Cast, Crew, Costumes . . . and
Markham Little Theatre's Hay Fever
has the best of all worlds!
Article by Grant Weaver, photos by Charles Lue,
Judith Bliss (Michele Browne) comforts son Simon (Tal Saron) and daughter Sorel
during yesterday's non-dress rehearsal.
16, 2008) On Wednesday, November 19 Markham Little Theatre
begins its four-performance run of
a comedy by Noel Coward. Under director Elizabeth Wyatt, fans both
new and old of MLT can look forward to a delightful evening featuring a talented cast, gorgeous set and
costumes, and let us not forget, one of the wittiest scripts
of this great British
Noel Coward’s specialty was the comedy
“In this case,” Elizabeth Wyatt
explained, “it is more a comedy of
Judith and David Bliss, along
with their son and daughter, Simon and Sorel, each invite an
acquaintance to spend a weekend with them at their country
home. The four guests
soon find themselves having to contend with hosts whose love of
drama blurs reality and imagination in some very disconcerting ways.
In our coverage
of MLT's productions, we usually focus on the actors. And the cast
of Hay Fever is deep in talent and experience. This time GuidingStar.ca decided that
we would give centre stage to the people who create the set, who work out of the spotlight
but whose contribution to a production’s success is indispensible.
Today, we spent the afternoon at Markham
Theatre For Performing Arts witnessing at first hand a hive of
activity as Markham Little Theatre's set building crew erected the
exquisite decor they have worked on for the last two months.
The set, of
course, begins with an idea. Set designer Ron Brownsberger, an
eighteen-year veteran with MLT, found the image he was looking for
in a photo of Bateman House, an elegant English house once lived in
by Rudyard Kipling.
Twenty people have
since been involved in the building, painting and dressing of the set.
Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and Saturday mornings have
been busy days in the workshop at MLT's Backstage rehearsal venue on the grounds of Markham Museum. But it is only
today, the Sunday prior to opening night, that the company can move
the set onto the stage at Markham Theatre.
So a lot has to happen in a very short time.
Yesterday, the set and
loaded onto the rented truck.
At 9 a.m. this morning, the flats
arrived at the loading
bay at Markham Theatre where ten volunteers were already waiting to
start carrying the pieces onto the stage. Ron Brownsberger had
all the flats and pieces numbered and the crew could begin
assembling right away. Armed with cordless drills and
screwdrivers, two teams worked, one on the left side of the stage,
and the other on the right. When they met in the middle, the biggest part was
We’re going to meet the cast a little
further on but first let's enjoy some images of these intrepid set-builders
in action as they put together an English country home!
Will Davison and Martin Smith
take things one step at a time.
|Eric Lebolloch lends
Davis and Harry Hall
team up at the saw.
some touching up.
a floral touch.
When Peggy Wyatt gets to work,
|Margaret Brownsberger spares
|Ross Liversage attends
Costumes present another challenge.
“There is a cast of nine,” explained
Producer Angela Stewart, “and each has three costume changes.”
The first costume designer got work well under way before having to leave the company when
a full-time theatrical job came up.
Priscilla Marr then stepped in to complete the task admirably.
Staying within budget was another
test that has been met, Angela told us.
And, as Ron Brownsberger pointed out, the great benefit of
non-profit community theatre is that you can
enjoy a professional quality theatre production at an accessible
Director Elizabeth Wyatt has won many
directorial awards in her long career with Markham Little Theatre
but this is her first Noel Coward play.
The company has performed two other Coward plays,
Blythe Spirit and
This is their first time staging
“Noel Coward,” she told us, “always said
that directors should just let the words speak for themselves and
not try to do too much physical comic business.”
As Liz explained, the challenge for lead
actress, Michele Browne, and ultimately for all the Bliss family
cast members, is that they are playing characters who
are themselves acting a part.
“At various points,” Liz said, “her
whole family picks up on this.
They have lived with Mother for so long that they become
In the afternoon,
while the builders and set dressers were still at work on the stage,
Liz led her actors through a rehearsal, out of costume, in the large
rehearsal space down the hall from the theatre. Tomorrow, the cast
will rehearse on stage for the first time. This will be a
cue-to-cue rehearsal, aimed at coordinating all the movements,
lighting and sound effects. Tuesday will be dress rehearsal when
everything will run as if the audience were there. And Wednesday
evening . . . show time!
Liz has brought together an
Michele Browne commands the stage as Judith Bliss.
Michele’s real life husband, Terry Browne, plays David Bliss.
The Bliss couple's son Simon is played by Tal Saron, a new recruit to the
company. The young, but
already very experienced, Riley Raymer plays daughter Sorel.
The unfortunate weekend guests are Myra Arundel played by
Shari Thorne-Kowalski, Sandy Tyrell played by Rob Notman, Richard
Greatham played by Andrew Horbatuik, and Jackie Coryton played by
Kate O’Hearn. The maid
Clara is played by Lynne Kowalski.
Fever promises to be one of Markham
Little Theatre’s biggest successes.
For the second production of their 2008 - 2009 season they’ve chosen a play that has entertained audiences since
its first performance in 1925.
casting brings to center stage many MLT fan favourites, and one new recruit, who are
sure to please.
costumes evoke a colourful and fascinating period and place.
And the set designer and his crew, many of whom you now
know, have prepared a treat for you too.
Hay Fever runs
Wednesday, November 19 to Saturday, November 22.
Tickets can be reserved through the Markham Theatre box
office at 905-305-SHOW (7469).
For complete show
details, click here.
For more information about Markham Little Theatre, visit their website