Lake Nora Arms

Mitch Smolkin, Jennifer Higgin and Sarah Boucher. Photo by Dennis Horn.



NNNN "The rhythms of life, love and longing swirl evocatively in Jane Miller and Brian Quirt’s rich and sensitive adaptation of Michael Redhill’s book of poems... Miller’s songs - alternately playful and profound - connect with the soul." - NOW Magazine "Lake Nora Arms is superbly staged and lit by director Stuart Scadron-Wattles. There is no story as such here, rather we see fragments of the past, and the staging, blocking, lighting and vocal music are so carefully crafted that one feels that sliding into the water of Lake Nora is not only possible, but essential." – Kitchener-Waterloo Record "Comfy as a Muskoka chair, soul-nurturing as an August sunset and as elegantly poured as the perfect cottage-country cocktail, this adaptation of Michael Redhill’s 1993 book of poetry conjures rustic nostalgia amidst the clamour of city life. The relaxed and good-natured performances - the verse is spoken and sung a cappella - come together as if friends were jamming in the backyard after dinner. But, oh, what talented friends. Composer Jane Miller, especially, sings with the crystal clarity of the water tidily breaking for a diving bird." - Eye Magazine

LAKE NORA ARMS Adapted by Jane Miller and Brian Quirt from the book by Michael Redhill

In the atmosphere of an old cottage country hotel, warm summers of lakeside living are recalled in this a capella musical based on Redhill's 1993 book of poems. Lyrical songs and richly spoken words bring the fog of the lake, a swim on an unbearably hot day, birdsong, a sunset on water and a solitary walk to poignant memory. This is an evocative, beautiful work that rings with innocence, regret, longing and life lived. A perfect beginning to summer, and a wonderful way to remember a past that is just out of reach. Michael Redhill's original book is published by House of Anansi. Lake Nora Arms was developed by Nightswimming, which commissioned the score by Jane Miller. We have been greatly assisted by the many singers and actors who have participated in workshops, and particularly David Matheson, Workshop Musical Director and Co-Arranger. Developmental workshops for Lake Nora Arms were produced by Naomi Campbell and directed by Brian Quirt for Nightswimming. Lake Nora Arms received a public reading as part of the National Arts Centre (Ottawa) On the Verge New Play Reading Festival 2004 and was first presented at Buddies in Bad Times' 1996 Rhubarb! Festival. Special thanks: Christine Brubaker, Alex Fallis, Peggy Mahon, Jay Turvey, David Matheson, Nancy Webster, Lise Ann Johnson, Sky Gilbert.

Production History

Summerworks Festival, Toronto - produced by the Lake Nora Collective August 7-16, 2009 Directed by Liza Balkan Featuring Neema Bickersteth, Alex Fallis, Susan Henley, Ken McClure and Jane Miller Stage Management by Katarzyna Misztal Set Design by Lindsay Anne Black Sound Design by Thomas Ryder Payne Lighting Design by Michelle Ramsay Theatre & Company, Kitchener May 12 to June 4, 2005 Text & Lyrics by Michael Redhill Adapted by Jane Miller & Brian Quirt Composed by Jane Miller Musical Arrangements by David Matheson & Jane Miller Directed by Stuart Scadron-Wattles Musical Director: Jacqueline Sadler Featuring Sarah Boucher, Jennifer Higgin, Mitchell Smolkin, Nicholas Rice, Whitney Barris Design by Dennis Horn Lighting Design by Renée Brode Sound Design by Michael Walsh Stage Managed by Clare Bermingham

  1. Rena Mae James10-23-12

    As a former Muskoka cottage owner, I was drawn into the feelings of what this Production was trying to exhibit. My love affair with Muskoka started at age 5. It slowly worked its way through my skin and into the depth of my soul for 20 years. I hadn’t been aware nor did I analyze what was happening during that time. Why would I? How could I? Nobody did that. We were too busy listening to bird songs, rain hitting the leaves, to creaky oars and swishing canoe paddles, and the quiet lap-lap of the lake on the shoreline. We were engulfed in a wonderful water experience of softness. We lazed away the days on blown-up rubber mattresses. We used birch tree bark and huge white fungus, which protruded upside down on tree trunks, to write names, dates, places. At night we played cards while listened to a crackly radio. Most cottages had outhouses. Very few had motorboats. Year after year, it was the same. Then something happened. A big change started to erode what I saw as the natural order of a cottage environment. A new word, “cottagers”, began showing up in magazines and newspapers. Impressive marketing strategies sought to leach these people, like blood suckers do. Only it wasn’t blood they were after, but money, the almighty dollar. Narrow roads were widened. Land prices skyrocketed and cottages were built to look like nice homes in the suburbs complete with all the electronics. Condo living with golf courses, written up on glossy expensive brochures, sprang up like housing projects in the city. Oh crap! A cancer had invaded Muskoka. But I have my memories and I have my photos. Nothing can add to, or subtract away from them: my glorious days and nights in Muskoka before rocks and trees were brutally murdered and insanity took over one’s summer vacation. The feelings of my time are stronger than ever. Muskoka, Muskoka, where are you now?

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