That Summer here in late summer
Like his new character, Daryl Shuttleworth is a family man.
The Vancouver actor portrays Jack in Theatre North West’s upcoming play That Summer.
Written by playwright David French, the memory play has Margaret Ryan returning to her Ontario cottage where she vacationed with her family 32 years earlier. For Margaret (who is narrator) and her sister Daisy, it was a time of beauty and discovery.
The play is powerful and poignant. One in which both youth and adults can see snippets of themselves, says Shuttleworth.
The actor returns to the stage in his TNW debut after a 12-year hiatus spending time caring for his three children, Erin, 19, Malcolm, 17, and Sarah Jane, 9. He kept his acting skills alive doing voice-over work in Vancouver and making television and film appearances.
“I missed the theatre,” he said. “I took 12 years off from it to raise the kids. I was the freelancer in the family, so it made sense for me to spend time at home with them. Right now Erin, the oldest, is looking after the nine-year-old (Sarah Jane) while I’m up here doing this play.”
Would we know his voice in a popular animation? The actor laughs. Maybe if we were a cow and the part called for a farmer.
“I’m a good farmer,” he said. “I get lots of farmer parts – I have that deep, manly, low voice.”
That same voice of authority is heard from Jack in That Summer when he talks with his daughters. It helps define him as the “man of the house” in keeping with the play’s setting.
“By the 60’s, Jack has two daughters, 12 and 11,” says Shuttleworth. “His wife has died of cancer at 35 and he’s remarried, one year later, to a woman who looks like his first wife – tragic flaw. He thinks by remarrying, he’s doing what’s best for his daughters, but things don’t go smoothly.”
The key to Jack is love lost, says Shuttleworth, who notes “the play itself is about love, loss, hopes and dreams.”
He may be playing TNW for the first time, but he’s shared the stage with one of its founding members.
“I’ve never been to Prince George before but I do know (former TNW artistic director) Ted Price very well. In 1989 we were in a play together for Alberta Theatre Projects and we had this rock and roll band on stage.”
The rest of the story related by Shuttleworth is pretty funny, but we won’t embarrass Price with details of his “fall from grace.” Suffice to say, Price – professional that he is – never missed a beat in his performance.
Shuttleworth laughs at the remembrance.
“He just went right on like nothing had happened – and he kept right in character.”
While he likes the unexpected in theatre, the magic and tradition are also important.
“I believe theatre is a special place where we share stories. This play by David French should touch everybody.
“It’s almost spiritual (on stage) and there’s a connection that happens between the audience and the actors.”
In the 30 years he’s been acting, Shuttleworth says he’s watched theatre evolve and change.
“It’s changing – it’s got to change to keep up with the times. Some people talk now, during performances, but the important thing is, audiences are still coming out and supporting us.”
Shuttleworth likes the instant reaction of live theatre.
“Every show is different. Every audience is different and takes from [the play] something different, they have different reactions to it.
“The energy is amazing – even when there’s not a full house. One of the best shows we ever did was to a handful of people who had come out during a storm – they really wanted to be there so it was a great show.”
Since Grade 3, Shuttleworth knew that he wanted to act.
“We did shows in our classes and in Grade 5, I played Fagin in Oliver.”
Not surprisingly, he has made acting his life, performing with theatre companies from coast to coast.
Film and TV appearances include many movies of the week as well as Supernatural, Stargate SG-1 and recurring roles with The L-Word and North of 60 and in Rachel Wyatt’s Crackpot (Alberta Theatre Projects, Calgary).
Theatre North West presents That Summer by David French from Sept. 20 (preview night) to Oct. 10 at Parkhill Centre, 36-556N Nechako Rd.
Tickets are sold at Books and Company. Phone orders at 250-614-0039.