New West Theatre has a busy next few weeks with three productions taking place all over the city in the next two months.
First up is a “dark comedy with heart,” as New West Theatre and Theatre Outré bring Calgary playwright Morris Panych’s “Vigil” to life at the Trianon (104 5 Street South), Nov. 15-25.
“It’s a bucket-list role for Jay. And Erica gets to play the old woman we all know and love,” observed director Kathy Zaborsky, who has worked with cast members Jay Whitehead and Erica Hunt with both Theatre Outré and New West Theatre productions.
“It’s my first time directing a straight rather than a musical comedy revue,” Zaborsky said.
“‘Vigil’ is a classic Canadian play. It has been produced all over the place over the past 20 years,” she said.
“Vigil” is about a young man who comes to visit his dying aunt in her attic, but the visit lasts a lot longer than he expected to because she continues to survive.
“It’s a dark comedy about caregiving for an elderly relative. So anybody who has ever been a caregiver will be able to identify with it,” she continued.
“This play has a lot of comedy, but it also has a lot of heart,” she added.
“I absolutely love this play.”
Whitehead, who plays the young man, Kemp, is enjoying being part of the production.
“He comes to visit his aunt, who he hasn’t seen in 20 years. He’s a lonely, miserable kind of guy,” Whitehead described.
“I love his story. It‘s such a well-written role, I’ve wanted to play it for a long time,” he said, noting the play was a perfect fit for a collaboration between the two very different theatre companies.
“With Theatre Outré, we do really edgy plays, so this fits with our mandate. I think both Theatre Outré and New West audiences will really enjoy this play,” he promised.
Hunt, who is a New West Theatre veteran, is enjoying the play, though it means she doesn’t have a lot of lines as the elderly Aunt Grace; most of her acting is reacting to Kemp’s lines.
“Kemp is coming back to visit her one last time, but she isn’t dying fast enough,” Hunt chuckled.
“You can see the seasons change. First it’s fall, then it’s winter, then New Year’s then summer. The two of them develop a really nice relationship, though Grace doesn’t say a lot. So it’s interesting being present in the play though she isn’t speaking much. She’s usually reacting. It’s hilarious.
“We’ve rehearsed it about 100 times and I’m always noticing new things. I’m asking Jay ‘did you just say that? That’s so funny,’” she laughed.
“Vigil” runs at the Trianon Art Gallery, Nov, 15-25 at 7:30 p.m. each night. There are also 1 p.m. matinees, Nov. 18 and 25.