Rosebud actor reprises role in W.O. Mitchell favourite, The Kite
by Laureen F. Guenther
The Kite, a comedy by Canadian author and playwright W. O. Mitchell, will be performed at Rosebud Theatre this summer, 14 years after Rosebud Theatre first produced it. The show opens June 7 and plays until August 31.
Daddy Sherry of small-town Saskatchewan is about to turn 111 years old. He’s the oldest man in the world and everyone is getting ready to celebrate. The queen has sent a note, and CBC Radio is coming to do an interview. Everyone is delighted – everyone except Daddy Sherry.
Nathan Schmidt, Rosebud Theatre resident actor, played Daddy Sherry in Rosebud Theatre’s first production of The Kite in 2005, and is playing the role again this summer. Rosebud residents Heather Pattengale, Paul F. Muir and Mike Thiessen will also perform in this production.
“Daddy Sherry is just sitting in the yard and he’s just making trouble,” Schmidt says. “He doesn’t like how everyone treats him like an old man. … He feuds with the neighbour dog, Timmy. He doesn’t like the neighbours too much. He’s got a lot of opinions and he states them pretty strongly.”
And Daddy Sherry is determined to thwart the town’s plans for his birthday party.
“He says, ‘Well, I’m just going to die then,’” Schmidt says. “He’s not even going to make it to his 111th birthday, just to spite everyone.”
Daddy Sherry starts picking out coffins, “But he’s got a life in him. He’s got a lot of life force. He’s got more energy than most of them. But it’s just that he can’t do very much anymore. Or at least he’s not allowed to do much anymore. … I want to drive the car again. I want to smoke my cigars. … He’s got a gun that he wants to have that nobody lets him have anymore. … He’s just driving people crazy just because it’s fun.”
It’s a bit intimidating, Schimdt says, to reprise a role that was so popular the first time round.
“He (Daddy Sherry) really captured something at the time, and audiences just loved it,” he says.
“The jokes just line up and pile up on each other until the theatre would just roar. The jokes would just build and build and build until the big punch line.”
“What I want is for people to just come and just have a ball,” he says. “Just get to be in the same room with this craziness and laugh their heads off.”
Schmidt also hopes the life he’s experienced in the past 14 years will inform his second Daddy Sherry portrayal. He’s lost two of his grandparents and has become a husband and father.
He also carries the stories of people who talked to him after the show. One woman’s story stands out.
“She was really smiling, but you could also see that she had been crying,” he says. She said she was looking after her elderly mother, and it was the hardest thing she’d ever done.
“She talked about the fight every day, the fight and the discomfort and the difficulty,” Schmidt says.
After seeing the show, the woman said, she could go back to her tasks refreshed. “It gave her a perspective on what was going on for her mother.”
Schmidt hopes to convey “that kind of understanding and compassion, that you’re not just a clown up there doing all this stuff. It’s really a human being fighting for their independence and respect.”
“It’s a life-affirming story,” he says. “We’re called to care for our family. … In our culture, we don’t identify with that very easily.”
He hopes audiences will enjoy the show again this summer. “I often hear people say, ‘Oh, I’ve heard about Rosebud and I have never made it out there,’” he says. “Let Daddy Sherry give you what for. Now’s the summer. Come out. Make sure you don’t miss this play this summer. It’s a bunch of what Rosebud is about and the kind of storytelling that we can do.”
The Kite will be performed in Rosebud’s Opera House, June 7 to August 31. Tickets for matinee and evening performances come with a buffet meal. Some ticket-only seats may be available. For tickets and more information, see rosebudtheatre.com or call 1-800-267-7553.