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The not-so-easy ride off into the sunset

Dave McNorgan and Lori Hoelscher are ready to sell the farm in Theatre Wellesley’s first spring production, on this weekend.[Submitted]
Dave McNorgan and Lori Hoelscher are ready to sell the farm in Theatre Wellesley’s first spring production, on this weekend. [Submitted]
Let’s say you’ve been married for four decades and you’re ready to retire. You’ve lived on a farm for many years, but you don’t want to die there. No, you want to sell it and move to a condo, living the rest of your life in the big city.

But it’s not a simple matter of selling the house. Instead, you’re faced with neighbours, renters, house inspectors, and insurance and real estate agents of variable quality. And, of course, you have to deal with each other – you may have been married for most of your lives, but that doesn’t mean you see eye-to-eye.

Suffice it to say, Charlotte (Lori Hoelscher) and Allan (Dave McNorgan), the stars of Harvest, seem designed to ring true to many of Wellesley Township’s farm-dwelling residents. The travails of their retirement form the foundation of Harvest, Theatre Wellesley’s new production playing this weekend at the Wellesley Library.

“The husband and wife have been married for 42 years, and you don’t have to be a farming couple to identify with what they’re going through,” says star Dave McNorgan. “They’re kind of nattering with each other, but when it comes down to it, they’re really there for each other. In that way, it’s a lovely story that transcends rural/urban.”

“I think that people are going to be able to relate to the two characters,” says producer Rhonda Caldwell. “Whether you’re in that stage of life, or you’re looking at your parents or your grandparents making decisions about changing and letting go of whatever that life was that you were carrying. We know how difficult that is, and people can relate to the characters from that perspective.”

McNorgan discovered Ken Cameron’s play when auditioning for another production, and proposed it to Theatre Wellesley. The ambitious effort will reunite him with Hoelscher and director Al Strong, who collaborated on the company’s fall production, and see the stars taking on a wide range of characters.

“It’s relatively simply to stage, but work-wise, it’s humungous, because there are only two in the cast,” says McNorgan. “The past two months have been nonstop thinking about it, practicing, memorizing lines. We rehearse twice a week with our director, and Laurie and I have met a couple of times on our own just because we’ve absolutely needed it.”

The veteran cast and crew made the undertaking easier, says Caldwell. “You know you can trust the other people – they’re going to follow through, they’re going to be able to carry their part, and that makes it easier for you to carry yours.”

Though the community theatre group is known for its annual fall production, Harvest marks the beginning of what the company hopes will be a tradition of smaller, more experimental work in the spring.

“We’re doing it at the library, so we don’t need nearly the amount of audience to cover our costs,” says Caldwell. “When we go to plays in Elmira and some of those other communities, we walk away with some good feelings and introspection because not only do you have a good time, but you can also relate to the story. We thought if we were going to play with some different kinds of material, a spring show would be the way to do that.”

The show also provides an opportunity for the troupe to take advantage of the library space, which accommodates an intimate audience of 30-40.

“It’s our rehearsal space, and we’re so blessed that the township gives us this rehearsal space to work in,” says Caldwell. “We always build our set in that room to rehearse. We’ve had a dream for a very long time of being able to do a show in that room, because you basically create a stage.”

Harvest plays upstairs at the Wellesley Library (1137 Henry St.), April 25 at 8 p.m., and April 26-27 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 ($5 for students and seniors), and are available at Pym’s Village Market (119 Queens Bush Rd.) or by calling 519-897-1737.

In addition, auditions for Theatre Wellesley’s fall show will be held June 4, 7 p.m. and June 8, 2 p.m. at the library. For more information, visit www.theatrewellesley.ca.

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