Ten theatre productions over just four weekends will keep theatre audiences busy between now and December 9.
The fall season in Fredericton means a lot of things to a lot of people. There is the traffic congestion that comes at the start of the school year, the lingering construction delays that further extend our daily commutes, and the farewell to the countless outdoor events that draw so many out of their homes to socialize and experience the city in the evening light. Plus, it gets colder by the day. But the season is not all doom and gloom. Far from it. Most things just happen indoors now.
For those who enjoy a good story told live before their eyes, the post summer season means trips to the theatre to enjoy some of the best stage productions our city and our province have to offer.
In the span of 45 days, between October 26 and December 9, city audiences will have the opportunity to experience a wealth of plays and musicals with a few additional surprises thrown in for good measure as Theatre New Brunswick, Theatre UNB, Branch Out Productions, Black Box Productions, Herbert the Cow Productions, Fredericton High School, Nasty Shadows Theatre Company, the Plain Site Theatre Festival and newcomers Smugglers Theatre stage performances at seven venues across four weekends.
The season begins next week with productions from both Theatre UNB and St. Thomas University’s Black Box Productions.
Theatre UNB typically stages 4-5 productions each school year with students acting, directing, and designing each show as part of the Faculty of Arts’ drama program. This year’s production lineup gets underway with Perfect Arrangement by Topher Payne.
“The play Perfect Arrangement offers an extraordinarily significant story about the history of the early gay rights movement in America,” said UNB student Sarah Osier, the play’s director. “Despite being set in America, its themes are incredibly relevant given the present political atmosphere and the demonization of LGBTQ people. This play contains a little bit of everything. It is both serious and funny and written in the style of a sitcom-drama. The characters are incredibly real, and they demonstrate how, at the end of the day, everyone is merely human. Our actors are also very talented and have been working extremely hard to make this performance shine.”
Perfect Arrangement runs October 26-28 at UNB’s Memorial Hall, 9 Bailey Drive. Follow Theatre UNB to learn more.
Up the hill at St. Thomas University, Black Box Productions are partnering with CHSR FM to produce a live version of the famous War of the Worlds radio drama. Just in time for Halloween, mediums will merge as Black Box Productions and CHSR recreate the iconic radio play, War of the Worlds. Experience the original 1938 broadcast, complete with a martian attack, mass panic, Orson Welles and the birth of fake news in this live-on-stage/radio broadcast production directed by Ilkay Silk.
War of the Worlds runs October 26-28 at the Black Box Theatre, 67 Dineen Drive. Follow Black Box Productions for forthcoming details.
The season continues at Theatre New Brunswick with the world premiere of Wood Buffalo by Len Falkenstein. Part epic odyssey, part eco-thriller, Falkenstein’s latest work is the culmination of more than five years of writing and research exploring the various meanings and purpose associated with the play’s Northern Alberta namesake. Wood Buffalo seeks to find the balance between the environmental costs and the economic boom that has attracted many east-coasters to leave home and seek their fortunes from Canada’s fossil fuel mecca. Etched through with compassion, humour, and more than a touch of magic, Wood Buffalo is a sweeping Canadian epic you won’t want to miss.
“It’s been in development for four or five years. I am so thrilled that it is finally happening and all these strange and wonderful things that have been in my head for so long are actually going to come to life on stage. It’s a pretty fantastic moment for me,” said Falkenstein.
Wood Buffalo runs November. 8-12 at the Open Space Theatre, 55 Whiting Road, with a Pay What You Wish preview on Nov. 8. Learn more.
Smugglers Theatre will make its city debut at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre Nov. 10-12 with a production of The Baltimore Waltz by Paula Vogel. Based on a series of real life experiences shared by Vogel and her brother in the face of an incurable disease, The Baltimore Waltz is told through a series of comic vignettes that blend tragedy and comedy with an epic odyssey adventure.
“Our mission statement with Smugglers Theatre was to produce comedies with tragic twists,” said cofounder Jason McIntyre. “Out of all the plays we considered launching our company with, no other script made us laugh as hard or hit us with as hard of a gut punch as The Baltimore Waltz. Paula Vogel wrote the play in response to the death of her brother, Carl, who lost his life to HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. The play has this anti-authority feel to it and really blasts the government for not placing more value on queer lives and communities. It’s a theme many of us New Brunswickers can relate to right now.
“We call ourselves Smugglers Theatre because we want to produce shows that suck people in with humour and lightheartedness, but ultimately end up forcing them to consider heavy and even devastating themes and content,” he said. “We’re sneaking in our dramatic messaging under the guise of light hearted romps. Smuggling in the drama by means of comedy, so to speak.”
The Baltimore Waltz runs Nov. 10-12 at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre, 732 Charlotte Street. Learn more.
Students at Fredericton High School have a show of their own coming up near the end of November. Descendants: The Musical focuses on the children of famous Disney heroes and villains. The Fairy Godmother put a spell on the villains and their descendants so they were banished to the barren Isle of the Lost while the heroes and their children live on a beautiful island called Auradon. When Ben, the son of The Beast and Belle who rule Auradon, is about to be crowned King, he decides the children of the villains deserve a second chance, so he puts a proclamation in place that allows four teenage children to leave the Isle of the Lost so they can attend the elite Auradon Preparatory school and learn that good is better than evil. The four teenagers chosen are the descendants of Maleficent (Mal), the Evil Queen (Evie), Jafar (Jay), and Cruella de Vil (Carlos). While their initial plan is to steal the Fairy Godmother’s wand and free their parents from captivity, Mal, Evie, Jay and Carlos begin to have conflicted thoughts concerning their bad behavior and some even have romantic feelings toward their fellow classmates.
Descendants: The Musical runs Nov. 22-25 at Fredericton High School’s Tom Morrison Theatre, 300 Priestman Street. Learn more.
From the Tom Morrison Theatre, we head halfway down the hill for this year’s Plain Site Theatre Festival. Now in its fifth year, Plain Site, curated by Alex Rioux in association with Black Box Productions and Solo Chicken Productions, is New Brunswick’s premier 2SLGBTQIA+ theatre festival dedicated to promoting queer focused storytelling and visibility by providing emerging artists and students a safer space to develop their craft under the guidance of established 2SLGBTQIA+ artists.
This year’s festival begins on November 23 with readings of new plays in development by Emmanuelle Jackson (Playground) and by Sophie Brander (Storm). The following night will feature three mainstage productions: Baited: Mondays on Fox by Brie Sparks, The Way Some People Love by Jordan Comeau and Year End Reflections by James Lockyer. The festival wraps up on the 25th with closing events TBA.
The Plain Site Theatre Festival runs November 23-25 at the Black Box Theatre, 67 Dineen Drive. Follow PSTF on Instagram for more details.
For the third production of the weekend, fringe theatre visionaries Herbert The Cow Productions will stage a three night run of Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s cult favourite musical one-off, Once More, With Feeling.
Once More, With Feeling is the name of the seventh episode in the sixth season of the popular TV series and the only episode performed as a musical, a perfect fit for HCP, one of Fredericton’s most dynamic and entertaining theatre groups.
Once More, With Feeling runs November 23-25 at Monarch Night Club, 474 Queen Street. Follow Herbert the Cow on Facebook for forthcoming details.
Stretching all the way into December, Fredericton’s fall theatre season concludes with a bold of work indie theatre and pair of holiday productions from two of the city’s largest theatre organizations.
Nasty Shadows Theatre Company are prepping its upcoming production of Standing At Opposite Ends Are Ducky & Murdock, a wartime love story with a Nasty touch. Written by NSTC’s Scott Shannon and featuring performances by Caroline Coon and Alex Fullerton, the play is loosely based on a branch of Shannon’s family tree set within the ever-developing world of Shadows’ lore.
Standing At Opposite Ends Are Ducky & Murdock runs December 7-8 at Memorial Hall, 9 Bailey Drive. Visit Nasty Shadow online to learn more.
Branch Out Productions presents community theatre in its purest form, bringing together people from all walks of life and creative backgrounds to create theatre magic. This year’s nearly-sold out production of Elf: The Musical opens at the Tom Morrison Theatre on December 7.
“We’re having such a great time preparing for our (nearly- sold out) upcoming production of Elf: The Musical,” said BOP’s Ben Harrison, who is directing the show. “I think folks are so excited to take in this production because the movie plays such an integral part in people’s holiday celebrations.
“This show features nearly 50 local actors aged 8 – 60 something, some appearing on stage for the first time ever. It’s amazing to see everyone working together to ‘spread Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear’.”
Elf: The Musical runs December 7-9 at the Tom Morrison Theatre, 300 Priestman Street. View Event.
After staging back to back holiday productions inspired by the characters of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, Theatre New Brunswick is turning its attention to gut-busting laughter with a production of All I Want for Christmas by Canadian Comedy Award winner Rebecca Northan.
“It’s an incredibly fun show,” said Sabrina Miller, the Montreal-based set designer who will be designing the sets and props for the show. “There’s so much tribalism in the world these days and people having camps. This show starts out as Santa’s elves vs humans but at the end they just talk to each other and find out their similarities and that they really enjoy each other’s company. It’s an incredibly heartwarming story and one where everyone just ends up working together.”
All I Want for Christmas runs December 8 and 9 at the Fredericton Playhouse, 686 Queen Street. Learn more.