Legally Brunette brings an unexpected visitor to the stage, wins top prize at Spark: Ignition Play in a Day

Zöe Mortimer and her fellow cast members in Legally Brunette weren’t expecting to walk away with top spot from the Spark: Ignition Play in a Day development competition, but they did so with plenty of colour.

Mortimer and fellow performers Charlie Lysyk, Alexi Beaulac, and Miranda Ironstand-Baxter smashed campy horror themes together with a story about a young girl just entering puberty, and all the resulting chaos that comes with it. The play won top spot at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Sunday—something Mortimer never saw coming.

“We were pretty certain that we were going to get second,” she said with a chuckle. “Obviously, we weren’t fourth or third, so we thought, ‘oh, we’re going to get second’ because they (second place finishers “Off the Cuff”) were pretty funny. When they said that they were second, we were like, ‘what?’”

Legally Brunette were one of four troupes competing for top spot at Sunday’s show. Each group received a theme Saturday evening, then had to create and stage a play based on that theme within 24 hours.

Adjudicator Joshua Beaudry, a Saskatchewan-based actor, director and improviser, credited Legally Brunette for creativity, and their pacing, and ability to keep two scenes going at the same time.

“There was no moment where I (thought), ‘this story is dragging,’” Beaudry said during the awards presentation. “Just great staging.”

Mortimer said they had to incorporate the theme “the visitor”, a challenge they met by creating the mysterious gift-giving Aunt Flo, who provides plenty of advice for a confused young girl played by Ironstand-Baxter.

“Right off the bat we just had a bunch of ideas for ‘the visitor,’” Mortimer said. “Dana, our stage manager, was like, ‘it reminds me of something that just randomly happens, like a pregnancy or a period.’ My idea was to make it campy, like a campy horror story, so we were like, ‘why don’t we add that together?’”

Each of the four teams competing in Play in a Day had stock costumes, props and furniture pieces available to them. There were also technicians and technical directors from the E.A. Rawlinson Centre and Spark Theatre were on hand to help with lighting, sound effects, and cues.

Mortimer said it was a great experience for the group of young performers, and not just because of the time on stage.

“To join and make this play that we were just so proud of and so excited to perform meant the world to me, especially being a young women in theatre,” she explained. “It’s so amazing to have experiences like this. Even to see the other performers, it’s so inspiring.

“If it happens again next year, everyone should come and see it.”