By Bryan Dearsley
The folks behind Gravenhurst Opera House’s stellar 2017 Summer Theatre program likely weren’t aware that they’d set the bar pretty high for themselves by the time the third show of the season opened. As anyone who’d seen Old Wives Tales and Swing! could attest – and there were plenty of them, as evidenced by the large audiences – these two shows were clearly going to be hard acts to follow.
But by the half-way mark of the sold-out opening night of Sexy Laundry, it was clear the team lead by Krista Storey, manager of the Gravenhurst Opera House, had clearly pulled off a hattrick of successes.
“I think it’s going well, don’t you?” she asked during the show’s interval?
Talk about understatements! From the first scene’s between-the-sheets romp to its closing standing ovation, the packed house made no effort to hide their enthusiasm and enjoyment of this later-in-life romance between husband Henry (played brilliantly by Brian Paul) and wife Alice (the second show of the season for Debbie Collins, who also starred in Swing!). Torn between work and their busy family lives, the couple reveal an awful lot of home truths many in the audience clearly recognized (evidenced by the laughter) as part and parcel of a long relationship.
Raw, sincere, funny and ultimately a tender love story, director Sheila McCarthy (a Canadian film and theatre icon known for such hits as Little Mosque on the Prairie) did an excellent job of drawing out the best of the actors in this classic comedy written by Canadian Michele Riml.
Superb summer theatre season
But as Storey herself acknowledge during the pre-show celebration, it wasn’t just the great acting and directing that had ensured the seasons’ success
“So much of our success is thanks to the many returning visitors who came back to experience our theatre for the first time in awhile, as well as the many others who came to see this year’s shows multiple times,” she said. “It’s all about feeding the community, and it is growing.”
The tables were turned on Storey, however, when artistic director Dave Campbell and production designer Tim Webb deflected the attention back to her, announcing to the audience it was her birthday. The enthusiastic sing-a-long that followed was indeed a fitting tribute to everyone involved in bringing such first-rate, professional and ultimately enjoyable theatre to Gravenhurst and Muskoka.
To you all, a huge thank you from the rest of us… and here’s to 2018!
Sexy Laundry is playing until September 29th. For tickets or information, please visit www.GravenhurstOperaHouse.com or call the Box Office at 705-687-5550.
Bryan Dearsley is a Muskoka-based writer and editor.