Hotbed Hotel offers hot comedy at UCP


Audiences ‘checking in’ to Hotbed Hotel, Upper Canada Playhouse’s 2012 summer season opener, can anticipate a ‘stay’ that’s filled with zany guests, colossal misunderstandings and impossibly funny situations.

The only guarantee at this one-star hotel is that you won’t actually die laughing: it may just be a near thing. 

The production, which features a large and talented cast of nine, is being directed by Playhouse artistic director Donnie Bowes, and opens on June 7 running until July 1.

“This is a very funny Michael  Parker farce,” Bowes said. “It’s the third one we’ve produced at the Playhouse by Parker. The other two, which audiences thoroughly enjoyed, were the Amorous Ambassador and the Sensuous Senator

Parker, an Englishman now living in the United States, has all the gags and the crisp dialogue of traditional English farces in his very popular plays.”

Bowes has assembled a stellar cast for the Playhouse’s summer opener. 

“This show demands every skill an actor has,” Bowes said. “The pace is vital. The characters never have time to stop, think or reason, because that, of course, would destroy the humour.”

As the owners of a  dilapidated ‘one star’  hotel in the Florida Keys, Terri and Brian Cody are desperate to convince a New York buyer to commit. The problem is, he hasn’t actually seen the property. He is also under the impression that there are lots of paying guests staying at the hotel as well as a functioning and efficient staff.

And he is showing up to inspect the site within the hour, not in two weeks as originally planned. 

“That sets up the problem,” director Bowes laughed. “The characters begin making decisions that they will definitely come to regret. Those hasty decisions lead to ever increasing misunderstandings and confusion.”

Debra Hale, who plays Terri Cody, explained that her character “wears the pants”  where this husband and wife are concerned.  She is determined to see the sale through and ropes some of the hotel’s more colourful characters into the scheme. 

“I’m the manager in name only,” laughed Timm Hughes. “Poor Brian, the husband, has no control over anything at this hotel. He just ends up going along.”

Retuning to the Playhouse is AnnaMarie Lea, in the role of maid Maureen. “I think she’s just off the cabbage farm, in her first job, with no idea how to do it. When they also make her room service and reception, well, it’s more than she can handle.”

New comer to the Playhouse but a renowned stage veteran is Mo Bock, as maintenance man Hopkins. 

“Hopkins’ primary objectives in life are to stay employed, to stay drunk and to get it on with the ‘Barracuda’,” Bock grinned.

“The Barracuda” is played by Susan Greenfield. “She is actually a real guest at the hotel, who returns yearly for a week pursuing any and every man within reach.  They’re all fair game,” Greenfield said.

“The Barracuda is a character totally unlike Susan, of course,” Bowes immediately said, to much cast laughter.

Doug Tangney returns to the stage in the role of the long-winded, often befuddled Major Posenby, a retired guest staying at the hotel. “He really wants to help the Codys, it just goes very wrong,” Tangney explained.

Richard Bauer is Sam Lewis, “the prospective New York buyer and a bit of a prude. Although he does have a secret or two of his own.”

“I’m one of those secrets,” laughed newcomer Erin MacKinnon, who plays Sam’s travelling companion, Ashley. “While I can’t say too much, through no fault of her own, Ashley keeps misplacing her clothing.”

Brenda Quesnel, as Dorothy, also can’t “say too much. I’m sweet and charming. Is that cryptic enough?”

The impressive set for this show was designed by John Thompson, with lighting by Sean Free. 

Backstage at Hotbed Hotel is “almost as exciting as on stage in a farce,” Bowes explained. “There are a number of physical gags that have to be rigged (audiences love these) and the set itself is very complex with multiple doors leading to multiple areas. It takes a long time to lift this kind of show off the page.”

“There are complicated props and tricks and hand-offs,” said stage manager Liz Campbell. With ASM Alice Barnett and production intern Liam Collins, this crew is very busy. “Timing is vital, and everything has to be precise, everyone in place. It’s like trying to track a pinball at times.”

What this all means for audiences, however, is side splitting fun in a top notch theatre production. 

Contact Upper Canada Playhouse (613-543-3713) and check in to Hotbed Hotel.

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