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The Last Resort: Preview

September 5, 2013

When artistic director Ruth Smillie was programming the Globe’s 2013-14 season, she chose to open it and close it with musicals, namely The Last Resort, book by Norm Foster, music and lyrics by Leslie Arden, and the Broadway blockbuster Man of La Mancha.

She then asked Max Reimer if he would care to stage one show or the other, and somehow, he wound up with both. “I’m a good negotiator, I guess,” says Reimer, a veteran director and choreographer who counts The Last Resort and Man of La Mancha among his favourites.

“I’m excited about both of them, for entirely different reasons,” Reimer says, citing the sheer idealism of Man of La Mancha and unabashedly expressing his patriotism in support of The Last Resort.

“It’s Canadian, and it’s truly Canadian, it’s not a Canadian adaptation,” Reimer says, warming to the subject. “People will ask, ‘Where is the great Canadian musical?’ Take a look. It’s all around us. There are many, and this is certainly one.”

In the briefest of terms, The Last Resort is set in a cabin in northern Saskatchewan and tells the story of a fugitive on the run from the mob, and a federal agent in hot pursuit. The play is essentially a murder mystery, but it’s also a farce. There is parody and satire, and there is romance and love, ranging from innocent flirtation to sexual tension. Most importantly, it is classic musical theatre. “People burst into song,” Reimer says. “It’s all about having fun with the form.”

Reimer is a great admirer of both Arden, who was at one time a student of Stephen Sondheim, and Foster, whose body of work could serve as a masterclass on the comedy genre. Reimer has staged more than a dozen of Foster’s plays, and he delights in doing both the directing and the choreography, a practice that evolved from his work at the Stratford Festival in Ontario in the 1980s.

“Foster is prolific, and evocative. He is acutely observant, and his writing has clarity,” Reimer says. “He is also courageous. He isn’t intimidated by political correctness. And all of Foster’s plays are about something. This is not Seinfeld.”

Foster’s humour is situational, circumstantial. “He isn’t just sewing together a bunch of jokes,” says Reimer. “What I like most is that it’s intelligent comedy. Comedy is all about the laughter. If it isn’t funny, you don’t laugh. The Last Resort will deliver what it’s advertising!”

The Last Resort runs from September 18 – October 6, 2013. Visit the Globe Theatre website for more details, cast information, and to purchase tickets.

Nick Miliokas is a freelance writer and editor based in Regina. You can reach him by email at rozenstern@rocketmail.com.

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