The Nanaimo Theatre Group is gearing up for a comedic and absurd 2019-20 season.
The local drama club recently unveiled its featured plays for the coming year. Aside from its mainstay Christmas pantomime, this year a take on Cinderella, The NTG is presenting a pair of comedies: Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, in which a neat freak and a slob move in together, and Ken Ludwig’s Lend me a Tenor, about an opera singer and his impromptu understudy.
“We sort of thought we needed something a little more dramatic, but we didn’t really have anything come forward that fit that,” NTG marketing director Joan Roszmann said. “But our demographic loves comedies, so it should be fine and we had good, solid teams to do both of those shows.”
The season’s final production is a one-act absurdist double feature with Jacob Richmond’s Legoland, described as a “contemporary Vaudeville routine” with puppets, multimedia and gangster rap, and Daniel MacIvor’s Never Swim Alone, “a haunting look into egotism.” Roszmann said the theatre group doesn’t often stage absurdist plays.
“The last show of the season is usually a little bit edgier because it’s always our festival entry,” she explained. “Last year we did The Diary of Anne Frank, which ended up winning the zone and was the runner-up in the provincial competition.”
Auditions for The Odd Couple were held in June with rehearsals underway by early July. Sets are being built throughout the summer and the show runs at the group’s Bailey Studios from Oct. 17 to Nov. 2. Tickets are already on sale. Roszmann said rehearsing for Cinderella begins this week, followed by Lend me a Tenor a week later with more auditions to come.
Roszmann said the NTG has a thorough play selection process, in which members bring forth productions they would like to stage, readings are held and the feasibility of staging the plays is discussed. She said an important factor is whether the right people are available.
“There’s so much work that goes into each play. You really have to have a strong team,” she said. “I mean there’s the set, the costumes, all the technical aspects of it, so it’s good to have a good, solid team for each show and that is something to consider when you’re actually making that final decision.”