Citadel reverts to 1930s with screwball comedy
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 06:00 am
Make Mine Love
May 15 to June 10
9828 – 101 A Avenue
Tickets: Start at $35 Call 780-425-1820 or online at: citadeltheatre.com
Actor Sarah Machin-Gale’s voice is filled with fizzy laughter a she describes the backstage antics of Citadel Theatre’s newest production.
“It’s like a dream job – the people, the play, the venue. It’s been so much fun. I can’t wait for it to open,” says Machin-Gale speaking about Tom Wood’s new romantic comedy Make Mine Love, premiering Thursday night for a two-week run.
Formerly a St. Albert resident, she now lives in Toronto. Always on call for roles, the statuesque actor spent last summer touring with a modern adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey for Driftwood Theatre along Ontario’s Lakeshore belt.
Machin-Gale was last on the Citadel stage during last year’s much-talked-about Penelopiad, a Greek tragedy of epic proportions, and has also nabbed roles at Edmonton’s smaller theatres.
Make Mine Love spirits everyone to 1938, the golden age of the silver screen’s screwball comedies with zany plots, biting wit and a dash of romance.
It was the birth of celebrity pairs – Carole Lombard and William Powell, Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.
In Make Mine Love, Wood has penned a love letter to that champagne era of movie making. After five years of play development through the Robbins Academy, this complicated multi-faceted production provides much enjoyed escapism.
“Tom was inspired by his love of movies. He grew up going to the matinees every Saturday. He worked on this for six years ruminating over one of his first loves.”
In the plot, Hale Lane (John Ullyatt) was once a Broadway matinee idol at the top of his game. Now down on his luck, he finds himself in an isolated alley being attacked by loan sharks.
Across the continent, Lane’s ex-wife and glamorous Hollywood star Lily Arlen (Rebecca Northan) has stalled her latest picture Make Mine Love. Unhappy with Apex Studios, she’s fired the director, the leading man, the designer and choreographer.
Studio head Adolph Apex (Julien Arnold) hits a crisis point, and while the production is in a mess, Lily flies to New York to find her next film.
Desperate to escape the gangsters, Lane unwittingly hijacks Lily and her limo. While hoods pursue them, the duo rekindles their romance through mistaken identity, disguises, bus rides, train hi-jinks, car chases and a cast of quirky characters.
Machin-Gale plays Winifred, Adolph’s long-suffering assistant.
“I’m the brains behind the brawn. I put out the fires with each crisis that occurs,” says the five-foot 10-inch tall actor.
“Winifred is smart, scary, dry and sarcastic and with Cory Sincennes’ costumes, I feel efficient and seven feet tall.”
Machin-Gale has high praise for the 1930s screwball comedies that created significant roles for women.
Describing Northan’s interpretation of Lily, Machin-Gale said, “She’s beautiful, gorgeous, funny and warm. She’s the ultimate leading lady. She’s worked all over the world and she’s great.”
As for leading man John Ullyatt, “He’s very fast, quick-witted and always reinventing himself. John Ullyatt is the perfect leading man and very versatile. In this show he even looks like Clark Gable.”
Artistic director Bob Baker has been tagged to bring the production to fruition combining traditional theatre elements with projections, animation and film clips.
“It’s a great love story. It’s entertaining. It’s funny. It’s got heart and is one of the must-sees of Canadian theatre this year.”