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  • Sue Methuen

BMO Studio Stage - Lilia! (Review)

Playwright: Libby Skala Artistic Director: Morris Ertman

Director: Sara Rodgers

Review Submitted by Sue Methuen


I have always felt a strong connection to my maternal grandmother so I was looking forward to attending the opening night of Lilia!, a play based on the extraordinary life of Academy Award nominated actress Lilia Skala as seen through the eyes and memories of her granddaughter Libby Skala. It did not disappoint.


Lilia Skala was Austria’s first female architect and later became an acclaimed stage actress in Max Reinhardt’s theatre and throughout Europe. When Hitler invaded her country in 1939, she fled to America with her two sons and reconnecting with her husband. Penniless and only speaking German, Lilia worked in a zipper factory to support her family while learning English. Two years later she was cast in a Broadway show which was followed by five decades of various stage, TV and movie roles, including Mother Superior in “Lilies of the Field” for which she was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.


The original play Lilia! was a one-woman play written, directed and performed by Libby who flipped back and forth playing herself and her grandmother. In the BMO Stage Studio performance, the play was turned into a two-woman show, separating Lilia and Libby Skala’s roles with great success. When I asked what inspired Artistic Director Morris Ertman to make this change, he explained that, “There is always something about creating interaction on stage.” I couldn’t agree more.


Over the years Lilia served as a mentor and role model to her granddaughter Libby. Cast members Elinor Holt (Lilia) and Cassia Schmidt (Libby) effectively portray the progression of that relationship over time using only a few props and minor on-stage costume changes. I found myself completely captivated by their performance. My favorite line in the play was when Lilia encouraged her granddaughter, “Anything is possible” and to “Do it!”.


When I asked who would best enjoy this play, Elinor’s response was that it was an inter-generational experience and would be perfect for grandchildren and grandparents to attend together.


Experiencing the play with parents or grandparents would certainly provide a catalyst for discovering your own family’s history. Regardless of your companion, I highly recommend experiencing this inspirational and heartwarming production.

Lilia! runs from Wednesday to Saturday between July 5 and August 31, 2019 at BMO Studio Stage in Rosebud. The show starts at 4:30 p.m. and is approximately one hour. Tickets can be purchased at www.rosebudtheatre.com/shows/lilia. The buffet meal is optional and an additional cost.


BMO Studio Stage is one of the theatres used by the Rosebud School of the Arts, a post-secondary guild school focused on theatre, music and creative arts ministry training.


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