Steven McHugh as Tom Duncan and Leanne Weik as Cass Duncan, parents of the Duncan family rehearse for the dinner theatre.
Step into the kitchen of the Duncan family home and their compelling family dynamic during Hinton’s Break-A-Leg (BAL) dinner theatre show in January.
During the comedy show called Maggie’s Getting Married, the family is just returning from the youngest daughters’ wedding rehearsal.
The story primarily features Maggie and her older sister Wanda but there are glimpses into the lives of their parents, as well as those of Maggie’s fiancé and Wanda’s boyfriend.
“The comedy aspect comes primarily from the storyline which is that Wanda is home from out west, the story takes place in Toronto and Wanda has left the house and is living in Calgary, she discovers that she may already know Maggie’s fiancé,” said the director of the play, Melissa Pattinson.
This is Pattinson’s fourth time directing a play in Hinton, and her first one written by Norm Foster.
“I love Norm Foster plays in general. The first play I ever acted in, in Hinton, was a Norm Foster play. He kind of has a special place in my heart,” said Pattinson.
Pattinson worked in stage management for BAL when director Steven Mchugh asked her to read opposite actors during auditions for the Norm Foster play called The Melville Boys.
After the auditions, he asked Pattinson which sister she would like to play, and that became her first acting role.
She followed up that play by acting in Drinking Alone by Norm Foster, also directed by McHugh, which lead her to her own directorial debut of a one-act called Driver’s Test. Her first full feature directing gig was Motherhood Out Loud in March of 2018, and her last was the kids production of Christmas Tree in December of 2018.
Driver’s Test won the BAL playapalooza, where audiences voted for best one act plays, and she continued on to the regional competition.
Maggie’s Getting Married being a dinner theatre performance has posed some completely new challenges for Pattinson.
Most of the audience is sitting lower than the stage and the actors, and staging each character to avoid interfering with their viewing experience can be tricky.
“Making sure actors aren’t’ constantly standing behind things. We have to keep all of that in mind,” said Pattinson.
Not only do they have to keep this in mind, but they also haven’t been able to rehearse on the stage where they will be performing. Every space they’ve rehearsed in is different, as are the dimensions of the stage.
Despite these challenges, the actors have done well and are now working on their comedic timing, said Pattinson.
“Because it’s a comedy, timing is a big aspect of it. So learning the lines early to work on timing and blocking [is] important,” she added.
“They’re all facing the challenge head on and doing great things with it, so I expect great things.”
A few of the actors have been part of a dinner theatre before, but one of the actors is brand new to the stage.
“This cast has quite a range, one actor, it’s his acting debut. Then there’s a couple of actors who have done this for years and years. So we have the old pros and the brand new,” said Pattinson.
The dinner shows will run each night from Jan. 9 to 11 with doors opening at 6 pm at the Performing Arts Theatre in Hinton (PATH).
To make the performance more affordable and accessible, the final performance is a matinee show without the dinner portion, and doors open at 1:15 pm.
“I think it’s a great thing BAL is doing to make this more accessible. Sometimes the dinner theatre costs are a little too much for families especially right around the holidays. Hopefully this will get some additional people out to enjoy the show,” said Pattinson.