CAT presents strong debut with Butterflies Are Free

Central Alberta Theatre opened their version of Leonard Gershe’s Butterflies Are Free last week at the Memorial Centre.

The re-enactment of the well-known play runs until Oct. 12 in the Nickel Studio.

Butterflies Are Free has a longstanding history in the acting world, as it has been running in productions since 1969. After the success of the play on Broadway, it was made into a film in 1972, in which Goldie Hawn and Edward Albert starred in the silver screen production.

CAT’s rendition of the play starred Jordan Galloway as Don Baker, a young blind man whom spent his early years in life living with his often over protective mother, who was played by Barbara Jean Adams.

Galloway’s character convinces his mother to allow him to move to Manhattan for a two-month trial and live on his own for the first time. Here he falls in love with his free spirited neighbour Jill Tanner, played by Nicole Leal.

Galloway has been an active member of CAT since 2008 and played the challenging role of the blind Don Baker well in this production.

Although the struggles of playing a blind man would be a challenge to many seasoned actors, Galloway maintained the part with only minor slipups where he made eye contact with fellow actors.

Produced by Judith Moody and directed by Tanya Ryga, the production opened to a well-designed set done by Dawn Harkema that left the viewer thinking they were truly in a late 60’s New York apartment.

Whether it was the Beatles playing as the curtain drew, the beaded curtains hanging in the kitchen doorway or the psychedelic painted walls, the set was sure to place you in the time frame that the original play was written.

With the curtain draw came the entrance of Galloway, as Baker, strumming his six-string guitar, where he is interrupted by a phone call from his overbearing mother.

This sets the scene for the entrance of Leal’s character, Jill Tanner who lives next door to Galloway. She enters his apartment in a whirlwind of true hippie fashion and they begin to converse.

Unknowing that her neighbour Don is blind, the free-spirited character soon weaves her self into a web of heartache and emotion.

The stage chemistry of Galloway and Leal was immense in the first scenes and the pair complimented one another’s skills well as they seemingly fall in love before the audience’s eyes.

Lighting designer Matt Levesque’s mark was seen at the end of the second scene in the first act where the young couple embrace for the first time and Baker unzips Tanner’s jumpsuit and the lights fade to black in sync with the unzip. The lighting trick was a beautiful theatrical touch that added depth to an already passionate scene.

It isn’t until moments before intermission that Adams is introduced as Mrs. Baker.

Adams’ stage presence was remarkable and her command of her character gave way to an inspiring transformation as we saw the struggles facing a mother doing her best to raise a blind son. The characters all undergo vast transformations throughout the production as they all strive to find their own personal forms of freedom.

This works well with the Charles Dicken’s Bleak House quote that the name of the play comes from, “I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies.”

CAT’s rendition is certainly worth the ticket price and a must-see for Butterflies Are Free fans or those who appreciate a well-rounded theatre production.

For tickets and more information, call the Black Knight Inn at 403-755-6626 or visit