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Playgoers of Lethbridge play with a new path and cast in A Doll’s House

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Playgoers of Lethbridge will be playing in a Doll’s House at the Yates Theatre, Feb. 8-11.

A Doll’s House Cast are excited to perform at the Yates theatre. Photo By Richard Amery
 The Henrik Ibsen production is a little more darker that Playgoers of Lethbridge’s usual Spring production. But the cast and crew, who are mostly new to the local community theatre company are excited to try something a little more different.

“It’s one of these  scripts you always read in theatre school that a lot of ladies wanted to do because there are a lot of meaty parts for ladies,” said Victoria Nestrowicz, who plays Nora Helmer, the protagonist of the story.
“It’s one of the classic plays of the theatre, it’s a great role,” added Liam Monaghan, who plays Nora’s husband Thorwald Helmer.

 Playgoers is using a 1936 Thornton Wilder acting version of the play, which is about “Nora, the wife of a banker, Thorwald, has a secret debt, incurred with good intentions and a forged signature. When her husband is promoted to bank manager, the threat of blackmail threatens to destroy his career and their family life together. As circumstances unravel, Nora realizes the truth of her situation: she accuses her husband and her father before him of having used her as a doll. In one of the most famous scenes ever written for the stage, Nora slams the door on her domestic life as wife and mother until she can learn to be herself. The marriage of Ibsen's naturalistic style with Wilder's knack for emotional nuance creates a modern, vigorous acting version of this revered classic drama.”

The original play premiered in 1879.
“It’s a little different from what Playgoers usually does,” said Nestrowicz, who grew up with Lethbridge theatre.
“They are a Norwegian couple. It was written in the  nineteenth century so it has the strict gender roles typical for the time, so it is really is very patriarchal. He (Thorwald) is a banker and he has a wife. He really does love her, but he’s very stern,” Monaghan observed.

“Nora is a bit of a performer,” Nestrowicz said of her character.
“She’s trying to fit  into this role society has given her and she takes a risk. She borrows money, but hasn’t told her husband and tries to pass it off as her own. She wears masks on her perfect life ,” she said.

They are enjoying being part of their first Playgoer’s production.
“This is a wonderfully gifted group of actors and great people,” Monaghan said, observing everybody has jobs and family and are taking part in “A Doll’s House,” for the sheer joy of it.
“It’s been really fun psychologically figuring out these characters. They are really complicated and devious. And Nora has a meltdown, so that has been really fun to play,” Nestrowicz noted.
“And though the play was written in the 1870s, the issues in the play are 150 years old, but they are so relevant today. They teach us about humanity in 2017,” Monaghan added.
Director Juanita DeVos is impressed with how well the cast and crew have pulled the play together in two months of rehearsal.

“We’ve had a couple of cast changes, but everyone has really embraced the vision of the play,” DeVos said, adding they are rehearsing pretty much seven days a week.


“I had an unusual audition process. I had a table full of masks and props and as hats, so I asked them to show me which one represented their character best,” she said.
“I wanted  to get creative people who would be willing to invest their time into delving into the text,” DeVos said.

A pleasant find was finding a family unit, James McAndrew, his wife Errin Porter-McAndrew and their daughter Dylan McAndrew to be part of the production.

“She’s (Dylan) a little diva but without the attitude. She has a maturity beyond her years. She immediately got the pulse of the play, ” DeVos said, adding a highlight of this production is being able to work with the two children in the cast.
“We’ve been out of theatre for a while and decided it was time to get back into it,” said James McAndrew, who plays Krogstad. His wife Erinn Porter-McAndrew plays Christina  Linden in the play and one of their children, Dylanwas also cast.
 “We didn’t expect that, but when Dylan was cast we were excited,” added Errin Porter-McAndrew.

“Theatre is such a release. It‘s been really uplifting,” Errin Porter-McAndrew said.
“We’ve been put of it for a while, so it is really exciting to reacquaint ourselves with that part of ourselves,” she continued.
“It’s been so much fun working with this cast. It’s been great to meet these people. It’s a great feeling to be part of,” James McAndrew said.

“I’m incredibly blessed with this cast,” DeVos said, raving about her talented cast and crew. Some of the minor roles have been double cast, but even they play an integral role in the telling of the story.
“(Stage manager) Jeneva Moxon is incredible. All I have to do is tell the story and she takes care of everything else,” she said, adding she has enjoyed her first directing experience with A Doll’s House since directing “ The Bear” in a  the Playgoers’ One Act Play production in 2011.
 She noted there is nothing extraneous in  A Doll’s House — every prop, costume, set piece and even the colour scheme is directly relevant to the plot.
“The set isn’t just a scenic backdrop. It is designed so the audience sees the characters as the dolls in A Doll’s House as if you could open up the doll’s house and see the dolls play,” she said.
Playgoers of Lethbridge’s presentation of Henrik Ibsen’s a Doll’s House runs Feb. 8-11 at the Yates Theatre. Tickets are $25 at the ticket centre at the Enmax Centre and Yates. The show begins at 8 p.m. each night. Opening night is $10 off for students.

A version of this story appears in the Jan, 28, 2017 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times/ Shopper
— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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