Performing Arts
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Halfway to the North Pole - FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, St. Catharines

Female Cast, Halfway to the North Pole, courtesy of Foster Festival
Halfway to the North Pole

Norm Foster at his best!

Director Patricia Vanstone is blessed with a strong and talented cast in the third and final play of the St. Catharines based Foster Festival, the premiere of Norm Foster's Halfway to the North Pole Kirsten Alter & Darren Keay, Halfway to the North Pole, courtesy of Foster Festival and the premiere also of the Festival in the new and inviting PAC. Typical Foster material, the action centers around relationships, failed and forming, with the arrival in town of a young, handsome doctor who seeks a bite to eat in a restaurant hangout where four women meet regularly to share friendship and their observations on life. It's witty, colloquial dialogue that never fails to humanize the group in humorous and sometimes sad ways.

The small town of Stewiacke, Nova Scotia is located exactly halfway between the equator and the North Pole. Into this town wanders Doctor Sean Merrit, newly dumped by his fiancée and looking to leave his troubles far behind. The first people he meets are four local women, Violet, Mary Ellen, Rita and Janine, each with issues of their own. What follows is a month of lessons learned for all, through hilarity, tears and the bonds of unshakeable friendship. Sugar and spice and everything nice...with a dash of Maritime salt! Halfway To The North Pole is a feel good theatrical experience you won't want to miss.

Kirsten Alter plays Janine Babineau who works in the restaurant and tries to remain loyal to an absentee boyfriend who is away working in the oil sands. Although they share a home, they really are not secure in their relationship. Kirsten aptly plays the role of the doctor's would-be love interest, trying to remain loyal yet infatuated by the doctor.

Lisa Horner plays Vi, part of the female "hot stove league" as the group regularly assembles after hours in the restaurant to work out their issues and help boost one another's spirits. Her dialogue is salty and spirited and she is extremely funny.

Darren Keay plays Dr. Sean Merrit in a gentle, gosh-shucks fashion, yet he is open and honest and determined to woo Janine, even going to the trouble of taking dancing lessons from riotous Rita. Often, as a male, he has to swim hard upstream to meet the expectations of the ladies, but he soon becomes a valued part of the group, learning that in this small town, one is obliged to speak the truth, yet not be cruel.

Sheila McCarthy plays Rita, troubled with an early failed marriage yet bubbly and buoyant and often sexually flirtatious as only McCarthy can bring off without being crude and rude. One marvels at her audacious outfits and her suggestive dialogue. She is a real treat and a Canadian treasure!

Helen Taylor plays Mary Ellen, seen at first as plain and homey, yet once she follows the advice of the ladies after not receiving any gifts for her birthday, her husband literally rises to the occasion pretty much every day at noon, much to the amusement of the group as she begins to wear out from all of the bedroom action. As you can imagine, the resulting dialogue as only Foster can invent it, is hilarious, the audience roaring with laughter.

This is typical Foster comedy or humor with heart as the Festival likes to call it. His warm recipe is just what is needed amidst the travails of the day, people not wanting to pick up a newspaper anymore to read about violence and bloodshed throughout the world.

Halfway to the North Pole, directed by Patricia Vanstone, starring Kirsten Alter, Lisa Horner, Darren Keay, Sheila McCarthy, and Helen Taylor, Set & Costume Design by Sue LePage, Lighting Design by Chris Malkowski, plays until August 27.

Sheila McCarthy & Kirsten Alter, Halfway to the North Pole, courtesy of Foster Festival

Sheila McCarthy, Helen Taylor, Darren Keay, Lisa Horner, Halfway to the North Pole, courtesy of Foster Festival

Cast, Halfway to the North Pole, courtesy of Foster Festival

St. Catharines FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre photo by Lauren Garbutt

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