Wives of Henry VIII highlighted in one-woman show

Performance set for Sunday at Charles Bailey Theatre

King Henry the eighth, to six wives he was wedded. One died, one survived, two divorced and two beheaded.

But there’s much more to the tale about the Tudor King and his six wives – three Catherines, two Annes and one Jane.

Vancouver’s Tara Travis brings the six stormy love stories to the Trail stage this weekend in an original one-woman play titled, “Til Death, The Six Wives of Henry VIII.”

The creative script, score and costume design is a production of Toronto-based Monster Theatre, and is slated for the Charles Bailey Theatre main stage Sunday evening at 7:30 p.m.

Travis is a veteran performer of many genres, including voice, mask, clown, physical theatre and puppetry.

“For almost five years virtually everything I was doing was puppetry,” she said by phone Wednesday, between performances at two Surrey schools. “Which really helped me develop my roster of voices and different characters that I do now with shapeshifting theatre performance.”

“Til Death” quietly opens with Travis outfitted in a tudor-style nightgown, but quickly her delivery becomes a spirited exchange as each of the six characters arrive in a room she describes as “purgatory.”

“I play all of the women alone in one room together so I am rapid fire turning into one and then another,” she explained. “Ultimately I play seven characters once Henry arrives,” Travis said.

“It’s a very unique brand of theatre and a pretty crazy show.

“And a really good workout for me,” she laughed.

After playing an entire company of actors in a previous Shakespeare production, Travis said taking on “Til Death,” was a natural transition from conception to stage.

“It became clear that this was something I needed to do,” she said. “Finding something about women in history and celebrating them is exciting.”

The play is largely comedic, Travis continued, but the laughs are balanced with respect for the challenges and sacrifices each of the six women made following marriage to the King of England.

“Definitely there is plenty of comedy but the play ultimately honours their stories and gets to the heart of their struggles, so it’s a great balance.”

Prior to “Til Death,” Travis joins fellow actor Nancy Kenny on stage at the Charles Bailey Theatre for a 2 p.m. performance of “Little Prince.”

The 45-minute show is a Monster Theatre Production for children ages 4-11, and sponsored by Teck Metals Ltd.

“Nancy plays the little prince and I play everyone else,” said Travis. “In that show, there are puppets in costumes and much more production value, because for kids, you need lots of colour and action.”

For more information or tickets, contact the box office at 368.9669.

The great variety of performances in the Greater Trail venue are part of Nadine Tremblay’s goal to broaden community access to more theatre programming.

“Survey results indicated that Greater Trail patrons of the arts want more theatre programming, so audiences can see not one, but two Monster Theatre Productions at the Charles Bailey Theatre this weekend,” said Tremblay, the site’s marketing and programming manager.

For a list of upcoming performances, visit the Trail & District Arts Council website at trail-arts.com and click on the Calendar link.