SURREY — This year we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Of course there are tons of Canada-related activities, and Theatre BC is promoting the plan. Theatre BC celebrates its 85th Anniversary in 2017 and will be holding festivals featuring all-Canadian playwrights in the organization’s 10 regional zones. Each year these regional zones hold festivals in order to determine a “best of the best” performance. The winners of these Zone Festivals then proceed onto the annual provincial theatre festival, called Destination Mainstage, held in July. In all some 50 productions from across the province will be vying for one of 10 spots available at Destination Mainstage. This is an important event, not only for the competition aspect, but for acknowledging community theatre throughout the entire province. Yes, it is a very big deal.
Last year, Surrey Little Theatre took home all the top awards from Mainstage, including best production (“The Last Lifeboat”). Of course, they’d like to repeat the experience. SLT’s entry for Theatre BC Fraser Valley Zone Festival is “Homechild.” This is a drama that examines the life of one of the hundreds of little children who were sent to Canada from Great Britain as part of a massive child migration scheme that began in the mid-1800s and continued until the mid-1900s. The play was written by Joan MacLeod, a Canadian Governor General’s Award-winning playwright.
“Homechild” runs at the Surrey Little Theatre’s home stage (7027 184th St., one block north of Fraser Highway) from April 20 to May 20, Thursdays to Saturdays at 8 p.m., with three Sunday matinees (April 30, May 7 and 14, 2 p.m.). Tickets are $17 but there is a special promotion on April 20 and 21, and the tickets for those two performances are $10. Tickets are selling quickly, and April 21 and 22 are already sold out. For reservations call 604-576-8451, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to Brownpapertickets.com. Visit www.surreylittletheatre.com for more information.
After the run at Surrey Little Theatre, “Homechild” cast and crew are ready for the competition in the Fraser Valley Zone. SLT is actually hosting the Fraser Valley Zone Festival this year – but at White Rock Players’ home stage, Coast Capital Playhouse. Surrey Little Theatre has hosted Zone Festival at their home space, but 76 seats is a bit small to accommodate the festival. Thank you, White Rock, for making your space available. White Rock Players, oddly enough, are not part of the Fraser Valley Zone, but the Vancouver Zone. There is a whole history there, and what I really enjoy is all the community theatre clubs working together – even though there is competition for audiences and awards.
After all the festivals, it is off to Mainstage, held this year in Vernon at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre. This week-long Festival of Best Play winning performances will include workshops and adjudications as B.C. community theatre enthusiasts celebrate Canada on stage. It’s also Vernon’s 125th birthday, so there will be plenty of celebrating to go around! Mostly, we are celebrating community theatre. Hooray.
Meanwhile, at the Coast Capital Playhouse, White Rock Players are presenting “Glorious,” a comedy by Peter Quilter, based on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins. The recent movie starring Meryl Streep may give you an idea about this play. In 1940s New York, the performer everyone wanted to see live was Florence Foster Jenkins, an enthusiastic soprano whose pitch was far from perfect – very far from perfect. But she pursued her dream and that was to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City. This powerful and inspiring play is based on a true story, and I use Jenkins’ quote as my personal performance mantra, “People may say I can’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.”
“Glorious!” runs at Coast Capital Playhouse from April 19 to May 6. Curtain is 8 p.m. for evening performances and 2:30 p.m. for matinees. Doors open at 7 p.m. (1:30 p.m. for matinees), and people can call 604-536-7535 for tickets, or click here. The show is directed by Don Briard, with Sue Sparlin as Florence.
One more theatre event for you is for and with kids. Surrey Young People’s Theatre Company, or SYTCO, presents “Junie B. Jones, the Musical!” on April 22 (1:30 and 4:30 p.m. shows) and April 23 (1:30 p.m.) at the Wheelhouse Theatre at Earl Marriott Secondary, South Surrey. Tickets via Brownpapertickets.com ($15, plus service fee), or $17 at the door.
SYTCO is celebrating its 20th season. Founded in 1997 by Susan Pendleton, the company was created as a not-for-profit to offer the highest quality theatre training and performance opportunities to selected youth (aged nine to 17) in the Surrey/White Rock area. More than 45 productions have been mounted. Oh, well done, Susan. This musical sounds like another winner in your long line of successes. Long live musical theatre, and thanks for bringing it to us in a format that can be enjoyed by young people. You have given so many young people the opportunity to sing and dance (at the same time) and believe that they can do it! Just like Florence Foster Jenkins. No one can ever say you didn’t do it. Applause.