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Bedtime Stories director has never stopped believing

April, 2011

Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing calls the actors to order.

Director Ricky Zurif has been doing her best to settle them down, but it’s barely a week till opening night, the community-theatre equivalent of Christmas Eve.

The Lakeshore Players’ production of Norm Foster’s Bedtime Stories begins with Journey’s song on the radio, and the players tune in and out throughout the show.

Don’t Stop Believing could be a community-theatre anthem, as Zurif well knows. She studied scriptwriting at Columbia University and has worked in the industry for decades, founding and running a South Shore company for some time. Her belief in and passion for entertainment is clear, and she’s excited about Bedtime Stories.

Nine years ago, as a member of the committee that chooses plays the company will put on, she searched online to see what other small troupes in the world were performing. This allowed her to get a sense of which plays allowed rights to amateur companies.

She found Bedtime Stories and the Lakeshore Players made their choice, only to be told that rights for that other group were given in error—Bedtime Stories was only to be performed by professionals. That year, another play was performed.

But Zurif wasn’t going to let The Man win. She called the firm that manages rights to the scripts and forced her case.

And here they are. Zurif’s proud grin is contagious.

Foster’s play tells six stories in six bedrooms, the occupants of which are subtly—and sometimes not so subtly—intertwined. An estranged wife. A shock rocker. An exotic dancer ...

Director Ricky Zurif (in black) is flanked by members of the cast of Norm Foster’s Bedtime Stories. The 15 parts in the comedy are played by nine actors. Photo: Hayley Juhl

“It’s an extremely moral play in the sense that it speaks for love,” she says. “It’s the kind of humour that appeals to any age. It’s not generation-specific. There’s not one thing in it that won’t appeal to someone.”

The 15 parts are played by nine actors, which means a few quick changes behind the scenes. But it’s not just the actors who must shift gears through production. The sound guy uses the stage manager’s laptop. The person in charge of publicity also does costuming.

Zurif waves her hand to indicate their rehearsal space. The set pieces aren’t here, in the small Dorval chalet where they rehearse, but chairs and tables mimic what will be seen on stage.

The talent wanders through the room, chatting with each other, pushing up the mercury on the excitement thermometer.

“The stripper’s not here yet,” someone says.

Soon Zurif will have to take her place, attempt to call them all to order, and start the music to cue their lines.

“Everything you hear, everything you see had to be thought out. Some things were more of a challenge than others.”

She’s still smiling; she seems to be smiling most of the time.

“I’m thrilled to direct this because it still makes me laugh.”

Bedtime Stories, directed by Ricky Zurif and produced by Luanna Venditti, runs April 7 to 16 at John Rennie High School, Louise Chalmers Theatre, $16-$24. 514-631-8718



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