Alicia Kneeland-Teasdale, Mike Nizio and Laura Norman rehearse a scene from Heartland Arts Troupe’s upcoming production of Play On!                                photo submitted

Alicia Kneeland-Teasdale, Mike Nizio and Laura Norman rehearse a scene from Heartland Arts Troupe’s upcoming production of Play On! photo submitted

Heartland Arts Troupe gearing up for November production

The production, which features a cast of 10, will be staged at the Stettler Community Hall

Rehearsals are underway for Heartland Arts Troupe’s rollicking, not-to-be-missed November production of Play On!

The production, which features a cast of 10, runs at the Stettler Community Hall Nov. 13th-16th with tickets available at Wells Furniture.

The Troupe’s roots stretch back to the early 1970s, when performances primarily followed a Gilbert and Sullivan style.

The scope has indeed broadened since those early days.

“Since then, there has been at least one production every single year,” explained director Wayne Smith, adding that currently, the cast is meeting twice a week to rehearse Play On!

“It’s going to be a lot of fun, because it is a play about a community theatre that is trying to put on a production and everything goes wrong. They’ve got a local author who keeps trying to change the script on them, but she doesn’t really have any concept of the work it takes to put the production together.

“She keeps coming up with new lines and new scenes. So the way it works is that act one is a rehearsal and it’s fairly close to performance time. Act two is the dress rehearsal, and then act three is the performance. Our audience gets to see what the performance is supposed to be, and then it just gets crazier and crazier as everything goes wrong.

“It’s a family-friendly play – it’s really light-hearted. There’s nothing really serious or deep or offensive in it – it’s just fun,” said Smith, who is also a seasoned actor in his own right. “I’ve been interested in this kind of thing for a couple of decades, but I hadn’t really done anything with it.”

Then, in 2012, a patient of his was in a production and told him how much fun it was.

“She said, ‘Oh, you should come and watch a rehearsal’. So I did, and I was hooked. I knew I wanted to do this! And so the following year, I auditioned and got a part in Goldilocks and the Three Bears – I was ‘Papa Bear’ and it was really fun.

“The following year I was in a production called Leading Ladies as well. My character was British, so I took on a full British accent as well. Not only that, but my character had to dress as a woman for most of the play, too – it was one of those mistaken identity kinds of things,” he added with a laugh. “Out of all of them, that was probably my favourite – it was demanding but so much fun,” he noted, reflecting on his past roles.

The season after that, he volunteered to direct so that was a terrific chance to flex a whole different set of creative muscles.

“I had no experience other than just watching other directors direct me for two years,” he said. “But I wanted to take a crack at it.”

Play On! marks his third stint in the director’s chair.

“I go into it with kind of a vision of what I want, and because we have a small community I usually have a pretty good idea of who I am going to cast in it.

“Then I start to imagine what they are going to do, so I have this idea of what is going to happen but the end result is always different than what I had envisioned. And it’s a beautiful thing to watch the actors bring their own ideas.”

For Smith, it’s all about tapping into a range of creative ideas.

“I like to direct in a very collaborative way where I allow people to experiment and try things out. We then figure out what works, and we do it. I don’t really know how to put it into words – it’s just so satisfying to see the printed page turn into a production that I can be proud of, and where we can make people laugh.

“I also just love rehearsals – whether I am an actor or a director. I just love the whole process. I would rehearse every day if I could!”