Make The Last Resort your first stop
Playhouse presentation of Norm Foster/Leslie Arden collaboration will make you laugh, shout and cheer
The Last Resort
Until July 14
Huron Country Playhouse
(519) 238-6000 for tickets
Story and photos by Casey Lessard
For a guaranteed good night out, book yourself a spot at the Last Resort, playing now at the Huron Country Playhouse. The play is masterfully written by Canadian playwright Norm Foster, and fun music by Canadian composer Leslie Arden.
A group of apparent strangers are staying the night in Saskatchewan’s Last Resort, a hotel in the middle of nowhere that will serve as the perfect hideout for mob informant Nick Galeazzo (Brett McCaig). On the run with FBI agent Angela Miller (Shelley Simester), Nick is paranoid that every other guest in the hotel is out to kill him. Everyone is a suspect, and eventually the murderous mayhem begins. Inspector Closely (Robert Latimer) is the Scottish RCMP attaché who has to sort out the situation.
“It’s so much fun from lights up to lights out,” says Stuart Dowling, who portrays Freda Heitz, the husky female hotelier. “Once you get that reaction and that rapport with an audience it’s just so much fun. Then they start laughing and the laughter builds and builds and then you have to wait for people to be quiet because we have a play to get going.”
“The play is almost making fun of itself,” says McCaig. “Even though everyone is crazy and huge and wacky, it still comes honestly. Even though I’m flailing and twisting myself and contorting myself, you’re still in the moment and you’re being there in an honest way as opposed to just flailing around for no reason.”
The actors are very much in the moment and are impeccable with their comic timing. All of a sudden, a song will emerge out of nowhere, or the cast will begin ballet dancing (one of the funniest scenes, by far, featuring John Devorski as poet Trent Balfour). And to think, the cast has only two weeks to prepare for opening night.
“It is insane,” says Cara Leslie, who has the dual role of Jessica and Julia Youngstead, who are staying at the hotel to hear the reading of their late father’s will. One of them will inherit $32 million; the other, a bracelet. “It really works out to about 10 days if you really look at it like that. I think we have done about seven shows already this week.”
The quick turnaround is one of the reasons Drayton Entertainment takes advantage of actors who have already done the play for their other venues.
“It’s good to come into rehearsal knowing all of your lines and all of your lyrics,” Leslie says, “and it serves you and it just makes things move a lot faster.”
“It’s wonderful to come back to a character that you’ve played before and loved playing,” says Sheldon Davis, referring to “Psycho” Sid Barzini, a carpet salesman who comes to the hotel with his wife Liz (Susan Johnston Collins) for their 24th anniversary. “You get back up to speed. Most of us have done this production before so (director Marc Richard) was able to layer in a few more things. Sid’s really the only guy in The Last Resort who has no agenda. He’s the guy who is just there because his wife has brought him in there and he just wants to have a good time.”
An audience that attends the Huron Country Playhouse looking for a good time will find it. The Last Resort is billed as a Hilarious Musical Whodunit, and when it comes to creating a fun night out, they all “dun it.” This is a really fun play with spot-on performances by a talented ensemble cast. Well deserving of an opening night standing ovation.