(Writer, Composer, Director, Traveller)

The Premiere Production of Sunshine Sketches 
was produced in 2017 by Smile Theatre in Toronto.
Based on Stephen Leacock’s
Sunshine Sketches Of A Little Town.
Book, Music & Lyrics by Jim Betts
Brittany Banks, Jared Klein and Stephanie Wilson
Directed by Jim Betts
Choreography by Lesley Ballantyne
Design by Holly Meyer-Dymny
Stage Managed by Laura Grandfield
Production Management by Kevin Olson
Produced by Smile Theatre’s General Director
Tom Carson

Sunshine Sketches is a loose musical adaptation of Stephen Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches Of A Little Town, based on characters and situations created for the book, but in which many of the details of individual situations have been manipulated for the purposes of this take on the story.

The central story in this adaptation is the PETER PUPKIN/ZENA PEPPERLEIGH romance, which is covered primarily in Chapters 7-9 in the Leacock book.

The central character is PETER PUPKIN, and the actor playing him will play no other roles.

The two other actors, both Women, will play all the other characters.

The primary “narrator” for the story is THE WOMAN, a character in Chapter 2 of Leacock’s book who seems to live with (and may logically be assumed to be the wife of) the barber JEFF THORPE. She is only referred to by Leacock a few times, and is given no actual name or role – except that she raises chickens, sells eggs and does needlework. I am taking the liberty of giving this character a more meaningful journey throughout the story. The obvious Leacock character to fulfill such a role would be Jos. Smith, who does in fact weave through all of the stories. This version postulates a revisionist approach to the story.

The basic theme of this adaptation is something like: how do we create a happy life for ourselves? Is happiness a state that we fall into, or that we are simply blessed with? Or are we responsible for our own happiness? Related to this theme is the idea of “home” and “family”.


The designer of this production, Holly Meyer-Dymny, came up with a number of whimsical and delightful props that helped tell the story. During the Sinking Of The Mariposa Belle, for example, the cast used a number of black and white hand props, including the Mariposa Belle, waves, Pupkin in a rowboat, etc. The story-telling became much clearer as a result.

Sunshine Sketches was originally produced by Smile Theatre in 2017 and toured throughout Southern Ontario.

© 2024 Jim Betts

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