Central Alberta Theatre has launched a brand new dinner theatre season – in an attractive new downtown venue — with Maggie’s Getting Married. The production, written by Canadian playwright Norm Foster and directed by Judy Moody runs through to Dec. 10 at City Centre Stage.
There’s good news and not-so-good news with this production – the good news it has been guided along by the gifted Judy Moody – a very talented artist in her own right. Moody clearly has shown a knack for bringing together solid shows and encouraging the best from her casts whether they are seasoned performers or newcomers. The other good news is that for the most part, the cast are up to the task of bringing their characters to life.
Even those with less experience are consistent and blend together quite well, and are doing their best to nail the timing and demands of the script.
The not-so-good news, in my opinion, is that Maggie’s Getting Married feels familiar. It’s sweet-natured but not really compelling.
To me, Foster’s material, which has been extensively covered by CAT, sometimes feels predictable. It boils down to personal taste – if you’re not a fan of Foster, you likely won’t like this play. If you are a fan, his style and sensibility will win you over.
As for the story, we see the Duncan family who have gathered for a party on the night before the wedding of daughter Maggie. Her older sister Wanda (played with feisty energy and sharp comic timing by Dawn Hastie) has come home for the wedding and to meet the groom. Turns out, she is certain that she and her future brother-in-law Russell are already, um, well-acquainted.
Hastie has the bulk of the play’s best lines and is a witty, charming actor. Smith is also solid in her role, doing what she can with Maggie’s sweet but less interesting and vivacious personality. As the groom-to-be, Gord Phillips injects a certain quirky energy to his character, who we just aren’t sure about to begin with.
The girls’ folks are well-played by Craig Scott and Laura Geelen, who in particular is another fun one to watch as she dashes in and out from entertaining guests to offering frank opinions on subjects from sex to relationships. Her disapproval of Wanda’s boyfriend Axel (Konstantin Cody Vorosmarty) also provides some of the best moments.
Geelen and Hastie are indeed the bright spots onstage when it comes to acting strength – funny and again benefitting from many of the script’s best lines.
Vorosmarty also does a strong turn as Axel, a rather mysterious character with a string of issues that surface as the story moves along.
As with most plays, there’s no doubt the show will improve as the actors get more performances under their belts. On opening night, there were pacing snags but timing will tighten up — critical to nailing humourous stories successfully. The actors are clearly committed to the project and were having fun onstage, which also fuels the energy level.
Evening performances run with the buffet from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and the play starting at 7:30 p.m. For Sunday brunch performances, the buffet starts at 12:30 p.m. and the play begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are also available for the show only.
Tickets are available at Ticket Central, which is located downtown at 4922 – 49 St. (adjacent to City Centre Stage). For more information, call 403-347-0800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next dinner theatre, Fishing for Frank, opens Jan. 6.