There’s magic afoot at Caravan Farm Theatre.
That’s four feet belonging to a magical mare that lives in a forest adjoining a small town much like Salmon Arm.
Many of the residents believe in a legend that a blind horse haunts the woods.
“If you look at it, you’ll be cursed,” says artistic director Courtenay Dobbie of Caravan’s summer production, The Night’s Mare. “So nobody wants to look at her, and those that have, swear they have been cursed.”
But not everyone buys into the legend.
Buck, a horse trainer, believes the horse is very real.
A newly minted high school grad, his daughter Flo, is chomping at the bit to head to Las Vegas to attend magic school.
And while his wife thinks Flo should begin her grand adventure, Buck wants her to stay on the ranch and help him with the horses.
On the very night she is supposed to leave, a famous Hollywood couple, Jen and Ryan, arrive.
Theatrical royalty à la Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Jen and Ryan are in town to consult with Buck because they have heard he has been tracking the magical mare.
Doing research for a movie, the couple ask Buck to take them in search of the mare.
But they have some baggage to deal with first in their nine-year-old, wilful daughter.
“She is a complete handful, out of control, with a wild imagination and old beyond her years,” says Dobbie, who is directing The Night’s Mare. “They enlist Flo to babysit her while Buck accompanies the actors into the woods.”
In no time at all, Allie-Anne escapes and heads into the forest on her own.
The second act of this family friendly production sees Flo searching for her charge as her father and the others track the mare.
There in the magical forest, themes unfold about belief versus non-belief.
“It’s about believing in magic, something bigger than yourself, and friendship between the two girls,” says Dobbie, noting a very strong bond grows between Flo and Allie-Anne and with the magical mare who, it is discovered, is searching for her rider.
“The whole town say she is a horrific sight, but at the end you see how beautiful she is, and not what others have made her out to be,” Dobbie says. “Flo is a pure soul so she forms a special connection with the horse.”
The mare in the production is a blind, male appaloosa, who lost his eyes to moon blindness, a condition in which the immune system attacks the eyes, three years ago.
But 15-year-old Endo, copes very well, says his trainer Morgan Wagner.
Located through friends, the blind horse and trainer recently arrived from their home in Corvallis, Ore. and have begun rehearsals for Endo’s starring role.
Despite losing his sight, the appaloosa continues to compete with sighted horses in working equitation competitions.
On the two-legged bill, actors new to Caravan Farm Theatre hail from Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa. Three actors who appeared in last summer’s production are back for another bow – Sarah May Redmond, Lucy Hill and Daniel Maslany.
As well as acting, Maslany appears as a member of a country band that will perform “bluegrass-inspired country folk” similar to Caravan Farm cookshack jams that often break out.
Behind-the-scene artists who create the mood and atmosphere include set designer Jimbo, costume design Alex Schon from Tappen, lighting designer Conor Moore, props designer Christie Watson and musical director Mishelle Cuttler.
The play was written by Vancouver playwright Kevin Kerr, who teaches playwrighting and screenplay at UVic and is a member of the Electric Company Theatre.
The Night’s Mare opens July 21 and runs to Aug. 23 rain or shine nightly at 7:30. Tickets are less expensive during the first week and Tuesdays are pay what you can. There are no shows on Monday.