Tag Archives: Leah Pritchard

Gone Gros Morne

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“The secret to acting is don’t act. Be you, with add-ons.” Michael Sheen

“I’m going to take off now,” said Leah Pritchard. “I’m going to go. I’m going to do what I want. I’m going to leave. That’s what’s going to happen.”

It was the tail end of her last year at Gros Morne Academy in Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland. Closing in on the end of theater studies with Sarah McDonald, the teacher pulled Leah aside. “Of all the students here, the one we think would be feasible as a professional actor is the one who’s always saying they don’t want to do it. You would be the one strong enough and talented enough to actually make it.”

Leah Pritchard had other plans. She was geared up and buckled down about joining the Mounties. She meant business.

When the class mounted their year-end play, everybody’s parents coming to see the show, Sarah McDonald rustled up Ross and Marion Fraser-Pritchard. She meant business, too.

“We’re going to put her in theater school at university, so that’s the plan,” she told Leah’s parents.

“My dad did not want me leave Newfoundland and he did not want me to be in the RCMP,” said Leah.

“Fine, great, we’ll keep her here,” said her father, despite himself and his wife both being Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

“I was still very angry about being in Newfoundland, about being moved around, leaving Nova Scotia.” She was 17-years-old. “I was a surly teenager, a willful child. I didn’t want to be here anymore.”

She turned 18 her first day three months later at Memorial University of Newfoundland. “She can’t get into the theater program right away, but we’re going to make sure she gets into it,” Sarah McDonald told Leah’s father. “She was my mentor,” said Leah.

In the meantime, she snuck into theater classes.

“I was hanging with my friends one day when I got locked in the class by accident when the professor came in. After I didn’t get called out for it, after a few weeks I started answering questions,” she said.

“Who are you?” Todd Hennessey, the teacher and Head of the Division of Fine Arts, finally asked her. “Do you take this class?”

“Um, no,” she answered.

“Don’t worry,” her friends told the teacher.. “You’ll meet her officially next year.”

In her last year at Memorial University she headlined Hard Ticket Theatre’s production of “Venus in Fur.”.Todd Hennessey directed the spooky two-person sex comedy. “It takes one heck of an actress to convincingly play a character who is regarded as being a fantastic actress, and Leah Prichard nails it,” wrote Rachael Joffred in her review.

The campus she attended was the Sir Wilfred Grenfell College at Corner Brook, where the bulk of the theater program was, and which is two hours from  Rocky Harbour. Wilfred Grenfell was an English doctor who opened hospitals, orphanages, and cooperatives one hundred years ago to serve the coastal inhabitants of Labrador and Newfoundland. He was an able-bodied doughty man. Once marooned on a slab of floating ice slob, he killed some of his dogs to make himself a fur coat in order to survive.

“They wanted to keep track of me, since I was just 18.” Two years later her mother was reassigned to RCMP Headquarters in Halifax. Her father took a post in the capital city, as well. Leah Pritchard stayed lived studied and worked in Newfoundland for the next nearly seven years.

Rocky Harbour is on the far western edge of Newfoundland. The town is home to Gros Morne National Park. There is a fjord lined with cliffs and waterfalls, formed by long-gone glaciers. There are caribou and moose, rainy moody fog-bound mountains, and the tablelands, where you can walk on the earth’s mantle. The landscape is ancient.

“If you ever see tourism commercials for Newfoundland,” said Leah, “there’s always this big fjord where somebody is standing with their arms outstretched saying, “Look at the world!’ That’s where I lived. You can spend a long time by yourself there. I ended up loving it.”

A native of Nova Scotia, Leah Pritchard grew up in Lower Sackville, a fast-growing suburb of Halifax. In the 1950s it was known for its drive-in theater, harness racing track, and WW2 bomber plane ice cream stand. It is today a family-oriented commuter community.

Her parents, now both retired, were RCMP policeman and policewoman. The Force, as it is known, is both a federal and national police force. It enforces the law on a contract basis in the territories and most of the provinces. In many rural areas it is the only police force. Its French acronym, GRC, is sometimes repurposed as Gravel Road Cops.

Despite its name, the Mounties is not an actual mounted police force anymore, although it still was in the 1930s when they brought the Mad Trapper of Rat River to justice.

Her grandfather was a RCMP officer. “It’s just a family thing,” she said. “It also makes you very popular in high school, let me tell you,” she added with a booming guffaw.

She is the youngest of five children. Her sister and two older brothers were adopted by her father when he was 21-years-old. “Their dad was a motorcycle cop and died on duty. My dad fell super in love with his widow and made a bold choice. The kids were 3, 2, and 1-years-old. The RCMP has always been a part of our lives. There’s a sense of honor and tradition.”

Growing up, the family moved whenever and wherever her parents were assigned. It was how they moved to Newfoundland, when her mother was made a detachment commander there. Leah spent most of her teen years in Yarmouth, on the Bay of Fundy in southwestern Nova Scotia. The seaside town is proximate to the world’s largest lobster fishing grounds.

“You get real accustomed to small town life real fast. There’s a lot of space in and around Yarmouth to get weird.”

No matter what efforts you summon to make sense of it, the world can still be a strange place. Small towns impart a sense of place, but often feelings of self-consciousness, too. It can mean the opportunity to create your own options out of the weird mix of things.

It is where Leah caught the acting bug.

“I was at a production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” at our high school when two of the actors started laughing hysterically on stage about something and couldn’t control themselves. I thought that looks like fun.”

She took fine arts and acting classes in both French and English. In lieu of lunch the drama students staged short one-act plays at a nearby small theater, declaiming their dialogue and handing out sandwiches to show goers who needed a bite. “We were just harmless theater geeks, so the teachers let us go and do that. I started spending all my time in theaters.”

Once in the acting stream at Memorial University she discovered the program was the only one of its kind in Atlantic Canada. It combined practical and academic training with small class sizes and one-on-one attention to detail by actors directors production professionals doubling up as faculty and staff.

“It’s a fabulous program, especially learning to handle Shakespeare,” said Leah. “The Newfoundland accent is the least bastardized accent in North America, the closest to what it would be in Shakespeare’s time. It’s got that time’s rhythm and music to it.”

Many Newfoundlanders work in classic theater, especially at Canada’s Stratford Festival, the internationally known repertory theater festival that showcases William Shakespeare. “The music is in our DNA,” said St. John’s native Robin Hutton, who has performed at Stratford for close to a decade. ”We can’t have a party without a sing song.”

Natives of ‘The Rock,’ as the province is sometimes known, who have worked at Stratford include Brad Hotter, Jillian Keiley, and Deidre Gillard-Rowlings. “We’re storytellers in Newfoundland,” said Brad Hotter. “Theater is a craft handed down, where you learn from people who pass it down from generation to generation.”

Leah Pritchard’s last semester at Memorial University was spent in England, taking master classes with working professionals and seeing shows in the West End and Stratford-upon-Avon. “You see as many plays as you can, you write reviews, and you rehearse a play. When you come back you put it up. It’s the culmination of all the work you’ve done the past four years.”

One of the plays she saw in London was “The 39 Steps,” accompanied by her brother, Ian, a six-foot-six lanky young man with curly ginger hair who at the time was also in the theater program. The show is a comic treatment of the Alfred Hitchcock movie. It is played for laughs, so Leah and Ian laughed their heads off

“Most people would unanimously agree that I’m a very loud person,” said Leah. “If I’m being quiet, there’s something wrong. Ian has an even bigger laugh, a booming laugh, not subtle, at all. We were there laughing our heads off, Eastern Canadians watching a comedy. Everyone around us was quiet. Somebody said, ‘That’s not why we’re here.’ English audiences are reserved. Come on! I said. That’s exactly why we’re here. Join in the jokes, please.”

Sometimes being the loud enough voice for quiet thoughts is what works. Leah sang with the Xara Choral Theatre Ensemble on their debut CD “Here On These Branches” about northern cultures, communities, and landscapes. It was nominated for best classical recording of 2015 at the East Coast Music Awards.

It’s what she does getting ready to go on stage every night, too. She sings to herself, pop jazz show tunes by Julie London, Ella Fitzgerald, and Julie Andrews.

Back in Newfoundland with a newly minted BFA in acting on her resume, she found work as a bartender, a nanny, and an usher. “I’d get up at 6 in the morning, nanny the three kids, drop them off at their family’s restaurant, jump into a shower, get into my uniform, and go usher at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival.”

She worked in a candy store to make ends meet.

“You eat a lot of candy,” she said.

She got a job at a dinner theater in Halifax.

“You gotta do it,” she said. “It’s like cutting your teeth.”

Madrigals in the Middle Ages were a kind of dinner theater. They made a comeback in the 1970s, featuring mysteries and musicals. Actors like Lana Turner and Van Johnson performed between appetizers and dessert. Burt Reynolds owned his own dinner theater.

“You’re a performer, but you’re a waiter, too,” said Leah. “You sing and dance and run off stage to pick up six plates on a tray, deliver them, and run back on stage. You get into wicked great shape doing it.”

The bane of dinner theaters is the hubbub. “You’re a waiter as well as a performer and you have to deal with eaters. But there isn’t a fourth wall. If someone starts talking on their phone, because they don’t really give a fuck about you, you can stop and say, do you mind?”

It’s best said with an upturned nose, mock haughtiness, and a snooty English accent. “It’s not like you’re in the middle of a soliloquy,” she said.

Breaking into the arts world is often a matter of catching a break.

”My first Equity gig was in the fall after I graduated, which is very lucky.”

In late 2013, another teacher from the university, Jerry Etienne, saw her in a remount of “Venus in Fur.” He has directed more than thirty productions as Artistic Director of Theatre Newfoundland Labrador and founded the Gros Morne Theatre Festival. When he signed on to direct “The Rainmaker” at the Watermark Theatre on Prince Edward Island the next summer he asked her if she would consider signing up at the same time.

“Yes, please,” she said.

She played the plain spinster in the drought-ridden story set in Depression-era America whose family worries center on her slim marriage prospects and their dying cattle. “Leah Pritchard tunes into the right emotional channel,” wrote The Buzz, Prince Edward Island’s arts and entertainment monthly tabloid.

Summer stock at the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico on the north central coast of the island means finding a place to live and a place to eat. “The stage manager and I roomed together for four years.” She ate at Amanda’s that became Fresh Catch that became Pedro’s Island Eatery when it was taken over by a Portuguese couple. “This village has been crying out for Pedro’s,” she said. “They give you so much food, delicious, and a beer. I get passionate about their haddock.”

Meanwhile, she worked up and down the east coast. “I’m very much an eastern girl,” she said. “I’d go insane without the ocean.”

In the spring of 2016 Leah appeared in “The Drowning Girls” at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax, a play about the real-life early 20th-century British wife killer George Joseph Smith, who married three women in succession and drowned all three in succession. “There was a lot of sitting in water for long periods of time. There was even a splash zone by the first row.“

Later that fall she played Balthazar in “The Spanish Tragedy” at The Villain’s Theatre in Halifax. All the actors were actresses in the new adaptation and the revenge story unfolded with a plentiful dose of black humor.

By the end of the summer season of 2017, after four seasons at the Watermark Theatre, she had appeared in productions of “Blithe Spirit” “The Rainmaker” “The Lion in Winter” “Romeo and Juliet” “An Ideal Husband” “The Glass Menagerie” and most recently “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” and the perky newlywed in “Barefoot in the Park.”

“The Watermark has been very kind to me,” she said. “I’ve gotten the opportunity to do Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw and Tennessee Williams.”

“Leah Pritchard and Jordan Campbell have genuine chemistry together, an innocent quality which is very watchable and perfectly suited to the play,” wrote Colm Magner in his review of “Barefoot in the Park” for The Guardian.

Some roles are more challenging than others.

“The Glass Menagerie was hard,” she said. “It was physically challenging, limping around, and I couldn’t figure Laura out, at first. She’s someone who lives inside herself, although as an actor on stage you can’t be too inside yourself. She’s a character who withdraws from the world, is quiet and reserved, and doesn’t want to be in confrontation. But on stage you need to be present, need to be seen, and need to be physically heard.

“It was weird.”

In the fall of 2017 Leah went on tour with Xara Choral Theatre’s adaptation of “Fatty Legs,” a children’s true story book about a plucky eight-year-old Inuit girl gone off to a residential school. “They called me Fatty Legs because a wicked nun forced me to wear a pair of red stockings that made my legs look enormous,” says the heroine. The larger theme is the cultural genocide of Canada’s defunct Indian boarding school system, which separated children from their traditional land, skills, language, and family.

Working with youngsters isn’t new for her. She has been a teaching assistant for Neptune Theatre’s youth theater workshops and led PEI Watermark Theatre’s youth theater acting conservatory for three summers.

Still a self-professed east coast girl, Leah Pritchard has recently moved to Toronto. The city boasts one of the liveliest theater scenes in the world, from major musicals at the Mirvish Theatres to Soulpepper, North America’s only year-round repertory company, to Buddies in Bad Times, the world’s largest and longest running queer theater.

“I want to be on the coast, but I understand the opportunities are in Ontario. I know what stages I want to be on and I’m going to keep working as hard as I can to get on those stages, by hook or by crook.”

Getting in the front door is easy to do if you’ve got a ticket. Getting in the stage door is hard to do if you’re an aspiring actor. Trying to make it in Toronto is a long uphill row to hoe.

“In Toronto no one needs to see you, no one needs to let you into the audition room, because there are thousands of you out there,” said Leah. “The way I approach my career is, there are thousands of good actors, but there aren’t thousands of me. There’s only one of me and they should be so lucky.”

Sometimes she tosses her head back when she laughs, like an actress from another time, a Myrna Loy or Angela Lansbury, who she bears a resemblance to. If she hasn’t laughed ten fifteen twenty times a day it hasn’t been a good day. “I get that I’m a young Angela Lansbury, a lot. I should be as lucky as that. I tell them I’m like a young old lady, not like how people are trying to be beautiful today.”

Looking ahead moving forward owning her career in the big city, she has several pokers in the fire, including Prince Edward Island. “It depends if there are roles for me in the plays they choose,” she said. “Five years in that theatre would be amazing. Even if they don’t, if I can manage a visit, the ocean, Pedro’s, it would be fabulous.”

She toured in the fall of 2018 with Xara Choral Theatre’s production of “Fatty Legs” reprising her work with the troupe.

This year she has found her way back to the Atlantic Ocean and Pedro’s Island Eatery and the Watermark Theatre for her fifth season, appearing in both summer shows, “Boeing Boeing” and “Crimes of the Heart.”

“She is very. very funny in ‘Boeing Boeing,'” said Robert Tsonos, Artistic Director at the Watermark.

“I’m always working to better myself as an actor,” she said. “I’m an independent artist, so I’m not desperate to be liked. I’m older, a little wiser, although maybe not very wise. I’m still only 28. How wise can a 28-year-old be?”

It”s not about to be or not to be.

It’s about the sharp-eyed actor on the way to doing what she wants who understands the first word line page in the manuscript of horse sense keenness awareness is about being unfailing about being you, adding-on but no second-handing and no pretending about what you’re doing to make yourself happen.

Photograph by Matthew Downey

PEI Professional Theatre Network

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PEI Theatre is the Guild, Harbourfront Theatre,
Confederation Centre for the Arts,
Watermark Theatre, and the Victoria Playhouse

Going Local

Local Actors Featured in Watermark 2019 Acting Company

Watermark Theatre is thrilled to announce their 2019 Acting Company, featuring two local PEI actors, two actors from Halifax, and two from Toronto. Cornwall born and Emyvale raised Jenna Marie joins the company for her first season while Jacob Hemphill, born and raised in Summerside, returns for his 2nd season. Well known to Watermark audiences, Leah Pritchard, joins the company once again for her 5th  season while Kathyrn McCormack, Warren Bain, and Alexandra Montagnese are all newcomers to the company.

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A 4th year student studying Theatre and Opera Performance at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Jacob Hemphill was seen in last summer’s Watermark productions of Dial M For Murder and A Moon For The Misbegotten. His other credits include: The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan (Confederation Centre); and My Fair Lady (The Grand Theatre).

Jenna Marie attended Holland College School of Performing Arts the first year the program became available. After completing the program, she was accepted to Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts in the heart of Toronto. Since coming home, Jenna Marie has had the opportunity to play roles such as Chiffon in Little Shop of Horrors (ACT Community Theatre), Jill in Skin Flick (ACT Community Theatre) and her favorite role to date, Mary in Mary’s Wedding (Sandstone Theatre Company).

Leah Pritchard is an actor from Halifax who has starred in numerous Watermark productions. From the part of Lizzie in The Rainmaker to the part of Vivie in Mrs. Warren’s Profession and other memorable roles in The Lion In Winter, An Ideal Husband, The Glass Menagerie, and Barefoot in the Park. Since gaining her BFA from Memorial University, she has worked as an actor and singer across Newfoundland (Theatre NL, Gros Morne), Nova Scotia (Neptune, Xara Choral Theatre, Villain’s Theatre), and Ontario (Tangled Arts + Disability).

Halifax based Kathryn McCormack is very familiar with the north shore of PEI as she spent her summers in Stanley Bridge. She was named Best Theatre Actor in the Coast’s “Best of Halifax” issue and has been nominated twice for the Theatre NS Merritt Award for Best Supporting Actress for her roles in Cinderelly and Alice in Wonderland (Shakespeare by the Sea). Other credits include: This is Nowhere, Archive of Missing Things (Zuppa Theatre Co.), It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street (Neptune Theatre), Othello, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare by the Sea).

Warren Bain has spent eight seasons with the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival as both actor and assistant director. Other credits include: Weekend Comedy, A Christmas Carol (Orillia Opera House), The Great Kooshog Lake Hollis McCauley Fishing Derby, Miracle on 34th Street (Upper Canada Playhouse), And Then The Lights Went Out (StageWest Calgary). He is a BFA Ryerson University graduate, Co-Artistic Director of Bain & Bernard Comedy, and an Artistic Associate with Sheatre.

Alexandra Montagnese is a founding member of the Montreal-based Jot & Tittle Puppetry Collective and a core company member of Lucid Ludic in Toronto. Alexandra has performed several one-woman shows including Suddenly, There by Michael Lake, which had its debut at the Atlantic Fringe Festival in 2014. Her own one-woman show Public Mischief won pick of the fringe at Kingston’s Storefront Fringe. Alexandra has performed with Theatre Direct, Thousand Islands Playhouse, Young People’s Theatre, Shakespeare in Action, Theatre Kingston, and Theatre Rusticle. Alexandra holds a BA from McGill and an MFA from York University.

All of these fine actors will be appearing in Boeing Boeing by Marc Camoletti and Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley throughout the summer months as well as taking part in the Watermark Play Reading Series. Most will also teach acting classes in the company’s Teenage Acting Conservatory.

Boeing Boeing runs from June 25th to August 31st
Crimes of the Heart runs from July 5th to August 30th
The Play Reading Series is on August 7th, 14th, and 21st
The Teenage Acting Conservatory is from July 22nd to Aug 2nd

For more information, or to set up an interview with any of the actors please contactAndrea Surich at 902-963-3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com

Watermark Theatre
57 Church Hill Ave
North Rustico, PE
C0A 1X0
(902) 963-3963
http://www.watermarktheatre.com

Watermark Theatre is a proud member of the Professional Theatre Network of PEI.

The Guild, Watermark Theatre, Harbourfront Theatre, Confederation Centre for the Arts, and Victoria Theatre.

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Mothers and Daughters On Stage at the Watermark Theatre

Barefoot in the Park and Mrs. Warren’s Profession, the two plays on this summer at North Rustico’s Watermark Theatre, both feature a mother-daughter relationship at their core, and Leah Pritchard and Gracie Finley will play daughter and mother in both plays. A unique situation that has both actresses thinking of their own mother-daughter relationships in their own lives.

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Leah Pritchard: “When I think about what connects myself and the characters I will be playing this summer, I believe what we share the most is the stage at which we find ourselves in life. Vivie Warren, Corie Bratter, and I are all at an age where we are learning to establish ourselves as adult women in the world. And I think one of the most surprising and challenging aspects of that growth, is figuring out how you relate to your parents as an adult. In particular, how you relate to your mother as a woman. We’re trying to assert our independence, and prove that we are different from our mothers, all the while trying to understand who our mothers are as women. Personally, my mother is one of the most important people in my life, and I love how complex our relationship has always been. No one supports me like my mom, but I also don’t argue quite so frankly with anyone else. I am looking forward to seeing how the complexity of that mother-daughter dynamic lends itself to my understanding of my stage mama, Gracie Finley. Just like with my mother, I share such mutual respect and trust with Gracie, from our many summers playing mother and daughter on stage, that I know there will already be trust, and a loving familiarity between our characters this summer.”

Gracie Finley: “When tackling a mother-daughter relationship in a play, all those dimensions and layers from my personal life come into play and this can certainly help on many levels in establishing a believable relationship on the stage. It can also be a problem. Not all relationships are based on my own personal experience of trust and unconditional love and sometimes these instincts have to be fought if the play asks for something else. I have a very close relationship with my own daughter, though like all mother-daughter relationships we have our differences, and one of the toughest lessons for me to have learned is that my daughter is a very different person from me. I have had to learn to accept, support and ultimately respect that, unconditionally. This will be my 4th season working with Leah. We were the only two girls in the company during her first season when she played my adopted daughter in “The Lion In Winter”. We shared a dressing room and quickly found we were kindred spirits in many ways. I have seen her grow in confidence and ability as an actress, and mature and develop as a person. We have developed a trust and bond I know we can bring to the stage. She is a lovely girl and a dynamite actress. I am so proud of her on so many levels.”

Performances of “Barefoot in the Park” begin June 27th and “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” gets going on July 7th.

Mrs. Warren’s Profession at the Watermark

George Bernard Shaw‘s scathing commentary on social hypocrisy and the excesses of capitalism, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, was banned from being performed in England when it was originally written in 1893 because of its frank discussion of prostitution.

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Mrs. Kitty Warren worked her way out of the London slums and now lives abroad, having provided her daughter Vivie with the education and means to grow into a smart, independent young woman of strong convictions. When Mrs. Warren returns, mother and daughter discover that neither is the woman they thought they knew. A brilliant, provocative play by a master playwright.

Barefoot in the Park at the Watermark

The romantic comedy Barefoot in the Park ran for 1,530 performances when it first opened on Broadway in 1963making it Neil Simon’s longest running hit and one of the longest running non-musicals in Broadway history.

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A free-spirited bride and her buttoned-down groom settle down to some rocky happily-ever-aftering in a New York City walk-up, occasionally invaded by the bride’s wacky mother and the quirky bohemian who lives in the attic. Made into a movie starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, Barefoot in the Park is clever and hilarious, filled with snappy dialogue and witty one-liners.

Ready to Go at the Watermark

The Watermark Theatre is thrilled to announce casting for the upcoming 2017 summer season, the 10th in the company’s history. A few familiar faces and a couple of actors new to the Island will perform in the company’s productions of Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon and Mrs. Warren’s Profession by George Bernard Shaw as well as taking part in the 2017 Play Reading Series. Joining previously announced actress Leah Pritchard, who tackles both lead roles this summer, will be Gracie Finley, Jordan Campbell, Ian Deakin, Jerry Getty, and PEI’s own Paul Whelan.

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Returning for her 5th season, Gracie Finley will play the oddly hilarious Ethel Banks is Barefoot in the Park and the commanding Kitty Warren in Mrs. Warren’s Profession. Raised in Charlottetown with summers spent in Alberton, Gracie is well known to PEI audiences having played Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables: The Musical at the Charlottetown Festival from 1968 to 1974 and again in 1984 and 1985. For the Watermark, Gracie has performed in Blithe Spirit, The Glass Menagerie, The Shore Field, Alice in Wonderland, The Lion in Winter, Romeo and Juliet, and An Ideal Husband.

A veteran of Canadian Theatre, Ian Deakin has worked from coast to coast and spent 13 seasons at the Stratford Festival. Ian takes on the roles of the oddball Victor Velasco in Barefoot in the Park, and the nasty Sir George Crofts in Mrs. Warren’s Profession. In addition to his many years at Stratford, Ian appeared on Broadway with Christopher Plummer in King Lear at the Lincoln Centre, and Off Broadway at City Centre in Much Ado About Nothing and The Miser. Most recent credits include work at Theatre Calgary, Theatre By The Bay, Drayton Festival Theatre, Globe Theatre, and the Rose Theatre. PEI audiences may recognize Ian as Inspector Closely from a 2010 production of The Last Resort at the Charlottetown Festival.

Audiences will remember Jordan Campbell from our 2015 season when he played Benvolio in Duncan McIntosh’s stellar production of Romeo & Juliet. This summer Jordan tackles the role of the uptight Paul Bratter in Barefoot in the Park and the lovable cad Frank Gardner in Mrs. Warren’s Profession. Jordan is a Graduate of the Ryerson University Acting Program and since graduating in 2013 has had the great fortune of performing with Magnus Theatre in Thunder Bay, Globus Theatre in Bobcaygeon and Alehouse Theatre in Toronto.

Actor Jerry Getty has appeared in theatres across the country, including The Grand Theatre, The Stratford Festival, Persephone Theatre, and Magnus Theatre, amongst others. Some of his favourite roles are the title characters in Hamlet, Ethan Claymore, Wally’s Cafe and the one-man show, MacHomer. This summer Jerry plays the very funny Telephone Man in Barefoot in the Park and the sensitive artist Mr. Praed in Mrs. Warren’s Profession.

Paul Whelan has a long history and distinguished career in theatre on the Island having worked with Theatre PEI, Kings Playhouse, The Guild, ACT, and the Confederation Centre. Paul is a producer, production stage manager, director and actor. He directed ACT’s 25th anniversary production of Our Town and this past year a very successful production of The Laramie Project. As an actor, some favourite credits are: Lend Me A Tenor, Noel Coward in Two Keys, The Tempest, and of course Matthew, in Anne of Green Gables-The Musical. Paul will play the stern Reverend Samuel Gardner in Mrs. Warren’s Profession and will make a cameo appearance in Barefoot in the Park.

Entering her fourth season with the company, Leah Pritchard will play both lead roles this summer – the perky Corie Bratter in Barefoot in the Park and the complicated Vivie Warren in Mrs. Warren’s Profession. Last summer, Leah brought an incredible vulnerability and sense of wonder to her portrayal of Laura in The Glass Menagerie, and great comic timing to the dual roles of Edith and Mrs. Bradman in Blithe Spirit. Her other previous credits at Watermark were in The Rainmaker, The Lion in Winter, Romeo and Juliet, and An Ideal Husband.

Watermark is thrilled to have all of these fine actors in the company this summer and look forward to another busy season at the theatre in North Rustico.

For more information or to set up a phone interview with any of our actors please contact Andrea Surich at 902-963-3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com.
Watermark is a proud member of the PTN – Professional Theatre Network of PEI

Working Your Way Up

Leah Pritchard returns to the Watermark Theatre this summer playing the lead role in both main stage productions and she couldn’t be more thrilled. “I’m really looking forward to the challenge of playing two women who are such polar opposites,”says Leah. “I think it’ll be a summer season filled with fun and romance, as well as a healthy dose of girl power!”

Entering her fourth season with the company, Leah will play the perky Corie Bratter in Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park and the complicated Vivie Warren in George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession.

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After three summers of incredible performances, Artistic Director Robert Tsonos thought it was time to give Leah a high profile opportunity. “Leah has stood out in every role we have given her and I thought she was ready to carry an entire season”, says Tsonos. “She’s versatile, absolutely magnetic on stage, and exudes an intelligence and warmth that audiences have really responded to.”

Last summer, Leah brought an incredible vulnerability and sense of wonder to her portrayal of Laura in The Glass Menagerie, and great comic timing to the dual roles of Edith and Mrs. Bradman in Blithe Spirit. She first graced the stage of the Watermark as the plain spinster, Lizzie, in The Rainmaker, and then demonstrated her considerable acting range as the elegant Alais in The Lion in Winter, Peter and Balthazar in Romeo and Juliet, and the vibrant and witty Mabel Chiltern in An Ideal Husband.

Leah is a Halifax actor, originally from Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. She has worked throughout the Atlantic provinces with such companies as Gros Morne Theatre Festival, and Hard Ticket Productions in Newfoundland; as well as Neptune Theatre, The Villian’s Theatre, And DMV Theatre, in Nova Scotia. In the fall of 2014, Leah sang with Xara Choral Theatre Ensemble on their debut album Here On These Branches, which was nominated for best classical recording of 2015 at the East Coast Music Awards.

When not on stage, Leah has also been a teaching assistant for Neptune Theatre’s youth theatre workshops, and has helped lead Watermark’s youth theatre acting conservatory for the past three summers.

The Watermark is delighted to have Leah back for the 2017 summer season.

For more information, or to set up a phone interview with Leah Pritchard please contact Andrea Surich at 902-963-3963 or generalmanager@watermarktheatre.com

Watermark is a proud member of the PTN – Professional Theatre Network of PEI.

Watermark Adds Matinee Performances of ‘Blithe Spirit’

Watermark Theatre is pleased to announce that two more performances of Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward will be added to the summer schedule.

Wed August 17th at 1:30PM
Sat August 27th at 1:30PM

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Tickets for Blithe Spirit are selling so well that the company has decided to add two matinee performances to meet the high demand for this much loved comedy.

Directed by Alan Kinsella and starring Gracie Finley, Daniel Briere, Bryde MacLean, Suzanne Roberts Smith, Leah Pritchard, and Joshua Browne, the production has received universally positive reviews since opening earlier this summer.

“‘Blithe Spirit’ best comedy on P.E.I. Come to Watermark Theatre’s production to enjoy fun, fun and more fun” – The Guardian

“(Gracie) Finley was clearly enjoying herself, and so were we—she was flat-out wonderful.” – The Buzz

“If you’re looking for some cerebral comedy with a splash of slapstick, Blithe Spirit is the show for you.” – ONRPEI.COM

Researching his new novel, Charles Condomine invites the implausible medium Madame Arcati to his house for a séance. Arcati unwittingly summons the ghost of Charles’ dead wife Elvira who soon makes a play to reclaim her husband, much to the chagrin of Charles’ new wife Ruth. One husband, two feuding wives and a whisper of mischief in the air – Noel Coward at his comedic best!

Photo Credit: Bryde MacLean and Gracie Finley. Photographer was Mike Viau.

 

A Prism For Your Soul

The Glass Menagerie is 1,000 points of light being refracted into a kaleidoscope of emotion. It will give you many feelings, big and small. You may have feelings that you don’t know where they come from and you possibly never will. The performances are so raw they will reach you on a cellular level instead of an emotional one. Basically, The Glass Menagerie may break your heart into a million tiny pieces lying on the floor of the Watermark Theatre. You may not be able to mend it until you’ve had a good cry in your car after the show.

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In Watermark Theatre’s 9th season Robert Tsonos, in his 1st year as Artistic Director, introduced this classic written by Tennessee Williams who wrote his first play as a teenager in 1935. Williams was a cutting edge playwright & most widely recognized for winning two Pulitzer Prizes, with “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1947) and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1955). This play, I’m told, is partly autobiographical based on his college years in St. Louis providing him with a time & place for his first masterpiece.

Tsonos also took time to thank the interns that are part of the company this season as part of their Mentorship Program. We were talking with one of the stage hands during intermission who was grateful to get some hands-on experience through this program. Another example of how much this theatre continues to care about giving back to the next generation of talent. According to the program: This is a great set for learning. The theatre is small enough to be nurturing & large enough to have processes & policies in place to keep an intern safe.

In the early moments of the first act, Gracie Finley (raised in Charlottetown, trained in London, England, Ms. Finley is best known for playing Anne Shirley at the Charlottetown Festival from 1968 to 1974 and again in 1984 and 1985, being the first Islander to play Anne. She has had numerous roles at The Watermark including The Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, the Nurse in Romeo & Juliet, & Lady Markby in An Ideal Husband) pranced around the stage cleverly decorated with antique furniture (compliments to set designer William Layton who created a convincing depression era St. Louis atmosphere on this unique in-the-round stage) as she reminisced about her younger days of entertaining her multitudes of callers. In a most intense performance, she plays a mother who is extremely worried about the future for her daughter & feels as though something has got to give for better or worse. Finley in my opinion is the face of Watermark this year & gets my vote for MVP of this company.

Leah Pritchard (who has worked throughout the Atlantic provinces & helped lead Watermark Theatre’s youth theatre conservatory for the past two summers) plays Laura, a china doll of a woman who has a penchant for collection glass trinkets. In the grips of the shyness of her character often loses her composure. She displays convincingly that she lives with a disability & very low opinion of herself. I had high expectations of Pritchard’s portrayal of the sensitive, delicate Laura and I was not disappointed. Similarly, Gracie Finley did an outstanding job in her interpretation of the aged Southern Belle Amanda Wingfield. The play was the perfect vehicle for both performers and they pulled out all the stops.

Daniel Briere (who has spent the last 3 seasons at the Stratford Festival of Canada. Recent credits include Hamlet (Shakespeare Bash’d), Antony & Cleopatra, & Romeo & Juliet (Stratford Festival) makes an appearance as the much anticipated dinner guest, and Laura’s high school crush, Jim O’Connor. He is charismatic and dapper, and everything Laura deserves. The scene where Laura and Jim sit on the floor talking may be my favourite part of the show. This is where we see Laura turn into the ethereal, beautiful creature she has the potential to be. And the kiss was pretty spectacular as well.

Rounding off the cast of four, Joshua Browne’s (who has worked at IFT Theatre, Circlesnake Theatre, Theatre Gargantua & more) portrayal of Tom Wingfield is an excellent case study in how raw emotion can be conveyed just by standing still. I’m not sure what method Browne used to master the 1,000-yard stare Tom adopts, during critiques of his character by Amanda, who accused him of being as eloquent as an oyster, but it was effective. And universal. I felt scenes much like that one, between mother and son, were being played out in households all over the world in a million different languages. Often times getting poetic, the young low-wage warehouse worker spoke of magicians, late night travels, & a thirst for adventure. I must admit I was a little surprised to see him smoking on stage, but I later learned it was actually an e-cig, which is apparently acceptable indoors.

I’m not sure how much information to give about the much anticipated second half, for fear of spoilers, but it may not incorporate the ending audiences were hoping for. However, it could be the ending we needed in order to realize how invested we’ve become in the characters.

Robert Tsonos, who directed the play and is doing great so far as Duncan MacIntosh’s successor as Artistic Director for the Watermark Theatre this year did an amazing job in leading the cast and crew to create something, I hope, they will always be proud of. After the show, I think I heard Tsonos’s voice crack as he invited the audience to a reception. He seemed to be quite moved by the performance, and rightly so. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay at the reception for long. I had to go to my car and cry.

This, much like other classics over the years in Rustico, is not light theatre, although there are plenty of laughs scattered throughout the script. The lesson I took from this play is the harsh reality present early in the Twentieth Century still holds true today that if we can’t believe in ourselves we simply cannot expect anyone else to & I can totally relate to that scenario, as I’m sure many others in the audience probably could at some point in their lives. Bottom line: Great show all around. If it is not the ending audience members are hoping for, they can read A Pretty Trap by Tennessee Williams. That oughta cure what ails them!

Review by Kimberley Johnston and PL Holden. Used by permission. Originally posted on http://www.onrpei.ca.

Blithe Spirit Transcends Time and Space

Director Alan Kinsella could help a cucumber sandwich achieve its fullest theatrical potential. I know this because I played witness to the managerial marvel at the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico Friday night. What he was able to do with a misbehaving wooden table during a séance was pretty impressive as well. With such direction, it is no small wonder the cast and crew of Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward pulled off a transcendent performance on opening night, July 15th.

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The show was written in 1941 but the set, lights, and music were done in such a way the show could have been set in any decade. The play is no doubt British but, with some imagination and talent, it could take place in any village or city. That’s the joy of life, death and jealousy. The themes transcend both time and space.

Watermark stalwart Gracie Finley set the standard in her exuberant portrayal of Madame Arcati, a vivacious medium who unwittingly turns Mr. and Mrs. Condomimes’ lives upside down by granting Mrs. Condomine the Former, Elvira, a visit of indeterminate length. Mr. Charles Condomime is at first rattled by the sojourn of the free-spirited spectre and quickly becomes comfortable with the idea of being an ‘astral polygamist’. Charles is played marvellously by Daniel Briere who has a wide repertoire of facial expressions, reminiscent of Rowan Atkinson of Black Adder fame. Briere and Suzanne Roberts Smith (Elvira) play off each other nicely and make the relationship between Charles and Elvira quite believable and, oddly, not creepy.

Enter Ruth, Mrs. Condomime the Current, played by PEI native Bryde MacLean. Understandably, Ruth is not happy with the new living arrangement but she keeps a stiff upper lip. For a little while, anyway. MacLean’s portrayal of Ruth was fun to watch. It was exquisitely executed and made more visually arresting by MacLean’s resemblance to Anne Hathaway. Her presence was made ever more magnetic with the outfits put together by costume designer Kathryn Sherwin. MacLean’s absence for part of the show was very remarkable as I was excited to see what she would be wearing next.

Joshua Browne makes the most of his time on stage, as Dr. Bradman, who takes Madame Arcati’s jabs like a champ. I’m anxious to see Browne play Tom in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams on July 16th.

Leah Pritchard returns to the Watermark this year to work double duty in this piece; first as Edith, the ready-to-serve maid who may be more than she appears and, second, as Dr. Bradman’s chatty better half. I very much look forward to Pritchard’s portrayal of Laura in The Glass Menagerie. With Pritchard’s easy beauty, light complexion and nuanced performances, Laura may be the role she was born to play.

Robert Tsonos had a very successful first opening night as the new artistic director. Tsonos is no stranger to the Watermark stage and seems very eager to take on new responsibilities. In addition to his artistic director duties, of which I’m sure there are many, Tsonos will be directing The Glass Menagerie. Tsonos is making great strides in making the Watermark a community-integrated space. The theatre acts as a fine gallery for local artisans, serves local beer, and hosts a mentorship theatre program and teenage conservatory to foster the next generation of theatrical professionals.

Bottom line: If you’re looking for some cerebral comedy with a splash of slapstick, Blithe Spirit is the show for you. It’s playing now until August 27th at 7:30 p.m. on selected dates with one matinee on August 10th starting at 1:30 p.m.

Review by Kimberley Johnston. Used by permission. Originally posted on http://www.onrpei.ca.