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By Ren Tomovcik
As Ottawa’s theatre and performing arts scene grows and flourishes, it has been attracting talent from all over Canada and the world. Just this month, performers from as far away as Australia graced our capital’s stages. But we can proudly claim actress Mary Ellis as 100% homegrown local talent - she’s been performing in Ottawa for over two decades, and remains one of our brightest stage stars.
Born and raised in Ottawa, Ellis has had a long and impressive career in the capital, and she’s showing no signs of stopping - in fact, she’s enjoying it more than ever! Since featuring in Sandinista, the GCTC’s very first play at their old Gladstone Avenue location more than 25 years ago, Ellis has acted with numerous local companies and has taken on an astonishing number of memorable and captivating roles.
One-dimensional characters are not Ellis' realm: she prefers her women strong, sassy and complicated. Last year, she portayed Leona, the lead character in Tennessee Williams’ Confessional as put on by the Ottawa Chamber Theatre Company. She also co-starred in the GCTC’s production of Pierre-Michel Tremblay’s Coma Unplugged, where she impressed audiences as the neurotic mother of the lead character.
This month, Ellis is back at centre stage again. She’ll step out at the Gladstone Theatre as Sister Aloysius, a pivotal character in the Gladstone's production of Doubt. The play, which is set in a New York church school in the 1960s, was written by John Patrick Shanley in 2004, met with enormous acclaim on Broadway and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama. It was then adapted by for the silver screen in 2008, earning awards, accolades, and ultimately an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay.
Ellis is unfazed by the monumental task of portraying Sister Aloysius, the role occupied by Meryl Streep in the film version. In fact, she has avoided watching the film, preferring to make the role entirely her own without outside influences. Ellis reveals that she was drawn to the role of Sister Aloysius because of the complexity and deep humanity of the character: Sister Aloysius is determined and headstrong, but she also questions herself as she journeys through a difficult human experience. Ellis enjoys a character with “complications,” so she’ll surely relish her time onstage in Doubt!
Left: Mary Ellis onstage in Third Wall's Top Girls.
As a veteran of the Ottawa arts scene, Ellis has been encouraged and excited by the developments over the last few years, with so many wonderful productions opening in Ottawa and a myriad of arts-related initiatives springing up around the city. She’s also looking forward to sharing the stage with some seriously impressive local talent in Doubt, which costars Natalie Fraser-Purdy, Kris Joseph and Emmanuelle Zeesman.
Without a doubt, this is a production not to miss!
DOUBT - February 25th to March 14th @ The Gladstone Theatre
Directed by John P. Kelly
Tuesday - Friday: 8PM
Saturday Evening: 8PM
Saturday/Sunday Matinee: 2:30PM
The matinee on Saturday, February 28th will be Pay What You Can.
Visit the Gladstone Theatre website for more details and ticketing information.
MORE ON DOUBT
Building On Clay: Kris Joseph blogs about his role in Doubt and the thought-provoking questions that make the play so compelling.
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