Jeremie Saunders never knows where his character research might take him.
In preparing for his latest role, he spent a day interacting with young adults with a wide spectrum of intellectual disabilities at Queens County Residential Services in Charlottetown.
“It gave me an opportunity to study the physicality and speech patterns (of the residents). It was very helpful. From that moment on it really changed the rehearsal process for me,” says the Halifax-based actor who plays Robert Castle, an intellectually disabled young man, in Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun.
“It’s been very interesting getting to know him and how his thought processes work. He’s an extremely curious and caring and fascinating individual.”
Saunders is part of the new blood flowing through the arteries of the Victoria Playhouse this summer.
His fellow lead, Rebecca Griffin, also brings heart-pumping energy to the show.
A recent graduate of the Holland College School of Performing Arts (SOPA), she had her script memorized even before rehearsals started.
“This helped me to come in prepared and have time, right off the bat, to work on the characterization,” says the Saint John native who is making her professional debut this summer as Holly Fitch, a strong, independent woman in her mid-20s.
“I didn’t imagine that I would get such a large opportunity so soon. And I’ve learned so much all ready.”
Director Ted Price is pleased with the new actors who are performing alongside seasoned, talented company members Mark Fraser, Cathy Grant and Mark Stevenson.
“As the two youngest adults in the play, they have the biggest load to carry, which is not typical of many scripts. So they bring that zippity-doo-dah kind of energy, which is wonderful. They also seem to be very keen on the play that has dynamite parts for these young actors who (both) bring their vitality and commitment to rehearsals,” he says.
The show is about Holly and Robert who, through a chance meeting at a bus stop, become entwined in each other’s lives.
“It’s about his life with his mother and his friendship with a young woman with whom he relies to nurture him more and more.”
Friendship is a major theme of the play. It’s also very funny.
“This combination inspires people to be kind to each other,” says Price, who is hoping that everyone will include it in their summer plans.
“The entertainment content is so high yet the content is so worthy. I just know that people are going to come and really, really enjoy it.”
Watching as the actors rehearse a scene, everyone seems to be having lots of fun.
“I’m happy to be working with director Ted Price and this cast of such talented performers,” says Griffin.
So is Saunders who is happy to return to the stageafter winning Gemini and Canadian Screen awards for his work as host of the TV show, Artzooka.
“It’s really thrilling to be back. It’s much different than film and television. It keeps you on your toes.”
JUST THE FACTS
If you are going
What: Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun by Norm Foster.
When and where: June 26 to Aug. 3 at Victoria Playhouse.
Tickets: Call 1-800-925-2025 or go to the website, http://victoriaplayhouse.
Robert Castle (Jeremie Saunders) and Holly Fitch (Rebecca Griffin) appear in a rehearsal scene from Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun. The show plays June 26 to Aug. 3 at the Victoria Playhouse this summer. Saunders lives in Halifax with his wife, Bryde MacLean, a P.E.I. native. Fitch is from Saint John, N.B.
©GUARDIAN PHOTO BY SALLY COLE