On Sunday, April 7th, New Stages Theatre Company continues its popular The Page on Stage Reading Series at the Market Hall Performing Arts Centre with Canadian playwright’s Daniel MacIvor’s How It Works.
A story about addiction and family dynamics, How It Works continues New Stages’ tradition of selecting shows that challenge its audiences, performed by both local favourites alongside actors from some of the biggest stages across Ontario.
Making its debut in 2007 at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, How It Works is a story about the complex relationship between a broken family and the arrival of an outspoken albeit compassionate outsider.
“How It Works weaves the past and present together as it follows the lives of four characters: a cop, his ex-wife, his new girlfriend and his deeply troubled daughter,” says New Stages founder and artistic director Randy Read. “The play also examines two increasingly common aspects of our society: divorce and addiction.”
The play tells the story of a divorced couple, Al (Tony Munch) and Donna (Megan Murphy), and their 19-year-old daughter Brooke (Kelly Van der Burg), who not only plays her parents off one another but is suffering from a serious drug addiction. When Al’s new girlfriend Christine (Catherine Fitch) enters their lives, she takes an interest in Brooke — creating an emotional and often humorous life journey.
After first seeing the show during its original Toronto run, Randy reveals he has had How It Works on his list of shows to bring to Peterborough for more than a decade.
“What I love about How It Works is that it follows the journey of these characters with compassion, humour, and grace,” Randy says.
“Daniel MacIvor has a deep understanding of how a family works when forced to confront and deal with drug abuse, addiction, and recovery, as well as the changing dynamics that inevitably occur. These are serious issues and, while his writing always examines these issues with respect and sensitivity, there is also an awareness of the inherent humour that is always an aspect of our complex humanity.”
Like all New Stages’ The Page on Stage presentations, one of the treats of the night is experiencing some of Canada’s top talents on the local stage.
How It Works features the return of veteran actor Tony Munch (Shoot ‘Em Up, Cube Zero, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day) and Gemini award-winning actress Catherine Fitch (South of Wawa, Slings & Arrows, The Arrow, Butterbox Babies, Road to Avonlea, Murdoch Mysteries), who appeared together in one of New Stages’ very first productions more than 20 years ago.
“Tony and Catherine are married actors who starred in New Stages’ 1998 production of George F. Walker’s Problem Child,” Randy says. “We are thrilled to have them together on our stage again.”
Munch and Fitch are joined by up-and-coming Canadian actress Kelly Van der Berg, who has had roles in the Reelz mini-series The Kennedys: After Camelot as Mary Jo Kopechne and FOX’s Rocky Horror Picture Show as Betty Munroe, as well as appearances in CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries and Frankie Drake Mysteries. She also performs as Victoria’s mom in the It: Chapter Two horror film, based on Stephen Kin’s novel, which is coming to theatres in September 2019.
The cast is rounded out by local favourite Megan Murphy, who returns to New Stages for the first time since her appearance in last year’s two-part production of Angels in America.
A unique way to watch a theatrical production, The Page on Stage Reading Series has actors performing a play in a dramatic script reading, but without any sets or costumes and with limited interaction on the sage. This allows the focus to be on the words and the meaning of the show, as well as allowing top talent to perform challenging productions that otherwise would not come to the Peterborough stage.
These one night-only performances are consistently among the best nights of theatre in Peterborough. How It Works will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 7th at Market Hall Performing Arts Centre (140 Charlotte St. E, Peterborough).
General admission tickets are $25 ($15 for students, art workers, and the underwaged) and are available in person at the Market Hall Box Office or by phone at 705-749-1146 (12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday) or online anytime at markethall.org.