It proved so popular last year, with some audience members returning a second and third time and others left on a waiting list for tickets when the season ended, the Stompin’ Tom Centre (STC) in Skinners Pond is bringing back ‘My Island Home – A Stompin’ Tom Story.’
The dinner theatre returns for a second season on June 19.
But there is also a brand-new dinner theatre debuting at the STC this year. ‘My Stompin’ Grounds,’ debuts on July 2 during the second annual Stompin’ Tom Festival.
Chad Matthews plays the role of Tom in both productions. Paul Shea is also in both shows, playing the school teacher, Mrs. O’Brien, in “My Island Home” and playing the part of Bernadine, one of the identical twin Doyle sisters in ‘My Stompin’ Grounds.’
Along with Matthews and Shea, Breanna Harper returns to ‘My Island Home’ this year. New to the cast are Tristen Blackmore and Grainnie Gilks.
Both shows were researched and written by P.E.I. native Erin Dunn Keefe.
“It’s fun. It’s a funny script,” offers Helen LeClair, who plays the part of Bernadine’s twin, Eileen in ‘My Stompin’ Grounds.’
She especially likes that the playwright weaves the names of Skinners’ Pond area residents into the dinner theatre.
“It’s so nice for these people to be included, because they were so much a part of Tom’s upbringing here,” she said.
“It would make me feel, ‘yeah, I’m part of this; he was our Tom.’ That’s kind of the feeling. We’re acting it, but it is their story, too,” she reflected.
Cast members acknowledge the dinner theatres also provide audience members with a rewarding culinary experience.
The new dinner theatre opens at Perry’s Campground where Stompin’ Tom’s ‘Welcome Home’ concert during Tignish’s 1999 bicentennial celebrations is winding down.
The spinster sisters, Bernadine and Eileen, have the sense that Tom once had a “thing” for one of them and they are out to jog his memory so that he will recall which one.
They invite him back to their home for a quiet drink and a little lunch, but he discovers they’ve also invited half the population of the area, PFAs and tourists.
The twins’ niece and nephew are there, too. Alyssa Harper plays Sam, a recent journalism graduate, and Brayden McGuigan is Hubie Hackett, an Irish moss fisherman and self-made cop.
Harper has been in three previous Dunn-Keefe dinner theatres while McGuigan, a well-known singer and musician, is making his dinner-theatre debut.
“He’s getting along great,” Shea offers.
“We’re molding him like modelling clay,” LeClair adds.
Cheryl Richard is the show’s director.
Matthews takes it as a great responsibility to play the part of Tom well. “If I can leave them a little something of Tom in their heart,” he says of what he tries to achieve.
Shea shares how he’d watch from behind the curtain as Matthews stepped out onto the stage last year. “As soon as he hit the first chord and the voice come out, you could see them (gesturing to imitate audience members nodding, and nudging one another in approval).”
In ‘My Island Home,’ Matthews plays the role of the spirit of Stompin’ Tom while in ‘My Stompin’ Ground,’ he’s Tom.
“He had many friends and he loved Skinners Pond,” Shea suggested, is the message the playwright conveys.
“When he made friends, he kept those friends and he kept coming back,” LeClair acknowledges.
After its July 2 debut, ‘My Stompin’ Grounds’ will run every Thursday all summer long with extra shows as needed, while ‘My Island Home’ will run every Tuesday, also with extra shows as needed.
Tickets can be purchased online and are also available direct by calling (902)882-3214.