Cow Patti Theatre will be showing Norm Foster’s ‘Halfway There’ for their second production of the season. Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express

Lacombe’s Cow Patti Theatre brings ‘Halfway There’ to the stage

Production brings snapshot of rural maritime life to Lacombe

Lacombe’s Cow Patti Theatre is set to debut their second show of the season — Halfway There — a maritime play by Canadian Playwright Norm Foster.

The play centers around a group of female friends in Stewiacke Nova Scotia, whose daily coffee shop routine is interrupted by a male visitor from Toronto.

Producer and Actor playing Jenine — AnnaMarie Lea — said she has been waiting to put on this show after previously putting on several other Foster plays.

he playwright Norm Foster is lovely man and this fella’ started his career 30 years ago as a radio announcer. He started putting pen to paper one day and he is absolutely brilliant. He understands woman so wonderfully — the parts he writes for woman are so spectacular.

“It was originally called Halfway to the North Pole, so I asked him if he would send it to me and I absolutely loved it. I stayed away from it for awhile and then he changed the titles to just Halfway There.”

Director Jesse Collins said the play will be familiar to anyone with connections to the maritimes.

“If you have ever travelled in the maritimes or you have had friends from the maritimes, one of the the things that will strike you is the people’s natural sense of humour. This show really reflects that,” he said. “It is a straight forward story about people who are just like the folks in our audience. As a result, the things that happen to them really resonate with people because they feel connected to them.”

Lea said the ability to connect with the audience is a specialty of Foster’s.

“I love being in his shows because of the work he does but my audiences whenever they hear we are doing a Norm Foster play, they say, ‘Oh yeah. Norm’. They take ownership and feel they are a part of it,” he said.

Actor Alison Lawrence, who plays Mary Ellen in the show, said the shows depiction of female friendships will particularly resonate with women in the crowd,

“He started out writing out great women in romantic comedies but as his career has gone along, he has started writing great friendships between women,” she said. “His women are terrific because they all care about each other so much and that is the part that makes you think.

“The women are looking out for each other and that is one of the things I think people in the audience really see themselves reflected because people really have friendships like that.”

Lea added the show has plenty for the men in the audience as well.

“The men will get a real kick out of this. It could just as easily be four men at a bar and a woman showing up,” she said.

Collins said the story really tells a story about what home is for people.

“It is a simple story about what is home and what happens when an outsider comes in,” he said. “They have changes in their life and a lot of these changes are really a reflection about what it is home — how you make one and how you leave one if you have to, and also how your friends make it more home than anything else.”

Local Actor Valerie Barrett, who plays Rita, said anyone who lives in a small town will recognize the scene.

“The great things about a small town is that even if you don’t know what you are doing — everyone else does. That is exactly what it is. They keep track of everyone all the time. In a good way,” she said.

Production is currently in the middle of their 14-day schedule before opening day, with the cast and crew putting in work.

“We go six days a week, eight hours a day and we have Mondays off to get memorized,” Lea said. We also have 10 out of 12s. During production week, we have 12 hour days with a two hour break.

“It is a very intense time. It is what we do as actors and we wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Collins added rehearsal is an exciting time for everyone.

“The process we use here to build a show is identical to one we would use at the National Arts Centre or Summerstock Theatre or anywhere. It is a professional process and as a result I believe you are getting a wonderful professional show that is special to have in a small town,” he said.

Lea added being able to bring professional theatre to rural Canada has always been here intent.

“That is my mandate, to bring professional theatre to rural Canada and create opportunities for Canadian artists,” she said.

Barrett said she is always impressed with the results at Cow Patti.

“I have been doing these shows for awhile and it is amazing how many times you will here, ‘I have never been before but I am coming again’. They are so excited about it,” she said.

Tickets are still available for the show running March 14th until April 7th and can be accessed through www.cowpatti.com.

“Opening weekend we are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Liam Collins from our last show will be singing and playing his guitar during the supper or lunch hour. We have games and prizes planned,” Lea added.



todd.vaughan@lacombeexpress.com

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