Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre (FAST) continues to offer “something for everyone” according to artistic producer Ed Thomason.
“We are extremely excited about this season. People are going to enjoy some fabulous shows,” he said Monday during a break in rehearsals.
The live professional repertory theatre will raise the curtain on another season July 9 at the Bauer Theatre on the St. F.X. University campus.
In offering “three stages for all ages,” FAST features a Main Stage, Family Stage and Stage 2 series.
The Main Stage shows open with the comedy Glorious, which runs from July 9 to September 5.
The Peter Quilter comedy is based on the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, the American heiress who wanted to be a great operatic diva despite her horrible singing voice. Directed by Robert Metcalfe, the cast includes Shelley Thompson, Ian Gilmore and Helen Taylor.
“It is extraordinarily funny,” Thomason said.
Following in the comedic theme, Alan Ayckbourn’s Intimate Exchanges focuses on the lives of two unhappy couples.
“It is just wonderful material,” Thomason, who is directing the production, said.
“It is tremendous how the couples become intertwined and how the characters get into extreme situations,” he added.
Running from July 22 to August 29, the cast features Barbara Barnes and Anthony Black.
“Not only are both comedies funny, but they also feature real people in real situations.
“Audiences will be able to relate to what the characters are going through,” the artistic producer added.
Thomason also takes the director’s chair in the psychological thriller Dead Guilty, a creation of playwright Richard Harris.
After her lover dies in a car crash, Julia Darrow gets a visitor – his widow Margaret. The audience is kept in suspense by the widow’s motives. Does she know about the affair? Why is she befriending the “other woman”?
The suspense builds to a surprising climax.
Dead Guilty takes centre stage from August 6 to 28.
Rounding out the Main Stage foursome is Geometry in Venice (September 2 to 5).
Directed by Anthony Black, the Michael MacKenzie creates a sensitive, erotic and social satire based on the Henry James short story The Pupil.
Pemberton, a young Canadian living in Venice in the late 1880s, is hired to tutor Morgan Moreen, a 13-year-old prodigy. Falling under the youngster’s spell, Pemberton becomes caught in a web of deceit and family intrigue.
The cast includes Helen Taylor, Andrew Kasprzak, Sarah English, Ed Thomason and Ian Gilmore.
“We have four fabulous Main Stage productions. Again, it is going to offer a little something for everyone,” Thomason said.
Along with regular showcases, which feature the talents of local performers in area such as music, comedy and poetry, Stage 2 boasts a variety of stage performances.
You Fancy Yourself, a one-woman comic show by award winning writer and performer Maja Ardal makes a three-day run from July 22 to 25.
From July 29 to August 1, The Last Dog of War raises the curtain at Immaculata Auditorium. Written and performed by Linda Griffiths, it is the true story of a voyage of re-discovery with her Yorkshire-born father to a Second World War bomber command reunion in England. Cape Breton native Daniel McIvor is the director.
“It is amazing to have two wonderful theatre professionals who are at the top of their game,” Thomason said.
Swelle is the compilation of the hilarious and heartbreaking moments in young women’s lives penned by four Halifax writers.
“It is a wonderful piece of work, and Sarah (English) does a great job,” Thomason said.
English, one of the many cast members with local roots, will perform under the direction of Jeremy Webb.
Daily shows are scheduled for August 5 to 10.
On August 1, Unravelled will unfold on Stage 2. Martha Gibson and Louis Del Grande will present a reading of their comedy-in-progress, which follows an elderly woman’s rise from bed to teach one last knitting class.
“They are a great pair,” Thomason said.
He added people may be familiar with Del Grande, who starred in the 1980s CBC show Seeing Things.
“They spent a great deal of time in St. Peter’s, so I guess you could call them local talent as well,” he added.
Thomason said the Stage productions share a common theme of “strong women in interesting situations.”
On the FAST Family Stage at St. F.X.’s Immaculata Auditorium, Little Munsch on the Prairie will be in the spotlight from July 13 to 31.
Adapted by Debbie Patterson and directed by Richie Wilcox, the high-energy, mad-cap presentations feature the writings of renowned Canadian children’s author Robert Munsch.
Featuring the talents of Sarah English, Tricia Brosha and Andrew Morrisey, the shows will features classics such as The Dark, 50 Below Zero and Pigs, along with new favourites, Show and Tell and I’m So Embarrassed.
“We always have had tremendous success with his material,” Thomason said.
The trio performing the Munsch works add more local flavour Thomason pointed out.
“We have a tremendous young company.
“It is a great reflection of what we have been trying to do with our aspiring young performers.”
Thomason said Andrew Morrisey, who now studies musical theatre at Sheridan College, is a product of the FAST theatre camp. He starred in Honk! a couple of summers ago.
“It is great to see those traditions bearing fruit,” he added.
Under the direction of Wilcox, Lost and Found will take centre stage from August 11 to 22.
Based on a Shelley Thompson script, the new musical show is based on the creative writing projects of local high school students.
Assigned the task of clearing out the lost and found box, a young teacher at a small P-12 school decides to make it a learning exercise.
And then one of the children goes missing…
Familiar FAST face Ross Thompson provides music and musical direction for the show.
“We are so excited about Lost and Found. It will be a great opportunity to see some more of our up and coming performers,” Thomason said.
For those who have enjoyed an evening for FAST, they can expect the same high quality plays and cast members to which they are accustomed.
“For people who have not joined us, it is a great experience. Once they make their first visit, they will come again,” Thomason said.
He added a visit to the venerable Bauer Theatre is an experience of its own.
“It is such a welcoming place.”
With increased economic challenges people are facing, Thomason said a night at the theatre is a great value. A visit to FAST can cost as little as $20.
“It’s a tremendous deal considering the level of entertainment you will enjoy.”
“Laughter’s also a great tonic,” Thomason added.
For more information about FAST, including show schedule and ticket information, visit www.festivalantigonish.com or phone 867-3333.