Broadway, London’s West End and St. Clair and O’Connor avenues in East York all have something in common. At least for the next couple of weeks.
For six nights in early May, Presteign-Woodbine United Church will undergo a transformation, becoming the showcase for some of East York’s finest amateur dramatists. The Torn Curtain Players, founded by Jane Barbeau, is a community group run alongside the church. She says their group started by running small shows, but now presents much larger, professionally run stage productions.
“It has gotten much bigger. The first year we had a cast of five and did it for two nights,” Barbeau says. “We made the sets out of cardboard and glued the costumes together because nobody could sew.”
That first year sits in stark contrast to this year’s production of Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! An army of 70 volunteers is involved in everything from makeup and hair to marketing and publicity. Not to mention a brigade of cooks and servers ensuring that the meal portion of the dinner theatre runs smoothly.
Barbeau relies on the volunteers and says the community has risen to the challenge of producing an increasingly professional show.
Returning after a one-year hiatus, the Players have been rehearsing vigorously since January. Barbeau likes to challenge the group, and has again raised the theatrical bar as the company takes on a musical for the first time. Barbeau is pleased with their progress and says she has happily uncovered some hitherto hidden musical talents.
The six-night run is an important revenue-generator for the church. Reverend Scott Patton says community theatre is an important part of the church’s ministry. He says the absence of a show last year was very noticeable in a lean economic time.
The church outlays seed money for the production and all revenue generated goes back to funding church-related projects.
“It’s totally non-profit,” Barbeau says. “No one gets paid a penny.”
Tickets to Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! cost $30, including the show and a three-course dinner. Performances are scheduled for the first two weekends in May and the curtain rises at 6:30 p.m. (5 p.m. on Sundays). Tickets are available at 416-755-8352.