An Original Comedy Closes MLT’s Season

Most community theatre groups are content to stick to producing the works of others; but Markham Little Theatre is simply not most community theatre groups. For its fourth and final show of the 2023/24 season, MLT seeks to remind us just how potent an arts organization of more than half a century can and should be with its production of Bienvenue Oh Trout Lake, an original comedy written by member, Neil Marr. The show runs from 24th to 27th at the Flato Markham Theatre.

“It is good for MLT to showcase a member’s work,” says the show’s co-director, Angela Stewart. “The situations and conversations are highly relatable and everyone wants to make it a success.”

The play itself is a clever mid-life crisis comedy. Three couples share a cottage vacation together to celebrate the 50th birthdays of the men involved. Recently unemployed salesman Keith is humiliated by his wife Abby’s attempts to bolster his confidence and chafes at being given an allowance. Meanwhile, his old friend Stan brings a pretty 26-year old French wife and Keith, who gets more intoxicated by the hour, tries to impress the young woman and inflate his ego with what he has left to offer — a manly physique. Max and his wife Sally host the weekend reunion at their cottage.

The premise certainly seems fraught enough, but it’s not what the show’s success relies on.

“This comedy is funny throughout,” says Stewart, “We are enjoying a rehearsal process that has our cast and members constantly laughing and giggling at the dialogue as well as the physical bits.”

“Obviously the main theme deals with the ageing process and marital relationships,” adds writer and co-director Marr. “From a writer’s perspective, this provides plenty opportunity for comedy.”

This is actually not the first staging of this show, nor is Marr a first time playwright; such is the wealth of talent Markham Little Theatre appears to have at the ready. This show was first staged in 2012 in Stouffville as part of a largely sold-out MLT outreach there and Marr, a semi-retired high school teacher, has written several shows, the most notable being Uncle Angus which won an ACTCO award for Best Drama in 2011.

“Many people who wanted to see the show were unable to,” explains Marr, “so they now have another opportunity.”

“After a hilarious read-through by our cast with MLT members in attendance we felt reassured that it has stood the test of time,” says Stewart. “We are excited to see it on the big stage.”

This time around, however, Marr is co-directing the piece himself.

“It is helpful having written the play as I understand the intentions of the playwright completely,” says Marr. “I’m also very grateful to be co-directing with Angela Stewart, whose organisation and insight brings so much to the production.”

The cast of Bienvenue Oh Trout Lake is filled with MLT veterans and favourites. Tristan Stansfield, a regular who was last seen in Drinking Alone plays Keith, Marlene Foran, last seen in Aspirins and Elephants plays Abigail, an accountant. Carl Gambacort, last seen in Twist, plays Stan, a dentist. Julie Conder plays Lise, a dental hygienist; she had her MLT debut in the February thriller Night Watch. The cast is rounded out with longtime favourites, John Fetherston and Judy Atherton.

“Rehearsals are going well,” says Stewart. “We are going to have another hit on our hands.”

I’m also am very happy with the cast and I look forward to seeing what they bring to the characters,” adds Marr

Producers Rose McKay and Peggy Wyatt have built an able production team and are hard at work behind the scenes. The audience expects no less from a company like MLT.

“Don’t miss out,” says Stewart. “We had to turn people away when it was first staged, this show is so worth attending.”

Bienvenue Oh Trout Lake runs April 24-27, 2024 at the Flato Markham Theatre
8:00pm each night, with an added matinée at 2:00pm on Saturday.

Tickets can be purchased through the Flato Markham Theatre Box Office
Telephone 905-305-7469

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