Selby’s Lennox Community Theatre’s 2019-20 season opening production promises to pull back the curtain and give the audience a peek into what goes on behind the scenes when it debuts Sept. 27.
Aptly titled The Dressing Room, the comedic play focuses on eight characters who get together once a year to perform a musical at their local theatre. The actual play itself isn’t a musical, rather the characters are actresses preparing to take the stage to perform well known musicals such as Sound of Music.
Written by Kingston’s Peggy Hallett, the story draws heavy inspiration from her days as a community theatre actress.
“I was waiting to go on and I noticed there was all these characters, all different shapes and sizes and there was funny things going on and dramatic things going on,” said Hallet.
She began to write down her experiences over the years, methodically crafting her characters into the play it would eventually become. For an extra ounce of authenticity, she work shopped it among other community theatre actors in Kingston to get their input, many of which could see a bit of themselves in the characters. Each of the eight characters, all female, represents a cross-section of the many cast members she’s worked with over the years. There’s the young teenager just getting into the hobby all the way up to the grizzled veteran actress who takes on a grandmother type role among the cast.
Each act of the play is the eight characters backstage just about to go on stage. The scene ends just as they head out to behind the curtain, then picks up again one year later as they prepare for the next production and they catch up with each other over what’s transpired in their lives over the previous year.
“I thought we could do a play all in one set,” Hallett recalls when writing the play. “I kind of re-visited the idea and thought it would be too stagnant, so I put it over five years.”
Those with acting experience will likely relate with at least one or two of the characters. For those with no stage experience, they’ll get a chance to see just what goes on behind the curtain and learn a bit about some of the superstitions and traditions, as well as the drama, that take place right before the opening act of a typical community production.
The play will be unique to Selby in that the director lives just a short drive from the theatre and will be helping with the production. Typically the theatre will purchase the rights to a play from a theatre company and then be obliged to perform the play word-for-word as scripted. Hallett says she’s always open to experiment with her work, not afraid to try something different if a line isn’t working or a blocking doesn’t look right.
It’s also unique in that the director will bring with her a cast and props all ready to go as they’ll be on a tour of such, having wrapped up an original run in Kingston before heading to Gananoque for a two night engagement before arriving in Selby for a six show run.
Opening Night is Sept. 27 with shows Sept. 28, Oct. 4 and 5 at 8 p.m. with 2 p.m. shows on Sept. 29 and Oct. 6. Tickets are $18 regular admission, $15 for seniors on Sundays and $12 for kids 12 and under and available online at www.LennoxTheatre.ca.
The Dressing Room will be the first of five shows produced in this year’s season, with The Rented Christmas (November), Community Variety Show (February), The Dixie Swim Club (March) and Married Alive! (May) to follow.