeston.
The season’s second production starts in the New Year with Gary Ray Stapp’s The Trouble with Cats, running Feb. 3 to 19, 2022. This is the company’s big-cast show with 12 actors.
In The Trouble with Cats, an experienced house-sitting couple is in for more than they bargained from when the property they’re sitting at is double booked with a younger couple whose lifestyle clashes with theirs. Toss in snoopy neighbours, squabbling renovators, and a missing cat for a hyper farce.
“We wanted shows that make people laugh and gave the opportunity for more actors to participate. When we were planning the season, we were hedging our bets that the latter part would be safer. A lot of people are itching to go back to acting and we wanted to give them the opportunity,” Beeston said.
The final show of the season is Rob Wheeler’s four-actor comedy, The Two Timers, set for April 7 to 23. Not only is this production the Alberta premiere, it is also the first original script the company will produce.
“This show is interesting because it’s all older actors. There are two couples, and they are best friends. One couple’s house accidentally burns down, and they move in with the other couple, but find themselves stepping on each other’s toes.”
More to the point, the wives suspect the husbands are having an affair with each other. The wives pump up the sex until the guys think their wives want them to “buy the farm” through overexertion.
Theatre-goers must provide proof of vaccination, a negative COVID test within 72 hours, or proof of an exemption to attend. The buffet dinner, prepared by chef Doug Adsit, will be dished out by volunteers wearing masks and gloves.
The Kinsmen Banquet Hall is at 47 Riel Drive. Doors at 6 p.m., buffet at 6:45 p.m. and show at 8 p.m. Tickets remain at 2019 prices: single $60, senior/student $55, and groups of more than 10 at $55. Visit stalberttheatre.com.