P.E.I. production takes a journey to Middle Earth

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While many Islanders have been lucky to spend all or part of the winter travelling to and from warmer worlds, cast members in The Hobbit consider themselves fortunate to have been on quite a different journey.

Over the past few months, they have rehearsed their lines and done the blocking. They’ve also learned the songs in the Kim Selody adaptation of the Tolkien play. Then, after developing their characters, they have stepped into the magical world of Middle Earth.

“It’s been a fascinating journey, one that I’ve prepared myself for,” says Carl Peterson, who plays Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, which is on stage at the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico, April 2-4, 7:30 p.m.

Set in the sleepy gardens of The Shire, it’s the story of Baggins, a hobbit, whose life is turned upside down when some rowdy elves, along with Gandalf, who is a wizard, invade his tiny hobbit hole. Then, through a chain of events, the hobbit finds himself as an adventurer on a journey across Middle Earth’s Wilderland to reclaim a treasure from the dragon.

The Charlottetown actor, who has spent many hours researching the play, is thrilled about landing the lead role.

“Bilbo is an exciting character to play because he is constantly evolving. At the beginning of the play he says, ‘We hobbits are plain, quiet folk. We don’t like adventures.’

“Then, Bilbo turns into this heroic person. When everyone else shies away from the rescue missions, he steps in and does two or three (of them) for the dwarfs. By the end of the play, he’s a superhero,” says Peterson.

Stepping into the role of Bombur, who is one of the dwarfs, is a fun leap for Jenna-Marie Gallant.

“I get to change a lot about myself. My character likes to eat a lot and he doesn’t like to move. But, he ends up going on the adventure with Bilbo. So things get quite exciting,” says the Grade 9 student.

Actor David Bulger is excited about the kinship he feels with his character, Gandalf.

“I don’t think it’s actually very far from me to Gandalf. He is an elder as am I. And he is wise and I’ve always tried to be as wise as my intelligence permits. So this is the role I’ve always been looking for. It’s wonderful,” he says.

For Megan Downe, who plays a goblin, the best part of the journey is getting explore the inner workings of the Watermark Theatre.

“It’s fun how we can sneak around behind (the) stage to get on stage,” says the Grade 5 student, with a grin.

Perhaps, the journey has been the most demanding for Rebecca Parent, who has the responsibility of directing 30 goblins and five dwarfs, as well as five other characters in the play.

“The biggest challenge is the numbers. We have so many people. And they move around a lot.

“For example, having five dwarfs on stage at the Watermark with four different entrances and audience members on three sides, makes it trickier to direct

traffic.

“So I’m the director but I’m directing traffic,” says the actress, who performed in last season’s productions at the Watermark Theatre, adding she is enjoying the journey.

“It’s been a learning experience from beginning to end.

“It’s my first time directing, so I’m not only taking on a different role, as the person who oversees the actors, we have the added elements that we have youth from the community (in the show) as well as seniors who have

been part of the community theatre productions that the

Watermark, formerly the Montgomery Theatre, has put on each year.”

Working on The Hobbit is also a personal journey for Peterson, who teaches at École St-Augustin in Rustico.

“I recently moved back to P.E.I., and one of my goals was to get back into theatre. I did a lot of theatre when I was young. So, when the director called me, I jumped at the chance.”

AT A GLANCE

If you are going

What: The Hobbit.

When and where: The Watermark Theatre in North Rustico, April 2, 3 and 4, getting underway at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: Available at the door, by donation, on a first-come first-serve basis. It is recommended that people arrive early.

Facts: Produced by the Watermark Theatre, the show features members of the Star of the Sea Dramatic Society and students from Gulf Shore Consolidated School.

Fundraiser: To support the production, raffle tickets are being sold for a $1,000 home heating fuel prize from Pineau’s Fuels.

Organizations: The Watermark Theatre, Grade 5, Montgomery Theatre École St-Augustin Sea Dramatic Society

Geographic location: Middle Earth, North Rustico, Charlottetown Rustico

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