Bringing you the issues since 1986

View Online Print Edition


Theatre is returned to the people with dinner ... and cattle

December, 2010

AnnaMarie Lea, founder of Cow Patti Theatre Company, had a successful career in the ’80s that dwindled somewhat when she started a family and moved to her in-laws’ farm in Alberta.

It was in heaving hay over a corral to feed some cows that she slipped — “pregnant out to here,” and fell face-first in a pile of cow dung.

“I just lay there,” Lea says. “And I thought: ‘What happened to my life? I used to be on the stages in Vancouver!’ Then I thought to myself: ‘As soon as this baby is born, I’m going to start producing again.’”

Fifteen years later, Lea is leaving Ontario and returning to where it all began. But she assures everyone that this is not a swan song for her dinner theatre company in eastern Canada but rather that the gears are in motion for their coming production My Darling Judith at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Centre in Cornwall.

The production, penned by Norm Foster, is a comedy that Lea is sure will leave audiences in stitches.

“Foster is the Neil Simon of Canada,” she says. “He creates such amazing characters — real people in real situations where the audience can find a common thread with. He plays with the farcical side of life — after all, isn’t that what life is? One great farce?

“The story is a typical one: A husband wants to leave his wife but he’s too chicken to do it,” she says. “Here’s where it differs a little: He brings in a geek from work in to seduce her and get the job done for him.”

Garfield Andrews takes the role of Carl Stattford opposite Lea, who will be playing Judith Strattford. “Ten years ago, I saw Andrews play Mr. Strattford at the Upper Canada Playhouse,” Lea says. “He walked on stage — a man of about five-foot-nothing — a hilarious ball of energy. I literally sat up in my seat. I had crossed paths with Andrews in the past but never had the opportunity to work with him closely until now.”

Lea’s attitude is to ditch the “artsy-fartsy.” She is trying to create an environment for Canadian artists and people to gather. “Theatre has come back to the people — the common folk,” she says. “When I look out into the audience I see a local guy who just lost his job at a hardware store sitting next to a member of Parliament. I don’t call myself ‘artistic director’ — I’m Head Cow!”

The Annual Reality Stage Kiss Competition on Valentine’s weekend is sure to bring colour to your cheeks.

“We draw numbers and invite couples on stage. If you didn’t come with a partner, you can pick an actor. Nine out of 10 times an older couple wins. Last year, we had a couple who were in their 80s take the stage. It was hilarious. The man took off his glasses and the woman removed her shawl for dramatic effect. They won a bottle of Dom Pérignon and a trip to Esthetics by Linda — in a limo.”

“It’s more of a challenge to bring comedy to the stage,” she says. “There’s so much tragedy in the world that I feel it’s my responsibility as a producer to enlighten and uplift the audience. They walk away from the show like the characters do, better.” Cow Patti not only entertains, it gives back to the community: more than $97,000 has been donated; all organizations have to do is ask.

“We’ll do it for anyone,” Lea says. “As long as they are a non-profit organization.” Portions of proceeds from My Darling Judith will be donated to such organizations as the CIBC Run for a Cure, Water for Life, and the Senior Olympics.

Contact Cow Patti at 877-552-9166.



Post a Comment