Local actors, writers and directors put their talents on display from August 8-12 for the 14th annual Udder Theatre Festival, hosted by the Harbour Theatre Society.
This year’s event featured eight plays that were performed at either the Tom Rooney Playhouse or the Lester Centre of the Arts, and included everything from comedy to improv to drama to a performance from the children in the kid’s camp. Below are summaries of the performances in alphabetical order.
I’d Like to Buy a Vowel: Written by Rob Shearer, directed by Cliff Doupe, Lyle McNish and Graeme McNish.
Siblings Sadie (Chelsea Jesser) and Ian (Jasper Nolos) run the Morning Cup coffee shop under the ownership of their father, and Sadie makes it known that she’s in charge of the business aspect of the shop. Ian, who is a barista at the Morning Cup, takes his frustrations with the family quarrel out on customers particularly a passive and quiet girl named Dot (Jenna Cann), as well as two teenage friends Hayley (Paula Loroff) and Tiana (Angelica Jesser). Hayley is too consumed with the idea of planning her revenge on her fellow classmates that bully her to pay any extra attention to Ian’s behavior, with the eccentric Tiana offering clever advice on how to ignore them. The play quickly turns from a comedy to a drama when Dot reaches her wits’ end and decides to take control of the situation by pulling a gun on Ian.
Juvenile Eyes: Written and directed by Stephen Huddlestone
26-year old Will (Chrystopher Thompson) is struggling with adult life after experiencing a traumatic childhood, getting laid off from the mill, and finding out that he will soon be evicted from his trashy apartment. Will says that the only bright spot in his life is his 17-year old girlfriend Susan (Tristen Wybou), however her father Tom (Andy Enns) is finding it extremely difficult to get over Will’s troubled past, with Susan’s mother Gertrude (Martina Perry) attempting to convince her husband to leave the couple alone. When the unexpected news of pregnancy arises, Susan decides that it’s time Will met her parents. Over a family dinner, Will and Tom finally meet face to face, with a dramatic turn of events when Susan announces that the pair have gotten engaged.
Playground Revenge: Written by the kids participating and directed by Treena Decker
For the past nine years, the Harbour Theatre Youth Program has been running as part of Udderfest. This program runs for six weeks, and helps children write a basic storyline for a play and perform it live, while teaching the kids improving skills. Each year there are two adults, who are really just big kids at heart, helping run the program. This year’s Kid Camp production was a classic tale of good vs. evil hosted by a chicken. Superhero Cowptain Crench (Kids Camp assistant James Sheremetta) and his Crenchberries helpers must fight against the evil Madame Snicknastee (Kids Camp chair/coordinator Treena Decker) and the Snickerdoodles. The two sides prepare for the big battle for the rights to the playground, however in the end they decide to all be winners and join together.
Rupert Tonight: Directed by Rob Shearer and written by actors
Prince Rupert’s favorite variety show returned for its fourth incarnation, with actors Katherine Campbell, Andy Enns, Kris Scott, Rob Shearer, Don Price and special guest Lyle McNish keeping audiences hallowing with laughter. Rupert Tonight included a number of sketches poking fun at the community including Rupert-based yoga poses, and the think tank that lead to the creation of Udderfest fourteen years ago. According to that portion of the performance, the name Udderfest came from Joe Gaber’s admiration of a certain female body part. There were also several skits that pointed out those “isn’t that funny?” life moments, however most of them were just incredibly unfortunate. The show also included a hilarious musical portion, where popular songs were rewritten to advertise the beauty that is Tim Hortons.
Stab in the Dark: Written and directed by David Smook
After an officer (Jewel Jerstad) is murdered at the Prince Rupert police station, Eugene (David Smook) and Manny (Chris Armstrong) must join forces to solve the crime despite their hatred for each other. Both detectives blame one another for the sudden disappearance of their shared lover, Felicia (Leah Jowe), but must put their difference aside as one murder quickly turns into more. In this side-splitting comedy that ties in local issues and people in with laughs, the unlikely pair must follow clues that lead them through a number of suspects including a drunken reporter, a foreign janitor (both played by Rich Jerstad), and the police station’s chief officer and amorous secretary (both played by Leah Jowe), who all oddly have “Phil” in their names.
Toast ‘N Jam: Written by Rob Shearer and directed by Lyle McNish
The mild-mannered Betty (Leisl Kaberry) decided that she would let her true feelings for her roommate Bill (Lyle McNish) be known over breakfast. Betty prepares a lovely meal for two that ends up being crashed by the pairs other party-animal roommate, Jolie (Lesley MacAllister). Jolie wakes up with a wicked hangover, and is curious as to why Betty has only set up two places at the table. After some back and forth, Jolie discovers why Betty has done this and lets Bill know. After Bill denies Betty’s first attempt at picking him up, Betty and Jolie turn on each other with Jolie bashing Betty’s lack of a love life. Bill in turn ends the argument by agreeing to go on a date with Betty, but unbeknownst to him it was all part of the ladies plan. Toast ‘N Jam was Kitimat’s On Cue Players first entry into Udderfest.
War of Wits: Written by the contestants
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 issues. This year’s teams were Huddlestone, consisting of Stephen Huddlestone, Katherine Campbell and Rob Shearer and Hondo, consisting of Hondo Arendt, Andy Enns and George T. Baker. Hosted by Chris Armstrong, with Lyle McNish acting as the timekeeper, the contestants debated a number of issues, including the proposed pellet terminal, Prince Rupert’s lack of a daily newspaper, backyard chickens, a bridge to Digby Island, and more.
Zenbridge: Written and directed by Rudy Kelly
After a Zenbridge oil tanker is found floating near the shore, a strange epidemic sweeps through Prince Rupert that is turning citizens into what appears to be zombies. Doctor Kent (Angelica Jesser) and Nurse Gary (Dan Bubas) have locked themselves up, and are looking for some sort of cure for the epidemic, when Pedal (Hayley Zimmerman), a pothead in-law of Nurse Gary’s appears, totally clueless to the fact that the community is full of zombies. With local actors Paula Loroff, Chelsea Jesser, Jasper Nolos, John Farrell, and Clark Spence making several appearances as a variety of characters, this hilarious performance showed how the media provided coverage of the epidemic and how citizens reacted to the monsters (Zombies played by Cliff Doupe and Celena Cochrane-Olson). With special cameos by Lee Brain and Joe Gaber, this uproarious comedy pokes fun at local issues, while incorporating Kelly’s infamous dirty-minded sense of humour. But what will the community do when it turns out Zenbridge had nothing to do with the epidemic; backyard chickens caused it all.