He had been in Baked Café for only one minute and had already said hi to three people, and one of them got a hug.
However, “Some people see me in the street and they just wave as if I hadn’t been gone for four years,” says Michael Clark, the former artistic director of Nakai Theatre.
He has returned to Whitehorse — temporarily, yet triumphantly —
with a successful play, The Mighty Carlins.
As the artistic director of Workshop West Theatre, in Edmonton, he oversaw the premiere of Collin Doyle’s play. It was Clark’s first with the company and it sold out nine of 11 shows, received four five-star reviews and earned four nominations for the local Sterling Awards.
“There were lineups out the door waiting for tickets,” says Clark today. “It was an artistic director’s dream.
“It was the first play I wanted to direct and it was the first play I did direct.
“I got a dream cast,” he continues, explaining that the writer, an Edmontonian, had three voices in mind as he wrote the play, “… and I got all three of the voices”.
One of them, John Wright, won a Sterling Award for best lead performance in this play. He has come to Whitehorse to reprise the role of Leo Carlin, the family patriarch, who is a retired slaughterhouse worker.
“He’s irrepressible, indomitable and his kids have huge issues with him,” says Clark. “His character is so fierce, but John [the actor] is a softy.”
One of the voices that Clark had in his head for one of the sons, Mike, a petty criminal, was that of a Saskatoon actor, Josh Beaudry.
“It’s perfect casting,” says Clark. “He has the physical qualities and has chops as an actor.”
Local actor/director/teacher, Brian Fidler, plays the youngest son, Davey Carlin, a security guard and aspiring porn star. He was hired by David Skelton, Nakai Theatre’s artistic director who designed the set, costumes and lighting.
“Brian’s perfect for the part,” says Clark. “He’s so versatile and plays to his strengths and his particular comedic gifts.”
The belly laughs of the first act depend on these three men coming across as dastardly as possible: “They have no redeeming qualities,” says Clark.
“They do and say awful things.
“Just when you think they can’t push it any further, they do.
“They are an alcoholic man and his two loser sons who get together to commemorate the death of their wife and Mom who died of alcoholism.”
Are the sons alcoholics, too?
Clark thinks for a moment and then says he is not sure … but there is a lot of drinking onstage.
“We would get curtain call after curtain call and the boys, at some point, would have to leave because they all have to pee so bad.”
The second act takes a sharp turn to the dark side as it takes an unflinching look at alcoholism, says Clark.
The play will be presented at the Old Fire Hall, a venue that is getting more and more of a workout from Nakai Theatre.
The performers will be on the floor while the audience will be in raised seating.
“It’s a parlour piece,” says Clark. “It fits like a glove.
“I’ve had my eyes on that building the whole time I was up here.
“It took the Canada Games to make it happen.”
The play runs Wednesday to Saturday, March 18 to 21, and March 25 to 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the Yukon Arts Centre box office and Arts Underground.
PHOTO: RICK MASSIE firstname.lastname@example.org