Theatre Orangeville teaching you all about The Birds and the Bees

April 27, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

There are four newcomers to Theatre Orangeville starring in Mark Crawford’s play, The Birds and the Bees, opening May 3 and running until May 20 at Theatre Orangeville.

Susan Johnston-Collins is to play the part of Gail, whose husband left her 20 years ago, to run off with the wife of their neighbour and best friend. Gail consequently opted out of the whole crummy romance thing and has turned her life and affections over to bees, much nicer and more important to the world’s ecology.

That best friend and neighbour, still Gail’s pal, Earl, whose wife was the other runaway,  is brought to us by Sheldon Davis. Earl has taken on his enforced bachelorhood to play the field, troll the ocean waves, as it were, by chasing women as his fancy has taken him.

Rose Napoli will perform the role of Gail’s daughter, Sarah, recently returned to the home front to live with her mother with whom she has a somewhat acerbic relationship. An important personal aspect of her married life to a turkey farmer seems to have been a disappointment and she is currently “on hold” until she can think it through.

The two ladies, mother and daughter, clash at times in a way that might be expected, while maintaining an affectionate bond underneath the hostility.

Into all this comes the youthful, intense Michael Pearson playing the intense and young Benjamin, a student who arrives to Gail’s farm to study the decline of bees, bringing his own theories on the subject with him.

The setting is the farm world and the small town, both of which are playwright  Mark Crawford’s background. He is writing what he knows, as the ink-stained sages used to advise. It is all to good effect, for, as our four stars of this saga assure us, the characters we are about to meet are “very real” and “people you’ll identify with.” – your neighbours, people you meet at the county fairs, your old uncle…

“But not wacky,” commented Ms. Johnston-Collins, “it’s in this world.”

Said Mr. Pearson, “It’s very comfortable while admitting that chaos is inevitable.”

Naturally reluctant to share too many details, Mr. Sheldon said simply, “We make plans in our lives and they can head in different directions. As funny as the play is, it goes to many places.”

“It can be quite heated,” was Ms. Napoli’s thought, “a lot of emotion, anger, contrast – life is like that. But funny, too.”

There are also plenty of romance and unexpected turns in the story.

Ms. Johnston-Collins has done the play before and she noted, “It’s so clearly written what his intention is; I’ve heard other actors sound so similar to us playing in this version because of how Mark writes. Although every actor brings his own interpretation, too.”

They talked about Mr. Crawford’s being an actor as well, how that helps him see the writing from the inside.

Mark Crawford did an interview with the Citizen last year, during which he discussed writing and acting, when he remarked, “It’s very cool to act in your own play but, at the same time, your job as an actor is the same. … I think everything informs everything. Being in a Shakespeare play informs acting and play writing. … I think every time I go to the theatre, I learn something. There’s people whose work I really admire. It’s often people who do comedy really well – in comedy, there’s no place to hide.”

Not only are these fine folk debuting at Theatre Orangeville, but long-time friend Jane Spence is directing her first play here. Over the course of some months,  she was Assistant Director, for three different plays at Theatre Orangeville, under the very wise mentorship of David Nairn, the company’s Artistic Director.

From that, Ms. Spence has gone on to direct other plays herself. She was awarded Best Director and Best Production as director of Auto-Erotic Misadventure for the Pumphouse Festival of One Act plays.

Now, she is very excited to be the Director for this production of The Birds and The Bees.

Added to the delights of the play, Opening Night, Friday, May 4, is also the Starlight Gala, in support of the theatre, featuring dinner at one of the local restaurants, coffee and dessert back at the theatre and the show. This is, as well, the evening when Mr. Nairn announces the shows for the upcoming season – an exciting moment one always enjoys. David Nairn is coming into his 20th season with Theatre Orangeville.

The Birds and The Bees is, basically, adult-themed and Theatre Orangeville asked us to include the following disclaimer:

“Please be advised: The Birds And The Bees portrays adult situations and language … all in good fun and, of course, in the very best of taste!”

The cast members asked us to tell you: “It’s easy to get stressed about the future but when you move through it, you find a different kind of future.

“You’re going to have a fantastic time with the Birds and the Bees – plenty of laughs from beginning to end!”

The Birds and the Bees runs from May 3 to May 20. Tickets as usual at the Box Office, 87 Broadway or the Information Centre on Buena Vista Drive at Highway 10; call them on 519-942-3423 or online at

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