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Home invaders pick the wrong spot

The Elmira Theatre Company is back next month with the world premiere of a new production, Suburban Standoff.

The play, written by national award winning playwright Michael Grant of Elmira, takes a look at the funny side of a home invasion. Premiering on Feb. 5, a young couple wants to get their hands on some extra cash, but pick the wrong house to find it in.

“Ty and his girlfriend, Candy, they have never done a home invasion before, but they attempt it. Unfortunately, they attempt it on the wrong couple. The couple seems to be much more knowledgeable about guns and violence than they are. It works out in the end, with a little bow on it, but it isn’t what they expect for sure,” said Grant of his original script.

The play itself, says Grant, comes off as a light comedy, but there is more to it than that.

“We were just doing some rehearsals last weekend, and it is a lot of character work,” he said. “It goes a lot deeper than it first seems on the surface. It definitely has layers. There will be some tender moments for sure. It is my motto to make ‘em laugh, make ‘em cry, then make ‘em go home.”

Suburban Standoff is Grant’s fourth full-length play, with his previous offering, Shorthanded, taking home the Best New Comedy Award in 2012 from the Playwright’s Guild of Canada. There wasn’t a specific event that inspired the new production, just a bit of pushing from friends.

“A friend kept asking me if I had written anything lately, and I hadn’t for months. A friend’s daughter, who I would see twice a week, kept asking me if I had written anything, and I hadn’t. One day, I finally sat down at my computer and my wife asked me, ‘what are you doing?’ and I told her I was writing a play,” he said. “I think at the time, when I began writing this in the fall of 2013, there had been a couple of home invasions that I heard about on the news and things like that. Then I thought, how can I put an interesting twist on this?”

The result was a finished script for Suburban Standoff.

Jaime Doucet, who plays Candy, is gracing the stage in her first time working with the ETC, but Grant says she fits right in with the cast of veteran actors.

“It’s a four-person cast, and they all stand out in their own way. Brandon Maxwell, Ty, has been with us on the stage numerous time. As well as Chris Grose, Tom Bolton has made numerous appearances in Elmira. It is an experienced crew for sure,” said Grant. “Newcomer Doucet has been a pleasure to work with. She comes with experience and training, so it isn’t like she came in straight off the street and had never acted a day in her life. It has been a treat.”

The play is already being passed around theatre companies across the province with another production in the works in the Niagara Peninsula. Grant says he can’t wait to see how the audience reacts to his most recent work.

“For me, I like to sit at the back and see the reaction of the crowd,” he said. “Invariably, you see it happen where you think this is going to be a great punch line, real comedy, then all of a sudden it comes and goes and it is lucky to get a chuckle. Then something else, that I might have thought of as a throwaway laugh is now bringing the house down. I sit with the audience and see what works from that so the next time I sit down and write, I can say that didn’t work, or I thought something was going to work and it didn’t. It is always a learning process.”

The ETC production of Suburban Standoff is coming into the final stretch of rehearsals, and Grant says opening night is a unique opportunity for Elmira audiences to experience a brand new show with talented actors.

“We started rehearsals in early November. For the first three or four nights, we just read the script, discussing and analyzing, then slowly putting it on stage. Now, we are on the stage, we have a set, the lights were up for the first time last week, and music decisions have been made. All the little bits are coming along,” he said. “It is the an opportunity to see the world premiere of a new play. My last play, Shorthanded, had a great crew. It pretty much sold out its entire run, so it is a chance for audiences to see something by the same writer, if they enjoyed that one.”

The play has its first showing on Feb. 5 and runs until Feb. 20 at the Elmira Theatre Company facility at 76 Howard Ave. For more information on the show, visit www.elmiratheatre.com. Tickets are available for purchase through the Centre in the Square website at www.centreinthesquare.com.

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