Brooke Dalton playing Emma and Evan Mcleod as Edgar rehearse a fight scene for the Prime Stock Theatre production of King Lear at Red Deer College on Tuesday.

Brooke Dalton playing Emma and Evan Mcleod as Edgar rehearse a fight scene for the Prime Stock Theatre production of King Lear at Red Deer College on Tuesday.

Prime Stock tackles light comedy, serious fare

This month’s Bard on Bower productions will be as different as Beach Blanket Bingo is from the House of Cards. Prime Stock Theatre is poised to go surf crazy with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, while its King Lear will bring political turmoil and a more sobering madness to the outdoor stage at Red Deer’s Bower Ponds. Audiences will first pick up some good vibrations with Twelfth Night, opening on Thursday, July 16.

This month’s Bard on Bower productions will be as different as Beach Blanket Bingo is from the House of Cards.

Prime Stock Theatre is poised to go surf crazy with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, while its King Lear will bring political turmoil and a more sobering madness to the outdoor stage at Red Deer’s Bower Ponds.

Audiences will first pick up some good vibrations with Twelfth Night, opening on Thursday, July 16.

In time-travelling to the mid-1960s of the Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon beach-blanket movies, this production will be more about under-wired swimsuits and decal-festooned surfboards than petticoats, doublets or wooden galleons.

To set the breezy mood, a Surfin’ Safari soundtrack will accompany the musical comedy — thanks to live performances by Red Deer band Underside Pattern as The Beach Boys.

Twelfth Night’s kooky plot “is really like the Archie comics,” said director Thomas Usher, referring to the Betty-Archie-Veronica love triangle. Only in this case, Viola loves Duke Orsino, who loves the Countess Olivia, who loves a new man (who turns out to be Viola in gender-bending disguise).

While the convoluted story line, involving separated twins and various ruses, sounds complicated, Twelfth Night is one of the Bard’s most popular light comedies — which is why Usher feels it lends itself to the Southern California beach treatment.

“We asked at the audition whether the actors would feel comfortable wearing bathing suits,” said Usher.

As long as mosquitoes remain scarce, “it could be a good thing,” he added, “since it can get really hot on the Bower Ponds stage. …”

The 14-member cast is made up of familiar and new actors, including Erin Pettifor as beach bunny Viola. Danielle LaRose, who runs a theatre company in England and is back visiting her Central Alberta relatives, will play Olivia, while Isiah Williams will portray surfer dude Duke Orsino. Richie Jackson depicts the stooge Malvolio.

The same cast will step into more serious parts for Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear, which opens on Thursday, July 23.

Tom Bradshaw, who like Usher is a theatre instructor at Red Deer College, will star in the titular role that’s been portrayed by history’s greatest actors — from Richard Burbage and Edmund Kean to Orson Welles, Laurence Olivier, James Earl Jones and Christopher Plummer.

Lear is an aging monarch who, aware of his memory lapses, resolves to hand over his kingdom to his daughters in amounts that are proportional to the love they bear for him.

The tragedy is that Lear falls for the false praise and flattery dished out by his eldest daughters, while spurning the honesty of his youngest daughter, Cordelia.

In gifting his country to his greedy, ruthless daughters, Goneril and Regan, Lear inadvertently leaves a wake of political backstabbings and floor crossings. Rivals double-deal and pull stunts reminiscent of real-life politics in this province, said Usher, whose modern-dress version will contain hints of Alberta’s recent electoral upset.

Lear’s guardsmen will sport the blue of the outgoing Tory government while his daughters, who ultimately war against each other, will brandish Liberal red and other political stripes.

Goneril will be played by Rina Pelletier, Regan by Sarah Spicer and Cordelia by Nicole Leal.

Politics aside, Usher also sees a humanist underpinning to this tragedy.

Devastated by his daughters’ betrayal, Lear goes mad and wanders the wilderness, or heath. “Our wilderness will be the streets of the city,” said the director.

In becoming a homeless vagrant living on the margins of society, King Lear learns that he’s no different than anyone else. “A man is a basic creature” who needs to feel belonging, respect and love, said Usher. “It’s very telling that under every crown is just a person.”

Admission is free but donations are encouraged to both productions.

Twelfth Night runs at 7 p.m. on July 16, 17, 18, 22, 26, and 30 (also at 2 p.m. on July 25 and Aug. 1).

King Lear will be staged at 7 p.m. July 23, 24, 25, 29, 31, and Aug. 1 (also at 2 p.m. on July 26 and Aug. 2).

For the first time, a beer tent will be available at the site. As well, special performances will be held by Bull Skit and Tree House Youth Theatre on July 25 and Aug. 1.

For more information, visit www.primestocktheatre.com.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre's expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital ICU admissions stable, but rising, says surgeon

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s intensive care unit is in better… Continue reading

Alberta recorded a single-day record of over 57,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta hits daily record of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Central zone has administered 111,735 doses of the COVID-19

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, is setting off a social media reaction with his calls to stop non essential shopping, such as "buying sandals at Costco", with this photo of his worn sandals, which he published to social media on Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dr. Robert Strang, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Nova Scotia’s top doctor sparks meme with caution on non-essential shopping

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s top doctor has launched a social media meme… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Canada's chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Tam warns that full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Canada’s chief public health officer reminded Canadians on Saturday that even those… Continue reading

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour conducts drills during NHL hockey training camp in Morrisville, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
NHL relaxing virus protocols for vaccinated playoff teams

The NHL is relaxing virus protocols for teams that reach a threshold… Continue reading

Canada skip Kerri Einarson directs her teammates against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson eliminated at curling worlds after 8-3 loss to Sweden’s Hasselborg

CALGARY — Canada’s Kerri Einarson was eliminated at the world women’s curling… Continue reading

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman didn’t expect to get hit with a double whammy at… Continue reading

A courtroom at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton on Friday, June 28, 2019. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the Canadian justice system warn a number of legal experts. The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench announced Sunday it would adjourn all scheduled trials across the province for at least 10-weeks limiting hearings to only emergency or urgent matters. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

EDMONTON — An Edmonton woman was found guilty Friday of manslaughter in… Continue reading

A Statistics Canada 2016 Census mailer sits on the key board of a laptop after arriving in the mail at a residence in Ottawa, May 2, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Statistics Canada sees more demand to fill out census online during pandemic

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the response to the census is higher… Continue reading

Travellers, who are not affected by new quarantine rules, arrive at Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Ottawa will create a new digital platform to help in processing immigration applications more quickly and efficiently after COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for a faster shift to a digital immigration system, the immigration department said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ottawa to create new system to tackle delays in processing immigration applications

Ottawa says it will create a new digital platform to help process… Continue reading

Most Read