"Revue 2010"

Ever-evolving script highlights year’s top stories

Published on January 8, 2011

With less than a week to go before Rising Tide Theatre’s anticipated “Revue 2010” opens across the province, the script is still being written. It’s not the theatre company’s fault — every local issue it had written about seems to take a drastic turn and has to be rewritten at the last minute, starting with the resignation of the show’s main character, former premier Danny Williams, early last month.

Health Minister Jerome Kennedy’s potential run to replace Williams? Not happening.

Bitter salary negotations with the province’s doctors? Resolved.

Purity Factories strike? Over, as of earlier this week.

“It’s incredibly hectic right now,” said show co-founder and producer, Donna Butt.

“The normal process is that most of the show gets written before Christmas, and then we take a bit of time to do a little editing, but this year, it’s tricky.”

This is the 26th year for Revue, which has been producing a satirical look at the province’s goings-on without missing a single year since 1984. Started as a series of five shows at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre, “Revue” now spends more than a month on the road, touring communities across the island and in Labrador.

While Williams has left politics, he’ll still be featured on stage, as the cast holds him a grand old Irish wake.

“We went back and looked at what things Danny was involved with over the year that would still be legitimate stories,” Butt explained.

“Clearly, we’ve got a huge piece on Muskrat Falls, which was certainly one of the biggest political events of the year. It’s a big piece and, I hope, lots of fun, but we still have to make a lot of changes to that scene.”

Kennedy — who was front and centre in last year’s “Revue,” dealing with the H1N1 crisis — is also still featured (“He’s like a good theatre character, Butt said), played by Jim Payne, although many of his scenes are being rewritten, too.

“I think there was a strong feeling that he was going to run (for Tory leader), and there was some thought that Tom Marshall would run. We proceeded to write these scenes around Kennedy. We had a whole piece done on an extreme makeover, trying to turn Jerome Kennedy into somebody else, trying to take some of the edges off him, but now he’s not running, so we’re trying to revisit how to position all those things.”

Premier Kathy Dunderdale, played by Amelia Manuel, was already in the show as natural resources minister, but more room was made to include her. A “MacBeth”-type scene on the three female party leaders — Dunderdale, Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones and NDP Leader Lorraine Michael — is prominent in “Revue.”

Butt said although this would be the perfect time to go after the Liberal party with satire, the theatre company is being especially mindful of Jones’ ongoing battle with breast cancer.

“We’ve got to be careful we don’t do anything that is in any way, or could be construed in any way, as bad or insensitive to that,” Butt said. “She’s going to be in the show because we can’t not have her, she’s a political figure and she’s the leader of the party, but it’s (a situation) we’re really manoeuvring around.”

Hurricane Igor’s ravage of the island is another tricky topic, but one the cast couldn’t leave out as one of the main stories of 2010. The hurricane hit the province in late September, causing flooding, damage to roads, a significant loss of private property, and even the loss of one life: 80-year-old Allan Duffett of Random Island, who died after being swept away by the current while standing in a driveway.

Butt, who lives in Trinity Bight, an area particularly hard hit by the storm, said she understands the sensitivity of the issue, but led the cast in trying to find some lighthearted aspects on it, looking back.

“We try to find the fun and the mischief and that ability to laugh at certain aspects of these,” she said. “We have a song that Jim wrote that is quite lovely and captures the feeling well, so it kind of counterbalances some of the fun.

“We have an Igor character (played by Rick Boland), and we found some fun in the Army, all these people showing up and what that was like. It doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize there was also damage done.”

It wouldn’t be the first time “Revue” has been criticized for being offensive, Butt said. Writing 30 or 40 different scenes and presenting them to an audience of thousands almost guarantees you an offended viewer, but it can’t be helped.

“You can always hope you don’t, but I don’t know, in this age of political correctness, that you could pick any topic that somebody couldn’t say, ‘I’ve just gone through something like that.’ But it is comedy, and I don’t think people come to ‘Revue’ expecting (it to be serious). It’s not our intent to offend — we’re really really trying to look back in a fun way at the year that was, and offering a little of our thoughts about all of those stories.”

Other events parodied include the escape of two inmates from Stephenville’s West Coast Correctional Centre last September; global warming; the province’s ever-growing moose population; WikiLeaks, and a UFO sighting over Harbour Mille last January.

The “Revue 2010” team includes Butt, Boland, Payne and Manuel as well as Rory Lambert, Tina Randell, John Sheehan and Berni Stapleton.

The show opens at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre Jan. 13, and will travel to Carbonear, Stephenville, Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor, Gander, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador West, Clarenville, and Bonavista before ending up in Trinity Feb. 26.

Tickets are $25; $23 for students and seniors. More information is available online at