Arts and Entertainment

Back to Theatre Orangeville with Same Time, Next Year

October 7, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Great news! We are back in the theatre and Theatre Orangeville is ready with its first production, Same Time, Next Year, opening October 13.

In a telephone interview in the early days of rehearsal with the cast and David Nairn, directing, the Citizen was able to learn something about the play and the stories.

Briefly, the story sees two strangers, each married to others, meet and begin an affair that has them coming together to the same hotel, on the same date and time, once a year. For 24 years.

Playing the couple – George and Doris – are our old friends, Jeffrey Wetsch and the lovely Jane Spence who are actually married to each other.

“This is a Canadian classic,” commented Mr. Wetsch. “But we won’t watch the movie until after we’ve made our own decisions about the play. We don’t want to make a version of the film.”

David Nairn concurred, “We’re looking at the play for the first time as a new experience.”

The timing of This Time, Next Year is set between 1951 to 1975 but it speaks to the universality of this play, as timeless from the point of view of their relationship.

“Let me just say this about that,” David Nairn quipped, “It’s not very often here that we bring in an old work. We’ve been doing new works by Canadian playwrights. So, this is a treat to have this play by Bernard Slade, who was born in St. Catharines and had a successful television writing career in Canada before he moved to Los Angeles.”

Adding, “And to bring Jeff and Jane home again.”

George and Doris meet over dinner every year. In the first year, Doris is there to go on a retreat with nuns. She and George meet by chance in this little hotel and from then, they have an affair once a year. The play brings the audience to peek into their individual lives every five years but there have been four years in between as assignations.

“I think it is a real love story,” he said. “It’s a bit strange how they love each other; they actually wind up speaking about their spouses a lot and a lot of it is very tender and the things that they can’t really share with their spouses, they share with each other.”

Story is, they are each true to their spouses, with the exception of being unfaithful once a year. They have no communication with each other during the year but they both just show up on faith that the other will appear.

Who would believe that possible nowadays…

This strange and very comical relationship, as Bernard Slade wrote it, exists despite the fact that “They are both happily married,” Mr. Wetsch confirmed, “and they talk about their marriages but there is something in each marriage, part of the relationship that is unburdened.”

Jane Spence added, “I think if these two were together they would still have difficulties.”

“Is that what this is about?” asked her husband.

She answered that yes, that is a romance, “closeness with perspective.”

Still, she added, “I believe that one of the traps of relationships is you can start to take things for granted but because of changes, new conflicts can come up. When you have someone who can see you right then – you can be who you are in that minute – because they change so dramatically because we see them every five years.”

Is it true that someone can be only who they are in that minute?

Same Time, Next Year covers the scope of 24 years and, in that time period, in their personal growth, the play reflects how society changes by how they are, how their lives have changed them.

“This hotel is the constant in their relationship,” Mr. Nairn noted. “They do move around in where they each live.”

“She goes on retreat every year,” said Ms. Spence. “With ‘the nuns.’”

The question came up about how is this play for a couple to perform together? After all, the question of how this could happen to any married person might be a discussion. So, they have talked about finding the reason why.

“How is this presented in a way [that makes it alright]. Two people seeing each other exactly as they are in the moment,” suggested Mr. Nairn.

From Jeff Wetsch: “It’s kind of cool being in a relationship talking – I’m looking forward to actually kissing someone on stage with whom I’m actually close [his wife and co-star, Jane Spence].”

We were advised and re-assured that “There is no overt sexuality – it’s around the emotional aspect – not about sex,” commented Director Nairn, saying, “Well, that’s a component of it, what it feels like.”

Said Jeff Wetsch: “What this play is about – these people risk everything to be together.”

There are two “pathways,” as Mr. Nairn put it, to why we should watch the show. You can either get tickets in line with the restrained numbers allowed in the theatre or for those who are still reluctant to come to the theatre indoors, they can watch it on their big screens at home, once the play is released as a stream.

“This is the play bringing us back to the theatre in love and hope. It’s been a bit of a journey: 582 days since we closed the door last year,” said Mr. Nairn.

Also: “Coming back with these two people – our audiences know and love them and want to see them on the stage and come back and feel [the excitement of a live show indoors.],” he added.

On their first day in rehearsal, he told the two of them, “Welcome home.”

Definitively: “It’s one thing to do it online and outdoors; it’s a completely other thing to come back in to the theatre and trust that everything has been done.”

Mr. Nairn wanted it to be perfectly clear that the provincial mandate is that everyone must bring proof of double vaccination. Theatre Orangeville has to do this strictly according to what keeps everyone safe.

“If we can’t demonstrate that we can do this safely – we’ll be shut down.”

All the distancing; everyone wearing a mask but the actors on the stage; cleaning protocols between shows strictly adhered to.

Simple. Clear. No exceptions.

There has been nothing but joy and confidence in what people are saying about opening the theatre. They know they’re going to see a great show.

“It’s been hard for people like us who depend on the connection with the audience,” Jane Spence remarked. “They create community that also feels…I was told once by one of my mentors that an artist is only an artist if they’re working but Theatre Orangeville didn’t stop here when the pandemic shut everything down.”

Especially as a theatre actor, she told us, “One of my greatest joys in life is hearing the audience laughter. I’m so excited to be back again.”

“We’re going to sit around the camp fire together and someone is going to tell us a story,” is how David Nairn put it.

For all the information and tickets, go to or call the nice people at the Box Office: 519-942-3243

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