It is endearing, entertaining and very humorous. The play is Miss Caledonia and it follows the dreams of 1950s’ Southern Ontario farm girl Peggy Ann Douglas, who longs to become a movie star. She pins her hopes on winning a local beauty pageant to get her started — but not just any pageant. There will be no “Miss Turnip” for her. She wants to go big time… with the Miss Caledonia contest. From there, the witty play follows the ups and downs of her quest to go from RR#2 Caledonia, Ontario to the red carpet. The play is absolutely delicious, delightful and is currently at the NAC.
Based on her mother’s life, playwright and actor Melody A. Johnson has you wrapped around her finger (or talent-show twirling baton) right from the beginning of her one-woman show, completely drawing you in. Johnson is an incredibly gifted storyteller who has you hanging on every funny word. As for her acting, there is a reason she has been nominated for so many Dora Mavor Moore Awards. She is superb. While there is a complexity of characters, she cleverly and intricately weaves through the maze of personalities and is so convincing in her transition that you forget it is only her on stage. And all of her smooth moves are brilliantly performed without costume or set changes.
Actually that said, Johnson does have one partner on stage and that is Alison Porter, who provides musical accompaniment on the violin, chiming in for effect but in a non-offensive way that adds and doesn’t distract. The music and the play just fit together.
Although the material may seem geared toward the ladies, there is so much humour that the boys in the audience will enjoy it too. While it is already a short 80-minute play, the time passes too quickly, leaving you wanting more.
This heart-warming comedy has been making the rounds across Canada from Alberta to PEI on its tour. Here’s your chance to see it at the National Arts Centre. Don’t miss it. It runs until May 25th (Tuesday-Saturday, 8 p.m. with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.) www.nac.ca
Photo Credits – Burdett Photography