Vaudeville has made a comeback in Dawson City. Cabin of Curiosities, a play which premiered last year on a limited run at the historic Palace Grand Theatre, has been reprised by The Friends of the Palace Grand Society, a non-profit organization that presents performing arts productions that reflect Dawson’s regional identity.
“Our goal of a two-month, full run production has been achieved,” said Robin Sharp, principal writer and one of the lead actors in the play. “We only did five shows last year–this year, we’re doing 20.”
Sharp, who studied theatre for four years in Toronto, auditioned in 2018 for the role of The Collector, one of the lead roles in Cabin of Curiosities. He won the part and is once again playing that role this year. He also joined the board of directors of the Friends of the Palace Grand Society and is helping to apply for grants.
“We proved ourselves last year to funders, so now we’re getting support from the Yukon Arts Fund, Lotteries Yukon, City of Dawson and local businesses,” said Sharp. “The money helps develop the opportunity to create theatre in the Klondike. We have a lot of talent here.”
Sharp said the concept for the play is the same as last year–a young couple from the prairies find themselves stranded along the banks of the Yukon River and come upon a mysterious character known as The Collector. The couple is welcomed into The Collector’s cabin, where they are introduced to his shelf of “curiosities.” Each of these objects has a unique history and a story to tell.
The stories this year, however, are different. So is the theme.
“Last year’s theme was about disconnecting from technology,” said Sharp. “This year, the stories centre around listening to nature and not taking it for granted. There’s much more versatility and flexibility in the script. It’s slick and sharp.”
Justine Hobbs, co-director (along with local Ange Bonnici) and co-producer of the show, agreed.
“It’s the first time in a long time that the Palace Grand has a long running show,” she said. “It’s another option for something to do in town and it’s family friendly. I’m very excited about the quality of production.”
Hobbs has worked in theatre, both on and off the stage, and has a master of theatre performance.
One of the founding members of Friends of the Palace Grand Theatre, Hobbs was the preliminary writer who created the overall structure of the play in 2018. And just like last year, she said, this year’s production has something for everyone. There are poems, an Indigenous pre-gold rush perspective, modern stories and live music.
“It’s a good length (75 minutes), the live music gets the audience going and people enjoy hearing Yukon stories,” she said. “I’m very proud of the talent Dawson has to offer, both on and behind the stage.”
Cabin of Curiosities runs from Tuesdays to Thursdays at the Palace Grand Theatre in Dawson City until Aug. 15, 2019, with a matinee on Sunday, Aug. 11. Tickets are available at the door, or discounted in advance. For more information contact Chris Clarke at 867-993-3534 or [email protected]