Wally MacKinnon is familiar with the Birds and the Bees … the play. What were you thinking?
The veteran actor from Fredericton, New Brunswick is reprising his role as Earl in the Miracle Theatre production of The Birds and the Bees, which hits the stage at Artspace on Friday – Valentine’s Day. He originally played Earl in a production at the Victoria Playhouse on Prince Edward Island. That production was directed by none other than Miracle Theatre’s Ted Price who, of course, is directing the production here.
“It’s so great to be with Ted and Anne (Laughlin) again,” he said. “I know the wonderful cause they have with the Miracle Theatre. I’m thrilled to be a part of it, all the cast is … He’s really a wonderful director to work with. I’ve worked with a lot of directors and Ted is really one topnotch ones that I’ve worked with. I’m truly honoured that he asked me.”
For the second year in a row, the Community Foundation’s The Children of Prince George Fund will be the beneficiary of all the proceeds.
The Birds and the Bees by playwright Mark Crawford has become the most produced Canadian play over the last two years. The play revolves around four characters Gail, Earl, Sarah, and Ben. MacKinnon plays Earl the next door farmer, a user of insecticides who is on his endless quest for the perfect woman.
Gail is a divorced 60-something bee keeper. She’s attempting to keep Earl at bay over his use of insecticides and his endless quest for the perfect woman. That’s when Gail’s recently separated, almost 40, turkey farmer daughter, moves back home. Sarah is in a desperate state because the ticking of her biological clock is getting louder and louder and she still remains without a child. Meanwhile a young, handsome researcher has been given the run of the place to prepare his thesis on Gail’s bees.
That’s when the fun begins. So what can audiences expect?
“They can expect to laugh a lot,” he said. “It’s a very heartwarming, funny story of commitment, love, and heartbreak. They’ll have a good laugh.”
MacKinnon is a veteran actor, who got the bug more than 30 years ago.
“It’s what I’ve been doing since I left high school,” he said. “I had a Grade 7 teacher who introduced me to it and it was ‘wow,’ that’s what I want to do … It’s just fun to be up there doing it. Even with drama, when you can hear the silence of a room because people are into it, is really something.”
Entertaining was part of his life growing up as his father and grandfather were both drummers and there were plenty of singers and actors in his family.
His credits include many, many plays as well as some film roles, working with the likes of Charleton Heston, William Hurt and Shelley Duvall. He also did the iconic Billy Bishop Goes to War.
“It’s a one-man show, two hours, it’s a big script, 12 songs, to do a big show like that, for me, was a big accomplishment in my career.”
He’s also used to playing small, intimate venues like Artspace.
“I love these intimate spaces,” he said.
While he’s worked all over the country, it’s his first time to Prince George and has been taking in sights as much as he can between rehearsals. He has known Alan Wilson, Prince George’s former chief librarian, for a number of years and Wilson has been touring him around.
The Birds and the Bees his fourth play on-stage in the past year. He also works as a director and is a musician, doing gigs around the Maritimes. After the run ends here, MacKinnon will be heading home and then it will be off to Nova Scotia to direct and play and then off to the Rustico Theatre in Prince Edward Island for a couple of plays there.
The show hits the stage at ArtSpace above Books and Company, which has undergone what has become an annual transformation to a theatre venue. The play is produced by Laughlin and directed and designed by Price. In addition a large group of supporters contribute to each production in such areas as carpentry, costumes, painting, promotion, lighting, sound, and front of house.
The Birds and The Bees will run from Feb. 12 to March 4.
Tickets are $34, at Books and Company – – available in person or by phone.