Self Help written by Norm Foster at the Studio Theatre Perth

Self Help

Accomplished area actresses converge on Perth’s Studio Theatre stage for frantically funny farce

-C. Lee Bates

March 31 & April 1, 2, 8, 9, 2016 at 8:00 pm
April 3 & 10, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Cindy (Krista Duff) chats with her agent (Annette Huton) while Bernice the maid (Jenny Pfitzer) eavesdrops

L to R: Cindy (Krista Duff) chats with her agent (Annette Huton) while Bernice the maid (Jenny Pfitzer) eavesdrops.

Following hard on the heels of A foot – Playwright Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot, to be precise – Studio Theatre Perth’s current fun-filled production is a farce, this time by Canada’s own beloved Norm Foster.

Self Help, penned by Foster in 2002, received rave reviews from critics when it had its world premiere with Aquarius Theatre in Hamilton, Ontario: “You are in for a belly full of laughs…from Canada’s preeminent . . . prolific . . . and most produced comic playwright.”

Hal and Cindy Savage, a married couple who also happen to be a pair of unsuccessful actors, love the theatre but lament their ongoing dreary existence in out-of-the-way, second-rate dinner theatres. It just seems they are making neither artistic nor financial progress in their chosen profession. Cindy has an idea, inspired by a self-help book she disdainfully tosses aside, remarking that they – she and Hal – could easily transform themselves into advice gurus, given their smarts and superior acting skills.

Fast forward to the Savage’s luxurious home seven years later and we have the setting for Foster’s witty and fast-paced farce, Self Help, featuring a cast of six characters, plus a “stiff” who we never actually see in the flesh – thankfully, since it’s part of his anatomy that much of the humour revolves around – so to speak.

Perth audiences are in for a treat as three of Eastern Ontario’s most veteran female actors share the stage with audience faves Lucas Tennant, Grey Masson and Martin Treffers in this gut-splitting romp.

Krista Duff takes on the role of Cindy Savage, wife to Tennant’s Hal. “I love Norm Foster plays, particularly his comedies [and] I wanted another chance to have David Parry as a Director,” says Duff. “David Parry is a wonderful Director to work with,” echoes Pfitzer. Huton has also worked with Parry on stage and was motivated by the opportunity to be directed by him.

In an interesting twist, both Pfitzer and Huton have performed in Self Help previously, each with her own hometown theatre company, and enjoyed the show so much they did not hesitate to join friends in a Studio Theatre production of what Huton refers to as a “hilarious play.” In Merrickville, she played the maid, Bernice, and is currently cast as the Savage’s hard-nosed talent agent.

Pfitzer played Cindy Savage in Almonte several years ago, and has now stepped into the role of the divinely ditzy Bernice. Duff also loves the play, referencing “the great one-liners,” along with “the comradery of the wonderful cast and crew.” Pfitzer agrees: “They are exceptional people – fun, talented and kind,” while Huton adds, “It has been nothing but a positive experience and everyone involved has been fabulous.”

All three women have performed in several Studio Theatre shows over the years and agree that their return for Self Help is a testament to the company – “an amazing organization,” says Pfitzer, who sparkled in last summer’s hit, Cemetery Club. Huton returned to the Perth stage in the crowd-pleasing The Game’s Afoot after a five-year hiatus and enthuses, “I am hoping that I will get to come back and play again soon!” Duff, also seen in The Game’s Afoot, shares a final bonus the Self Help experience has provided: “kissing a much younger man!”

During the run of this play, the Studio Theatre’s lobby art gallery will feature art works created by special needs students as part of a program called Without Exception: Exceptional Art from Beautiful Minds. Founded in 2008 by art teacher Sarah Jaynes, Without Exception highlights and shares the talents of special needs artists from all over eastern Ontario. Revenue from the sale of merchandise supports students and families in difficulty within the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario through the Good Samaritan trust fund.

Tickets

Opening Night Special: March 31 Only – $18 in advance or $20 at the door

All other performances $22 at:

  • The Book Nook, 60 Gore St. E. (cash only);
  • Tickets Please, 39 Foster St. (613) 485-6434, ticketsplease.ca and;
  • Shadowfax, 67 Foster St 613-267-6817, shadowfax.on.ca. (credit cards accepted, convenience fee applies.)

Or $24 at the door; $10 rush seats at the door for students with ID, subject to availability.

Self Help rehearsals with our newly painted set.Self Help rehearsals

Self Help Maid Walking Away