It’s a Wonderful Life – The Live Radio Show

CRANBROOK COMMUNITY THEATRE PRESENTS: It’s a Wonderful Life – The Live Radio Show, at the Studio/Stage Door in Cranbrook. Performances December 7,8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 2012.

As a Christmas story “A Wonderful Life” ranks right up there with Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” and it is obvious that the director Terry Miller really, really likes this script. He directed the show two year ago and he is back with a new production for this year’s Christmas season. Some actors have returned for this production (Peter Schalk, Sioban Staplin, Jennifer Inglis) and are joined by David Popoff (fresh from the radio flavoured Babe Ruth Comes to Pickle River), Sean Swinwood and a cameo appearance by Bud Abbott. Based somewhat on the old black and white film “Miracle on 34th Street” (or at least I remember it as black and white, maybe they have colored it up by now) that is screened on network TV every Christmas. It is the story of an adventurous youth trapped by circumstances that in turn leads to despair and finally redemption. That’s all very well of course but I don’t think that the actual story line is the reason that this play works so well. For me it’s more about the power of imagination. Before TV there were ‘Motion Pictures’ and Radio and of the two, radio was the one that really fired the imagination. I remember radio and the serialised adventure shows (Superman, The Phantom, Biggles, and the like) with larger than life voices, dialogue and sound effects that enthralled the mind with endless possibilities. Those possibilities have been captured on this stage in a marvelous period piece of a time before our time. A time when people dressed up, men wore double breasted suits and women pulled compacts out of their purses instead of cell phones. And when was the last time you saw a young man stand with his hand in his pocket just so? For most people the play will invoke images from the film and that is fine. However, may I suggest that the play and the production share a sensibility that was displayed in Woody Allen’s 1985 film The Purple Rose of Cairo. Maybe I am stretching it, but David Popoff could have stepped down off the screen in that Woody Allen film. Once again the Cranbrook Community Theatre actors  and director have managed to master a multitude of roles, voices and a mountain of dialogue to add substance to our imagination in this well known entertaining story.



Steel Magnolias

In days of old the Islamic world had Harems. In modern western society we have Beauty Salons. Both, I suspect, serve very similar functions. They are both exclusively the domains of women. Men are excluded and under normal circumstances would not want admission. Steel Magnolias is a glimpse into this world of sisterhood. The play is set in a home based beauty parlor in Chinquapin, Louisiana and is an exploration of the lives and transformations of the six protagonists over a three year period. Annelle (Hannah Van Der Roest) is the young miss fresh out of school trying to come to terms with an unsatisfactory relationship and is desperately seeking employment and independence. Hairdressing in Truvy’s salon is the first step in her transformation from naivety through worldliness to born-again Christianity.


Shelby (Kirsten Kasner) could be a stereotypical prom queen. In this instance she is an attractive young woman with an obsession for the colour pink and suffering from a very serious diabetic condition. She gets married, and against medical advice has a child and ends up with terminal renal disease. Throughout the process she goes through her own emotional and physical transformations that include a hair make over and dealing with the outcomes of her decisions.  M’Lynn (Michelle McCue) is her long suffering mother who tries to deal with the decisions of her willful daughter and is left to cope with the consequences. Among the constellation of characters there is Clairee (Elizabeth Ross). A very attractive wealthy matron who starts out as an avid football fan and ends up as a radio station owner. Ouiser (Joanne Wilkinson) is the eccentric in the pack. She behaves the way she does because people expect her to wear outlandish hats, clothes and act as a crazy old lady. That’s what people expect so that’s what they get. Despite that, this crazy old lady does undergo some moderation of her eccentricities within the the turmoil of the Salon. Truvy (Susan Hanson) seems to be the least affected by change. She reacts to the constellation of characters that inhabit her salon but she under goes no significant changes or transformations. In fact she doesn’t even get her hair done. She seems to be the rock solid centre of what is after all her salon. She’s a hairdresser and therefore it’s her business to bring about change. “There is no such thing as natural beauty”, or so she thinks. So in addition  to the meaningful personal transformations of the protagonists there is the manic outcomes of the hair styling process and the behavior of the patrons and their families (including the gun toting husband of M’lynn and Ouiser’s hairless dog – all of whom are off stage).

Here are some images from the life and times of Steel Magnolias:


The play STEEL MAGNOLIAS, written by Robert Harling and directed by Bob McCue is playing at the the Studio / Stage Door in Cranbrook. The shows are Friday and Saturday of November 16th and 17th of November, Wednesday to Saturday November 21-24th, 2012 and Wednesday to Saturday November 28, 29, 30 and December 1, 2012. All shows are at 8pm and Tickets are available from Lotus Books.


“Babe Ruth Comes to Pickle River”



Babe Ruth Comes to Pickle River

at the Studio / Stage Door

Thursday, Friday and Saturday

October 4, 5, 6th, 2012

Tickets are $15 and are available at Lotus Books

This charming play is about the early years of radio in Canada’s hinterlands.  In 1932, Jane, a 30-something woman pursuing one dream while avoiding several other bad ones, accidently arrives in Pickle River, a far-flung mining town in northern Ontario. There she meets Roy, a young entrepreneur who is launching a fledgling radio station just as the medium is beginning to take the country by storm. In Babe Ruth Comes to Pickle River, two talented actors portray six characters to create a magical staging of the people and places of Pickle River, Ontario. Local Director Tanya Laing Gahr has assembled a stellar cast, starring Lisa Aasebo and David Popoff.

Here are some images from the full dress rehearsal:                                                            This is such a fun play that it would be a shame to miss it … be there.