The Classic Theatre Festival 9th summer season has thusfar been marked by delighted audiences and pleased theatre reviewers responding to the rediscovered comic gem, John Van Druten’s There’s Always Juliet. Playing at its wheelchair accessible, air conditioned 54 Beckwith Street East venue, the play embodies much of what makes unique the Festival’s mandate to produce hits from the golden age of Broadway and the London Stage.
“We pick plays that bring back fond memories and sensations, like the feeling you get when you watch the film It’s A Wonderful Life every December with your friends and family, or you hum along to a wonderful Ella Fitzgerald song,” says Artistic Producer and Director Laurel Smith.
There’s Always Juliet asks whether love at first sight truly exists. Sparks fly after a British woman meets an American man at a London tea party, but how far will things go in this charming, cross-border romantic comedy set in 1927 London, England?
There’s Always Juliet features an ensemble of Festival veterans including Scott Clarkson, who returns for his 8th season after a star turn in last year’s audience favourite, Same Time, Next Year; Festival newcomer Victoria Houser, a Toronto actor and singer originally from Halifax; Catherine Bruce (last seen here in the award-winning Arms and the Man); and Fraser Elsdon (from the Festival’s An Inspector Calls and Candida).
The play has been received warmly by audiences as well as the Capital Critics Circle, a prestigious group of veteran theatre reviewers who have praised everything from Renate Seiler’s costumes and Laurel Smith’s direction to the sets of Roger Schultz and the chemistry between the performers on stage. Theatre critic Iris Winston writes the play is “a very pleasant evening’s entertainment, akin to reading a light romantic novel on a sunny beach.”
Critic Jamie Portman agrees, noting “Houser seizes on the script’s gentle wit and makes the most of it. And she’s delightful in conveying the volatile emotions of a young woman who can sometimes be as exasperating as she is lovable. Meanwhile, Clarkson makes his own sweet-natured contribution to the proceedings with his portrayal of a guy who really does believe in love at first sight.”
The summer also features two more classics on the mainstage – the mother-daughter conflict and gradual reveal of a family secret in Mrs. Warren’s Profession, opening July 19, and the gripping tale of an unsolved murder, Angel Street (aka Gaslight), which opens August 17. The annual historic walking plays are now in full swing as well, with two World War II-era shows: The Prison of Petawawa at 11 am, Wednesday to Sunday, and Far From Home, a tale of Perth war brides, Thursdays and Fridays at 7 pm.
The Festival’s summer season officially kicked off June 5 at Michael’s Table restaurant, where the Classic Dinner Theatre is staging the Shaw comedy Overruled. Seats for the brand new dinner theatre experience, which runs Tuesdays until August 28, are sold out, but those looking for “a most entertaining meal” can be placed on a waiting list in the event of cancellations.
Tickets to There’s Always Juliet (which runs to July 15, Tuesday to Sunday at 2 pm, with 8 pm shows Wednesday and Saturday) as well as all other Festival shows are available at 1-877-283-1283 or www.classictheatre.ca