George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara launched Halifax, N.S.'s Neptune Theatre in 1963 and returns to open the 1997-98 season Oct. 3, in the newly refurbished Fountain Hall.
Fountain Hall now seats approximately 500 and will be the home of Neptune's mainstage season. The new Studio Theatre, seating 200, will house the Studio series. Neptune's Theatre School will also find a permanent home in the new buildings for its more than 600 students. In addition, actors, administrative and technical staff will now have appropriate space for management and the creation and development of performances.
Father and daughter are pitted against each other in Major Barbara, starring Lorretta Bailey as a committed Salvationist, evangelist and rescuer of the outcast. Daryl Shuttleworth plays her father, munitions magnate and social philosopher Andrew Undershaft, who attempts to convert his daughter through contributions to her cause. Also in the cast are Nicola Lipman and Jordan Pettle. Previews Oct. 2 and runs Oct. 3-26.
Neptune will Dream a Little Dream Nov. 6-30 with Papa Denny Doherty in a musical tale of his climb from Northend Halifax to the Monterey Pops as a member of the popular 60's group, The Mamas and the Papas. Written by Doherty and Paul Ledoux, Dream a Little Dream will be accompanied by a band of Nova Scotian musicians featuring Doris Mason.
After touring the province Nov. 25-30, The Secret Garden will grow at Neptune, Dec. 6-21. When the orphaned Mary Lennox arrives at her uncle's creepy house, she is surrounded by mystery. The answer to all the secrets lies in the key to a long-forgotten walled garden. She nurtures the garden back to life while helping her bedridden cousin and his grieving father find happiness again. Adapted by Michael Shamata and Paula Wing from the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett An Inspector Calls, Jan. 29 - Feb. 22, when Neptune presents J.B. Priestley's 1947 play about a group of well-to-do Britishers whose lives are shattered by an inspector's revelations of their past behavior toward an orphan girl. This unorthodox mystery concludes has both a social conscience and a supernatural twist.
Walter Borden stars in The Gospel at Colonus, an adaptation of Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus, tracing the final days of the tragic King as he seeks atonement for his crimes, March 5-29. Conceived by Lee Breuer with music by Bob Telson, Sophocles' classic tale of redemption unfolds in the hands of a Black Pentecostal preacher. Also in the cast are Troy Adams, Jeri Brown, Jeff Jones, Frank MacKay, Dutch Robinson and Jeremiah Sparks.
Rod Beattie returns to Neptune in the one-man show Wingfield's Folly, the third part of the Dan Needles' Wingfield Cycle. Walt Wingfield, the ex-stockbroker, continues his bumbling second career as a farmer. Trouble and controversy still stick to him like a burr to a cow's tail-and in this episode he gets married to boot. After running April 16-May 10, the show will tour Nova Scotia May 12 - 18.
From Hokkaido in northern Japan, the Furano Natural Studio visits Canada with Kanashibetsu, Soh Kuramoto's story of a fictional coal-mining town set in Japan. In this powerful drama, the central figures question the old ways and search for a key to the future. This production celebrates the Year of Asia Pacific and is made possible with the assistance of the Japan-Canada Fund, a gift to the Canada Council for the arts from the Government of Japan. Translated with surtitles, Kanashibetsu runs Oct. 31- Nov. 9.
As a co-production with the National Arts Centre, Neptune presents Bryden MacDonald's Divinity Bash, Jan. 9-18. When Albert is suddenly fired from a prestigious firm by the man he trained to be his assistant, his life falls apart. With the aid of a mad visionary, a cranky street philosopher and other street folk, he becomes a modern-day Robin Hood leading his motley crew defiantly into the future.
Richard Donat, who starred with Richard Monette in the first English production in 1974, directs Michael Tremblay's Hosanna which runs April 24 to May 3.After four years together, drag queen Hosanna and her lover Cuirette both believe there are no surprises left. She's a hairdresser by day, a transvestite by night. He's a gone-to-seed stud who once had artistic aspirations. They're both aging. But when the transvestite community tires of Hosanna's arrogance and decides to teach her a lesson, nothing can ever be the same again.
For ticket or subscription information for Neptune's 34th season, call (902) 429-7300 or 1-800 565-7345.
--By Laura MacDonald