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Secrets abound in Sondheim play

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Elaborate sets? Costumes? Song? It’s all too much.

Resonator Theatrical, a St. James theatre company, hits the stage this week with an adaptation of the 1973 film The Last of Sheila as part of Manitoba Theatre Centre’s SondheimFest 2013.

It’s also the only non-musical production in this year’s festival, which celebrates the career of eight-time Tony award-winning composer Stephen Sondheim, known for penning West Side Story and Sweeney Todd.

"The extent of my ‘musical experience’ begins and ends with being in the chorus line dance ensemble of my high school musical 15 years ago," director Kim Hamilton laughed in an interview last week.

What audiences will get instead is a relatively simple conceit: a rehearsal set and a bunch of actors. And that’s not just the venue and cast. It’s the plot.

Adapted from a screenplay Sondheim wrote with his long-time friend Anthony Perkins, The Last of Sheila centers on an eccentric producer, Clinton, who has called a B-list group of actors to workshop scenes of his new script about the mysterious hit and run death of his wife.

As the rehearsal wears on, the actors soon realize they’re merely pawns in another one of Clinton’s many games — one that involves their past secrets as Clinton tries to figure out whom among them is responsible for killing his wife.

"Everyone has a secret they don’t want people to know about," said Hamilton, who has been running rehearsals for the show out of her parent’s Charleswood basement since November.

"Sometimes, they’re big, most of the time, they’re not. But we all have at least one."

The seven-piece ensemble is rounded out by Edwing Juarez, Aaron Hughes, Leanne Smith, Warren Ellis, Heather Forgie, Cheryl Gensiorek, and Daniel Pop.

The Last of Sheila runs Jan. 22 to Feb. 2 at the Rudolf Rocker Cultural Centre at 91 Albert St. in the Exchange District. Showtimes are at 7 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sat., Jan. 26 and Sat., Feb. 2.

Tickets are $15 and will be available at the door. For more info and tickets, call 204-219-8616 or see www.facebook/ResonatorTheatrical.

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