BACKSTAGE Premieres at The Forge At The Court Theatre, Runs October 30-November 28

The Forge at The Court Theatre is thrilled to present the world première of the latest play by Roy Smiles: the fast-paced farcical comedy BACKSTAGE.

Set in 1939, BACKSTAGE follows the antics of the Leibmans: a husband and wife vaudeville act that has been touring the US with son Danny and daughter Ruth in tow for twenty years. They are aided by Maria, who serves as dresser, confidant, surrogate parent and peacemaker for the dysfunctional family.

However, Hanna and Herb's marriage is rapidly disintegrating due to Herb's serial philandering and Hanna's rampant egomania. Combined with revelations of Danny's plans to join the Canadian air Force and Ruth's "trouble" from her liaisons with most of the band, family tensions erupt in a fast-paced, furiously funny farce behind the scenes.

Director Ross Gumbley was delighted when he received an early draft of the play. "We have a great relationship with Roy [Smiles], having staged YING TONG and the world première of YEAR OF THE RAT in the Forge in 2007, so he regularly sends us scripts he is working on. When he sent us BACKSTAGE I knew we had to produce it."

Rima Te Wiata and Paul Barrett star as warring spouses Hanna and Herb. Gumbley describes the fast-paced dialogue and Vaudeville routines staged by the two accomplished performers as "a high-wire comedic double act".

Ex-SHORTLAND STREET actress Laura Hill returns to The Forge (following her role as a kleptomaniac Irish midget in 2007's BABYLON HEIGHTS) to play Ruth (a borderline nymphomaniac with a predilection for musicians). Local improviser and comedian Dan Bain plays Danny, whose enthusiasm for fighting Nazis is stymied somewhat by his mollycoddled upbringing.

Judie Douglass plays the put-upon Maria while Forge newcomer Georgia-Kate Heard plays Betty the showgirl (and latest recipient of Herb's amorous advances). Gumbley describes the cast as a "dream team of comic actors" and is quick to praise their performances. "They deliver the rapid-fire dialogue and one-liners with perfect timing."

In another coup for The Forge, author Roy Smiles will be attending the opening night of BACKSTAGE. "He's long been wanting to fly over [from the UK] to see one of his shows at The Court and it will be an honour to have him at the world première of his latest comedy," says Gumbley.

BACKSTAGE opens in The Forge on October 30 and runs until 28 November.

BACKSTAGE by Roy Smiles
Directed by: Ross Gumbley
Cast: Rima Te Wiata, Paul Barrett, Laura Hill, Dan Bain, Judie Douglass and Georgia-Kate Heard
Venue: The Forge at The Court Theatre, 20 Worcester Blvd, The Arts Centre, Christchurch
Performance Dates: Friday 30 October - Saturday 28 November 2009
Performance Times: 6:30pm Monday & Thursday; 8pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (no show Sundays).
Tickets: Adults $30, Seniors $25, Tertiary Students $20, Group discount (10+) $20, 30U Club $12 (Mon-Wed)
Bookings: The Court Theatre, 20 Worcester Boulevard; 963 0870 or www.courttheatre.org.nz

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