Northern Lights Community Theatre breaks attendance records with recent production
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
The Northern Lights Community Theatre (NLCT) broke their attendance record during shows for their recent production Jack of Diamonds, which is a comedy by Marcia Kash and Douglas E. Hughes.
In their seventh year of putting on productions for the community, the NLCT saw more than 300 total audience members overall view the production from May 9 to 11 with May 10’s show breaking the all-time single-show attendance record with approximately 160 in the crowd at the Queen Elizabeth District High School building.
“We know that Sioux Lookout really likes comedies, so we wanted to bring some comedy to people. We had quite a few people come out and audition, so we knew we could get a larger cast play. We had a couple of choices but, with the number of people who came out to audition and the talents of the people who came out to auditions, we decided to go with this play,” said director Anita Webster.
“Tonight (May 10) we had the largest audience that we’ve ever had for any of our shows, which makes us feel thankful to Sioux Lookout and the area for recognizing and for supporting us… We had to keep putting out chairs, which is a fantastic problem to have. We were searching through the whole school looking for more chairs for people,” she added.
May 10’s production also featured a presentation with NLCT board members Mary MacKenzie, Liz Ward, Anita Webster, and Sandra Lockhart along with Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance. The NLCT presented Lawrance with a cheque for $5000, which was contributed towards the Sioux North High School cafetorium. Moving forward, the NLCT is hoping to host future shows at the cafetorium.
The comedy is described, “Jack is a former jeweler who made his living buying and selling diamonds via late-night TV ads. He lives in a rather luxurious, privately-owned retirement home along with his fellow residents: the visually challenged techno-wizard Rose, the artistically gifted but forgetful Flora, and the narcoleptic beauty Blanche. Unbeknownst to the four of them, however, the man to whom they’ve entrusted their life savings – a smooth-talking financial advisor named Barney Effward – has been arrested for bilking his clients out of their savings through a Ponzi scheme. Faced with financial ruin, the four suddenly find themselves confronting the author of their miserable fate when Effward is unexpectedly delivered among them – along with several million dollars in diamonds. Pandemonium ensues as the four retirees try to find a way to exact their revenge, recoup their losses, and keep the authorities from discovering their plans.”
“This one I think was funnier than last years. This one I think because there’s more people it’s funnier… Last year was only four people basically,” said Karen Boyko, who played Nurse Harper in the production.
When asked about the experience of being a part of the production, cast members agreed that they had a great time.
“It’s awesome, and it was such a good group to work with too. We just seemed to gel together and it’s just been a hoot,” said Alana Procyk, who played Rose in the production.
“It’s been an awesome experience. I haven’t acted since 1980. It felt really great,” shared Jim Oskineegish, who played Wilf, the newscaster, and the reporter in the production.
“You saw the fun we had on stage; we had fun rehearsing almost all the time. These guys are so much fun to rehearse with because there’s just a lot of laughter,” said George Hoggarth, who played Jack Newman in the production.
Several newcomers joined the cast this year. Most of them shared that they would love to continue being a part of the NLCT moving forward.
“Absolutely. It’s just been so much fun,” said Procyk.
“A lot of our practices are at night and I work late during the week, but if I wasn’t working nights I would,” said Oskineegish.
“A-hundred-percent, and even if it’s not as an actor or an actress I’d definitely contribute in the background because there’s so much work that happens and so many things that need to happen. I love it. It’s amazing, and you’re a family,” said Ashely Edwards, who played Blanche in the production.
“Do you know what’s really funny is when you’re in the grocery store and somebody you don’t know comes up to you and goes, ‘Oh wow you did such a great job in the play.’ It’s wonderful because we’ve been in rehearsals since January,” said Boyko.
The cast members shared that they had their fair share of nerves heading into the shows, but those nerves were erased once they heard the laughter from the crowd.
“When it comes together and you hear the laughter from the audience it’s a good feeling,” said Oskineegish.
“I was so nervous yesterday (opening night). After we got on stage, the second I heard the audience laugh I knew we were good,” said Edwards.
“The audience just energizes us. It’s like our dopamine. We just go and, once we have those responses, it just motivates us,” said Hoggarth.
“Even when you’re backstage and your cast mates are up there, they say a line, and then the audience starts roaring, it’s fun,” said Ashley Webster, who played Flora in the production.
One cast member received extra recognition from his fellow team and cast members for his quick ability to step into new roles when needed.
Along with helping backstage, Hoggarth’s grandson Nodin Hunter, who is in grade 7 at Sioux Mountain Public School, stepped in to portray a police officer just a week before the live shows.
“He was told that he may have to learn your lines, so he went home and practiced… He was backstage helping the crew for the first half and then he throws on his uniform for the second half,” said Hoggarth.
“He came back the next day and he knew all the lines,” said Webster.
“We’re very proud of Nodin,” said Edwards.
“Plus when he’s backstage, whenever he’s not on, he’ll help you with anything,” said Boyko.
Producer Mary MacKenzie said she was pleased with how the shows went.
“I think things went very, very well… We’re very happy,” said MacKenzie.
“Thank you to everybody involved. The cast, the crew, all the volunteers, all the sponsors, people who donated props, and people who contributed their time… We’ll try to keep building on what we’ve done,” she added.
The NLCT is run by volunteers, and they’re always looking to add to their team. Anyone with an interest in finding out more about theatre in Sioux Lookout can visit the theatre group’s Facebook page, Northern Lights Community Theatre - Sioux Lookout, Ontario.