CAT’s opener focuses on ‘humanity and camaraderie’

Central Alberta Theatre’s first dinner theatre of the season takes audiences back to the emotional highs and lows of Canadian civilian life during the Second World War.

Waiting for the Parade opens Oct. 1 at the Black Knight Inn.

Dinner is at 6 p.m. with curtain at 8 p.m.

Five Calgary women respond very differently to their world during World War II, providing a rich, colourful portrait of Canadian society in the 1940s.

The play is described as one where the women are faced with confronting themselves as well as each other, and all the while the war at home becomes as real as the one in Europe.

Directed by CAT newcomer Greg Clark and penned by John Murrell, the play has landed a slew of awards since its introduction in 1977.

It landed the Governor-General’s award among others.

“We always talk about the men in the war and what happened in their period of time,” says Clark. This production sheds light on what women on the home front went through.

“What they go through is just as difficult in a certain way. They’re working in factories, they’re alone and they are unhappy so there is all of that.”

Discrimination also rears its ugly head as one of the characters, Marta, is of German descent. Ultimately, the five women, who can’t exactly be described as friends, are thrust into a frightening world where news is continually bleak and it becomes that much more critical to find survival skills.

“There isn’t a weak character in this,” adds Clark, who relocated to Red Deer last year from Drumheller where he founded Kaleidoscope Theatre.

He also served as artistic director for the organization which is still in operation after 30 years.

As to the play, Clark points out the cast also includes characters ranging from idealistic and bossy to strong and thoroughly experienced with the harsh, raw experiences life can bring along.

Featured in the cast are Melodie MacLean as Janet, Vicki Dykes as Marta, Amanda Lohman as Eve, Donna Carter as Margaret and Cynthia Edwards at Catherine.

Waiting for the Parade has shades of much of the human experience – some moments are dramatic, others are poignant and funny. It also features some of the great tunes made popular during the war years.

“It’s got monologues, it’s got dance – the play starts with a dance and the last scene is a dance,” says Clark.

Musical highlights are reflective of the period as well.

Another striking thing about the production is that Murrell had moved to Canada from Texas and hadn’t lived here that long before penning the script. His sense of the nuances of Canadian culture is remarkable, says Clark.

“His historical knowledge of Canada is better than ours.”

Working alongside Clark is CAT veteran Carole Forhan, who also performed with Kaleidoscope Theatre and starred in a production of Waiting for the Parade back in 1989 under Clark’s direction.

“I’ve wanted to do this play for years, and when I found out that Greg had moved to Red Deer I knew it was time,” she says.

The production runs through to Oct. 31.

Next up in the CAT’s dinner theatre run is Dry Streak which opens Nov. 12.

For more about CAT, visit www.centralalbertatheatre.ca.

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

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