BY GEORGE MARATOS

“We came up last year a bit hesitant and $4,000 in debt,” explains Robin Urquhart, as he sips on an organic juice outside a Whitehorse café.

“But the response was pretty overwhelming, the audiences really appreciated the show and were very generous and the actors also felt very welcomed,” smiles the co-proprietor of DreamNorth Theatre Company of his production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream last summer.

“The Yukon audience is so hearty. They sat through rain for up to half an hour and that made me really proud to be a Yukoner.”

One special moment from last year was a crash of thunder just as the character, Puck, was worrying about displeasing the gods. The audience roared its approval.

Urquhart notes the inaugural DreamNorth production at Lepage Park did not come without its challenges including a variety of hecklers, stolen costumes, loud planes flying overhead and idling vehicles.

“We also had the ‘th atre’ as the backdrop,” jokes Urquhart, referencing the Yukon theatre and the burnt-out signage. “I don’t think the cast was too put off by it, although we did have to shut one show down for half an hour because of one heckler.”

Despite the distractions associated with the Lepage Park venue, Urquhart has only positive memories from last year’s event and, for that reason, is excited to be showcasing a second season. This time, it will be the popular Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing.

Urquhart says there are a few other changes for this season; the big one being the new venue at Shipyards Park.

“We’re excited to use it and help establish it as a prime venue for shows in the future,” said Urquhart. “The Parks and Recreation folks have been great by assisting us in a variety of ways.”

Also lending a hand this season is Nakai Theatre.

“The extra publicity has been huge and that’s most likely going to help us sell more tickets and, with that, make the show that much better,” explains Urquhart. “If we keep enjoying success, we’re confident this can be an annual summer event.”

One thing that is certain is there won’t be trouble finding a cast to perform if Dream North returns for season three.

“With very little publicity throughout Toronto this winter, we still received more than 200 submissions,” explains an enthused Urquhart.

“Last year, the actors really enjoyed their experience and especially the response they received from Yukon audiences. When they went back to Toronto they told their fellow actors about it and with that a buzz was created.”

Urquhart says about half of the 10-person cast is returning from last year and he says in the future he would love to include local performers, before noting the young Yukon music group, Fiddleheads, will be providing some of the music for this year’s show.

“The Yukon per capita has got to be one of the most cultured populations,” said Urquhart. “But you don’t have to have studied Shakespeare to enjoy these plays. Outdoor theatre is tons of fun, you know, and a show in the Yukon is very exotic. There’s something very exciting about being able to produce and present a show in the Yukon and you can’t find a more beautiful setting.”

Much Ado About Nothing runs June 13, 15, 17, 18 and 19 at Shipyards Park at 7 p.m. and admission is by donation. There will be two matinees at 2 p.m. on June 14 and 21.

PHOTO: GEORGE MARATOS