Old age opera antics hits the stage

The upcoming production of Many Hats Theatre Company offers a humorous take on four people living in a home for retired opera singers.

Jamie Eberle

Jamie Eberle

The upcoming production of Many Hats Theatre Company offers a humorous take on four people living in a home for retired opera singers.

Quartet, written by Ronald Harwood, is directed by Eric Hanston, and runs from Sept. 11 to Oct. 4.

The plot centres on Cecily, Reggie and Wilfred, who all reside in a home for retired opera singers in Kent, England. On Oct. 10 of each year, a concert is held in celebration of opera composer Giuseppe Verdi’s birthday. On this occasion, Jean, who was married to Reggie, arrives and disrupts the established balance within the home by refusing to perform.

“She went on to become quite a big star in the opera world and her career abruptly came to an end,” explained Hanston, noting the tension increases due to the fact Jean and Reggie were once a couple.

Harwood has also written Another Time, The Dresser and Interpreters that premiered at the Albery Theatre in London.

It features a cast of four that includes familiar Many Hats faces Jamie Eberle and Eleanor Walker, along with newcomers Gordon Dawson and Jean Padwick.

“We’re quite excited having them on board,” said Hanston. “They’re both very talented individuals.”

Hanston said he’d read the play originally when it came forward as one of the possibilities for the 2014 season.

“But I re-read it again, obviously, and it’s a nice piece,” he said. “It’s a look at the aging process, how people deal with aging and long-time friendships.”

With opening night less than a week away, Hanson is pleased with how the play is coming together.

“Right now, we’re in the crunch time, ” he said. “All the rehearsals are basically run throughs of the entire play, just to get our timing down.”

The material might be more relatable for those who are older but Hanston said much of it should appeal to nearly all age groups.

“It touches on something that is everyday life, whether it’s our parents or our grandparents, everybody has dealings with people who are getting on in their years,” he said.

Hanston said the current season’s shows were chosen the previous year. Although comedies tend to be a favourite with audiences, the theatre company tries to select a variety of plays.

“Comedies, without a doubt, have been very successful for us,” he said, noting that its July production of Caught in the Net drew the highest audience numbers of any other play in the seven years the theatre company has been operating.

The opening night gala on Sept. 11 provides complimentary appetizers and wine, along with the chance to meet with cast members is popular.

Show times for the play are Thursday to Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Doors will be open 30 minutes prior to curtain time.

Tickets are $22 for adults and $19 for students and seniors. Reserved seating is also available.

Tickets are available at the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce or by calling 250-276-2170 or 1-800-663-5052.