A sign of summer’s end: Panto auditions planned

This is crazy. We are almost at the end of summer! How did that happen so fast? You’d think that with longer hours of daylight, plus the sensational days of sunshine, the summer time would seem endless. Well, September looms. While we don’t know if public schools will open on schedule, the community theatre season will start as scheduled.

While recent articles in the Now may have discouraged some parents from allowing their minor children to participate in community theatre, I just want to say: Give it another thought.

For more than 30 years, Fraser Valley Gilbert Sullivan Society (FVGSS) has provided amateur musical theatre experience for both youth and adults alike. Their family-oriented outlook has always been a mainstay. Children can audition to be in the annual pantomime, and there is always a parent who must be at all rehearsals and performances. Trust me, I was one of those parents long ago, and put in many backstage hours as kid wrangler. I can say it was worth the time and effort, and certainly gave my daughter a grounding in musical theatre – a career she has followed to professional status.

I have also “paid my dues,” as it were – and after spending many years backstage, I have gradually become an onstage performer. And I have a host of friends that have also been part of the GS Society. I am just telling you all this background because it is important. And just in case you – or even a child you may know – would like to take a chance and audition for the society’s next panto, here is the info.

Auditions for FVGSS’ Santa Claus the Panto are on Aug. 28 and Sept. 4, from 7 to 10 p.m., at St. Cuthbert’s Anglican Church, 11601 82nd Ave., North Delta (across from North Delta Secondary). The society has used the church hall for rehearsals for as long as I can remember, and it has always been a safe venue. To book an audition time, email fvgssproducer@gmail. com. Callbacks are Sept. 6. Oh yes, the show will be at Surrey Arts Centre from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7. And do come prepared to audition with an up-tempo song that shows off your vocal range, and be prepared to tell a joke! I will be auditioning myself, but I will admit that I have an advantage: these people are my friends, and they like me. I have a good attitude, work hard and show up to all the rehearsals and performances. Just sayin’.

While I have appeared in a few pantos with the GS Society (did you see me as the witch, or the magic mirror ball?), I also was invited to be in White Rock Players’ panto one year. Again, it was a great experience, but I did find that a five-week run is just too long when you have a career outside of the theatre.

White Rock Players has a very long tradition of presenting a Christmas pantomime and, of course, their pantos follow a style that is particular to White Rock Players. One tradition is the “love duet,” “The Wonderful Year We Fell in Love,” which is specially written each year highlighting the events of the year past. It is iconic to White Rock Players, and now a new public art mural by Elizabeth Hollick, by the same name, is

being unveiled in a ribboncutting ceremony with Mayor Wayne Baldwin on Tuesday, Aug. 26, from 11 a.m. to noon.

This new public art not only celebrates the annual pantomime, but also is a reminder of what the club has brought to our community: decades of good theatre. If you can’t make it to the ribbon-cutting event (yes, a lot of us do have to work, even in the summer), do check out “The Wonderful Year We Fell In Love” mural at Coast Capital Playhouse.

Side note: Peninsula Productions often rents Coast Capital Playhouse for its productions. This fairly new theatre production company was recently informed that the space where it stores sets will be closing. They need a new, economical space for storage. They only need a dry place the size of a single parking space. C’mon, White Rock, someone out there can help. Contact the company at info@peninsulaproductions.org.

Arts and culture are a huge part of our communities, and contribute significantly to the local economy. The term “creative economies” has come to my notice lately, although it must have been kicked around for years. We always hear in the news how much money is spent in local bars and restaurants when a big sports event is in town. Arts and cultural events also contribute significantly – we just don’t hear about it very regularly. Alas, overlooked again. Yes, I get it: Not everyone likes dance or live theatre as much as soccer or hockey. There is room for both.

Culture Days is a collaborative Canadawide movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of all Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities. Launched in 2010, Culture Days provides artists, artisans and cultural organizations with an opportunity to enhance their profile and grow their audiences within their communities.

Good news: It is not too late to register your arts organization to take part in BC Culture Days, which runs from Sept. 26 to 28. Hundreds of B.C. arts and culture groups, along with individual artists, in communities across B.C. will be inviting the public to participate in free, handson and behind-the-scenes activities.

So if you have a cultural experience to share with your community, be it in visual arts, music, dance, theatre, heritage, film, literature or the culinary arts, get involved. For information about BC Culture Days, visit Culturedays.ca.

For further details on organizing a Culture Days event in B.C., contact provincial co-ordinator Nazabin Shoja at 604-361-3535 or culturedays@allianceforarts.com.