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Pair of Drayton actors up for comedy awards

Alan Kliffer (centre) recently starred in Drayton Entertainment’s production of Hilda’s Yard at the Drayton Festival Theatre. He’s up for a pair of Canadian Comedy Awards for Mixed Comedy, an improv show running at the Comedy Bar in Toronto. [Submitted]
Alan Kliffer
Terry Barna

A pair of Drayton Entertainment stars are up for Canadian Comedy Awards.

Terry Barna, set to play Speed in The Odd Couple at the Dunfield Theatre in August, got the nod for best male performance in a TV series for his work on the hidden camera show Meet the Family.
And Alan Kliffer, most recently appearing as Gary in Hilda’s Yard at the Drayton Festival Theatre, received nominations for best variety act and best live performance for Mixed Company, a production that blends improv and scripted theatre at the Comedy Bar in Toronto.

Kliffer, a 29-year-old Winnipeg native, is already an accomplished improv and musical theatre performer, having graduated from Toronto’s Randolph Academy, spent time with Second City and launched his own production company. The role in Hilda’s Yard is his first in a traditional play, and it’s been a great experience so far, he said.

“It’s been quite freeing. I’m used to sketch comedy, and I think of a play, especially a Norm Foster play and Hilda’s Yard, kind of as sketch comedy because there is so much comedy that goes on in it. So for me, doing this play, I call on my improv training and my comedy training.”

He added, “while it certainly takes a great actor to pull off a musical, I feel like being in a play is kind of like real acting, where you are delving in even deeper because you don’t have the layers of song to hide behind. Of course, it takes great acting chops to pull off a great song in a musical, but in a play you don’t have those layers and it’s a greater challenge to keep the audience engaged and interested.”

Hilda’s Yard is the story of a couple of empty nesters set in 1956. Hilda and her husband Sam are all set for a blissfully quiet retirement when the kids-not so youthful anymore- suddenly return back at their doorstep, and hilarity ensues.

So far the show has been a big hit, Kliffer said.

“I think Mark (DuMez) our director, has done such a great job in directing the show and keeping everyone on their toes and keeping everyone really involved in the story. I really enjoy hearing people’s laughter and hearing people react to the story because it is so cool making the audience feel something like that.”

Kliffer is also still involved with the ongoing production of Mixed Company in Toronto, which he is hoping will take home a pair of Canadian Comedy Awards when the results are announced at the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon in Toronto, on September 13.

“Mixed Company pairs actors, who are all scripted on a scene with an improviser who acts as an unscripted scene partner,” Kliffer said. “So basically the actor will go line by line on their script, while the improviser will make up all of their dialogue until the actor feels it’s a good time to insert their next line.”

It’s been a popular show, running for more than two years now and attracting stars like Colin Mochrie (Whose Line is it Anyway), Sean Cullen (Royal Canadian Air Farce) and Scott Thompson (Kids in the Hall) to the stage.

Hilda’s Yard ran at the Drayton Festival Theatre until July 18, and The Odd Couple will run August 12-29 at the Dunfield Theatre in Cambridge. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.draytonentertainment.com.

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