Portage la Prairie's Prairie Players have been performing and treating audiences to some great entertainment since 1969. President Rosa Rawlings says this makes it their 55th anniversary this year.

She notes there's still one founding member left; Wanda Ryder.

"She lives in BC with her daughter. This year, because of our 55th, we didn't have a play in the Spring. So, we had an open house on April 27th and that was really, really, really good. Coming up is our Fall play in November. I'm directing really funny comedy called Dashing Through the Snow. It's Christmas-themed and there are lots of people in it, and it should be a lot of fun. That's in November 13th to the 16th; Wednesday to Saturday."

Rawlings says the Saturday of the play will include somewhat of a serve of snacks to make it their special anniversary celebration. 

"Auditions are coming up at the end of June; June 25th and 27th, from 7:00 to 9:00 at the Glesby Theatre. There are 17 characters in this play, but two of them are off-stage. We'll see how it goes. Some people might have to be doubled up depending on how many people show up. We're just really excited."


She adds they also issued a magazine for the first time for their 55th. 

"Colleen Flynn, one of our great members, put it together for us and we handed it out at the open house. We'll have lots more to hand out to people who come to see the show. It's just information about who we are, stuff we've done in the past, and our founding members. We've also done a 45-minute video reflecting all the 55 years with different pictures and music. We might be playing that during the play, and either before or during intermission and whatnot."

mag 2

Rawlings says that some highlights through the years include all the great people who have come and gone, noting she's been with the Players since 1992.

"There are so many really good people that we've had over the years. Every time we have auditions, we always have somebody new who shows up, which is great. It keeps the group going and we have a really great membership right now of people. It's just a lot of fun, like just being crazy and having fun and doing the plays. It's so funny because we're all volunteers, of course. They couldn't pay us to do this because they couldn't pay us enough. It's just amazing how much work that goes into doing a show and how much people are willing to work to get everything done perfectly behind the scenes. We have a lot of people that just want to do behind-the-scenes stuff. They're really good at doing that and people just want to be on stage. That's fine. They're really good at doing that, as well. We have a great group of people that are willing to do whatever it takes to make a great show."

She explains they began performing at the PCI theatre in 1969, and then migrated to Southport's Theatre, which is no longer standing today.  

"We were there till 1999. That's when we moved to the Glesby Centre after it was built in 1999. Our first play was in the Spring of 1999, called 'The Cemetery Club.' It was a comedy despite the name. We've been at the Glesby ever since 1999."

Rawlings explains there has been quite several song pieces in their productions, in which she's personally sung, as well

"We've done musicals in the past, which have been very, very successful. We've done Mary Poppins. We did Sound of Music, which was a really great, great show. We had lots of people and fabulous singers in that show. It's the talent around here is amazing. It really is, because there are a lot of great, great, talented people. Occasionally we'll do a musical and and have kids involved, as well, if need be. It depends but that's a lot of work because musicals usually are done in the Fall. We need tons of work to start in the Spring. You have to get all the music learned first before we can go on stage and do the acting part of it. It's a lot of work to do a musical, but it's worth it."

She says one of her favourites was "The Sound of Music," noting she played Mother Superior with many great songs involved. 

"That was a fabulous, fabulous show. We just sounded so good. It was so funny because, when that show started, we all had to dress in nun garbs that we got from the Sisters of the Holy Rock. We wore their outfits. When the nuns come in, we came in from the side and then walked up to the stage. As we were coming walking up to the stage, we were singing 'a cappella.' A lot of people thought, 'Oh, my goodness!' They didn't realize it was us. They thought it was a record playing. They didn't realize it was actually us singing. They thought, 'Oh my goodness! It's like some CD or something.' But that was a great, great show. A lot of great people on that show."

Rawlings adds the play she first directed was performed in 1998 when they were still at Southport, and was called The Wild Guys. 

"That was a really, really funny, great show. That one is a highlight for me. I've directed other plays in the past too. There were just so many. The last play we did was actually called 'The Play that Goes Wrong.' That was hilarious. I hadn't laughed so much in such a long time when I watched that show. I specifically stayed away from the rehearsals because I wanted to see it. Gosh, I just couldn't stop laughing! It was so good and they did such a great job."

She says they're still hearing remarks about that performance, it was that good.

Rawlings says she hopes people can make it to the upcoming auditions to learn what they're all about. 

"Even if you don't want to be in the show itself, if you want to help behind the scenes, or whatever, come out to the auditions, anyway and say, 'Hey, I'm just here because I want to help and see what you guys are all about.' That's what the Open House was about, also."