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Corner Brook’s Greg Taaffe relishing return to the stage for Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s Christmas musical

Greg Taaffe, as Ed, and Angele Yetman, as Edna, rehearse choreography for a scene in Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador’s production of “Ed and Ed’s Nutcracker Christmas Concert,” which is playing at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Greg Taaffe, as Ed, and Angele Yetman, as Edna, rehearse choreography for a scene in Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador’s production of “Ed and Ed’s Nutcracker Christmas Concert,” which is playing at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. - Dave Kearsey

When Greg Taaffe first ventured into the world of theatre as a performer in the late 1990s, he was well into his 40s and it was on a dare from his wife, Joy.

After each time he regularly attended the fall musicals by Theatre Newfoundland Labrador, he would say to his spouse how much he’d like to have the opportunity to be a part of one of those performances.

One September evening while barbecuing, Joy went to her husband with an ad for auditions for “Man of La Mancha,” TNL’s fall musical that year. Once supper was eaten, Taaffe hopped in his car and went to try and make an impression on the TNL brass.

“Five minutes after supper, I was singing “The Impossible Dream” in front of these people,” he recalled.

Taaffe’s eagerness to perform, not to mention his lack of hesitation to do so, landed him the role of the singing barber that production.

His amateur theatre career was off and running.

He performed many other roles with both TNL and the Off-Broadway Players in the years that followed, including trying his hand at co-directing the Off-Broadway’s “Monty Python.”

He took a hiatus from acting five years ago when he accepted a job at the Qatar campus of the College of the North Atlantic.

Now back in Corner Brook after leaving the college job in the Middle East a year ago, Taaffe has found his way back to the local stage. He will be playing the older Ed in TNL’s holiday production “Ed and Ed’s Nutcracker Christmas Concert” at the Arts and Culture Centre this weekend.

The satirical musical is being billed as “The Nutcracker” meets “A Christmas Carol” and anyone familiar with Taaffe also knows being silly is right up his alley.

“There is lots of good Christmas music and lots of good Christmas fun with lots of foolishness along the way,” he said of the upcoming show. “I enjoy that stuff.”

With a song list that includes holiday favorites such as “The Mummer’s Song,” “Blue Christmas,” “Deck the Halls,” “Silent Night” and “Ding Dong Merrily on High,” Taaffe is hoping there will be lots of audience participation.

“People will know them all and we hope they sing along,” he said of the carols. “This is purely all about getting people out and started in the Christmas spirit.”

Taaffe said it’s great to be able to have an opportunity to work with TNL again. Adam Brake will join him on stage in the role of young Ed, along with Angele Yetman as Edna, Mira Buckle as Wee Edna and special guest Craig Haley as the premier.

To help patrons get into the Christmas spirit further, there will be mug-up in the theatre lobby after every show, with syrup and sweets from Purity Factories.

The show opens Thursday at 8 p.m., with another show Friday evening before wrapping up with 2 p.m. matinee Saturday.

The mug-up following the Saturday afternoon show will also include sandwiches, so folks can have a more substantial bite to eat and stick around to watch the start of the Corner Brook Kinsmen Club’s annual Santa Claus parade, which leaves from the Civic Centre parking lot at 5 p.m.

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