Klondike Kate’s Sourdough Reunion Show
Regina Fringe Festival
Many people growing up in Canada have heard of the Klondike, and have at least vaguely heard of Klondike Kate. However, few people know that Kate – or Kathleen Rockwell – was in fact a very real person.
‘Klondike Kate’s Sourdough Reunion Show’ tells the story of Kate, in the form of a Klondike reunion show, approximately 30 years after the Gold Rush. In this musical, written by Fringe veteran Natalie Frijia, an older Kate reminisces about her loves and adventures, in anecdotes punctuated by songs.
Klondike Kate has the potential to be an excellent show. The script is well-written, with evocative language and beautiful prose. Donna Kay Yarborough is a talented actor, bringing to the character a sense of pathos and vulnerability which gives the character of Kate a depth one would not expect. However, two major elements prevent this show from reaching its full potential.
The first is the audience participation. At several points on the show, Kate makes flirtatious comments or asks double-entendre questions to audience members. These did not work – both the audience members in question and Yarborough seemed genuinely uncomfortable during each interaction. The audience was clearly on Kate’s side during the show – they were interested in her story, and eager to know what happened next. And yet, whenever there was a flirty moment that clearly fell flat, people visibly cringed. This is an easy fix, and a necessary one.
The second is the singing. This is a musical show – not a show that happens to have music, but a show that is driven through the songs. Much is forgivable in a show with a funny song thrown in. But in a piece of theatre built around a character who was famous for her voice, the singing needs to be top-notch. Yarborough’s delivery of the songs was good, however vocally the piece needed work.
Despite these two things, this is a well-written, strongly-acted historic piece of theatre, and is well worth seeing.