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The Clean House: Veteran actor Megan Hadley returns to stage in quirky comedy

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Cathy Dobson

Cleaning house is often about fulfillment and fresh starts.

That’s certainly true for Sarnia’s Megan Hadley, as she returns to the theatre after a four-year hiatus to take the lead in the smart romantic comedy The Clean House.

The 2005 play, presented by Theatre Sarnia, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist written by Sarah Ruhl and widely lauded by critics for its insights and comical whimsy.

Hadley, a seasoned performer, acted in hundreds of Sarnia Theatre plays over 46 years before leaving the stage in 2011 for personal reasons. She said she’s returning to theatre to keep a promise made to her parents.

“They both passed away recently and had asked me to go back on stage,” she said. “I told them I would. The Clean House was the first one to come along that appealed to me.”

Val and Fred Hadley also had deep roots in community theatre and were honourary Life Members of Theatre Sarnia.

“I like The Clean House because it isn’t stock comedy,” said Hadley. “You laugh all the way through it but it’s also quirky. It’s a great script.”

She plays the part of Lane, a busy doctor married to Charles (Jay Peckham). They hire Matilde (Ashley Carlisle), a Brazilian immigrant housekeeper, who proves to be much better at telling jokes than cleaning.

When Matilde and Lane’s sister Virginia (Henri Canino) discover that Charles is having an affair with a patient named Ana (Jan Walker Holt), the plot thickens and the revelations begin.

The Clean House is Holly Wenning’s debut directing a non-musical. She took the project on because it’s a great learning experience, she said.

“I know how to do a musical so being at the helm isn’t brand new, but this is out-of-the-box for me and it’s the first time I’ve directed for the festival competition.”

The Clean House will be Theatre Sarnia’s Western Ontario Festival entry this year.

“I’m looking forward to getting lots of feedback from the judges,” said Wenning.  “I just love this play. I read it and fell in love immediately.”

One of show’s attractions is its quick rhythm, a comedic pacing that’s necessary for the ensemble cast to maintain, and its touch of fantasy.

Actors break the fourth wall on occasion, speaking to the audience then returning to character.

“It’s called magical reality when the audience is asked to suspend reality and it works very, very well here,” said Wenning.


WHAT:  The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Holly Wenning for Theatre Sarnia at Imperial Theatre.

WHEN: Jan. 30 and 31; Feb. 4 – 7 at 7:30 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee Feb. 1.

TICKETS: $25 adults, $22 seniors, $12.50 students. Available at www.imperialtheatre.net or the Imperial Theatre box office on Christina Street. Every ticket purchaser entered into a draw for a $600 vacuum from Al’s Vacuum & Sewing Centre, and a $250 spring house cleaning package from Crystal Clear Janitorial.

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