THUNDER BAY, ON ----- April 14, 2013 ---It’s a simple idea, saving the best till last, but it is truly effective. Storm Warning a play by Norm Foster is now on at Thunder Bay’s Magnus Theatre. Every season for the past twenty years, Norm Foster has produced a new play. Not only does he create plays, they are also produced an average of 150 times a season.
We had a Norm Foster Play last season about this time of year. Like his other works Foster’s plays connect with the audience. He has a way of telling stories that people want to hear. Once he has caught his audience’s attention he keeps them interested by reaching out and connecting with their sense of humour. While not a comedy, there are some funny lines in this play.
The house was packed on Friday night, with the return of winter it was a good night to go to the theatre. Norm Foster knows winter well. For a time when attending Confederation College he lived here and got to know the city and local culture. Perhaps that is why his play connects so well with the Thunder Bay audience, he simply understands us.
Saving the best till last is good for business. This play will leave a warm impression with the audience and leave them wanting more. The more comes in the form of advanced subscription sales which oddly enough are offered to patrons in the lobby during the intermission. In many ways the success of this play is also the fate of the subscription sales campaign.
Storm Warning is also the type of play that Magnus can turn into a first class production. There is as much talent off stage as there is on stage. I found the set design was truly effective, and capable of some surprises should you care to view the performance. Kudos to Doug Robinson, his set design is brilliant. Mervi Agombar has outfitted the cast with costumes that simply scream Northern Ontario. Plaid shirts are difficult to find in Toronto where they do not know what Nipigon Nylons might be.
Until I was involved with productions myself I never recognised the value of a properly lit venue. Good lighting directs your attention to a certain part of the stage. Good lighting gives you the time of day and most importantly good lighting enhances your theatre experience. By boosting the natural light levels an effect is created similar to the pupil in your eye opening up a couple of f-stops. We humans do this when there is something really important to us on the immediate horizon and we do not want to miss a moment. The lighting by Kirsten Watt demonstrated the best that Magnus has to offer. All evening long the play proceeded without a hitch. For Barry Cook, stage manager not being noticed is a good thing.
This play is a return performance for Deborah Hale. Earlier in the season she starred in Freedom 85. That play also had two actors, but also had many, many, characters and keeping it all sorted out was a bit of a challenge. Norm Foster’s keeps it simple, two actors and two characters. Foster must have read the poetry of Aristotle for true to form the arrival of the predicted storm is also the climax of the play.
This was the 5th appearance on stage at Magnus for Scott Maudsley who played the part of Jack Forrester. As a late season caretaker for some outpost cabins, Forrester is about as dissimilar a character from Emma (Deborah Hale) as can be imagined. What could possibly happen between these two. It all becomes clear as the storm approaches.
I liked this play; it is one of the best plays of the season, the desert if you like. All evening I was surrounded by the people around me enjoying a great night of theatre. This is the kind of production that a director such as Mario Crudo can polish until it shines, demonstrating that Magnus Theatre is our professional playhouse.
The show will be playing from now until April 20th, 2013. Times are Monday to Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday Matinee at 12:00 and Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Tickets range in price from $18 - $39. Talk your friend into joining you then call the box office at 345 – 5552.
Arts Editor: LakeSuperiorNews.com