THE big news at Rainbow Stage is not the shows it will revive for its 2012 season but the local actors it has chosen to make their debut as directors.
The outdoor summer theatre company will present Footloose June 18-July 8 and Annie Aug. 9-31. Actor Carson Nattrass will make his professional debut as the director of Footloose (Rainbow Stage in 2003), about a young Boston man transplanted to a southern town where dancing and rock music are banned. Singer/actor Donna Fletcher will direct Annie (Rainbow Stage in 1987) and become the first local female to helm a show for the Kildonan Park-based troupe in its 57-year history.
"It's really a big deal for me," says Nattrass, 32. "Faces like mine tend to be directing at the fringe festival not on the big stage."
It's a career break for both performers who are stepping up to bigger opportunities in larger venues.
"I've been bugging Rainbow Stage for over 10 years now, says Nattrass, whose Rainbow credits include Hairspray, Cats, Peter Pan, Good News, Grease (was assistant director) and Miss Saigon. "It's been a while coming. I've been preparing for this for years."
For Fletcher the assignment allows her stage career to come full circle. She and her Annie choreographer Kimberley Rampersad were both in the musical about Little Orphan Annie in 1987.
"It means a lot to me," says Fletcher who has directed with Dry Cold Productions (Sweeney Todd, The Light in the Piazza and Nine) where she is co-artistic director "This is fitting. It's a show I did as a young wannabe. It's the culmination of a journey with Rainbow Stage."
There have been only two other female directors ever at Rainbow, including Toronto's Tracey Flye, who helmed Hairspray last August.