Volume 10 Week 10

Sunday, Dec. 14


Updated March 2

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette





(Posted 11:40 a.m., May 30)

OYP Showbiz class tackles rock opera genre with reverb
By Fred Sherwin
Orleans Online

Myreil Therrien, right, and Ruby Dumas, left, play sisters Lorraine and Louise Lockwood in the OYP Showbiz class production of 'The Contest'. Fred Sherwin/Photo

After tackling more traditional genres of musical theatre like the "Wizard of Oz" and even last year's original production of "The Kiss", Orleans Young Players Showbiz class decided to tackle something completely different this year.

The group of 16- and 17-year-olds decided to capitalize on their own musical abilities and produced a mini rock opera of called "The Contest".

In a nutshell "The Contest" is about two francophone sisters named Lorraine and Louise who are growing up in Montreal during the mid-70s. They have a band, or did have a band before Lorraine saw her boyfriend, who also happens to be the band's guitarist, kissing another girl.

The play opens with an English radio deejay announcing a major band contest. The girls hear the announcement with their mother who urges them to enter the contest. Louise is all for it, but Lorraine doesn't feel comfortable about singing in English, and besides, they don't have a guitarist.

Lorraine then goes off to busk in the streets where she meets a guy named David who loves her voice. She's also accosted by three young English girls who heckle her and tell her to sing in English.

David eventually comes back and asks Lorraine if she would like to play in his band, which also happens to be looking for a guitarist. The twist is that the band's singers are the three girls who heckled her in the street.

As things turn out both bands end up entering the contest, but there's a catch, the contest sponsor and one and only judge is Lili's aunt Patti Patate and she plans to award first prize to her daughter's band no matter what.

Before Lili's band goes on stage, the girls hide Lorraine's guitar in the trunk of their car so she can't play with them. When David finds out about the plot he spills the beans, leaving Lorraine to play with her sister and their old band and wouldn't you know it, they win.

The Contest is filled with a number of catchy tunes written by the play's co-director Alan Dean McDowell. It is rock and roll, however, and the band is loud which made it difficult to catch some of the lyrics. The acoustics in the Orléans Theatre didn't help much either.

On the plus side the voices were all great, especially Myreil Therrien who plays Lorraine. I even enjoyed the story line which was fashioned together by the play's director and co-writer Andrea Cochrane.

All in all, it was a fun show to watch, but not nearly as much fun as it must have been to produce, rehearse and play in. You could tell from the back row that the actors were all relishing their roles.

The cast included Ruby Dumas as Louise, Lewis Caunter as David, Amanda Paliotti as the deejay, Taylor Bertrand as Lili, Carolyn Mills as Patti Patate, Julia Murphy as the girls mother, Amanda Ricketts as their Aunt Huguette and Jessica Lareau and Darci Bloom Bertrans as Lili's backup singes.

The band included Chirs Shackleton on guitar, Alex Shackleton on drums, Caunter on bass, Therrien on acoustic guitar and McDowell on lead guitar.

On a scale of zero to five stars, I'd definitely give this play a four, but then again I grew up in the 70s and I was a huge Jethro Tull fan.

"The Contest" continues today at the Orleans Theatre with a show at 2 p.m. It is part of a double bill with the OLP's Very Little Players production of "Mousedeer".

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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