Cast of The Thin Grey Line, from left, Nigel Lane, Blaine Newton, Vanessa McCagg, and Paul Boultbee. The Red Deer-conceived Fringe play will get a local run Sept. 27-30 at the downtown library. (Contributed photo).

Red Deer-conceived Fringe play that pokes fun at aging actors gets a local run

The Thin Grey Line, by Blaine Newton, runs Sept. 27-30 at downtown library

An original play about over-the-hill actors who can’t remember their lines has given three real-life Red Deer thespians a chance to perform at the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival.

Word of mouth about last month’s premiere of Blaine Newton’s comedy The Thin Grey Line at the Fringe ranged from “fabulous” to “laugh-your-ass-off funny,” said its director, Lori Lane, who was gratified by the play’s success in a field of more than 250 productions.

Now central Alberta audiences can see The Thin Grey Line performed locally.

When the zany production opens on Sept. 27, and runs to the 30th in the Snell Auditorium at Red Deer’s downtown library, the play will have come full circle, said Lane.

The idea for it was hatched in Red Deer a couple of years ago, when Newton (a local actor and playwright who recently moved to Edmonton) was bemoaning the lack of roles for aging male actors.

Nigel Lane, a local performer (and Lori’s spouse), told him, “Why don’t you write some then?” recalled Lane. And Newton took up the challenge.

His original script for The Thin Grey Line was read to an audience a year ago, as part of the Red Deer Players’ Breaking Cover Series at the downtown library.

Earlier this summer, Newton decided to fully mount the comedy on stage after his Cursive Writing Productions got a Fringe spot. He asked Lori Lane to direct and cast the actors the roles were written for.

Newton, himself, will portray aging thespian Barrett Osbertisson. Paul Boultbee will be Patrick Fortesque, while Nigel Lane will play the third actor in the company, Niles Jones.

The cement holding their fictional production together is the stage manager, Sybil Crossley, played by Red Deer College theatre and film alumni Vanessa McCagg.

Lane said it’s Sybil who must remind the actors of what their lines are — and even what their costume changes are — as their mental lapses grow.

The audience never finds out what play the three actors are performing, as all of the hectic action takes place in the dressing room, while the fictional production is supposedly happening off-stage.

But viewers knows it must be one outrageous show, based on the costume changes they see.

“One of the actors is in drag,” said Lane, while another straps on a peg leg.

“There are also cowboys, jailbirds and bunny rabbits…”

An amused audience member called The Thin Grey Line “Monty Python meets the Golden Girls” — which Lane feels is a pretty apt description.

For tickets and more information about the production that’s hosted by the Red Deer Players and Red Deer Public Library, contact the Black Knight Ticket Centre.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Pfizer posts 4Q loss, misses Street views, on lower revenue

Drugmaker Pfizer reported a $337 million loss in its fourth quarter after… Continue reading

UK to allow Huawei equipment in 5G networks but not in ‘core’ parts

LONDON — Britain decided Tuesday to give Huawei limited access to build… Continue reading

Birds flocking to national parks in the Canadian Rockies

BANFF, Alta. — It turns out tourists aren’t the only ones who… Continue reading

Country music fans enjoy free concert at Red Deer mall, ahead of ACMA awards

Fans like to get up close and personal and that’s exactly what… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Feb. 1 A Jump Rope Competition will be held at the Abbey… Continue reading

Virus in China affects sports events, Olympic qualifiers

GENEVA — Amid growing concern at the spread of a new virus… Continue reading

Ottawa 67’s boss Andre Tourigny gets call to coach Canada’s junior team

CALGARY — After serving as an assistant coach this year for Canada’s… Continue reading

Juno Awards nominees to be unveiled for music’s big night in Saskatoon

TORONTO — The 2020 Juno Awards nominees are set to be revealed… Continue reading

Harvey Weinstein NYC sex assault trial picks up pace

NEW YORK — The closely watched #Metoo era rape trial of Harvey… Continue reading

Calgary sport school that grooms Olympic champions threatened with shutdown

CALGARY — The National Sport School in Calgary that produces Olympic and… Continue reading

Quebec to seek consensus on offering medical aid in dying to mentally ill

MONTREAL — Quebec on Monday walked back a plan to offer medical… Continue reading

GOP defends Trump as Bolton book adds pressure for witnesses

WASHINGTON — Senators faced mounting pressure Monday to summon John Bolton to… Continue reading

Most Read