Wingfield's return hot, hot, hot!

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Rod Beattie is returning to Tillsonburg in another episode in the Wingfield Farm series on May 31st! This one-man show has been lauded across Canada and the U.S. Rod has been playing Walt Wingfield for 28 years and in 2010 gave his 4,000th performance!

Tillsonburg has had the opportunity to have this very talented and versatile actor perform in our own Otter Valley Playhouse for the last two years. Because of its great success, Annandale National Historic Site is bringing back Rod as Walt Wingfield to the Playhouse, this month for the sixth adventure, ‘Wingfield’s Inferno.’

Performances will be May 31st at 8 p.m.; Jun 1st at 8 p.m.; and Sunday Matinee Jun. 2nd at 2 p.m.

The Winfield Farm adventures came from Dan Needles who spent “half his childhood in the city and half on the family farm at Rosemont, Ontario.”

After university, he went to work as editor of the local newspaper in Shelburne where he created the character of Walt Wingfield, the retired stockbroker who quite the rat race and bought a 100-acre farm, to become a gentleman farmer. Wingfield told about his adventures on the farm in a series of weekly letters to the editor.” From those letters and with that format, Needles created the plays. Dan has also authored a book which novelized all the plays in 2011: ‘Wingfield’s World.’

Each play stands well enough on its own, and it only takes a moment as any of the plays start, to become captured in the net of Rod Beattie’s creative acting. In the time it takes to blink, this man becomes another character, like Freddy, Walt’s best friend, auctioneer and farmer that stutters.

Or Maggie, whom Walt has wooed and won in past segments. There is also The Squire an antiquated neighbour, and Don who runs the state of the art farm next door. They are the main characters but you will fall in love with all the other characters that live in the mythical Persephone Township an hour north of Toronto.

In other one-man shows, the actor often changes character with a hat or another prop, but Rod need only to shift a hip, or place a hand on a hip, or to tip his head, to become a totally different and very believable person.

I know there are many people out there like me have professed to not care for one-person shows. But I have to admit, I have succumbed to the charms of Rod Beattie and must encourage you to give this show a try. I believe you too will enjoy this magnificent Canadian talent.

This year’s show, Wingfield's Inferno is about a “devastating fire at the Orange Hall in Larkspur, which leaves it a smouldering ruin. Walt Wingfield leads the charge to get it rebuilt, but lighting a fire under his fellow committee members proves a daunting task. Is it courage they lack or is the devil in the details?”

For those devoted Walt Wingfield followers you will be tickled to know that Walt’s baby Hope takes her first step. Walt has his on going chicken woes and accidentally hobbles his prize filly, Dividend who he wanted to race. But being the Skunk Lady, I can’t wait to see how he tries to outwit a skunk stealing the eggs from the henhouse. Perhaps, just to add to the fun, I should bring Scooter or Dolly, my educational skunks along to the show!

Perhaps one of the best ways to describe one of these shows is to quote Richard Ouzounian, of the Toronto Star: “pure comic gold... The day you succeed in packing as much laughter, thought, insight and feeling into two hours as Beattie, Beattie and Needles do, then give me a call.”

The double Beattie name was not an error. Rod Beattie performs the part and his brother Douglas not only directs the show, but seems to be business manager and stage manager as well. Indeed, it is a family affair.

Wingfield’s Inferno is playing at Otter Valley Playhouse on Potters Road in Tillsonburg, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. matinee Sunday. All seats $45 (tax included). For more information on this comedy or ticket reservations, call Annandale House at 519-842-2294 (not the Otter Valley Playhouse). You can even pay over the phone this year.

 

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