Backstage With North Coast Theatre

Toledo Local Features  |  02/28/2012 7:00 am

Local playwright and North Coast Theatre (NCT) founding member, Christine Child debuts her latest play, The Body in the Blizzard on Wednesday, March 14 in the intimate setting of the SouthWing at the Oliver House. It is the third and final piece in a series of three, which also includes Murders at Little Wotting and The Strange Behavior of Serena Blithely OR Terror at Tea Time.

"I like to write things in threes," Child said. "I wanted to finish a series, and I was having so much fun with the characters that I didn't want to let them go yet."

Child explained that the plays are independent of one another--you don't have to be familiar with the other two in order to understand and enjoy this new one. Whether you're a new viewer of Child's work, or a veteran patron of NCT, you will probably recognize a few elements that set apart this performance from the average play.

First, the non-traditional stage. In typical NCT fashion, The Body in the Blizzard is not performed on an elevated stage, with the audience facing in one particular direction. The play demands a certain amount of attention from the viewer.

"I'm very interested in the communication between the actors and the audience, and how this communication affects a script," Child said. "Our space is just perfect for what I want to do. I want the audience to really feel engaged in what is happening 'on stage.' In a theater with an actual stage, it is too easy for the audience to sit back in the dark and have a passive experience, to let the play wash over them. In the SouthWing, the actors, audience, and the script are all together in a small, friendly space."

And second, the small cast with multiple roles. The Body in the Blizzard stars two other NCT founding members, Madge Levinson and Matt Wikander, reprising their roles as Method Actors Louise and Jerome, both of them caught up in a more experimental theater group. In the play within the play, Levinson portrays Lady Luce, and Wikander plays the Colonel. Matt Taylor returns as Bobby the Policeman who is learning to act, and in the play within the play, he is Reginald, Lady Luce's heir. Kristen Bewley plays Sasha, a free spirit, and in the play within the play she is the young American visiting Lady Luce. Rounding out the cast is Julian Garcia, returning to his role as Joe the Director, who is having a difficult time with his cast once again.

Come "backstage" with this group of actors as they attempt to rehearse an Agatha Christie-type mystery. Performances take place in the SouthWing of the Oliver House, Wednesdays in March, 3/14, 3/21, 3/28, plus Friday and Saturday, 3/30 and 3/31 at 8 p.m. $10. For more information, call 419.255.0416 or visit