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Opera House capping summer season with Norm Foster hit comedy

Come Down From Up River 'hilariously challenges the audience to reconsider how we view relationships in our own lives'

A Norm Foster hit comedy launches at the Orillia Opera House (OOH) this week, the summer finale at one of the fastest-growing professional theatres in the country. After a solid season of audiences returning to see some of the country’s finest actors, the OOH season culminates with Foster’s Come Down From Up River.

A hallmark of Foster’s work is the ability to evoke laughter while pulling on heartstrings, and this play represents some of his best recent work.

The story centres on a logger from the Miramachi River in northern New Brunswick visiting the niece he hasn’t seen for 23 years. Shaver Bennett encounters a very different lifestyle at the home of his niece Bonnie and her wife Liv. A successful lawyer, she has built her life on her own after losing many of the people that she loved along the way. Much more than a country-mouse/city-mouse tale, this play examines the risks of assumptions and what we perceive about new ideas.

Foster looks at these concepts through his unique comedic lens, hilariously challenging the audience to reconsider how we view relationships in our own lives and recognizing ourselves on the stage.

The play is ultimately about family. The family we are born into, the family we might lose along the way — and the families that we chose to build our lives around. Navigating past grievances and finding a way forward into an uncertain future, the play finds the humour in the lives of its characters, as complicated and simple as our own.

“This story resonates with modern themes in such a refreshing way,” says Jesse Collins, director of Come Down From Up River, “and having a terrific actor who hails from New Brunswick gives it such authenticity.”

It stars Marshall Button — well known for his one-man shows based on Lucien, a New Brunswick character that has been featured on radio and stages across the country— as well as OOH veteran Alison MacKay (from Opera House productions of Plaza Suite and The Gentleman Clothier) and newcomer Cassandra Guthrie, a bright new talent on the Toronto theatre scene.

The playwright also makes his home in New Brunswick, and has for years. But the maritimes are only the setting - the themes are universal and the comedy is comfortably at home in the Gordon Lightfoot Auditorium.

Tickets are on sale now for the final show of the summer season, running at the Opera House from Aug. 17 to Sept. 2.