Ahead of the new romantic comedy The Wonder of it All visiting Harbourfront Theatre this September, we asked leading lady Monique Lund (also married to the writer, and her co-star Mark Weatherley!) a few questions about the play and what she’s most looking forward to about their visit to Summerside!

The Wonder of it All runs from Fri 22 – Sun 24 Sept, with evenings at 7:30pm and a Sunday matinee at 2pm. Tickets can be booked online here, or by telephone on 902 888 2500 (Mon-Fri, 12pm-5pm). All tickets cost $40.

Tell us a bit about The Wonder of it All

The play is a comedy about a couple in their fifties who are at a bit of a crossroads. The magic has gone out of their marriage and they don’t exactly know why. There hasn’t been an explosive event – just a gradual drifting. A colourful character from their past bursts onto the scene and suddenly their worlds are turned upside down. They have to make big decisions in light of this and they grapple with the big questions of love, fidelity and what it takes to make a marriage work.

As Kingsley says to Charmaine near the end of the play: “I mean, there are always reasons to run away. Sometimes the reasons to stay are a little harder”. The play has very sharply drawn characters. Mark and I each portray two characters and the audience loves to watch us transform right before their eyes. We don’t exit the stage at all during the entirety of the play. Mark plays the ukulele and we both sing “As Time Goes By” together (featuring a kazoo solo from my character Charmaine). Casablanca is Kingsley’s favourite movie and this theme comes up several times during the play.

The pacing is very quick and the relationship between Charmaine and Kingsley is very relatable. Our audiences laugh as they realize they’ve been in the exact same position at various times in their relationship. At the core, the play is very pro marriage. Mark wanted to write something hopeful and inspiring. He believes that there is worth in communicating and trying to figure out how to get back to those initial first sparks of love.

The final scene of the play is really fun as Kingsley impersonates a cab driver driving Charmaine to the airport where she is contemplating flying off and having an affair. There is so much laughter during this final moment. It is so cleverly written!! The laughter turns to tears at the very end as they reconcile. They have only ever loved each other all along. It just took some doing for them to realize it.

How would you describe the play in three words?

Hilarious, Heartwarming, Hopeful.

Who are your characters in the play?

Charmaine and Kingsley; we meet them in the present but also we meet them when they first meet as 25 year olds. I also portray a nosy neighbour called Mrs. Nesbitt, and Mark portrays a pretentious Brit named Byron who was Charmaine’s boyfriend when she was younger.

You had a great run in Victoria-by-the-Sea, PEI last summer; how does it feel to be back on the Island?

It feels great to be back on the Island! I performed with the Charlottetown Festival many moons ago under the artistic directorship of the late, great Alan Lund. I was in Anne of Green Gables at the Confederation Centre as a twelve-year-old! Up to that point I had only done step dancing and Irish dancing. When I was accepted into the company as a young girl my eyes were opened to the world of musical theatre and I was hooked! After that summer I started taking ballet classes in Charlottetown and when I was 17, I was accepted into the Charlottetown Festival company as a full-fledged member of the company! I loved those years. I spent several subsequent seasons doing Charlottetown and then I moved to Toronto in 1987 where I was immediately cast in Cats and I haven’t looked back since! I have worked in theatre all across the United States and Canada. Some of my favourite credits include 12 seasons with the Stratford Festival as well as playing the lead role of Donna in Mamma Mia! with the Broadway Touring Production. I have had a very busy career and haven’t had much time to spend on PEI which makes performing here all the sweeter.  There is something about being back here that just feels so right and natural. And the PEI people really GET Mark’s humour!! We noticed that right away when we performed in Victoria by the Sea, and most recently at The Kings Playhouse in Georgetown. Mark is from Vancouver so maybe there is such a thing as “coastal humour” Who knows!?

Why should people come to see The Wonder of it All?

Audiences should come see it because it is fresh and unique! I think people are surprised by the story and the play. It is not a typical two hander play about a middle-aged couple. There are surprises. The staging in innovative. Our director is one of Canada’s finest actresses – Seana McKenna. Seana has spent 30 seasons at the Stratford Festival and she directed the play with a keen eye and a blazing intellect. She is just amazing at what she does! There is a natural chemistry with Mark and I too. We have been married for nearly 25 years. There is a shorthand there and a comfort level. I don’t have to manufacture emotions when I look across the stage and see Mark. We love each other very much and count ourselves lucky to be still so deeply invested in our marriage and by extension – this play!! I have been performing for over 30 years and this is by far the most fulfilling experience of my career. We both LOVE performing the play. We cannot wait to hit the stage with it! It feels like a gift to us. We love sharing this gift with our audience.

What are you most looking forward to about your time in Summerside?

We are so excited to just explore this part of PEI!! There is so much natural beauty, but also great culture and of course restaurants. Mark will probably be at Evermoore sampling their beers!! I haven’t spent much time in Summerside. We’re excited to perform in this absolutely gorgeous theatre! What a stunning building. We’re so excited to share our show with Summerside!

Monique, you are originally from PEI; what are some of your favourite island memories?

Going to the beach, digging for clams, family and friends at the cottage, picking wild blueberries and raspberries, cross country skiing, lobster suppers, exploring all the little nooks and crannies, endless walks along the North Shore beaches. Bliss.

The Wonder of it All runs from Fri 22 – Sun 24 Sept, with evenings at 7:30pm and a Sunday matinee at 2pm. Tickets can be booked online here, or by telephone on 902 888 2500 (Mon-Fri, 12pm-5pm). All tickets cost $40.


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