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'Plain Jane' actually pretty excellent

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Saturday, Dec 14, 2013 06:00 am

NOT THAT PLAIN – If you think about it, Plain Jane Theatre is anything but. With a mandate to produce off-beat, less commercially popular shows, this feisty young company has mounted four Fringe Festival productions and amassed three Sterling Awards.
NOT THAT PLAIN – If you think about it, Plain Jane Theatre is anything but. With a mandate to produce off-beat, less commercially popular shows, this feisty young company has mounted four Fringe Festival productions and amassed three Sterling Awards.
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Preview

Christmas With the Janes
Plain Jane Theatre
Sunday, Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Varscona Theatre
10329 – 83 Ave.
Tickets: $15 cash at the door; in advance at 780-420-1757; online at www.tixonthesquare.ca

If you think about it, Plain Jane Theatre is anything but.

With a mandate to produce off-beat, less commercially popular shows, this feisty young company has mounted four Fringe Festival productions and amassed three Sterling Awards.

That’s pretty darn good for a company that has no commercial support.

In the new year, founder/director Kate Ryan is producing the concert version of Mack and Mabel, a doomed romance between Hollywood director Mack Sennett and his waitress turned starlet Mabel Normand.

And she’s rounded up the actors from her former shows – Ankles Aweigh, Bells Are Ringing, Fiorello! and Little Fish – to take part in a fundraising concert for the Mack and Mabel launch.

On Sunday, December 15 some of Edmonton’s stellar actors such as Donovan Workun, Jocelyn Ahlf and Jason Hardwick slip into a few high-energy capers at Christmas with the Janes.

“We want to bring together all the artists from the past shows and do crazy, beautiful theatre numbers that are all about Christmas and the holidays. It’s a great time of year and we’re very excited about it,” says Ryan, a St. Albert Children’s Theatre alumna.

The 85-minute variety show also includes a special Charlie Brown’s Christmas scene from the Youth Performance Troupe.

Directed by Maralyn Ryan, founding artistic director of St. Albert Children’s Theatre, the youth troupe is similar to the Arts Renaissance Troupe she operated in St. Albert in the 1980s.

“I think everyone finds a little of Charlie Brown in all of us. Charlie Schultz did such good job of creating his characters. We see it’s OK to be scared. It’s OK to be inept and I love it at this time of year.”

Through her connections as a vocal lab instructor at MacEwan University’s musical theatre production program, Ryan has invited various students and graduates to pep up the evening with gems from the stage and screen.

Everyone is poised to sing a few Christmas treasures with the exception of St. Albert’s Steven Angove, whose pipes will belt out a Josh Groban song.

“I want everyone to feel that they’re in a living room with a big Christmas tree and warm music. I just want to bring back wonderful memories as we listen and sing. And we hope the audience starts singing along. That would be awesome.”

The concert was deliberately restricted to the Varscona Theatre in hopes of creating an intimate ambience.

“We have a reception afterwards and during the show we have some surprise presents for the audience. It’s very participatory and we want to keep it casual.”


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