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‘Witty and wise’: Actor Mary Pitt excited to be back on stage to open STC season

Sudbury Theatre Centre’s ‘Face to Face’ season opens with ‘Quiet! I’m Talking’, Vince Grittani’s thoughtful, funny one-hander about an opinionated elderly socialite in Ontario’s cottage country

Look who's talking. Bunny Bevington-Smythe, grande dame of Muskoka, is telling her story in the Sudbury Theatre Centre's first production of the 2021-22 season.

The play, “Quiet! I’m Talking” by Vince Grittani, opens Thursday, Oct. 14 and runs to Oct. 30. 

Does Grittani know Muskoka and its particular "cottage country" culture? The prolific writer spent many years there working in theatre and he co-hosted, wrote and produced five seasons of the series "Cottage Life Television" in the 1990s. He also wrote the book “The Weekend Guy … a Survival Guide,” which is about how to enjoy life at the cottage.

His other plays include “Scenes From My Dock!”,  “Scenes From the 19th Hole," and “Wedding Whine!"

Grittani put witty and wise words in Bunny's mouth as she tells her stories, opinions and philosophy of life.

The two-act play opens as Bunny, played by veteran actress Mary Pitt, holds court with the media at the launch of her book of memoirs.

She is a wealthy American from Pittsburgh who has been coming to Muskoka every summer since she was born. At 99, Bunny still enjoys martinis, cigarettes, golf and gardening.

This is Pitt's first time at the STC, but not the first time the actor has worked with STC artistic director John McHenry. The two appeared together years ago in "The Wizard of Oz" at the Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend. She played Glinda, the Good Witch, and McHenry was the Tin Man.

Pitt has performed in Stratford and at the Shaw Theatre as well as in movies and television series.  She also has performed in her own two-person cabaret where she sings and speaks in English, French and German.

Her feisty character, Bunny, is funny at times and melancholy at others. She has lines such as "I'm not afraid of dying. I am afraid of all the (phoney) crap they say about you when you die."

The one-hander "is a lot for one person," said Pitt. "If you are dry, there is no one to play off of. That's the challenge. It is a huge job to memorize. I worked on it for three weeks before I got up here. It keeps the old brain working, I guess."

Pitt is happy to be back on stage. This is first time she will be appearing in front of a live audience since the COVID-19 shutdown. She was performing in Orangeville in March 2020. The play opened and closed March 13. 

During the shutdown when there were no live auditions, she purchased the necessary technology to make audition tapes in her apartment studio in Toronto.

She was able to do some film work last summer, but actors and crew were required to be tested for COVID-19 frequently.

Although changes were announced recently that allow 100-per-cent capacity in theatres, McHenry said he plans to keep capacity at 50 per cent for this season. Patrons will be asked to show proof of double vaccination to enter the theatre and must wear masks until seated.

Tickets for one mainstage performance are $50. Season subscriptions are on sale now for $150 for adults and $50 for students. Visit the STC website for more information. 

The 2021-22 Face to Face season includes: "Dickens’ A Christmas Carol," (Dec. 2-18); "Ever Falling Flight" (Feb. 18 - March 5, 2022);  and "This One,"(opening April 21, 2022.

Vicki Gilhula is a freelance writer in Greater Sudbury.