I drove a Sunday or so ago to Binbrook, down the snow swept Highway 56 to the village’s historic Memorial Hall, headquarters and performance space of Binbrook Little Theatre. The distance from the east end of Hamilton’s Rymal Road on the south mountain leaves plenty of change from 15 minutes, and that’s into a January headwind. And this is to alert you, dear reader, to BLT’s upcoming family production, its mid–season fun extravaganza called “The Miaowvellous Tale of Puss in Boots”.
Memorial Hall is a charming warren of staircases and oddly placed rooms when one comes in from the Highway 56 side, but one eventually reaches the upstairs main space and the “Theatre” itself. And there I find the Director, Phillip Gauthier, all quite tall and distinguished looking in the prime of life, a smiling affable chap sorting out his energetic company of young actors, dancers, and techies just arriving and shaking off the outside cold and ready to work.
Who is Phillip Gauthier? “I live in downtown Hamilton and work in Brantford,” Gauthier reveals, “And I have been a member of BLT for 7 years, have been in 8 productions, 4 of them ‘family shows’, and I’m a Board member. I was drawn into theatre back in high school and enjoy creating the characters I portray.” Well, that sounds to me like someone who knows what Community Theatre is all about. Getting to the show at hand we talked about the author of this “miaowvellously” titled production, Peta Duncombe. A Brit, it turns out, and of course from the very home of fairy tale pantomimes and has been writing and directing pantomimes for over 20 years. Attached to a small arts theatre in Lincolnshire, her patrons refer to her as “The Pantomime Lady”. Gauthier has never met her, he confesses.
“We’ve got 18 actors,” says Gauthier, “And being a first–time director of a panto, I’m having fun seeing what I envision coming to life.” He is his own music director, and with assistance of BLT colleague Shirley Marshall, and young choreographers Catherine Janes, Lixie Milmine and Kat Banrowski (the latter two from Broadway Bound Dance Studio), things are happening. I marveled at the workout Marshall was giving the two leads, and in the main theatre a whole chorus was being drilled through its moves with ease. “I am hoping,” Gauthier tells me, “that our audience will find the song and dance numbers fun, and I do have a small surprise that I hope they’ll like. They’ll have to see the show to find out what it is.”
This adaptation of the old story of “Puss in Boots” is a play with music in two acts with intermission. It plays three Fridays (opening February 7th) with early curtain time of 7pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm (the last show, Sunday February 23rd). Much of the audience will certainly be young and the Director Gauthier promises to keep the action lively and the pace quick and exciting. Binbrook’s theatre space is very audience friendly, not overly large (“intimate plus”, if you like), with lots of raised seating. There’s plenty of parking and the theatre entrance is from the rear of the building. The lobby is ever so spacious and great for mixing and networking, if that’s your thing. And there’s a bit of snack bar, too. Binbrook is well–known for its friendly faces and helping hands. (Alert: Access to the upstairs theatre is not wheel–chair friendly, regrettably.)
For information and tickets call 905.692.5076. Get the family together in Binbrook for this fun event. Memorial Hall is at 2600 Highway 56 just inside the town on the west side if you’re coming from Hamilton city. Happy Show Time, everybody! V
THE MIAOWVELLOUS TALE
OF PUSS IN BOOTS
Feb. 7–9, 14–16, 21–23
@ Binbrook Little Theatre,
2600 Hwy 56