John Nolan has done it again! Nolan is the writer and director for the very successful dinner theatre production, ‘The Idaho Kid at the Waverly’ presented by the Tommy Douglas Performing Arts Centre at the King George Hotel in Weyburn.
“Our history defines us as a people. We must honour it if we are to appreciate our ancestry and heritage,” states Nolan. With humour, song and acting that is exactly what the ‘Idaho Kid at the Waverly’ accomplishes. It brings to life issues of the day and speaks to the role of women during the era in which it is set.
The Idaho Kid is young cowboy who comes to Weyburn to have some fun and stir things up a little. His sidekick and wife accompany him. He is bold as brass and has a wandering eye – which lands him in trouble with more than one character.
The story is set in the time when “temperance women” were actively pointing out the temptation of alcohol. Led by an outspoken, stalwart woman, the group sang their way through the production, giving new life to old time hymns such as, ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’. What the women lacked in singing ability was more than made up for in the passion with which they sang. They kept the audience amused with their vocal range and facial expressions.
At the local drinking establishment, the Waverly, ladies of questionable moral background were also under fire from the temperance women. Local politicians soon gave in to pressure and informed the owner, a woman, a lock would be placed on the door. As a woman, the owner had no voice and no vote.
In the meantime, the Idaho Kid enjoys the company of the ladies from the Waverly and the entertainment at the bar. A cowboy on horseback (on a live horse) enters the establishment and sings to patrons and women.
The play continues with set changes and the introduction of various characters from the era, including a travelling preacher who holds a ‘meeting’. All the characters attend and are enthralled by the message that Reverend Tobias Fitzgerald delivers. His preaching and specially made elixir manages to cure a young man inflicted with pain from drinking.
The temperance women are captivated by the good reverend and liberally purchase and sample his elixir. Their hymn singing becomes quite comic as they feel the effect of the ‘medicine’.
A singing postman, three town drunks, the NWMP and other characters round out the production. The girls from the Waverly end the performance with a rousing cancan dance.
The Idaho Kid at the Waverly played to a sold out crowd for its six performances, with a substantial waiting list for last minute tickets. The performances took place in the historic King George Hotel, Weyburn, built in 1898. It was the perfect venue for the tale.
The evening began with a meal prepared in-house by Fitzgerald’s Pub and Grill. Three cheese cauliflower and red pepper soup, a mixed greens and strawberry salad and the main course, a choice of Rib-eye steak, chicken cordon blue or poached salmon, accompanied by a stuffed baked potato and grilled zucchini and carrots were served. Beverages of choice were also available.
There was solid support given by business sponsors of Weyburn, the cast and crew, government agencies and many others working together that made the theatrical event possible.
Hotel owner, Dustin McFadden was enthusiastic about the production, saying, “It’s great. I love it. We need to be trying new ideas. I don’t think there has been a dinner theatre held in a bar anywhere in the area.”
The talented actors and creative crew took on the challenge of bringing to life characters that lived in historical fact, and represented real people who existed during that era.
Watch for more productions by the Tommy Douglas Performing Arts Centre in the future. Be sure to get your tickets early, as they will surely go fast!