A Missing Link Theatre kicks off 2nd season with Vigil
- Written by Susan Scott
A Missing Link Theatre Company isn’t missing a beat with the five shows it will be staging during its 2013-14 season. From dark comedy to retro Christmas music to Canadian aviation history to outrageous aliens to fictional history, the company pretty much has all bases covered.
A Missing Link is the newest theatrical kid-on-the-block and it has a laudable mandate that explains its unusual name. According to Rick Kish, the company’s founding artistic director, London has a rich theatre community that includes professionals and those who are involved in it for sheer love of the craft. However, while there are plenty of talented volunteer-based companies in the city, opportunities to graduate from unpaid to paid performers, directors, stagehands, and so on are hard to find.
Kish’s company aims to provide the “missing link” and bridge this gap by using both professional and amateurs on-stage and behind the scenes. One of its key objectives is to mentor local talent by giving them opportunities to work with seasoned performers and theatrical experts. A second is to provide audiences with a summer-theatre experience year-round by offering light-hearted, well-written stories and solid performances.
Kish brings plenty of experience to his latest endeavour. Since the 1990s, he has worked as a producer, director, actor, singer, voice coach, acting coach, and workshop leader. He has also served as the artistic director at The Port Stanley Festival Theatre and The Bluewater Summer Playhouse.
Last year, A Missing Link kicked-off its inaugural season with a revival of the musical, A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline. This was followed by A Really Retro Christmas Special, which served as a fun-evening-cum-fundraiser for its next production, the world premier of Norm Foster’s latest comedy, the Great Kooshog Lake Hollis McCauley Fishing Derby.
Having survived its first year, A Missing Link is now branching out with plays that have Kish’s theatrical paw-prints all over them. Each is directed by him and in some cases he has created or co-created them as well.
First up in mid-November is Vigil by Canadian playwright Morris Panych. In this poignant, dark comedy, Kemp, an eccentric middle-aged man, pays an unexpectedly extended visit to his bedridden elderly aunt whom he hasn’t seen in 30 years. His compassion quickly wanes when this oddly matched pair becomes trapped in a macabre bond that’s both comedic yet deeply human at its core.
On December 15, this year’s A Really Retro Christmas Special, created by Kish, takes you back to simpler times by combining Christmas music with popular pieces from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, heart-warming stories, and hilarious comedy. This show is a fundraiser to help cover production costs for the company’s 2013-14 season. Kish and Natalie Howard-Grant will serve as hosts, with many guest artists featured.
In late-February, John Gray’s Billy Bishop Goes to War helps celebrate the 100th anniversary of World War I. Part musical, part drama, this play is about Canada’s greatest flying ace, William Avery Bishop. The actor playing Bishop also introduces 17 people who helped Bishop rise from humble beginnings in Owen Sound to the glory days when he was Canada’s top-scoring pilot in the First World War.
While the above plays will take place at the McManus Studio Theatre, APK Live is the locale for a revival of Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens that runs March through April.
In this raucous musical, the evil shadow of a serial killer looms over Saucy Jack’s bar, when cabaret performers are stabbed one-by-one with the heel of a sequinned sling-back shoe. Saucy Jack’s owner doesn’t seem bothered by the murders but the bar’s motley crew of patrons decide to find the killer anyway, helped by the Space Vixens, super-fashionable crime-fighters from a groovier galaxy.
A Missing Link’s season ends with JUDY: Stonewalled, a new musical written by Denise Hay and Rick Kish. In this fictional historical tale, Judy Garland dies on June 22, 1969. In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 a community fights back and these two worlds collide. The musical will appear in the 2014 London Fringe Festival, which runs June 5-15.
Susan Scott is a London-based arts writer, reviewer, and visual artist. Her drawings can be viewed at www.londonartists.ca.