Board the Christmas Express with Cow Patti Theatre
Cast members of “The Christmas Express” sing on the set during the first day of rehearsals on Tuesday. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)
Go back to a time where trains were still the main mode of transportation and board The Christmas Express with Cow Patti Theatre.
The performance of the play, written by Pat Cook, will mark the first show of Cow Patti’s 21st season and promises to hit all the right notes this holiday season.
“It’s a nostalgic Christmas card. It’s Bob Newhart meets Corner Gas comedy,” said Artistic Producing Director AnnaMarie Lea.
“I wanted to bring the audience something different...there’s a lot of singing and dancing and piano - it’s not a musical, but there’s a lot of music.”
The story is set in small town Alberta circa the 1950’s at Holly Railroad Station, which is the hub of activity.
“You’ve got all these oddball characters who show up at the train station. The town is suffering, people are down about Christmas...They’re all looking for the meaning of Christmas,” said Lea.
“In walks Leo Tannenbaum, and suddenly things start happening, people start changing.”
The production, which will see 35 perfomances, is the biggest Cow Patti has ever put on. It features 10 different characters., including six audience favourites - Brian young, Allan Cook, Susan Greenfield, Valerie Barrett, Linda Goranson, Patric Maurkevitch and AnnaMarie Lea herself. As well, there are three new actors making their Cow Patti debut - Claira Lea, Stephanie Folkins and Tom Mifflin.
While the play is sure to entertain and spark a sense of hope, it’s opening night, Nov. 16, will pay tribute to a former Cow Patti actor.
Sawyer Kiist, who was part of Cow Patti’s production of Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii , was killed in a car accident in March. Five of the actors cast had been part of the same production and wanted to do something to celebrate his contribution.
“He was the most amazing young man. There was something really special about him. He took so much pride in the fact he was doing a professional show,” said Lea.
“I just had to do something to make his memory live on.”
Valerie Barrett, who performed with him, suggested making the last name of the post lady - played by Lea herself - Sawyer. Lea wrote the playwright, told him the story and he agreed.
Still, they wanted to do more.
“On Opening Night, Nov. 16, Cow Patti has decided to take profits on our side of the ticket and create the Sawyer Kiist Passion for Life Bursary,” she said.
“We’re going to put it out there - not just to schools, but agriculture or if there’s a young person that wants to take dancing but can’t afford to. It’ll start as a five year bursary...we’ll present it at our last show.”
Shows run until Dec. 17.
For more information and ticket prices and dates, visit www.cowpatti.com, or contact AnnaMarie Lea at (403)304-6329 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.