Stephenville Theatre Festival announces 35th anniversary season

Christopher Vaughan
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Keith Pike, artistic director of the Stephenville Theatre Festival, is seen at the Stephenville Arts and Culture Centre.

Elizabeth Brown can barely contain her enthusiasm.

Planning is currently underway for the 35th anniversary season of Stephenville Theatre Festival, and as the festival’s chairperson, Ms. Brown knows it’s going to be an exciting summer.

“For the past couple of years the people of Bay St. George have come back in droves in supporting us,” she said. “So we’re making sure this season will not only be a celebration of the festival itself, but the people who’ve helped make it a long-running success.”

The major production this summer is “Jewel,” a drama by Canadian playwright Joan MacLeod based on the sinking of the Ocean Ranger.

The other big show is “British Invasion: America Strikes Back,” which Ms. Brown noted is a sequel to the festival’s 2011 production, “British Invasion.”

Both of these shows are set to debut on the Stephenville Arts and Culture Centre’s main stage.

“Newfoundland Songbook” is a revue that celebrates some of Newfoundland and Labrador’s best musicians, such as Joan Morrissey, Great Big Sea and Figgy Duff.

“Country Jubilee,” another musical revue, pays tribute to famous country, gospel and bluegrass artists – including George Jones, Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton.

Both “Newfoundland Songbook” and “Country Jubilee” will be staged in the Arts and Culture Centre’s more intimate Stage II venue.

Ms. Brown said the season will also feature a cabaret series that will bring back some well-known festival alumni.

“Shaberet” stars Amy House, Bernie Stapleton and Alison Woolridge; and “West Coast Blues” features Denis Parker. There are also shows planned to showcase the talents of musicians Jennifer Dawson, Evan Smith and Mallory Johnson.

The season’s finale will be a gala performance highlighting songs and scenes from many Stephenville Theatre Festival productions as the troupe reminisces and looks toward the future.

This summer’s festival runs from July 14 to Aug. 11. Ms. Brown said a spirit of collaboration and enthusiasm is helping the board of directors and volunteers come up with a season that will impress local residents and visitors.

“We’re doing very well. I think a lot of that has to do with Keith Pike, our artistic director,” she said. “He’s really bringing a lot his professional expertise and it’s showing on the stage.”

Stephenville Theatre Festival was started in 1979 by Maxim Muzumdar, making it the longest-running professional theatre festival in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Organizations: Stephenville Theatre, Stephenville Arts, Great Big Sea Amy House

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, West Coast

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