Anyone who has ever landed a part onstage, sung in a choir or had any connection with the world of theatre will get a huge kick out of Red Deer College Theatre Studies’ newest offering A Chorus of Disapproval.
Under the helm of director Jeff Page, the production runs Nov. 25 through to Dec. 4 on the College Arts Centre mainstage. Curtain is 7:30 p.m. Matinees are set for Nov. 27 and Dec. 4 at 1 p.m. as well.
A Chorus of Disapproval, written by Alan Ayckbourn, is described as a perfectly structured English comedy. A cast of hilariously desperate characters plot and scheme their way through an amateur rehearsal of The Beggar’s Opera.
Guy Jones, a young widower hoping to engage in real life again, joins an amateur opera society. As the rehearsal schedule unfolds, he finds himself in the middle of a love triangle and a questionable business deal. All the while, he also mysteriously advances from a simple one-line role into a leading role. Ultimately, the drama onstage is of course upstaged by the goings-on back stage.
A Chorus of Disapproval was written in 1984 during the Margaret Thatcher era, and it satirizes this time of English society and its social climbers.
Page, a graduate of the University of New Mexico’s Fine Arts program, is at the helm of this year’s winter production.
“All Guy Jones wants is to get out and into the world again,” he explains. “What I like is that everything he achieves is not through his own ambition but sort of through the lens people see him through, or the way they put their own ambitions on him.
“We also see what happens when you put an ‘everyman’ in the middle of a bunch of eccentrics,” he says. “The thing about all these characters is that they are dying to escape domestic boredom, so they’ve joined this little amateur theatre society where they have created these dramas and these love triangles. Guy just walks into it saying all he wants to do is get a hobby and suddenly his whole life changes,” he says.
And again, it was written when there was a declining middle class in England, adds Page. “They’re desperately trying to boost themselves, so some of these characters come from that idea.”
Page, a professional stage actor, writer and director with more than 20 years experience, has worked in a range of locations from Russia to the U.S. and across Canada.
He has also directed more than a dozen plays including Tideline for Studio Theatre, The Gift for the 118 Ave Collective, The Comedy of Errors for the Freewill Shakespeare Festival, Ballerina on a Horse for Firefly Theatre and Nighthawk Rules for the Bedlam Theatre Concern.
From 1985 to 1991, he was also a founding member of Kings’ Elephant Theatre, a Seattle company dedicated to evolving improvisation in the theatre. From 1991 to 1993, he toured with Seattle’s One World Theatre, acting in or directing such shows as Waiting for Godot, Buckets of Dung (an adaptation of Aristophane’s Peace) and Gulliver’s Travels (a collaboration with the Moscow Theatre Igroky).
Meanwhile, Page and his talented cast are excited to present the charm and wit of A Chorus of Disapproval to local audiences.
“He’s an exciting character to play, he’s so interesting,” explains Mike Mohr, who is tackling the role of Guy Jones. “He’s a lot of fun to play because you go from the little to the big continuously throughout the entire play. It’s been a tonne of fun.”
Page agrees, emphasizing the wonderfully entertaining mix of music and fun that exudes from the production from start to finish.
“It’s peppered with all of these beautiful songs and there are some wonderful singers in this class. And it remains to this day one of Ayckbourn’s most popular comedies ever.”
A Chorus of Disapproval is recommended for ages 14 and up.
For tickets, call Ticketmaster at 403-340-4455 or visit www.ticketmaster.ca.