Guild’s latest play not a simple kiss

Directing Craig Lucas's Prelude to a Kiss taught Clinton Walker to "not be such a jerk" when it comes to his views on romance. Playing the lead female role made Charlotte Courage realize her many feminine mannerisms.

Directing Craig Lucas’s Prelude to a Kiss taught Clinton Walker to “not be such a jerk” when it comes to his views on romance.

Playing the lead female role made Charlotte Courage realize her many feminine mannerisms. And for Lee Malanchuk, securing the main male role showed him he could act. His last thespian activity came in Grade 1, when he played a garbage can, an Oscar the Grouch-type character, he said.

But both actors and the director agreed on one point: this play was a lot more work than they anticipated.

There was only a month between auditions and the preview, and the play demands a lot of time.

Prelude to a Kiss follows the romance of Peter and Rita. Peter is a man “searching for something,” said Walker. This intellectual optimist falls in love with Rita, a cynical world-weary woman in her 30s, and she, in the director’s words, “somewhat with him.”

On their wedding day, an old man kisses Rita, and in doing so he and the bride exchange souls.

The 1988 play hit the silver screen in 1992. The film version stars Meg Ryan and Alec Baldwin.

For both of the lead actors, this was their first time with the company.

Malanchuk admits he was fairly excited when he found out he’d secured the role. But a moment later he was wondering what exactly he’d gotten himself into, he said.

Courage had the difficult task of playing two characters: Rita, and then the soul of the old man living inside of her. “This is definitely the most intense show I’ve ever been in,” she said.

Roy Ness plays the old man. He and Courage spent time studying each other’s behaviours. Courage had to learn how to hold her hands, how to sit like a man. “But it’s more than just taking on the mannerisms,” she said. “It’s adopting another character within a character.”

“In regards to the switch, it’s more about humanity than it is about gender,” explains Walker.

He is no stranger to Whitehorse’s community theatre scene. This is the fourth play he’s directed for The Guild. The Toronto-based director and actor first worked with the company in 2010 when he directed The Laramie Project. Later that year, he followed that with The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Last season, he directed 39 Steps.

And he was confident his leads could handle their roles.

He knew Malanchuk was Lee “right away,” because he has “no filter with his emotions,” said Walker. Since Peter spends much of the play telling the audience about his emotions, that was crucial.

And Walker knew Courage had the desire to play and the acting ability required.

While the film version – which Walker hasn’t watched in its entirety – is full of cuteness, the play addresses more serious concerns, he said.

“You know, Prelude has always been stamped as a romantic comedy,” said Walker, who admits he had not heard of the play until he was asked to direct it for the Guild. “And I never came into it thinking, ‘Ah, this is going to be a walk in the park.’ … When we came in and when we started investigating these moments, and how human and how interestingly complicated they were, it has been a challenge, but a delightful challenge. It was like, ‘Wow.’ I think all three of us have been put through our paces. And that’s good.”

The play has been widely read as a fable for the AIDS crisis, and Lucas has said the disease inspired the play, said Walker. But while AIDS is still relevant, society’s interaction with it has evolved as treatments have developed, he said. Instead, his production focuses more on how people change over time. Even the set reinforces the theme. Panels of white fabric represent love’s transparency, he said.

“When we get married, when we partner off, our partners do change before our eyes in ways that is sometimes fantastic, and in some ways it’s really challenging,” he said.

But as Walker said about preparing the play, “Anything good should be an effort, right?”

Prelude to a Kiss runs Wednesdays through Saturdays from Nov. 22 to Dec. 8. There is a $5 preview tonight. Tickets for the Wednesday and Thursday shows cost $20. Friday and Saturday performances cost $22. The Nov. 28 show is pay what you can. All performances begin at 8 p.m.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read