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Bedtime Stories

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“Tell me a story, tell me a story, tell me a story, remember what you said…”

The Frankie Laine lyrics, sounding much like a nursery rhyme, begin one of the six scenes in Bedtime Stories by Norm Foster, which will play at the Otter Valley Playhouse in Tillsonburg Feb. 7-10 and Feb. 14-17.

The play, produced by Jennifer Jenney, is Theatre Tillsonburg’s second of the 2012-13 season.

“It’s an adult comedy,” said Bedtime Stories director Sandra Andrews.

“It takes place in six separate bedrooms, but there is a thread that runs through, it’s all interconnected. It’s a continuing story… in a way.”

Each of the six bedrooms have different characters – 15 in total – and the scenery changes slightly.

“We only had 10 people come out for rehearsals, so we took all 10 of them, which is good,” said Andrews. “If they make the effort to come out, you want to reward them with a part. Some people had to double up on parts, but we try to make them look as different as we can.”

Andrews is quite pleased with how the casting worked out for Bedtime Stories.

“Oh yes,” she nodded, smiling during Sunday’s rehearsal. “You think at first, ‘Well, I have to take what came out,’ but by the time this show comes out I’m thinking, ‘I couldn’t have cast anybody better in these parts.’”

The cast of 10 includes several local theatre veterans and some new faces. They include:

Mark Smith – Lou / Davey

Janet Orr – Betsy

Paul Buchner – Eddie / Tommy Quick

Ross Hepburn – Derek / Charlie

Hailey McAra – Melody

Pete Matthews – Nick / Jerry

Rita Weiler – Susan / Sandy

Tim Wells – Steve

Val Donnell – Yolanda

Martha Fraser - Laura

“Several of the cast I’ve directed before,” noted Andrews, “and once you’ve directed them several times you find out you don’t need to direct them. They know what to do and you just sit back and watch them.

“We have one new person (Martha Fraser) who’s only had a small part at another theatre, and she has required some coaching. It’s been fun to see how she’s progressed. And Tim (Wells), he’s only had one role before, too, somewhere else. It’s kind of fun to get some new people in, but it’s also good to get some of your old people back. You know what they’re going to do and what they’re capable of doing.”

Each of the bedrooms requires some set work between scenes.

“At the end of every scene they’ve got to change stuff around so it looks like a different bedroom. So our prop person, Pat Linn, is super organized. People who are only in the first scene are helping change the set for the second scene, people only in the second scene change the set for the third. She’s got them all organized so we don’t have a whole lot of extra people around, because we really don’t have a lot of room backstage.”

Andrews, who has never seen Bedroom Stories out-of-town, noted it has been produced successfully in both Port Dover and Aylmer.

“I enjoy Norm Foster plays because they’re comedies, and people talk like people really talk.”

She heard it was funny – and several online reviews back that up – but she wasn’t overwhelmed by Foster’s ‘Bedroom’ script.

“I read the play and I thought, ‘that’s not very funny.’ But a script is only words. It’s up to the cast and the director to put the actions in. The script doesn’t say what you do up there – it’s just the words. When you get the actors up there, tell them to move there, move here…

“I put a lot of thought into it before we even had our first rehearsal thinking how can people move around, where do we want the furniture and where to we move it to make the room look different?

“It takes three months of your life, at least, to do a play. But it’s so much fun. Especially comedies. As soon as you hear the audience laughing you think, ‘this is worth it.’ Once you have your opening night, the stage manager takes over and the director is no longer needed. But I still come out every night to see the play – because it’s fun. Different audiences react different ways.”

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