January and February are usually quiet months in rural P.E.I.
Short days and long nights leave Islanders looking for opportunities to get together as they eagerly await the arrival of spring.
However, Norma Jean Williams, has found an entertaining way to make that time pass quickly.
For the past two months, the Ebenezer resident has been attending rehearsals for the Miltonvale Community Players’ upcoming play.
“It gets you out of the house a couple of nights a week. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people. And it sure makes January go quickly,” says Norma Jean, one of 20 cast members in Some Neighbours: Episode 6: Sheep on the Lamb, which opens today and continues until Saturday, Feb. 15 at the Milton Community Hall. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.
Each year, she auditions and eagerly waits to see which part will be given to her.
“Usually I play cranky old ladies, but this year I have the honour of playing a detective, along with my cousin, Donna Reid. So, besides being fun, it brings families together, too.”
This year’s show, Sheep on the Lamb revolves around three 4-H club members who are preparing their animals for competition at Old Home Week when, all of a sudden, the sheep disappear. So, the farming community calls in the RCMP – the Rural Constabulary of Miltonvale Park to help solve the crime. Meanwhile at the Milton Community Hall coffee club members have making their own conclusions about what happened and rumours start to abound.
The idea for the episodic show started six years ago when Shari MacDonald, hall administrator, contacted area residents to see if they were interested in putting on a play after receiving a grant for seniors.
“I thought it would make a great fundraiser for the hall,” she says.
David Hooper and Ken Williams volunteered to gather the people together and mount the first play.
“We called ourselves the Miltonvale Community Players and the whole goal was to get the community involved. There were also no plays being produced at this time of the year,” adds Ken.
Although he is the main writer, it didn’t take long to get the community involved.
“It’s a collaboration. Every actor in this play and the others we’ve done have contributed to the script in one way or another,” says Ken, who has co-written and directed this year’s show with Phil Hooper.
Sheep on the Lamb also tests the audience’s judiciary knowledge and challenges their investigative skills to figure out where the sheep ended up.
Over the years the plays, which are all original and involve a neighbour theme, have attracted a devoted following.
“I’m going Friday night to support family members, who are in it. It’s always funny,” says Rita MacDonald, who lives in Ebenezer.
“It’s great to see local people coming out of their shell," says another regular, George Weatherby, of Charlottetown.
The audience will also see these local people turning into barnyard animals, creating funny scenes in this year's show.
“I also play the back end of a horse,” says Norma Jean, adding cast mate Jean Pitre plays the front end.
“We actually do a soft shoe dance together in the play.”
Need to know:
- What: Some Neighbours: Episode 6: Sheep on the Lamb.
- When and where: Feb. 13- 15, Milton Community Hall, 7 p.m.
- Fundraiser: Black sheep and white sheep cookies will be for sale in the canteen.
- For more information, contact Shari MacDonald at 902-213-0597 or Joy MacIntyre in the hall at 902-566-3154.