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RETURN OF AN ICON ON THE TORONTO STAGE

Photo Sean Howard

Pleiades Theatre & Théâtre français de Toronto

present the Toronto premiere of Tomson Highway’s

The (Post) Mistress (English)/ Zesty Gopher s’est fait écraser par un frigo (français).

The (Post) Mistress tells the story of Marie-Louise Painchaud, the hugely endearing Métis postmistress. In the fictitious village of Lovely, Ontario, located somewhere along the French River, we discover Marie-Louise and her uncanny ability to read the town’s mail through the envelopes. Letters from around the world tell of her neighbours’ foibles, fantasies and fibs, both large and small. They inspire Marie-Louise and she turns these stories into an eclectic array of songs inspired by musical traditions from around the world.  We also discover the origins of her extraordinary powers as she passes the time waiting for her beloved husband, Roland Painchaud, to join her. The French title, which translates as “Zesty Gopher got squashed by a fridge,” is a line from the play and gives an idea of some of the loopy characters who populate Marie-Louise’s imagination and Tomson Highway’s world.

This raucous and very touching one-woman musical stars the critically-acclaimed Patricia Cano, for whom it was written, and has Tomson Highway himself on the piano, accompanied by one of the best sax players in Canada, Marcus Ali.  Not only did Tomson Highway write the play, he is also the composer and lyricist.  Both the French and English versions are directed by John Van Burek, with choreography by the renowned Marie-Josée Chartier. Set design is by Teresa Przybylski and Lights are by Michel Charbonneau.

Tomson Highway ranks among Canada’s most celebrated authors. He is best known for his award-winning plays, The Rez Sisters and Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, along with his best-selling novel, Kiss of the Fur Queen. Born into a Cree family in Manitoba’s far north, he quickly showed a remarkable talent for music. Like most First Nations’ children at the time, he was sent to a Residential School, but there he was given access to a piano, which changed his life forever. He attended the University of Manitoba, then Western University, and also spent a year in London (UK) where he studied piano with master teachers such as William Aide and Anton Kuerti. He came to Toronto in the mid-eighties where he was Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts from 1986-1992. Since then, Tomson Highway has devoted all his energies to his writing and composing.

(Photo:Sean Howard)