The Melville Boys is Michael Sutherland’s first crack at directing a theatrical production.
And he’s enjoying the off-stage experience as much as he does ‘treading the boards.’
After many years as an actor with Central Alberta Theatre, Sutherland felt like it was time to step up and helm a dinner theatre show. His choice of play is a favorite written by Canadian playwright Norm Foster.
The Melville Boys, which opens on Friday, Feb. 24, at the Black Knight Inn, is about two brothers who go on a weekend fishing trip. They happen to meet two sisters, who are also boating on the lake.
But Sutherland cautions that what happens next is not a romantic farce — this story has a poignant, human side. It shows it’s not just ludicrous situations that produce comedy, “but that life itself is funny,” he said.
People in the play are dealing with various unexpected occurrences — some good, some bad, and some just confusing.
Foster’s message seems to be — don’t take anything for granted, said Sutherland.
“You’ve got to hold on to what you’ve got, because you never know when it won’t be there anymore…”
He is enjoying rehearsals with his experienced cast of four: Jim Claggett plays responsible older brother Lee, Rob Burton is his jokester younger bro, Owen, Carla Falk portrays Mary, a lakeside store owner, and Rina Pelletier is her flirty little sister, Loretta, a some-time actress.
Three of the actors are CAT veterans, while Burton is a high school drama teacher from Innisfail, whom Sutherland has had the pleasure of working with before.
He’s discovering that directing means seeing certain situations from the viewpoints of several different characters. “It’s a steep learning curve, but I’m enjoying it and learning quite a bit,” said the Red Deer resident, who prepared by assisting on previous shows with experienced CAT directors, including Erna Soderberg.
Sutherland believes The Melville Boys will make audience members laugh out loud — and think about life a little.
The show runs to March 18. Tickets are available from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.