CAT opens New Year with Culture Shock

Central Alberta Theatre is delving into the New Year with Culture Shock, opening Thursday evening in the Memorial Centre’s Nickle Studio.

Additional performances run Jan. 11-12, 17-19 and 31 plus Feb. 1-2.

Penned by Canadian funny guy Chris Lorne Elliot, (also known as Lorne Elliot) the show is being directed by Central Alberta Theatre veteran Brian Spencer and features Paul Sutherland, Mike Sutherland, Tim Newcomb, Jim Claggett and Blaine Newton.

The play was initially staged as a fundraiser for a different community organization back in the winter of 2007. This time around, the plan is to help support CAT via the string of shows. “It’s a gem of a script, and it’s pretty timeless,” said Spencer.

Returning to the production are the Sutherlands and Newcomb. Newton and Claggett are the newcomers for this version, and Spencer couldn’t be more pleased with how the talented cast has clicked.

“The five of them are good strong actors – good characters actors,” says Spencer.

“Really, it’s been a piece of cake. Both Blaine and Paul are improv actors with years of experience behind them. They’re all very funny guys, and it’s been hard to keep them on track. It’s been really funny and really easy to work with these guys – my job has been very easy.”

Newfoundlander Hillyard Phillpot (Paul Sutherland) is fed up with the doldrums of life in the outport of Jarvis Arm, so he hits the road for Montreal to seek fame and fortune armed only with his wits. That’s quite the scary prospect, his wits being what they are.

His father (Paul’s real-life dad Michael Sutherland) thinks it’s a ridiculous idea, but no matter. Hillyard packs up a pair of clean socks, a jar of rabbit stew and hitchhikes to Montreal in search of culture. Unfortunately, he lands a ride with a pair of Acadian criminals planning to rob a bank in downtown Montreal.

After the robbery, Phillpot inadvertently helps the duo escape the cops. But it isn’t long before the robbers are chasing down Hillyard as they suspect him of robbing them. More mayhem follows as Phillpot heads home with the stash of cash and his dad thinks a life of crime ain’t such a bad idea.

Besides the new faces, there are other ways Spencer is adding to the show this time around.

“We’ve been trying to make it more like a cartoon,” explains Spencer, adding that some really creative sound effects have been mixed in to bolster that sensibility. “It’s been very successful in the rehearsals.

“There’s nothing deep in the play – just lots of belly laughs and it’s faced paced. Just a bunch of guys getting together and having a good laugh.”

Tickets for all performances are available through the Black Knight Ticket Centre by calling 403-755-6626 or by visiting