CAT scores with ‘cheeky’ comedy

There’s lots of laughs woven with powerful moments of family drama in Central Alberta Theatre’s latest dinner theatre production Dry Streak.

Penned by Leeann Minogue and wonderfully directed by Erna Soderberg, Dry Streak takes audiences to the dry, dusty community of Stoney Valley, Saskatchewan. It’s 1988, and it’s a scorcher. Not a drop of moisture in site.

Enter our focal family – Peter (Albert Azzara) and Olive (Merinda McCallum) who’ve been carving out a life on the prairies since the 1950s. Peter is loud, brash, outspoken, sarcastic and hilarious – really larger than life. Azzara nails every characteristic perfectly.

McCallum is great as Peter’s long-suffering, sweet-natured wife. She’s also a loving, supportive mom to John (Chris Johnson), Denise (Angela Joosten) and Charlie (Ian Sheppard).

Things turn fabulously upside down for this family, however, with the arrival of John’s charming, vivacious, Calgary girlfriend Kate (Whitney Richter). Kate has a glorious past of living around the world, but is willing to give country life a go. Richter is outstanding in the role – she absolutely sparkles from the get-go and brings a sweet, natural charm and feisty spirit to the part.

One day, Kate just can’t take the heat any more. In the presence of a bunch of town folk at the local watering hole, she pledges to run naked down Main Street when the drought finally breaks.

Naturally, the conservative Peter is horrified as is much of the community. But slowly, ideas for using the event as a much-needed fundraising for a hockey rink surface. Besides, national media are descending on the community so why not make the most of it? The adventurous Kate is game as well.

Enough said about the Minogue’s thoroughly entertaining plot, which surges ahead with delightful twists and surprises and is fueled by terrific performances from the cast. Sheppard is also spot on as the young Charlie, who has absolutely no aspirations of farming and it bent on a career in broadcasting and reminds us of that via a superb, dry humour.

Dry Streak owes much of its strength to Soderberg, who has provided many fine moments to CAT audiences in years past. So committed to her craft, she wields a powerful, insightful knack for digging deep in a script and bringing out its range of nuances – no matter the genre.

For tickets, check out www.blackknightinn.ca or call 403-755-6626.

Next up is Jenny’s House of Joy which starts Jan. 14, 2011.

mweber@reddeerexpress.com

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