A Modern Spin on a Beloved Classic
Redeemer’s spring mainstage production of Robert Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals put contemporary and Christian angles on a classic English satire

“We laugh to think of the foolishness of a woman who can only love a man much poorer than herself. But really, how neutral can any of us be on the subject of wealth? Is it true that money means nothing where love is concerned?”

These compelling questions are asked in the opening paragraph of the director’s note in the printed program for The Rivals, Redeemer’s spring mainstage production. Directed by well-loved theatre arts professor Raymond Louter and performed over a week’s span in mid-March, Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s eighteenth century comedy of manners was given a modern spin by a talented cast and crew.

“Evocative paintings of both the set and the paintings in the apartments help establish the vibe of a wealthy American resort town.”

Rather than the traditional English resort town of Bath, Louter — along with fellow professor Sharon Klassen and design consultant Danny Ventura — decided to set the play in Palm Springs, California. “Evocative paintings of both the set and the paintings in the apartments help establish the vibe of a wealthy American resort town where the ‘richy-rich’ play their games,” he notes. The Rivals originally satirized the wealthy upper class of England; setting the play in the present added an extra element of intrigue. Audience members came away from performances with a sense of Sheridan’s wit but also a contemporary take on the issues of wealth and love in society — begging the question: are we really any different today?

Redeemer’s theatre arts program continues to provide unique opportunities to Christian students in Canada’s theatrical education landscape. With a cast of 12 students and a crew of nearly 20, each mainstage offers a chance for students to gain crucial hands-on, practical experience. Redeemer’s next production will be performed in the fall of 2017.

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