Stage Door News

Millbrook: 4th Line Theatre presents The Verandah Society this August

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

After fifteen months of making, revising and pitching plans to host a show following the theatre’s normal format, management at the Winslow farm have decided to proceed with a slightly different format.  While the two plays originally scheduled for the 2021 season have been postponed until 2022, the theatre will open its doors to the public on August 17th with a new, original production in a slightly different format.

Consistent with the theatre’s mission of delivering entertaining plays that tell original, local stories, the organization has engaged the services of three talented performers to launch the world premiere of The Verandah Society in Residence at the 4th Line Theatre.  This production is based on the creation of actors/musicians Megan Murphy and Kate Suhr, who created the first version of this show last summer called The Verandah Society.  Conceived in the tradition of Irish storytellers, the original thirty minute show was developed based on stories and songs of the area, and delivered to intimate audiences on viewers’ porches or in their backyards.

Megan came up with the idea for this production while browsing her book collection early in the pandemic, when she came across a book called My Town, My Memories, written by her great uncle, Clare Galvin.  It was a collection of stories inspired by life in Peterborough during the mid-1900’s.  One of the stories in the book was called The Verandah Society, which described social events that took place on the front porch during summer evenings, from neighbourhood gossip to visits from friends, clergy and family.  Sometimes routine, other times dramatic, these encounters formed the fabric of neighbourhoods and families.  These small gatherings also sounded like pandemic-appropriate social exchanges, and inspired the original production which tells stories of family, love, loss and hope.

The 2020 summer program was so successful, the pair created two other shows – for Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day.  The 4th Line Theatre’s Managing Artistic Director Kim Blackwell enjoyed all three productions and approached the performers earlier this year to see if they would consider creating a standalone show for the exclusive production at the 4th line.  They agreed.

This new version of the show is described as a cross between Wingfields Follies and Vinyl Cafe, with a folk/rock musical style.  Joining the pair will be well-known local musician Saskia Tomkins whose violin, viola and cello will accompany the play’s creators.

After months of finding entertainment and social connections on screens, audiences will be ready to find genuine, tactile social interaction through this production using story and song.  Tickets for ten performances of the 80 minute show will be available from the box office beginning July 5th.  Performances run from August 17th to 28th and audience size will be determined by public health conditions at the time.  

From themillbrooktimes.ca

Photo: Megan Murphy and Kate Suhr. © 2021.