LOCAL ARTS | Rising Tide’s Revue Rides On

LOCAL ARTS | Rising Tide’s Revue Rides On

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Rising Tide’s Revue is back! If COVID couldn’t stop provincial and federal elections then it certainly can’t stop Revue. The old gang is all set. There’s no shortage of material with 2020 and most of 2021! Come out for a hilarious and safe experience

Formed in 1978, Rising Tide in Trinity has been writing and producing political satire for decades. Now founder, executive and artistic director Donna Butt proves that even COVID-19 can’t contain the creative process, proving the show must go on.

Butt is filled with joy, even as she and others like her in the arts community face some harrowing challenges in the shadow of a pandemic.

“We had a great (theatre) season in Trinity. We had really large numbers of people – the numbers we were allowed to get in under the guidelines. But, overall,  we had a very, very successful season and that was a relief. But we don’t know what’s going to happen. I mean, you don’t know from one day to the next,” Butt opened. In spite of the current COVID climate, Butt remained positive.  

Lick’n the Carts!?

“There’s so much anxiety and stress around now for everyone, but we’ve never stopped. You have to remain positive, I mean, this is our third shot at Revue,” she shared with her recognizable what-can-you-do-about-it chuckle.  

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“We couldn’t do it in the winter as that’s when we usually hold Revue. We usually start writing it in November and then we start performing it in January. Well, the last time we did it was Snowmageddon year. One day after we opened, the storm hit and that was that. We got to have the show for a couple nights, but we only got the one night in St. John’s.”

The merry crew of enthusiastic actors and musicians waited to reopen the show, but then the pandemic struck. 

“The funny thing is when that finished, I said to everybody after we finished the tour, ‘well, guys, I guess we all know what the opening scene of the next Review is. We have so got our opening for next year because nothing worse can happen.’ And then a pandemic came. How wrong I was.” 

Of course, while she can’t give everything away, Butt is too enthusiastic to remain totally closed-lipped. 

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Chief Medial Officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has got to be in the show, she shared, as does the province’s new premier, Dr. Andrew Furey. Dr Haggie, the Minister of Health and his “don’t let them lick the carts” line, to name but one, is also in there. 

 From one liners to facial expressions, those daily COVID briefings are sure to make a satirical appearance, she offered. 

“The thing about COVID is this – obviously it’s been very disturbing and very hard on everybody. But we also try to find the fun side of it all and that’s really how we all came through it, with funny bones intact. But we clearly recognize that it’s been hard for everybody, of course. People suffered and they passed away. It’s been a nightmare.” 

Butt shared that finding the humour in the hard is truly the Newfoundland and Labrador way.

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“For anybody trying to work through it – as we had to, as have many, many others – it’s been very difficult because you never know from one day to the next. But there’s celebration too. We can do it, and we can still laugh and share and smile.”

Comedy/Musical

While this year’s Revue tour will be smaller – all the more reason to get those tickets fast and to not wait – it will still be the same quality comedy/musical show audiences have come to expect.

“In February, I got everybody out here to Trinity and we started writing the show and the plan was that we were going to open the show the middle of March.” 

Then, the plan was for the end of April, right before the start of the summer season in Trinity, she added. “The very week we started, it was the week that the cluster hit during election week – we all remember that – and I had to send everybody home. I wasn’t allowed to keep them here so we couldn’t carry on. We had to cancel the whole thing.”

They just kept keeping on, she added with a chuckle.  “I just got everybody back out to start again when we could. All we could do was keep writing, keep trying to find the joy where we can and the fun where we can and hope that someone’s going to get to see it eventually.”

What can folks expect in the show? “Obviously we’ve got lots of cool political stuff because politics have sort of  permeated all our lives – it’s just been such a major part of our lives. The provincial election – we are definitely delving into the election and all the goings on around that. 

“Obviously, we’re looking at Andrew Furey. He wasn’t there the last time we did Revue. (Ches) Crosbie’s now gone so we’re trying to figure out all of that as some new characters have found their way into politics since last we were on the stage. We’re also looking at the federal election, but that just happened so we’re still working through our material on that, but we’re definitely looking at that. We’re taking a bit of a swipe at the Greene Report, we’re trying to bring our own sort of take on that.”

The Media Circus

The media themselves “became famous” during the briefings – or at least their voices did, she added, so expect some of that to appear. “That whole set up was so bizarre. It was a strange set up, it was such a totally controlled environment. And we all tuned in.”

So much material captured on camera, she added almost gleefully.

“The new premier, Andrew Furey, looked a bit like a scared rabbit for a while and (Dr.) Haggie, well he’s always like a bull in a china shop anyway, so he didn’t care about how he came across. It was pretty clear (Dr. Fitzgerald) did not think that an election should have happened, so the way that she would try to avoid that question, but her body language was always really clear. That’s material for us of course.” 

Jim Payne and Tina Randell return. As do Michael Power and Rick Boland, just to name a few. “We got a great crowd that people are used to. I really hope that audiences come out. I think everybody needs to laugh and smile and just have some collective time together in a room where we’re feeling good. I think that in itself is an exciting event.”

Everyone will be safe, she stressed, and they will follow each and every protocol for each and every show. 

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‘A Good Time’

“Everything is controlled. Everything is being done by the rules and so it limits the number of people that are allowed in. So the only thing I would say to that is, if you want to come, go get your tickets.”

Butt says she and her merry crew are excited, in spite of the many setbacks.

“We’re really hoping that people are going to want to come out even in spite of what’s going on. Get your mask, come out, social distance and have a good time. See Revue because we won’t be doing it this winter. We’re doing it now. We’re collapsing ‘20 and ‘21 into the one show, so if you want to come and see us all and spend some time with us and hopefully have a good time, then please do come out and see the show.” The show, she added, must go on and it will all be there – comedy and music and fun for all. 

“We still want to share the show and we want people to come and see it and hopefully enjoy it. I won’t be able to give everybody a hug. I suppose that’s the only thing I find that’s really hard. But, I’ll be able to wear a mask and smile at them from a distance. That’s worth something to me.”

Butt added that even a mask can’t totally hide familiar faces or the joy felt at sharing humour with others. “There’s so many faces that we see every year. We’ve been doing this show since 1984. That kind of tells how old Rick (Boland) and I are. So we hope that people will come and share time with us. We are just going to be happy to see people.”

For more, including show times, visit www.risingtidetheatre.com

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Pam is the Managing Editor of The Newfoundland Herald. As the mother of two, she proudly writes about a life lived simply at home on 'The Rock.' When not interviewing or writing about NL's finest, Pam can be found spending her time in the great Newfoundland outdoors.

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