Parker Baker, Kim Baker, Lisa Keeling Drever and Sophie Drever (pictured clockwise from left) are featured in Surrey Little Theatre’s production of “UFO Ho-Ho!” from Dec. 6 to 13. (submitted photo)

Parker Baker, Kim Baker, Lisa Keeling Drever and Sophie Drever (pictured clockwise from left) are featured in Surrey Little Theatre’s production of “UFO Ho-Ho!” from Dec. 6 to 13. (submitted photo)

Families play in ‘UFO Ho-Ho!’ at Surrey theatre that faces uncertain future

City budgets $500K to help Surrey Little Theatre relocate, if and when street is widened

Operators of Surrey Little Theatre received a pre-Christmas gift in the latest city budget, in a week when the company’s latest Christmas show was rehearsed.

The UFO Ho-Ho! play opens Friday (Dec. 6) at the 76-seat theatre, which faces an uncertain future in light of increasing residential development in that corner of Clayton, at 184th Street and Fraser Highway.

The city has budgeted $500,000 in 2023 for the potential relocation of the theatre, among major general capital projects listed in the five-year budget passed by city council on Monday (Dec. 2).

“The relocation of this not-for-profit group’s facility to a more accessible location is anticipated to both strengthen this organization and increase service to the city,” city officials say in a budget document.

The allocation of $500,000 was news to theatre company president Sara Lohnes when contacted by the Now-Leader on Nov. 22.

“We have not spoken to anyone at the City of Surrey about this – only about the potential for us to find land or space, but there’s been nothing about formal assistance like this,” Lohnes said.

“This is totally out of the blue for us, but it’s a boost for what we want to do, yes.”

• RELATED STORY, from 2016: Members of Surrey Little Theatre hope for the best as West Clayton densifies.

homelessphoto

In West Clayton, city plans call for higher-density housing and commercial activity, and that could mean widening 184th Street one day. If that happens down the road, the theatre would have to go, because the structure – a former church built in 1936 – is located just steps from the increasingly busy street.

As it stands, parking is a pain, and there is no space on the land to set the structure back from the roadway, so a plan to move the plays to a theatre in another location would have to be drawn.

“That’s a plan we’re trying to work on,” Lohnes said. “Ideally we need a whole new building in a whole new location, and that location just isn’t feasible right now. Informally we’ve been in talks with the city about finding space, but nothing is formal yet.

“Ideally we’d love to stay in Clayton or Cloverdale – that’s where a good base of our patrons live, so we wouldn’t want to move too, too far,” she added.

The church building is listed on the Surrey Heritage Register but does not have formal heritage protection, according to the West Clayton Neighbourhood Concept Plan (NCP) approved by city council in July 2015.

Kent Gallie, the city’s manager of performing arts, said the $500,000 budgeted for the theatre relocation has been on the books for at least a year.

“Essentially it’s there, really, as a placeholder in the event that development happens in that area and they need to widen 184th Street,” Gallie said. “The purpose to have money in the capital plan is, if and when they do need to relocate, and they can put a plan together and find a suitable location, the city would be wanting to assist them, particularly if it was all because the road needs to be widened. So that’s where we’re at at this point. It’s not in there for a specific reason, but it’s in there for 2023 for the possible relocation, just in case.”

Gallie said operators of the theatre are “in the driver’s seat” at this point. “If they get a business plan in place, if they had a new building in mind, at that point it would warrant having another meeting with them,” he said.

And so, for now, on with the Christmas show, which closes Dec. 15.

“We’re really excited about it,” Lohnes said. “It’s sold-out the past two years, so we’ve added an extra show this year. We’re doing six shows over two weekends this year, instead of four or five shows on one weekend.”

In UFO H0-Ho!, an alien lands at the North Pole looking for his leader, according to a description posted to surreylittletheatre.com. “Believing his leader to be Santa, he asks to be taken to him. The elves and other characters try to help, but when a villain and his sidekick steal the alien’s ray gun in an attempt to take over Christmas, the elves and friends find they need more help than they expected.”

The play, written by Margaret Shearman and directed by Linda McRae, features four sets of families working together to make the “out-of-the-world adventure come alive on stage,” according to SLT publicist Ellie Parento.

Kim Baker, who plays one of the head elves, Shingles, is involved in the show with her children Jeremy (as the villain), Parker (a jokester elf) and Joel (in the tech booth).

SLT newcomer Lisa Keeling Drever plays Jingles, a cheerful elf, and is joined by her daughter, Sophie (“a show favorite from A Grumpy Christmas, as Frass,” Parento noted).

Barb McLeod plays Sandy Claws, and her son, Andrew Keilbart, is the villain’s sidekick, Sly Stoneheart.

Simon Challenger plays jolly Santa Claus and is also the show producer. His daughter, Jenn, is on board as stage manager.

“Together with the families,” Parento says, “Harry Pering hilariously plays Elvis from the Planet Elvia along with Boe Connell, who is Captain Shortbread, a dog on law patrol and an elf, and Hannah Deschutter, resident musician.”

After the curtain closes, kids are invited to stay and take part in some activities, including photos with Santa.

Show tickets are $6 for kids and $12 for adults, at brownpapertickets.com. For more details, call 604-576-8451.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Fire Service at a garage fire in the 14400-block of 82A Ave on March 22, 2021. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
‘Perfect storm’ of variants, increasing COVID cases are concerning for Surrey fire chief

Between police and fire, Larry Thomas said there are 8 confirmed cases, 18 others isolating

Surrey Fire Service is on scene of a fire in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue Saturday morning (April 10). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews on scene of house fire

It happened in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Small plane crashes at Delta’s Boundary Bay Airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

Signage on a South Surrey sidewalk reminds pedestrians to respect social-distancing guidelines. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey records 4,400 COVID-19 cases in March

New cases almost doubled between February, March

Surrey RCMP are looking for these two men after a bank in the 12800-block of 96th Avenue was robbed on March 12. (Images: Surrey RCMP)
Police release images of two men suspected of robbing Surrey bank

Robbery happened on March 12 at bank in 12800-block of 96th Avenue

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Most Read