St. Albert Dinner Theater showcases The Dangers of VD
Director-actor Mark McGarrigle has wanted to work with Calmar playwright Chris McKerracher, a humorist who writes quirky characters, crazy plots, never ending physical comedy, and lots of female roles.
McGarrigle, who co-founded St. Albert Dinner Theater (SADT) nearly 12 years ago, took a break from the acting bug to study public relations. Unable to stay away for too long, he returned to direct The Dangers of VD (Valentine’s Day) taking place weekends from Feb. 9 to 25 at Kinsmen Banquet Hall.
I missed it. I really did,” said McGarrigle. “I feel very blessed to come back and direct something so successful. The dinner theater almost didn’t make it through COVID, but it did and now it’s more robust than ever. It’s a wonderful, proud feeling to watch them do what they do.”
The St. Albert resident met McKerracher during COVID’s theater shutdown. He had joined a Thursday play reading group through the Leduc Drama Society where McKerracher was also practicing his craft. As their friendship evolved, McGarrigle read The Dangers of VD. The slapstick humor was up his alley and he took it to SADT for approval to mount.
In McKerracher’s script, three generations of the Dyck family live in one house and experience Valentine’s Day at varying stages of life and through different points of view. Gran and Gramps yearn for the romance of youth, while their son Henry and his wife Paulette are stuck in a rut navigating a sexless marriage. Meanwhile Henry and Paulette’s daughter, Jacqui is being coached to tart up her wardrobe by Aunt Jean, a malcontent divorcee.
“I saw a video of a different production and it was more slapstick than what I’m after. I delve more into relationships. There’s more humor that way. Chris is such a funny writer. He’s able to write one line and underneath it there is text that says so much more,” McGarrigle said.
The feisty Joanne Poplett, a longtime SACT actor, is back as Gran while Fort Saskatchewan director Stuart McGowan dons the actor’s hat as Gramps.
“The first time I read the script, I envisioned Joanne and Stuart as the grandparents. I had this instant connection, and I could even envision it coming together.”
Newcomer Christopher Thrall, whose audition inspired the casting committee, picks up the role of Henry while Laurie Borle pairs with him as the sexually repressed Paulette. Christine Gold’s energetic presence earned her the role of Aunt Jean, while Crystal Poniewozik, a professional actor from Jubilations Theater plays Jacqui.
McGarrigle noted Poniewozik stick handles the role of Jacquie, a sheltered girl aching to date, with complete professionalism.
“She changes the energy when she comes into a room and is very helpful with theater movements. We’ve been very lucky to have her.”
Attendees should prepare for a fast pace, double ended jokes, sexy lines, door slamming and more than a bit of craziness.
“I think Chris is trying to say your relationship doesn’t have to be like everyone else’s. Don’t look over the fence. It’s important to cherish what you have and work on it. Treasure what you have and don’t judge your relationship by someone else’s standards.”
The Dangers of VD runs Feb. 9 to 11, 16 to 18 and 23 to 25 at Kinsmen Banquet Hall at 47 Riel Dr. Buffet at 6:45 pm Showtime 8 pm Tickets are $65. Call 780-222-0102 or visit www.stalberttheatre.com.