THE CENTRE ISLE
With Labour Day here, the summer season in local theatre rings down the curtain and live theatre lovers can look forward to a full autumn of diverse, provocative and often tune-filled shows.
First up from Sydney’s Highland Arts Theatre is “Silence: Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell”, running from Tuesday, Sept. 17, to Sunday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m. nightly, at the Bentinck Street venue.
The love story between Bell and his wife, Mabel, is one for the ages. Mabel, deaf from a childhood illness, was taught to read lips and speak by Bell when he was hired by her wealthy family as a teacher. They were devoted to each other, rarely apart, and often collaborated on his many inventive projects. Mabel was specifically instrumental in forming the association of young aviators that eventually, with Bell’s guidance, resulted in the flight of the Silver Dart on the frozen Baddeck Bay.
“Silence”, written by Trina Davies in 2018, premiered at The Grand Theatre in London, Ont., and also was staged at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.
This production is directed by Ron Jenkins (“Extinction Song”, “Next to Normal”) and features a real-life couple, Kathleen O’Toole and Ciarán MacGillivray, as Mabel and Alexander. The cast also includes Todd Hiscock, Lindsay Thompson, and Alison Crosby.
The Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay brings a family classic to its prestigious stage with “Matilda: The Musical” scheduled for Friday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 5, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday Oct. 6, 1 p.m.
With direction by Wesley J. Colford and musical direction by Barb Stetter, the Savoy stage will burst at its seams with fun songs and spirited dance with its tale about a little girl with brains, bravery, and psychokinetic powers who changes the lives of everyone she meets for the better.
This show was first produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company with book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin. “Matilda” has won 47 international awards and continues to thrill sold-out audiences of all ages around the world.
Later in October, just in time for Halloween, the HAT offers the outrageous horror musical, “Little Shop of Horrors”, based on the iconic Roger Corman quickie (featuring a young Jack Nicholson) featuring a blood-thirsty plant, with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menkin (who later provided the song score for Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”).
The HAT production is directed by Ron Jenkins, musically directed by Barbara Stetter, with choreography by Cynthia Vokey. It plays at the Hat from Tuesday, Oct. 29, to Sunday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. nightly.
In November come two productions at the HAT and the Cape Breton University Boardmore Theatre, with both shows onstage from Tuesday, Nov. 19, to Sunday, Nov. 24.
“Dracula”, adapted by Steven Dietz from Bram Stoker’s novel, is directed by Matt Campbell and promises to restore “the suspense and seduction of Bram Stoker’s classic novel to the stage”. Performances for this production are 7 p.m. nightly with Sunday’s performance at 2 p.m.
That same week, the HAT presents Daniel McIvor’s play, “The Best Brothers”, a profound and hilarious comedy” about a family coping with the sudden death of their mother. McIvor is a globally acclaimed playwright best known locally for “Marion Bridge” and “Communion”. Performances for this production are 8 p.m. nightly.
The HAT also closes out the season with the return of its perennial favourite musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. This joyous, tune-filled, high-stepping production about a miser and the ghostly visitors who help mend his mean ways has become a fixture of the holidays. Performances for “A Christmas Carol” run, at 8 p.m. nightly, from Tuesday, Dec. 10, to Sunday, Dec. 15.
Ken Chisholm lives in Sydney and has written plays, songs, reviews, magazine articles. He can be reached at [email protected]