Lake Nora Arms
adapted by Jane Miller and Brian Quirt
from the book by Michael Redhill

"The rhythms of life, love and longing swirl evocatively in Jane Miller and Brian Quirt’s rich and sensitive adaptation of Michael Redhill’s book of poems....Miller’s songs - alternately playful and profound - connect with the soul." NNNN
NOW Magazine

"Lake Nora Arms is superbly staged and lit by director Stuart Scadron-Wattles. There is no story as such here, rather we see fragments of the past, and the staging, blocking, lighting and vocal music are so carefully crafted that one feels that sliding into the water of Lake Nora is not only possible, but essential." Kitchener-Waterloo Record

In the atmosphere of an old cottage country hotel, warm summers of lakeside living are recalled in this a capella musical based on Redhill's 1993 book of poems. Lyrical songs and richly spoken words bring the fog of the lake, a swim on an unbearably hot day, birdsong, a sunset on water and a solitary walk to poignant memory.

This is an evocative, beautiful work that rings with innocence, regret, longing and life lived. A perfect beginning to summer, and a wonderful way to remember a past that is just out of reach.


Production History

Summerworks Festival, Toronto, ON Produced by the Lake Nora Collective
August 7-16, 2009


Previews: NOW Magazine | Toronto Star

directed by Liza Balkan
featuring Neema Bickersteth, Alex Fallis, Susan Henley, Ken McClure & Jane Miller
stage management by Katarzyna Misztal
set by Lindsay Anne Black
sound by Thomas Ryder Payne
lighting by Michelle Ramsay

Theatre & Company, Kitchener, ON
Premiere: May 12 to June 4, 2005

Text & Lyrics by Michael Redhill
Adapted by Jane Miller & Brian Quirt
Composed by Jane Miller
Musical Arrangements by David Matheson & Jane Miller

Directed by Stuart Scadron-Wattles
Musical Director: Jacqueline Sadler
Cast: Sarah Boucher, Jennifer Higgin, Mitchell Smolkin, Nicholas Rice, Whitney Barris
Design by Dennis Horn
Lighting Design by Renée Brode
Sound by Michael Walsh

Stage Managed by Clare Bermingham

Production photo

To listen to songs from Lake Nora Arms, please contact Nightswimming Producer Naomi Campbell.

Michael Redhill's original book is published by House of Anansi Press.

Lake Nora Arms was developed by Nightswimming, which commissioned the score by Jane Miller. We have been greatly assisted by the many singers and actors who have participated in workshops, and particularly David Matheson, Workshop Musical Director and Co-Arranger.

Developmental workshops for Lake Nora Arms were produced by Naomi Campbell and directed by Brian Quirt for Nightswimming. Lake Nora Arms received a public reading as part of the National Arts Centre (Ottawa) On the Verge New Play Reading Festival 2004 and was first presented at Buddies in Bad Times 1996 Rhubarb! Festival.

Special thanks: Christine Brubaker, Alex Fallis, Peggy Mahon, Jay Turvey, David Matheson, Nancy Webster, Lise Ann Johnson, Sky Gilbert.



Theatre & Company poster image for
Lake Nora Arms
Illustration by Marilyn Koop

EYE MAGAZINE - ***** (5 stars)
Comfy as a Muskoka chair, soul-nurturing as an August sunset and as elegantly poured as the perfect cottage-country cocktail, this adaptation of Michael Redhill’s 1993 book of poetry conjures rustic nostalgia amidst the clamour of city life. The relaxed and good-natured performances - the verse is spoken and sung a cappella - come together as if friends were jamming in the backyard after dinner. But, oh, what talented friends. Composer Jane Miller, especially, sings with the crystal clarity of the water tidily breaking for a diving bird.

I sat mesmerized by the production of Lake Nora Arms, for this was not a play or a musical or a musical play -- though it contained elements of both -- it was an impression.

Developed in conjunction with Nightswimming, a stroke of genius was adding music to the mix, but not in any traditional way. While some of the poems have been beautifully turned into melody and harmony by composer Jane Miller, instrumental accompaniment would be intrusive to the dreamlike imagery of the production, so all of the songs are a capella, including canonical in form and in four part harmony.

The demands on the five actors are therefore increased ten-fold, for each must be a superb orator for the spoken word, possess an extremely accurate and well-developed singing voice, and be able to sing both solo and in parts with absolutely no backing support whatsoever.

This cast really is superb. All five have amazing voices and somehow have identified with this dreamscape as though born to it. You find yourself being absorbed, swallowed up in the reminiscing, drifting with clouds and floating on the lake, taken away from your own realities and entering into the fantasy of fog on the lake... but it all ends too soon.

As the character of the Older Woman says, 'I want to feel and turn a corner and turning a corner, see it all living again.' And for a brief moment, it was.