by Lorraine Payette, written October 2, 2013
(GANANOQUE, ON) – Two young lovers, a star studded sky and a “Salt-Water Moon”…
Prepare to spend a bewitching August evening on the front porch in Coley’s Point, Newfoundland, as 18-year-old Jacob Mercer (played by Edward Charette) tries every trick in the book to win back the heart off his one true love, Mary Snow (Shannon Taylor) in the Thousand Islands Playhouse’s final show of the 2013 season. He knows he’s been a heel. He left without warning, was away for a very long time – a whole year – and he hurt her terribly, but surely now that he’s back she’ll want nothing more than to fall into his arms and be his once again.
But Mary has had that same year to grow wiser and find a new love, his mortal enemy. No, sir, this is 1926, and at 17, she’s all grown up. She will not be so easily wooed…
“I love this play because of the fire that these two characters create together,” says Ashlie Corcoran, Artistic Director for the Thousand Islands Playhouse and director of Salt-Water Moon. “This is a beautiful and moving love story about young people searching for their paths, while encountering challenges, joy and desire along the way.”
Written by acclaimed Canadian playwright David French, the play debuted in 1985 as the third in a series of five plays about the Mercer family. The sets designed by Elizabeth Nutting set us firmly down on the Rock, while costume designer Jayne Christopher’s careful attention to detail has produced costumes so authentic you feel as if you’ve dropped through time to spend this one precious evening in love.
“The dress shown here isn’t the dress used in the show,” says Christopher. “The actual dress is yellow because the script calls for a yellow dress, and Shannon is wearing a wig borrowed from the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto because the character has black hair. The costumes are mentioned very specifically in the script. It says that he’s wearing a brown store-bought suit and a fedora and that she’s wearing a yellow dress and has short black hair, so there isn’t a lot of leeway there.”
A lot of time and thought is put into the costumes to make sure they are exactly what is right for the characters.
“I have discussions with Ashlie about what we’re going to do, maybe a bit less on this show than in some because the costumes are so specifically described in the script,” says Christopher. “In a big show it can take weeks and weeks to pull the costumes together and make sure everything works. This show only has two characters, so it isn’t so long. There are only the two people and they don’t have costume changes.”
But it is also a period piece, and clothes can’t just be bought off the rack. Nor can a pattern be found readily just because one is wanted. Christopher takes her time and goes through countless photographs from the era, looking at old colour ads, anything that gives an exact idea of what people were wearing. Then she measures the actors, designs her patterns, selects her fabrics, and goes to work to create exactly the right look. Without that careful attention to detail, the collective mind of the audience would wander, and the play would lose some of its impact.
“We’re very fortunate to have most of the set completed today,” says Corcoran. “This way the actors get to be comfortable with the set, comfortable with their costumes, and they can make their characters more believable. It’s going to be much prettier when it’s in the proper space, but everything that we have to have to make the show work on the practical level is available here.”
And work it does. Accents have been honed, movements polished, the characters are fresh and alive.
“The accent is a tough one to find,” says Charette. “There isn’t a lot of reference material to work from. And with several dialects to choose from, we had to find one that would be the same for both of us. Jacob is a very funny guy by nature and he has come back to do something very serious. You need to find the balance between the raconteur, the showy almost stand-up-comic at times and the very sensitive person underneath.”
“Finding the balance between Mary Snow’s fierceness and pride, as well as finding her humility and humour, has been a challenge,” says Taylor. “Because she has been so wounded, there’s a wall that’s gone up. You need to find that balance to keep an interest up in the play. I love Mary Snow and feel privileged to play her.”
“Salt-Water Moon” will be running at the Springer Theatre in Gananoque from October 11 – November 2. Show times are Tuesday through Saturday 8:00 pm, with matinees Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm (starting the Wednesday after opening night). Tickets are $32 for adults, $30 for seniors age 65+, $16 for students, with a half price preview on October 11 (HST will be added to all prices). Group tickets are available at $26 – $28 each including GST.
For more information or to buy tickets, please go to http://www.1000islandsplayhouse.com or contact the box office at 613-382-7020.