Saturday, July 21, 2007
Arresting drama on stage at Classic
Miners and would-be thieves James Reilly and Patrick Ryan — played by Ken Ashick, left, and Trevor O’Shaughnessy — find themselves facing the Ballentyne brothers, a.k.a. Lee King, at back, and PJ Baskey, in a scene from Heist. The original production, which opens at the Classic Theatre July 26, tells the story of the 1909 silver robbery at the Nova Scotia mine. (Staff photo by Diane Johnston)
by Diane Johnston
COBALT — A century ago, 26 100-pound bars of silver were stolen from Cobalt’s Nova Scotia Mine.
But the great silver robbery of 1909 turned into a bit of a farce and fodder for Heist, the original production that takes centre stage at the Frog’s Breath Summer Theatre Festival at the Classic.
It’s “almost a Robin Hood story,” said director Ada Shearer.
Much of the production is set underground and in the Finn House, a well-known blind pig or speakeasy of the time.
“It’s local history brought to life,” Ms. Shearer said.
But while Heist is primarily a comedy, there will be some serious moments.
That too was part of life in Cobalt’s boom days, said Angela Drainville-Ashick, the show’s producer and the theatre’s general manager.
Labour unrest, workplace dangers, and epidemics were hallmarks of the period.
It’s difficult to tell the story of Cobalt without touching on the tragedies “through which a lot of these people suffered,” she said.
Heist was written and produced in collaboration with the theatre. It features a local cast, all of whom have stage experience.
They include Trevor O’Shaughnessy of Latchford, PJ Baskey of Notre-Dame-du-Nord, and the Tri-Towns’ Ken Ashick, Dan Hackett, Lee King and Alyssa Kostello.
Paul McLaren is the set designer and lead carpenter, while Bea Demarce is costume designer.
This year’s show, mounted with the help of funding from the Frog’s Breath Foundation, is the Classic’s third original summer production.
Heist opens July 26, continuing July 27 and 28 and August 2, 3 and 4.
The play, meanwhile, can be seen as part of tourism packages combining drama with meals, accommodations and passes to explore the Cobalt camp’s heritage attractions.
“People like to do one-stop shopping for their tourism dollar,” Ms. Drainville-Ashick said.
The packages are being offered with financial help from CTV.
“We are experiencing some out-of-town traffic,” she said.
The packages run until August 5.
For more information about the packages or to reserve tickets for Heist, contact the theatre at 679-8080 or check on-line at www.classictheatre.net.