Drayton Festival Theatre Presents Nostalgic Family Comedy, HILDA'S YARD

July 4 Broadwayworld.com

9:55 AM2015

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👤by BWW News Desk

The summer of laughs continues at the Drayton Festival Theatre with an uplifting comedy that's sure to keep audiences in stitches with its nostalgic look back at a seemingly simpler time. Canadian playwright Norm Foster delves into the comedic complexities of family dynamics in the 1950s with Hilda's Yard on stage now through July 18th as part of the theatre's acclaimed 25th Anniversary Season.

It's 1956 and the setting is a picturesque yet humble backyard complete with a white picket fence and fresh sheets hanging on the line. This is the story of happy empty-nesters Sam and Hilda, who are finally enjoying life on their own after their children have flown the coop.

They plan to purchase their first television set as a means of celebrating the milestone, but their empty nest isn't vacant for long when their son, Gary, hops the fence into their peaceful backyard, and propels their serene existence into a world of chaos. After losing his job, Gary finds himself turning to the comfort of home, followed closely by his sister, Janey, who has just left her husband. What follows is a hilarious situational comedy as Sam and Hilda, with their values carved in stone, attempt to bridge the generation gap, and understand their kids' perspectives.

"Hilda's Yard is a comedy about coming of age, in more ways than one," says Alex Mustakas, Artistic Director of Drayton Entertainment. "Audiences will surely get a chuckle as they recognize members of their own family in these indelible characters. This is Norm Foster at his best - funny, touching and very relatable."

In her Drayton Entertainment debut, Patti Allan leads this extraordinary cast as Hilda Fluck, a model '50s housewife on the cusp of enjoying a newly empty nest, only to be faced with one obstacle after another. Allan is both sweet and fierce, making the most of Norm Foster's witty dialogue with the dry sarcasm of a tired but tolerant wife and mother.

David Nairn delivers a nuanced performance as the loveable but old-fashioned patriarch Sam Fluck. He expertly plays the father who pretends to know best, while silently burdening escalating pressures at home and work that suggest otherwise. Nairn has years of experience with Norm Foster's plays, having directed and performed several shows alongside the Canadian playwright.

Allan and Nairn command the stage with terrific chemistry, carefully drawing the audience into their own little story of family, life and love. These seasoned artists do a great job of conveying the simple excitement for their newfound freedom as empty nesters, and subsequent bewilderment as their grown children retreat back into the house.

Alan Kliffer is appropriately affable and funny as the Fluck's oldest child, Gary, an impulsive young man who wants to succeed but can't quite catch a break because of his questionable choices. Mairi Babb's comedic charm shines as the Fluck's daughter, Janey, who is finding out just how hard marriage can be. Babb brilliantly brings the little sister dynamic to life and balances it with the grown up dilemmas of a newly married woman who longs to be more than a suburban housewife.

Brad Austin is audacious and intimidating as Beverly Woytowich, the smooth-talking neighbourhood bookie who complicates things for the Flucks, while newcomer Emma Slipp is beautiful and brash as Bobbi Jakes, a hip jazz musician and love interest for Gary.

Director Mark DuMez succeeds in mounting a hilarious and poignant production that makes the audience root for the fraught Fluck family. He expertly guides the stellar cast through all the twists and turns, fostering natural chemistry between the family members and bringing out the best in each of the talented performers. DuMez has served as the Artistic Director at the Chemainus Theatre Festival on Vancouver Island since 2009.

Hilda's backyard comes to life with Set Designer Ivan Brozic's realistic setting that has audiences believing they are in the suburbs in the '50s - complete with fake grass, fence and laundry line. Brozic's set is accentuated by Lighting Designer Lyle Franklin's backlighting, depicting the time of day subtly as the story unfolds. Costume Designer Sarah Plater Findlay completes the overall nostalgic feeling with her well-crafted period wardrobe.

Hilda's Yard is proudly sponsored by Plein Disposal Inc. Media Sponsors are 101.7 The One, Country 106.7, The Grand 92.9 FM, and The Wellington Advertiser. The Design Sponsor is Elmira Golf Club. The 2015 Season Media Sponsor is CTV.

Regular performance tickets are $42.00 for adults; $25.00 for youth under 20 years of age and groups of 20 or more are $34.00. HST is applicable to all ticket prices.

Hilda's Yard runs through July 18th. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Drayton Festival Theatre, online atwww.draytonfestivaltheatre.com or by calling the Box Office at (519) 638-5555 or toll free at 1-855-drayton (372-9866).