‘The Nobleman’s Wedding’ to headline Stephenville Theatre Festival

Christopher Vaughan
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Planning is currently underway for this summer’s Stephenville Theatre Festival, with “The Nobleman’s Wedding” by Pamela Morgan slated as the headlining show.

Set in 19th-century Newfoundland, the musical delves into the theme of marriage for love or money. It tells the story of Nancy, who is in love with Thomas, a poor sailor. However, her parents demand she marry the wealthy squire. Believing Thomas has been lost at sea, Nancy marries the gentleman, but things unravel shortly thereafter.

The play is based on a song of the same title that Ms. Morgan first heard while visiting the Bay St. George area in the 1970s to learn about traditional music of the area.

“I first learned the song ‘The Nobleman’s Wedding’ from Ellen Carroll,” said Ms. Morgan. “I learned a lot of songs from her and her husband Jack. I met them at the Loralei Lounge in Stephenville and became friends with them, learning a lot of songs from them over the years.”

A few years later, Ms. Morgan had the idea to create a musical theatre piece using different aspects of traditional folk songs.

“The song, ‘The Nobleman’s Wedding,’ was the original inspiration and the story is loosely based on that song, but of course it takes other twists and turns and develops,” she said.

“There are all sorts of storylines that are inspired by traditional songs and there are some lyrics from traditional songs, but a lot of lyrics that I wrote myself to put the story together, so it’s like a combination of folk material and original material all put together to make one cohesive story.”

The piece was mounted as a part of a sound symposium in 1982 and then further developed for Rising Tide Theatre in 2005. Ms. Morgan continued to work on the piece with the help of others, and the play toured the province's Arts and Culture Centres in 2008.

Ms. Morgan is currently working with Lois Brown, the festival’s artistic director, to further develop “The Nobleman’s Wedding.”

“The play is an organic thing, it’s never really finished,” she mused. “You’re always working to make things more clear, make things better.”

Ms. Brown, who is directing this summer’s production, said the play is very dear to Ms. Morgan’s heart.

“Yes, it’s a traditional folk music, but it is epic, so it’s kind of a folk opera. We are really going to do our best to give it the kind of epic design that it deserves,” said Ms. Brown.

“It’s a show for anyone really because it’s a story about love. If you’ve been in love, or thought of being in love or can remember being in love, then it’s a good story for you.”

‘Creative place’

“The Nobleman’s Wedding” isn’t the only aspect of Stephenville Theatre Festival that Ms. Morgan will be involved with this summer.

She’s been brought on as the season’s musical director and her plan is to involve a many local musicians as possible.

“I’ve always love this area of the province,” she said. “It’s a very musical and creative place, and I love that combination of cultures there, with the French and the Scottish and everything else – it’s just a very culturally rich and I’m very much looking forward to spending some time there.”

Ms. Brown said while plans have yet to be finalized for other productions this summer, there will be a contemporary work and a children’s play, along with other musical performances and song circles.

For more information, visit www.stephenvilletheatrefestival.com, or check out the festival’s Facebook page.

Organizations: Stephenville Theatre, Rising Tide Theatre

Geographic location: Newfoundland, St. George, Stephenville

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