Former resident shines at Fringe festival

Clad in a satin dress and yellow rubber boots, a Fort Frances native wandered drunk over a stage at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival this summer, or so it seemed.
Lisa Johnston, formerly Lisa Mudge, played “Salme” in the production of “Beautiful Lake Winnipeg” during the annual event, which features performances from groups all over the world.
“I went out for the audition and when I got home, my son told me I had the part. They called before I even got home,” Johnston recalled.
Johnston, a teacher and mother, moved to Winnipeg 18 years ago. She has been acting for 10 years, including a recent appearance in the upcoming “Mary Kay Story” with Shirley McClain and Shannen Doherty that was filmed in Winnipeg, but never at the festival.
She spent the last few months preparing for her fringe début, which lasted from July 19-27.
“Beautiful Lake Winnipeg,” by Maureen Hunter and produced by Townhouse 9 productions, is a complex play.
“It’s a mystery, very dark, about using people and playing games with each other,” she noted. “It’s a play about obsession and sadistic manipulation.
“Love, relationships, mystery, and murder.”
The character Johnston played was anything but a shy and quiet lady. “Salme’s a drunk and she hits on younger men,” she explained.
Described as a “middle-aged floozy with a taste for drink,” the part called for dancing and singing horrendously off-key as well as some interesting props.
“I carried a head on a platter on stage,” she remarked. “I heard people say, ‘She’s got a head, she’s got a HEAD.’”
“It’s a very interesting play but there’s always a lot of gasps,” Johnston added, noting that during one scene, she serenades a young man and hikes up her silver satin dress to better show off her matching rubber boots.
The play received good reviews, including four stars from the Winnipeg Free Press. The Winnipeg Sun also singled out Johnston as standing out in the play.
It was a hit with much of its audience, as well as with Johnston.
“It was amazing. I just loved it and I want to do it again really, really soon it was such a thrill,” she enthused.