Jim Claggett

Central Alberta Theatre reprising popular Culture Shock

Does the past predict the future? Central Alberta Theatre is counting on it with the reprise of the popular Canadian comedy Culture Shock.

Does the past predict the future? Central Alberta Theatre is counting on it with the reprise of the popular Canadian comedy Culture Shock.

Brian Spencer directed the Lorne Elliott play, about a bored Newfoundlander who heads west to see the rest of the country, about seven years ago.

Culture Shock was then staged not by CAT but as a fundraiser for the non-profit Central Alberta Residents Society, which helps the mentally disabled. It proved a big success.

Spencer recalled thousands of dollars were raised as word of mouth spread about the “laugh-a-minute” slapstick comedy. Soon it was completely sold out and “a lot of people who wanted to come and see it couldn’t get tickets,” he recalled.

Well, here’s a second chance.

Central Alberta Theatre is doing a new version of Culture Shock, with Spencer once again in the director’s chair. It runs from Jan. 10 to Feb. 2 at the Nickle Studio, upstairs at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre.

Local actors Paul Sutherland and his real-life dad, Michael Sutherland, are again assuming the roles of feckless son, Hillyard Philpott ,and his eyeball-rolling father.

Hillyard is a lad from Newfoundland who’s weary of life in his outport. Unemployed since accidentally blowing up the local fish plant, Hillyard hits the road seeking fame and fortune. He’s armed only with his wits — which is a problem, since Hillyard is near witless.

Trouble finds him in Montreal, where the hitchhiker is picked up by escaped convicts Jean and his brother Réjean.

The duo are kind of like “Darryl and my other brother Darryl” from the old Newhart TV series, said Spencer, with a chuckle. A closer comparison might be to characters from the movie Dumb and Dumber — only with Quebeçois accents.

One thing leads to another and suddenly Hillyard is disturbed to discover his own family members drawn to a legally dubious scheme.

“The comedy just zips out of one scene and into another,” said Spencer, who added the 90-minute play that was once taped for CBC broadcast is so comical and his cast so seasoned, that his job has been a cinch. “It’s not much of a brainer for me to just sit there and watch and have a good laugh.”

The only hitch has been getting all the busy actors at the same rehearsals.

Spencer said Paul and Michael Sutherland have had hectic schedules as both were involved with different plays ­— as was Tim Newcomb, who plays Réjean. (Brother Jean is being played by Blaine Newton while Jim Claggett takes on the role of Cyril the mailman.)

But the veteran cast is doing great, he added. “I’ve just been keeping the pace up” of various scenes, as well as reining in actors when they go off on improvised tangents. “Sometimes I have to tell them to stick to the script.”

Spencer promises plenty of belly laughs and no moral whatsoever. “There’s nothing deep at all. You just get guffaws all around.”

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Trial stalls for man accused in fatal Canada Day 2016 crash

Defence lawyer argued relevant information received only hours before trial to begin

Big-time entertainers to perform in Red Deer during the 2019 Canada Winter Games

Musicans announced include Strumbellas, k-os, Brett Kissel

Builders say it’s not the time for higher permit fees in Red Deer

Construction industry is hard hit by slow economy

Bighorn Country telephone town hall for Red Deer area set for Wednesday

Residents can phone in from 6:30-7:30 p.m. to hear about the project or ask questions

WATCH:2019 Canada Winter Games torchbearers announced

Sixteen torchbearers announced with others to be revealed during Opening Ceremonies

Theresa May wins no-confidence vote after Brexit deal rejection

UK PM can keep her job, after House of Commons voted 325-306

Liberal candidate steps aside after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Alberta doctor accused of sexual assault asked to voluntarily give up practice

College says Dr. Barry Wollach should discontinue his practice, given the seriousness of the allegation against him

Speedy acceptance of Saudi shows refugee system’s flaws

Who would not wish Rahaf Mohammed well? The 18-year-old Saudi wants to… Continue reading

Hertl’s hat trick leads Sharks past Penguins 5-2

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Tomas Hertl needed just three games to get… Continue reading

Starring role beckons for Canada’s Alphonso Davies at Bayern Munich

BERLIN — Canadian teenager Alphonso Davies could be thrown in at the… Continue reading

Bus singer gives voice to Venezuela’s growing diaspora

LIMA, Peru — A year ago, Venezuelan migrant Reymar Perdomo was singing… Continue reading

Corey Hart to be inducted into Canadian Music Hall of Fame at Juno Awards

TORONTO — Crooner Corey Hart will join Canadian music royalty in the… Continue reading

Most Read