Birds and Bees worth the buzz

It's hard to believe the actors who took to the stage during the opening night of Miracle Theatre's production of The Birds and The Bees by Canadian playwright Mark Crawford came together just for the performance seen here in Prince George.
They look like a traveling troupe who have known each other forever. They know the play and all its nuances like they know their own faces and each brings their own sass, humour and panache to their performances.
The actors are incredible to watch. Their timing, the ebb and flow, the give and take, the dance that takes place between all the characters during this fast-paced farcical yet poignant comedy can leave the audience with their jaws dropping one second and laughing out loud while elbowing their neighbour as the audience shares the inside joke.
The banter between mother and daughter, played by Frances Flanagan and Dana Fradkin, feels like the real conflicted deal.
Flanagan plays Gail, a distressed beekeeper whose hives are inexplicably declining. She had her heart broken in the messiest of ways two decades before. She's still feeling the effects and it's written all over her face. Early in the play, the pain overshadows every interaction, every reaction, everything Gail does in the most intricate way and then slowly but surely things soften, alter, evolve.
Flanagan is the planet with the irresistible gravitational pull, and all the other actors whirl around her as they take a spin together. Luckily, the audience gets pulled in, too.
Flanagan is a consummate talent, a driving force that sets the pace and just keeps running and with unflinching honesty she brings her flawed and damaged character through a vortex of change that is real and raw and so very human. We can all learn a lesson from her and we do. You just have to watch her.
And if you come away from the first half of the play wondering where you've seen Flanagan before, it's because she's in every Hallmark movie you love. She has continually played the crucial supporting role of the character everyone loves, everyone wants to be around and you come away from each movie thinking that if you could just hang out with her, you know you'd be besties for life. Love in Paradise, The Story of Us, A Dash of Love, Bottled With Love, to name a few - that's where you've seen Flanagan before.
Fradkin plays Sarah, Gail's daughter, whose life just took an unfortunate turn and 20 years after leaving home, she's back and it's uncomfortable. Fradkin plays her character beautifully. Sarah is a little lost, a bit reactive and when things move into crisis mode her character clunkily learns the lesson that speaks to her self-esteem stealing situation. Quickly adapting to her new reality, Sarah takes on her new life as one would hope and as an audience member you just know she's going to be OK.
And now for the boys.
Daniel Bristol plays Ben, a Masters student who comes to study Gail's bees, their declining numbers and the reasons behind it. Ben is a fresh-faced, rather naive young man whose priority is health and knowledge and when his very human feelings come to the forefront, things don't go as planned. Bristol is a big-eyed young man whose casting call was spot on. He certainly brings everything he has to the role, enthusiastically snotty-nosed, exposing himself literally and figuratively during his shining performance.
Wally MacKinnon, kudos to you, sir. You strutting around like the cock of the walk was a charming, engaging delight to watch. You turned Earl from a brash, overconfident man to someone real and lovable and relatable.
Miracle Theatre sees producer Anne Laughlin and director Ted Price come together once again to provide professional entertainment that is ultimately a fundraiser for charity. Proceeds from the production of The Birds and the Bees at ArtSpace, above Books & Co., 1685 Third Ave. until March 8, goes to the Children of Prince George Fund, which is under the trusteeship of the Prince George Community Foundation. The new endowment fund provides a sustainable revenue stream that is donated to local charities. The fund was established last year with more than $84,000 in the coffers and that amount will continue to grow as The Birds and the Bees is supported by the community.
Tickets are available at Books & Co. or call 250-563-6637.

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