Binbrook Little Theatre’s production of The Day They Kidnapped The Pope has been a long time coming, but with impediments now swept away it will open October 18 for a three week run.
Director Shirley Marshall has been its champion from the start. “I happened to pick up the script for this play at a script swap at a WODL meeting (Western Ontario Drama League). When I read it, I thought it was funny as well as thought provoking, and that our Binbrook audience would really enjoy it.” She brought it forward to the BLT’s board of directors back in 2014, and it was put in the pipeline for a Fall 2016 run.
Then a major reno took place to Binbrook Little Theatre’s venue, Memorial Hall and, as is so often the case, those repairs took longer than anticipated. Faced with scheduling issues and the complexity of staging the play, it “was dropped from the season and replaced by a show that was easier to stage in a limited timeframe.”
The tech heavy nature of the production was one of the reasons it was initially struck from the playbill. “Besides the usual lights and sound that are involved in most stage productions, this show also has voice recordings of six additional characters as well as video recording of TV news personalities who are covering the event of the kidnapping as the situation develops,” Marshall explains. “Add explosions and thunderstorms, and you have a very technically challenging show.”
Those who lived through or love the ’70s aesthetic will get a kick out of this production’s set and costume design, which Shirley says pays homage to “all that harvest gold and avocado, bell bottoms and wedgie heels.”
For the director, surmounting the challenges to stage this production has led to even greater reward. She has been deeply impressed by how everyone in the cast and crew has pulled together to achieve something, “that has even surpassed the vision I’ve carried in my head through the last few years.”
The Day They Kidnapped The Pope, written by Joao Bethencourt in 1979, is a comedy set in New York City. On a visit to the Big Apple, Pope Albert IV is abducted from the curb outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral by taxi driver Samuel Leibowitz, who drives him to his Brooklyn home. He will only release the pontiff if he gets an unusual ransom — one day of world peace. Leibowitz’s wife, two children, a Rabbi and a Cardinal round out the seven member cast which at BLT includes Brad Fortman, Kimberly Jonasson, Thomas Saker, Maddie Sadai, Doug Caldwell, Mark Rogers, and Adam Harrison.
The play has had successful productions across Europe, in Germany, France, Spain, Holland and Italy, and apparently even the Vatican newspaper ‘gave it a rave review.’ Others have called it ‘enchanting,’ ‘warm,’ and ‘delightful.’
“I particularly find this play appealing because of its contrast to the show we did last Fall, Journey’s End, which illustrated the horrors of war in heart wrenching detail,” Marshall says. Meanwhile, The Day They Kidnapped The Pope is about “those left at home during a different war... who can feel impotent in a world that seems to always be in turmoil.”
While she expects most ticket buyers will be drawn to the production because it’s a comedy, Marshall thinks “they will be surprised at the feeling of hope that they carry with them when they leave the theatre.”
“It is about one man’s dream for world peace, if only for one day. At the end we may think, what good is one day of world peace if the violence returns once the day is over?” she muses. “But if one day is possible, another day, or week, or year might be possible, too. It’s about hope: ‘Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.’” V
THE DAY THEY
October 18 -19, 25 - 27 & November 1 - 2;
Matinee (2 PM) on Oct.27
Dinner (6:30) & Show (8 PM) on
Sat. Oct.19, 26 & Nov. 2
Tickets: $20 (show only); $15 (Fri. Oct.18 only);
$35 (dinner + show, Oct.19);
$40 (dinner + show, Oct.26 & Nov.2)
Cash at the door or buy online at
Binbrook Little Theatre
Memorial Hall, 2600 Highway #56
(905) 692 - 5076