Odyssey Productions to be inducted into Arts Hall of Fame

Cast members from Odyssey Productions rehearse A Streetcar Named Desire. (Jason Kerr/Daily Herald)

For Odyssey Productions, being chosen as an inductee into the Prince Albert Arts Hall of Fame is “a great honour.”

Odyssey is one of four inductees who will enter the hall on September 29, 2018, during a ceremony held on the Rawlinson Centre stage. Odyssey will be inducted in the performing arts category, while Paul Lomheim will go in for his work as a builder of the arts. Herve Vallee and the late Margreet Van Walsem will be inducted for their work in the visual arts. Each day leading up to the ceremony (with the exception of Thursday), the Herald will have a piece about one of this year’s inductees.

Odyssey is entering its 27th season this year and has become known for its dinner theatre shows in Prince Albert. Odyssey employs professional artistic directors and directors, who then work to teach and lead up-and-coming actors, stage managers, directors and technicians, all while remaining a volunteer-driven, not for profit organization.

“This little theatre company is a true example of what’s possible when people come together for a common goal,” a summary of the group included in a Prince Albert Arts Board media release said.

“In this case, to present theatre for the love of it.”

Odyssey president Kim Morrall said she’s “excited” for the induction ceremony.

“I think it’s an honour well-deserved, being around for 27 years,” she said.

“We couldn’t do it without our volunteers, without our board and without our sponsors to keep it going. We’re very thankful for all of those people.”

Odyssey came out of an offshoot from the Prince Albert Community Players. A group led by Darryl Lindenbach had a different idea of what they wanted to do and set out to form their own theatre group. Odyssey grew from there.

“The most amazing part is it’s all done as a non-profit,” said vice-president Eleanor Cheal.

“There’s a lot of volunteers, people who step up.”

According to Morrall, one of the things that set Odyssey apart is its dinner theatre shows, as well as its longevity and its inclusivity.

“We have been around for quite some time,” she said.

“Experience-wise, we’re well-established. A lot of high school students have started with us. We don’t care if you’ve never acted before. We’ve had lots of people where their first time acting was with us, and have gone on to continue doing dinner theatre.”

Morrall said that a few years ago, Odyssey explored moving away from the dinner theatre concept, but the change wasn’t received well. Still, the theatre company wants to try its hand at putting on some bigger, more ambitious projects.

“Odyssey has always been a group that likes to try new things,” she said.

“Last year, we had our two dinner theatres, but we also did Streetcar Named Desire*. One thing I would like to do is a musical, eventually. It’s a lot of money, but there have been lots of requests for it. We want to consider that, and the idea of doing a little bit of Shakespeare.”

“We try to make it an enjoyable evening out for people who attend,” Cheal said.

“Then we have our special projects every once in a while that makes it a little more interesting,” Morrall added.

Odyssey feels that the honour of a hall of fame induction is an incentive for them to keep doing what they’re doing.

“I think the theatre groups aren’t always appreciated for what they do,” Cheal said.

“There is a lot of time commitment required, by everyone, not just the board, but the directors, the actors, the stage managers, the people who run the props, all of the tech and the volunteers — every single person works hard to make the production the best that we can.”

Morrall agreed.

“(The induction) is huge and shows there is appreciation for what we do. Prince Albert is certainly known as a hockey town, but there is a big arts scene here. Odyssey has helped make that grow and helped to establish that. To be recognized for that is great.”

Morrall and Cheal said the induction is particularly validating because sometimes, not as many people show up to a play as they would have hoped or expected.

“It’s very frustrating,” Morrall said.

“You feel so bad that so much work has gone into something that is very good that people have missed,” Cheal added.

Morrall said she hopes the induction helps encourage people in the community to support all of the city’s theatre groups.

“This award helps us realize that what we do is valued and important, and to keep going,” she said.

“Hopefully more and more people will see the value of it and recognize us, and all the groups. There are some amazing, amazing talented people out there, with our group, Spark, Prince Albert Community Players and Smokescreen. All these groups put on amazing productions. People should go out and see them. Every (theatre) group has its own niche. We all fulfill different needs in the community.”

Tickets for the Arts Hall of Fame induction gala are available at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre Box Office. The box office can be called at 306-765-1270 or visited in person at 142 12th Street West from Monday-Friday between the hours of 9a .m. and 4:30 p.m.

Odyssey preparing for latest show

The latest dinner theatre show is set for November 22-24. The play, called Four Old Broads, will be directed by Layla Shuparski. Morrall described it as “Golden Girls-ish with a bit of mystery added in.”

The theatre company was contacted directly by the playwright, took a look, and liked what they say.

“It’s quite humorous,” Cheal said.

“It’s cute and it’s a lot of fun,” Morrall added.

The November 23 and 24 (Friday and Saturday) shows will be dinner theatre, while the Thursday night performance will be the show only.

Season tickets for Odyssey Productions are available at Canadian Tire customer service.