Festival Players of Prince Edward County is a professional summer theatre company that has been providing visitors and residents of beautiful Prince Edward County, Ontario with meaningful theatre experiences for 8 years. Performances are not limited to one venue, but tour an array of delightful locations in and around the county. You can be sure the beautiful backdrop will itself become another member of the cast. ALL FOR BEAVER HATS! is performed by The Festival Players Young Company, which is in its second year. The Young Company is an immersive professional theatre experience for six talented youth from Ontario. The young company spent 3 weeks creating and rehearsing this production for children and their families.
Written in 1978 by David S. Craig, Richard Greenblatt and Jerome Ackhurst, ALL FOR BEAVER HATS! is an all ages comedy about the history of Canada’s fur trade. Try selling that to your 13 year old son when you are waking him up before 10am on a Saturday morning to accompany you to a theatre performance. Essentially, there is 300 years of history packed into this cheerfully entertaining 45 minute show. The performance we attended was on one of the coldest, darkest days of this summer. However, the 15 degree temperature and occasional drizzle did nothing to dampen the spirits of the cast or the audience. I found myself smiling from the first moment of this production through to the end (except for a few moments of drama in between) until my face actually began to hurt. Not only did I enjoy it, but there were several rounds of laughter coming from the teenager sitting to the left of me. The audience, aged 8 to 80+, was engaged from the start. It didn’t take long to forget the cold and become immersed in the story; after all, it was nothing compared to what the first settlers of New France endured.
The play opens with Samuel de Champlain landing in what he called New France, later Quebec. The story follows the establishment of the fur trade, the role of the Iroquois, Hudson’s Bay Company, European settlement of New France, the Battle of Quebec… no, really, it was fun, interesting and engaging! Beaver hats were in high demand across Europe beginning in the 1500’s and thus the beaver was almost driven to extinction. This little rodent made many people rich and played a big part in the economic development of Canada, this is why it is depicted on the Canadian nickel and is a national symbol of Canada. See! Interesting!
Who knew education could be so entertaining? I re-learned many things I had forgotten about the fur trade in Canada, but not for one second did it feel like a history lesson. The cast of 5 was exceptional, each one playing several characters throughout the fast paced show. There wasn’t a dull moment or a break in the flow, there were periods of audience interaction with a few entertaining musical numbers thrown in for good measure. These young performers are bursting with talent and passion for their craft. If you are looking for something to do with the kids this week, I highly recommend taking them to this outdoor performance; don’t forget your lawn chairs or picnic blanket! We give ALL FOR BEAVER HATS! 2 beaver tails way up!
There are still 4 more performances of ALL FOR BEAVER HATS!: August 18 at Sandbanks Summer Village and August 22, 23, 24 at Ameliasburgh Heritage Museum. I am also looking forward to seeing Festival Players production of TEST DRIVE, which is in its final week. It runs until August 24 at Rosehall Run Vineyards.
For more information visit www.festivalplayers.ca