The show season at the Souris Valley Theatre is complete, and while the theatre will host a few more events before the end of the summer, the theatre’s renaissance year can be chalked up as a success.
While theatre organizers likely would have wanted to attract a few more spectators (you can always hope for more attendees until the building is sold out each night), they had to be thrilled with the productions shown in Estevan this year.
“A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline” opened the theatre season in June. It was an appropriate play to kick off the comeback year, since the well-executed tribute to the iconic country singer has always proven popular when it has been shown in Estevan.
“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” was the centrepiece performance this year, and the musical offered a wonderfully over-the-top comedic look to relationships, love, marriage and the battle of the sexes during the four weeks it was shown in Estevan.
The final play, “Rider Girl,” wasn’t a musical – which is a departure from traditional shows performed at Frehlick Hall – but that didn’t matter to the spectators who enjoyed Colleen Sutton’s interactive and delightful biographical look at the joys and plights of cheering for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
A play about the Riders is always an easy sell in Saskatchewan, but the strength of the play is Sutton’s gregarious, sympathetic and genuine performance.
This year also marked a new direction for the theatre.
Traditionally, the theatre’s plays have been high on entertainment, but they were low-risk, conservative productions. They could be shown to all ages, but they appealed to the over-55 crowd.
The latter two productions pushed the envelope, and contained mature language and themes. Spectators who are offended by “foul” language might not have enjoyed the profanities, and they might not have appreciated the frequent references to sex in “I Love You.”
But it also allowed the theatre to attract younger crowds, and to bring in a greater cross-section of plays. When you limit the repertoire to musicals with certain content restrictions, it restricts the plays that you can bring in. Moving forward, the theatre should offer more variety for its fans.
And while a couple of the plays had a parental advisory, the theatre was still able to reach out to younger audiences through its theatre camps and school visits, offering acting tips to hundreds of young people.
The theatre will have decisions to make for its direction next year, but this year was a good re-introduction of all they have to offer the Estevan area.