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Bob Monette



(Posted 7:30 p.m., June 10)

Lard tunderin', latest OOPS play is some funny b'ys
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Heather Jamieson stars as Maude Adams in the Orleans Older Players production of 'Invasion of the Cod Snatchers'. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Whenever I hear the words "Quebec" and "distinct society" used in the same sentence I can't help but chuckle, because whoever came up with the phrase has obviously never been to the rock.

If you want to see a distinct society, Newfoundland and Labrador is about as distinct a society as you can get. That was abundantly evident during the latest Orleans Older Players production of "Invasion of the Cod Snatchers", a lovely yarn about the time a couple of aliens invaded Catherine's Tickle to steal the island's codfish and bring it back to their planet.

The Orleans Older Players class is offered by the Orleans Young Players Theatre School for adults who are young at heart. This year's cast included a number of OOPS regulars including Tina Chan, David Shackleton, Randy Bellini, Biz MacDonald and Heather Jamieson in a reprisal of her role as Maude Parsons that is pure comedic genious.

Parsons is the white-haired salty narrator with an affinity for Screech.

Armed with Susan Flemming's witty script, Jamieson was in her artisitic element as Maude. Try to imagine a female version of Don Farquarson with a Newfoundland accent and you'll have a pretty good grasp of Maude Parsons..

But Adams is just the tip of the iceberg, the rest of the eclectic cast included a pair of wayward puffins played by Sue Ashton and Celine Nadeau; a germaphobe federal bureaucratic played by James Emmett and his executive assistant Millicent Brandywine played by Trudy Samuels; a fast-talking radio commentator played by David Shackleton; a pair of competitive birdwatchers played by Lyne Shackleton and Brenda Bogue; and a socialite transplant turned make-up salesperson played by Jennifer Wainman-McNaught.

The central characters, however, are Veronica Dawe, played by Tina Chan and her Italian fiance Giuseppe Giovanini played by Randy Belini.

The couple have a tiff over the future of Newfoundland. Dawe is very anti-Confederation and would rather live on another planet than join the rest of Canada. Giuseppe is enamored with the idea of collecting unemployment insurance when there's no fishing to be done and ordering tax free from the Eaton's catalogue.

Everyone is talks about seeing strange lights in the sky and hearing odd sounds.

Giuseppe, meanwhile, gets cast onto a beach after his boat gets capsized in a storm. He's found by la petit Pierrer St. Pierre, son of la grand Pierre St. Pierre from the island of St. Pierre, but he's suffering from amnesia.

When la petit Pierrer St. Pierre, son of la grand Pierre St. Pierre from the island of St. Pierre goes for help, Giuseppe is discovered by Queen Pinguinis and her robot Blink. The two aliens wamt to steal Newfoundland's codfish and bring them back to their home planet.

The pair are played by AnnMarie Neilson and André Lacasse. Part of their plan is to dress like the locals and blend in. The only problem is that Pinguinis dresses like Veronica Dawe and Blink dresses like Giuseppe, which creates a bit of confusion.

Still a but dazed and confused from his ordeal, Giuseppe mistakes Pinguinis for his fiance, and a very confused la petit Pierrer St. Pierre, son of la grand Pierre St. Pierre from the island of St. Pierre mistakes Blink the robot for Giuseppe.

In the end the alien plot is foiled; Quenn Pinguinis ends up pursuing the bureaucrat. La petit Pierrer St. Pierre, son of la grand Pierre St. Pierre from the island of St. Pierre teaches Blink to be a fisherman; the birdwatchers are each awarded the Golden Feather for spotting the Great Awk; and Giuseppe and Veronica are married.

Speaking of the Great Awk. The giant bird is played by Biz MacDonald who took the theatrical phrase, "break a leg", a little too literally when she broke her foot during rehearsals.

Despite the injury, MacDonald soldiered on to the benefit of the production as a whole. And although her lines consisted of just one word, "awwkk", she was able to deliver it 40 different ways, drawing nearly as many laughs as Maude which brings me back to Ms. Jamieson.

After seeing the reprisal of the venerable Ms. Parsons, I can only hope that the local theatric power- that-be produce a one woman show with Jamieson front and centre. I even have the perfect title picked out, "Maude Parsons' Unauthorized Biography of Newfoundland and Labrador". I guarantee, I'll be the first in line to buy tickets.

In the meantime, anyone with "acting in a local play" on their bucket list should call the OYPTS office and register for next year's Orleans Older Players class. Judging by this year's production, it's bound to be an absolute blast.

Members of the cast serenade the audience at the end of the Orleans Older Players production of 'Invasion of the Cod Snatchers'. Fred Sherwin/Photo

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



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