Thursday, 1 August 2013
Stephenville Theatre Festival strikes gold with “Jewel” and “NL Songbook”
by Keith and Heather Nicol
On Wednesday, July 31 we headed down to Stephenville to see two shows presented by the Stephenville Theatre Festival (STF). First up was "Jewel" which is a one woman show performed by Maggie Blake. We had seen her last year at the STF in “Mary’s Wedding” and were bowled over by the show and her performance so wanted to see her again this year in “Jewel”. We were once again impressed with her performance in this powerful play about Marjorie coming to grips with the loss of her husband when the Ocean Ranger sank in 1982. Playwright Joan MacLeod has set this play in Alberta and Marjorie’s husband Harry has gone to work on the rig in Newfoundland to help them pay for their farm. Marjorie’s story begins with humourous recollections of past Valentine’s Days before segueing to the Ocean Ranger disaster which occurred on Valentine’s Day in 1982. Maggie Blake expresses very well the joys of first love, her first years of marriage and then the heartbreak of losing her husband. This show is a jewel and the STF should be applauded for its presentation of this play. On a side note, if you missed “Mary’s Wedding” last year it will be touring the province in October of this year.
Next up we saw Newfoundland Songbook which featured a whole range of music and the very talented Danny Malena, Stephane Gaudet, Mallory Johnson, Emily Lukasik and Bill Simms do an energetic job of singing and dancing in close to 30 songs. This is double what we have seen in some musical revues and we particularly enjoyed “Salt Water Joys” and “Barrett’s Privateers”. The cast also does a spirited job of acting out songs like “Excursion around the Bay”, “The Old Black Rum” and “The Night Paddy Murphy died”. The set of numerous living room lamps and brightly coloured pieces of cloth added to the homey feel and the location in the bar of the Arts and Culture Centre allows the audience to feel part of the presentation. We fully recommend seeing this show before it closes.
There are several other shows being presented by the Stephenville Theatre Festival including Country Jubilee and the British Invasion- America Strikes Back as well as their popular caberet series and it runs until August 11. Their Gala on August 11 celebrates shows from the past 35 years since the festival’s founding by Maxin Mazumdar. For tickets phone 709-643-4553 and for scheduling see: http://www.stephenvilletheatrefestival.com/.