Christmas Mystery Unfolds At Live Bait

If you’re in the mood for a little mystery to be served with a healthy dose of holiday spirit, Sackville’s Live Bait Theatre has the perfect production for you.

The group’s latest performance, CSI: Christmas Scene Investigation, takes its title from the hit television show CSI, but adds a dash of the holiday spirit, while also taking cues from another popular television show of many years past, Charlie’s Angels.

The show centres on the CSI team investigating the kidnapping of the nose of the most popular reindeer of all, Rudolph. Starring Justin Thomas, Tom Hearn, Justin Collette, Daniel Williston and Jennie Del Motte, the play was written by Atlantic Canadian native Charlie Rhindress and adapted by Del Motte and Hearn. Rhindress also wrote the 2000 production Flying On Her Own, which focused on the life of beloved Cape Breton vocalist Rita MacNeil.

Jennie Del Motte has been a part of Live Bait Theatre for the past 11 years and also sits on its board of directors. She jokes that the production of CSI is “crazy and wonderful,”as the show follows Detective Gil Grinchum and he tries to determine who stole Rudolph’s famed red nose.

“It is the kind of production that combines pop culture and Christmas. Whether or not you are familiar with CSI or Charlie’s Angels, there is enough mystery and comedy included in the show that it would hold your attention,” Jennie says.

Dinner theatre productions often have a very brief rehearsal period, giving the actors little time to learn their lines and blocking. Though some do not work so well under pressure, Jennie insists that everyone involved in the production of CSI thrives on the pressure of knowing their deadline is right around the corner.

“We tend to get two weeks tops when it comes to rehearsal lead time for a dinner theatre production such as this one,” she says.

“I guess the upside is that anyone who is hired to do this type of show is probably well accustomed to working on a truncated schedule. Fortunately for this show, we have an amazing cast taking part.

“Daniel Williston is an actor from Toronto who was on the short list to be a part of the Broadway show Book of Mormon, written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Justin Collette is a native of Riverview who now calls Sackville home and is a graduate of the Second City Improv Group in Chicago.”

Jennie says there is certainly no lack of talent here in the Maritimes. Of course, budding actors continue to leave the region for larger metropolitan centres in order to further their careers.

“There are a number of professional actors making a living staying here in the Maritimes; however, it seems as though for young talent to get hired here in Atlantic Canada, they often have to move to Toronto.

“There is a different lifestyle and sense of community in the Maritimes compared to the larger centres. It doesn’t mean that our talent in the Maritimes is anything less in terms of quality compared to the bigger cities. It does take a significant amount of time to get yourself established, though, and perhaps that is why so many people move away. There is a finite number of acting jobs here in Atlantic Canada and it can take a long time to get yourself onto the list of people to be considered for productions.”

Although the Maritimes might not be able to hold on to all of the acting talent that comes from our great region, Jennie proudly notes that Live Bait Theatre often serves as a first experience for many actors. She says that it is these early bonds that many of the actors form while working with Live Bait that help carry them throughout their career.

Jennie says that Live Bait has been rather fortunate to benefit from patrons who frequent their productions from all over Atlantic Canada and beyond. She notes that without this dedicated clientele, staging productions such as CSI would be difficult.

“A significant amount of our business comes from Sackville and Amherst; however, we have people also coming to town from Moncton, Shediac and even Fredericton and Saint John,” Jennie says.

“We have also had people from as far away as Tennessee and Ontario come to see some of our shows. Often, they are people who either have a personal connection to the theatre or just came and had a great experience. We are very fortunate to have the support of the community and the region.”

Article published in the December 7, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript