[EDITOR'S NOTE - 30/12/2019 - 8 P.M. - In the original online version, the first two quotes in the story - from playwrights Gregg and Teasdale - were incorrectly attributed to TA artistic director Andrea Boyd. We apologize for the error.]
ANTIGONISH - Christmas in 'Antigonowhere', an original piece written by Justin Gregg and Laura Teasdale, will take center stage this weekend – Dec. 7 and 8 – at the venerable St. F.X. Bauer Theatre.
Showtime is 7:30 p.m., both evenings, with a Dec. 8 matinee scheduled for 2 p.m.
“We jumped at the chance to create a Christmas gift for Antigonish in the form of a radio play to honor our strengths as a community, and poke fun at our quirks,” Teasdale said.
She noted the play is “packed full of Antigonish references and in-jokes.”
“We had so much fun celebrating local people, history and institutions. Why should you come see this play - because you just might be in it,” Gregg added.
The creative duo pitched their idea to her during the summer.
“And she liked it,” Gregg said, with a laugh.
With the greenlight from Boyd, the writing team started their process by early August.
“We put the first draft out quickly,” Gregg noted.
As for the theme of the play, Teasdale explained Gregg’s idea paralleled the well-known Broadway production Come from Away, which chronicled the stranding of air passengers in Newfoundland and Labrador during the 911 tragedy.
Christmas in 'Antigonowhere' tells the story of a group of well-to-do tourists that are stranded in Antigonish – ‘the nicest town in Nova Scotia’ – due to a wintry blast.
“It is about turning a lens on us,” Gregg said of the piece.
He noted he tapped into his last few years living in Antigonish – when reflecting its “quirks” – while Teasdale tapped into her time growing up in North Grant, Antigonish County.
With a spoof and comedy, in general, Teasdale said there is always concern about offending people.
“Nothing is said with meanness; if you are mentioned, it means – for us – that you are great,” she said.
As part of the humour, the piece has some fun with the re-naming of some Antigonish mainstays, including The Casket becoming The Coffin, while the Antigonish 5¢ to $1 becomes Antigonish 10 to a Twoonie.
As a way of reflecting the rich diversity found in Antigonish, the stranded travellers are housed with – among others – Dutch, Irish and Scottish families.
Along with the local references, the family-friendly show geared towards all-ages includes live holiday songs and the beautiful sounds of the St. James Hand Bell ensemble.
The cast includes more than 20 community members and musicians.
Although there are “so many different kinds of characters,” the writers said casting was not difficult considering the “deep talent pool” found in Antigonish.
“It was great,” Teasdale said of the first cast table reading, which took place one day earlier.
Gregg noted it was important because it reassured them of the play’s humour.
“It let us know that we are the right track,” he said.
Christmas in 'Antigonowhere' comes on the heels of the first two annual TA holiday productions, which were sell-outs. Each play – including this year’s – is presented in the format of a live radio broadcast.
“This is a delightful, funny, heartwarming story, one perfect for this time of the year,” TA artistic director Andre Boyd, who said she is “thrilled” to be directing the production, said.
“Being able to involve scores of talented actors and musicians from the town, county and university is a rewarding experience for us all.”
In its 45th year, TA is a professionally-led community theatre organization, offering high quality productions during the fall and winter months.
As a non-profit organization, TA brings together St. F.X. students and members of the local community to work together on all aspects of the productions, including acting, designing, set-building, sound and light and promotions.
This year, advance tickets for the holiday production will include assigned seating, so patrons are no longer required to arrive early to get their preferred seats.
Tickets are $15 ($12 for seniors and $10 for students).
Advance tickets can be booked online at tickets.festivalantigonish.com, or by calling (902) 867-3954.
For more information, contact the box office at (902) 867-3333 or email@example.com, or follow Theatre Antigonish on Facebook.