Udderfest kicks off tomorrow night

Udderfest is returning to Prince Rupert next week, bringing a lot of laughs and guaranteed entertainment to the north coast.

Editor’s note: See below for schedule.

Udderfest is returning to Prince Rupert this week, bringing a lot of laughs and guaranteed entertainment to the north coast.

“People want to be entertained and I think that’s why Udderfest has had success in the past,” Lyle McNish, Udderfest co-chair along with Cindy Warren, said.

“There’s a willingness to get behind local artists performing and see what they have to create.”

This year’s Udderfest will include ten productions, varying from comedies to improv shows to musical performances.

Headlining this year’s festival will be Instant Theatre, a Vancouver theatre company that produces short and long format improv both structured and freestyle. The company has competed in world improv competitions, placing first in the world twice.

Members of the group came to Prince Rupert in 2002 to do improv workshops.

“We wanted to bring them back to Prince Rupert,” said McNish.

Instant Theatre members Warren Bates, Shawn Norman and Nicole Passmore will be traveling up to Prince Rupert to put on two shows and a workshop during Udderfest. One show, Star Alliance 557, is an improv show spoofing popular sci-fi movies and television shows. The group’s second performance is another improv show under the Instant Theatre name. The group will be putting on an improv workshop during the weekend of the festival for people wanting to learn the tricks of the trade of performing without practice.

Past Udderfest participants will be returning to the stage for this year’s festival as writers, directors and actors.

David Smook, the mind behind Udderfest, is preparing “Digby Towers” for this year’s festival, a comedic play following inhabitants of the Prince Rupert apartment building. The performance will include some established Udderfest actors, as well as some fresh faces to the festival. Smook will take the stage along with Jeff Bill, Michael Gurney and Leah Jowe.

“It should be one that draws in audiences,” McNish said.

Former Rupertite Amber-Kelly Mackereth will be taking the Tom Rooney Playhouse stage on Udderfest Saturday for Amber-Kelly and the Third Degree. Mackereth and her back-up band will perform pop and jazz tunes, with various characters included in the evening of music.

“We are very excited to have Amber-Kelly join the line up for the 15th Annual Udderfest. It is always great when locals who have gone on to professional theatre careers can come back home and share their talent with friends and family,” McNish said.

Another performance in this year’s festival will be “One Spring Morning”, written by Cherie Theissen and directed by McNish. The one-act play was included in the Skeena Zones Drama Festival in Terrace earlier this year.

“We had a short-window of time to put a play in … we basically put together the play in less than three weeks,” McNish said, adding the play was well-received at the festival.

“One Spring Morning” will include James McNish in the lead role, with Prince Rupert actresses Anne McNish, Janelle Rector and Angelica Jesser being featured throughout the show.

McNish is also directing “Twisted Thing”, a dark tale with an underlying and unpredictable love story. McNish watched the show at the Edmonton Fringe Theatre Adventures a number of years ago.

“I was really impressed by the dynamics of the play,” he said.

In this show, Heather McRae stars along side Chels Jesser, Jasper Nolos, Treena Decker, Chrys Thompson and Kris Scott.

“I’ve been enjoying the rehearsal process of it. It’s a fun play for the actors, and I think audiences will enjoy it too,” McNish said.

Stephen Huddlestone will once again be directing his own plays during the festival, while also acting. The 19-year old has been part of the festival for five years, first acting and writing in the festival in 2009. This year Huddlestone is working on “Ramblings from the Rain Hotel” starring himself and Tristen Wybou, as well as presenting a solo stand-up comedy rant, “My Life in Retail”.

The popular improv debate show War of Wits will be returning. Inspired by CBC Radio’s “The Debaters”, War of Wits pits two teams of contestants against one another to verbally battle it out, debating local North Coast issues.

Udderfest kids camps have been taking place for the last number of years, with this year’s festival including a scripted and improv show this year.

Summer students Caitlenn Bull and Ciaran Dudley are directing young actors in Rob Shearer’s “The Gingerbread Girl”, while helping another group put on the improv show “Snow White and the Misfits” along with Treena Decker. Admission for both kids camp shows will be by donation.

Performances will take place starting on August 14 until August 18 at the Tom Rooney Playhouse and Lester Centre of the Arts.

Organizers will be putting out an advance 15th Anniversary Pass, which will allow people to watch three shows or take two guests. Advance passes will be available until Aug. 9, after which regular passes will be sold for four shows. Tickets will also be available at the door.



Wednesday, Aug. 14

No shows at the Tom Rooney Playhouse


Showing at the Lester Centre

7 p.m. – Rain Motel

8:30 p.m. – My Life In Retail


Thursday, Aug. 15

Showing at the Tom Rooney Play House

7 p.m. – Instant Theatre

8:30 p.m. – Digby Towers

10 p.m. – Twisted Thing


No shows at the Lester Centre


Friday, Aug. 16

Showing at the Tom Rooney Playhouse

7 p.m. – One Spring Morning

8 p.m. – Digby Towers

9:30 p.m. – Instant Theatre

11 p.m. – Twisted Thing


Showing at the Lester Centre

7 p.m. – Rain Motel

8:30 p.m. – My Life in Retail


Saturday, Aug. 15

Showing at the Tom Rooney Playhouse

2 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Improv Workshop

5 p.m. – One Spring Morning

8:30 p.m. Amber-Kelly & 3rd Degree

10 p.m. – Digby Towers

11:30 p.m. – War of Wits


Showing at the Lester Centre

1 p.m. – Gingerbread Girl

2 p.m. – Gingerbread Girl

7 p.m. – Star Aliance 557

8:30 p.m. – Rain Motel

10 p.m. – My Life in Retail


Sunday, Aug. 15

Showing at the Tom Rooney Playhouse

4 p.m. – One Spring Morning

7 p.m. – Twisted Thing


Showing at the Lester Centre

1 p.m. – Snow White & The Mistfis


Times listed reflect curtain time. Please note some shows may have mature content; if this is a concern, please ask the front of house staff for the specific age that the show is geared for.