Waiting For The Parade like coming home

Catherine (Cailen Stadnyk (left) and Marta (Colleen Lornie) help Eve (Samantha Currie in a scene from Waiting For The Parade. - Ashley Degraaf
Catherine (Cailen Stadnyk (left) and Marta (Colleen Lornie) help Eve (Samantha Currie in a scene from Waiting For The Parade.
— image credit: Ashley Degraaf

Working together has created something similar to the gals they portray.

The five actresses starring in Chemainus Theatre's Waiting for the Parade — which opened Friday evening — have a bond that has stood the test of time.

It's been seven years since they last staged John Murrell's World War 2 drama-comedy spotlighting the women behind the scenes.

"Seven years is a very long time," said Sylvia Zaradic who portrays rigid leader Janet. "There have been a lot of life changes. One girl was married, another just had a baby. "It's really the changes though that has brought more depth to our characters."

The same cast put on this production with director Colleen Winton in theatres in Campbell River and Courtenay.

Winton had hoped eventually they'd get another chance to relive Parade, and had been working on getting that to fit into the Chemainus Theatre Festival Inn's roster for some time.

"Director Colleen pitched the idea to us," said Zaradic. "She said to us, 'What do you think of doing the show again?'

"She'd been working on Chemainus Theatre artistic director Mark DuMez, and then she asked us if we'd be available during this time frame, and it was a miracle that we all were.

"It's been amazing," she said.

Parade made its debut in 1979, taking a quiet, reflective look at war, not from the male point of view, but from that of the women left behind.

It speaks honestly and directly to the heart about the women who also served during the war, providing munitions and knitted socks, battling food shortages and devastating loneliness.

Patti Allan plays Margaret with one son on active duty, the other in jail for handing out Communist leaflets, while Colleen Lornie suits up as isolated Marta, the woman whose Nazi-sympathizing dad has been interned.

Catherine, played by Cailin Stadnyk, is just trying to 'survive' while her husband is away, and local gal Samantha Currie slides into the role as Eve, a teacher married to an older man.

And then there's Zaradic's brisk, uptight, obnoxious organizer Janet.

"She's the type of person who follows all the rules. The other women don't like her very much, because she's giving orders all the time," said Zaradic.

Although Janet's stone-cold shell isn't anything like Zaradic's off-stage personality, the two do share some similarities.

"Janet tries so hard, and she never relaxes. She has a constant fight going on within her. She's never able to have that soft spot, or fall down.

"At the end of the day, it's kind of nice to be able to smile again, and just relax," said Zaradic.

But, like Janet, 46-year-old Zaradic has a vast music background including working as a freelance singer and piano player.

She's ecstatic to be back at the Chemainus Theatre again, as she made her debut in Mural Town as Fruma Sarah in its Fiddler on the Roof.

Zaradic also teachers performing arts at Capilano University and works as a voice actor and director.

She and the girls are have a great time coming together again.

"We've all come to this place of deeper awareness and have been able to discover more in the dialogue too," said Zaradic. "It's like 'I understand that line now. I get it.'"

And the same scenes that were challenging then are still now, she said.

"This scene was always hard and it still feels hard," she said.

"It's been such a great opportunity to be part of such a poignant, powerful piece again and just to be able to work with such talented women."


Review: Familiar Parade lingers

The saying “picking up from where you left off” was certainly true for the five ladies who rediscovered their roles seven years later in director Colleen Winton’s Chemainus Theate adaptation of Waiting for the Parade.

Patti Allan’s crotchety, comical widow Margaret (everyone has an aunt or grandma exactly like her), Samantha Currie’s compassionate, caring and charming Eve, Colleen Lornie’s stoic and strong Marta, Cailin Stadnyk’s loose-lipped Catherine, and Sylvia Zaradic’s super-annoying and neurotic Janet came together spot-on in the theatre’s third show of the season.

The gal’s on-stage chemistry was just the same as what you would see shared among a group of high school girls reminiscing and sipping cocktails at a 10-year school reunion. It was as if they never missed a beat.

Winton’s song and dance-peppered take two went off without a hitch, or any real noticeable glitches or stumbles.

Lines went down just as smooth as the moonshine shared during the standout booze-fueled scene. It was led by Stadnyk’s absolutely realistic drunk and vulnerable Catherine who just learned her husband had been declared MIA.

Catherine finally standing up to Janet, putting her in her place and calling her a ‘bitch,’ was both again a knee-slapping, realistic and profound moment, but like many other parts of the two-hour production lingered on a tad long after laughs from the audience and the importance of the moment was already realized.

Murrell’s World War 2 behind the scenes take of the women at the homefront plays on through the rest of May, with the last performance slotted for June 1.

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