BY BILL PHILLIPS
Having some laughs and fighting poverty don’t usually go together.
But next spring you can do just that by taking in one of 18 performances of the Prince George Miracle Theatre production of The Fabulous Lipitones.
Miracle Theatre was created a couple of years ago by Ted Price and Anne Laughlin, who staged a performance of Miracle on South Division Street and they raised $42,000 for the Salvation Army Food Bank and 27 Million Voices.
“We succeeded in meeting our funding goal,” said Laughlin, who is the producer. “We were enormously encouraged by the warm and appreciative response from the audiences.”
So they did it again last year with a production of The Last Romance, which raised $52,000 for the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation.
“With this production, we wish to support those who are tackling poverty in Prince George,” said Price, who serves as director and designer for the play. “We will raise funds under the egis of the United Way for those organizations who are helping to provide the necessities for Prince George’s most vulnerable people.”
This year’s goal is to raise $60,000.
“While raising these funds we want to provide Prince George with a whole lot of fun and pleasure with 18 evening and afternoon performances of professional theatre,” said Laughlin.
And get set for some fun.
The Fabulous Lipitones is an uplifting comedy by John Markus, winner of both the Emmy and Peabody awards, and Mark St. Germain, winner of the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Lucille Lortel award for outstanding playwriting.
It is about four middle-aged ‘wannabe stars’ who have the big dream of winning the Grand Barber Shop Quartet championships. But in the middle of the semifinals, their leader keels over after trying to reach a note too far.
Shortly thereafter, they happen to hear the marvelous singing of the local service station’s new mechanic. Little do the Lipitones know that what they think they are hearing is something and someone entirely different than what they imagine.
The new recruit is brought in for a tryout and that’s where the fun begins.
Price and Laughlin are currently casting for the play and have received applications from as far away as Milton, Newfoundland. They will be announcing the casting in the new few weeks.
“There is a small army of more than 50 local supporters and volunteers standing by to bring this play to Prince George,” said Laughlin.
The performances will be held at Artspace, which will be transformed into a theatre … complete with thrust stage, a full set, and the installation of tiered rows for all the chairs.
Miracle Theatre is also looking for sponsors and performance patrons to help with the financial end of things.
“We’re pleased to say that we already have our first Performance Patron in hand,” said Laughlin. “Joy McKellar, with her late husband Bob, has long been a generous supporter of good causes in Prince George. Joy has already initiated our efforts with a generous contribution.”
The United Way is thrilled to be the recipient this year of whatever funds the production raises.
“On behalf of the United Way, we are very, very excited and happy to be able to partner with Ted and Anne on this production,” said Margaret Jones-Bricker, United Way board member. “It is going to support some of the most vulnerable people in Prince George.”
The United Way supports agencies such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Prince George, the Prince George Hospice, St. Vincent de Paul, and nearly 30 other charites and 56 programs.
“Helping those who are in transition is something the United Way is very proud to be doing,” she said. “The wonderful work being done, in Prince George, due to the production by Ted and Anne is nothing short of a miracle.”
The play will run from March 2-18, 2018. Performances will be every night except Mondays and there will be Sunday matinees.
Tickets are $32 and are available at Books and Co. – in person or by phone.