Tipling Stage Company presenting The Trouble with Trent

October 14, 2015   ·   0 Comments



By Constance Scrafield

When the mystery around the mystery writers is as mysterious as the mystery books themselves, what might follow? This is the basis of Fred Carmichael’s hilarious play opening this Friday, October 16 at the Grace Tippling Hall in Shelburne.

Three ladies, strangers to each other, collaborate to write a mystery novel under a single pen name of Sarah Trent, and only meet to finish it off. Once printed, it is a success so they conspire to write a second book. However, when the second book comes out, the news that Sarah Trent is a real person is released and sales of the novel soar.

Naturally, the resultant problem is that the fictitious-or-not Ms. Trent’s fans are clamoring to meet her. Pandemonium ensues and so do the laughs.

Denis Stephenson, director of the Tipling Stage Company (TSC) production, assured us in a recent telephone interview, “I think the audience is going to see one of our best productions.

“All the actors, except for one, are quite experienced. One of them is new; she’s never been on stage before but she’s got a natural talent and really good timing for the comedy.”

Theatre on every level is happily addictive. Whether on stage, back stage or, as audience, in front of the stage, there is no leaving the theatre for long. This is certainly the case for community theatre, where most participants wear many hats over their years of involvement and tend to join the local community theatre wherever they live, even having moved to another neighbourhood.

Audiences tend to be loyal and very appreciative. For every reason, theatre is the soul of the community and going to the productions presented by professional and community theatres rewards the considerable work, enthusiasm and soul that goes into every show – and offers live entertainment with all the excitement that entails.

Mr. Stephenson is a good illustration to this claim. He has been involved with community theatre for many years, directing, acting and working on productions backstage.

“I’ve directed shows in Burlington, Brampton, Caledon – I’ve been directing for 48 years, including Shakespearean scenes for the British Pavillion in Carabram [the International festival held annually in Brampton, where now only the Irish Pavilion represents that part of the world],” Mr. Stephenson related.

Speaking of his theatre background as explanation for this lifelong enthusiasm, he said, “My parents were with the Hamilton Theatre Guild, which, I believe, is the longest-running community theatre, established in the 1870’s. [It’s actually called the Hamilton Players’ Guild, and Mr.Stephenson is correct about its seniority as the longest Amateur Theatre – as they call it – and was established in 1875] I was in awe of my par- ents’ being on the stage and was determined at a very early age to do the same myself.”

Similarly, several of the actors in this production of The Trouble with Trent have shown their affection for theatre by also participating on many levels and for a number of theatres.

Both Mr. Stephenson and Bev Nicholas, playing the part of Ossie, have been with the TSC since its inception in 2008. Mr. Nicholas tells us that he performed in both professional and community theatre “on both sides of the pond” for “nearly seven decades.” His panto, Aladdin, won an Association of Community Theatres – Central Ontario (ACTCO) festival award and he himself won an ACTCO award for writing Jack and the Beanstalk.

Jo Hubbard, as Alice Croydon, comes to her role with a background as actor, director, choreographer and ventriloquist. She has acted in several roles within TSC productions, not least of which are the pantomimes the theatre group puts on.

An author herself, Jean Jardine Miller has directed, designed sets, performed and, generally, been part of the team on a long list of TSC shows.

Kelly McDowell, in the role this time of DD Haverty, has been with the group as well since its first production, Plaza Suite, and she has stuck with it through the years and performances ever since.

Having made her entré into community theatre with Dundalk Little Theatre, Sherry MacDonald, in the role of Angela Plunkett, came to TSC “back in 2009.” She has appeared in several productions, including the panto- mimes.

Another member since its beginning in 2008, Debbie Tait is acting the part of Phoebe Baxter. She has shared her love of the theatre ever since, acting in a couple of productions. And in her biog, she declares, “There’s nothing like live theatre!”

GG Stillwell, taking on the role of Irene Smithfield, is the newcomer, who has won the praise of Mr. Stephenson. While Ms. Stillwell writes poetry and short stories, “with a portfolio of artistic snow sculptures,” she has no theatre in her background and is a wonder of being able to adapt to a new art form.

Last but not least, Josh Oatman, playing Kenneth, is coming back from his debut last year with the TSC, when he both acted and directed shows last year and is pleased to con- tinue to be involved this season.

A fine cast, a great play full of laughs, every- thing to tempt you to come to the theatre.

Opening this Friday night, The Trouble With Trent continues Saturday, Oct. 17 and Friday and Saturday, Oct. 23 and 24 at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee this Saturday, Oct. 18.

Tickets: at Shelburne Town Hall or online at and email

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