MELANIE MINTY: Costumer brings impressive credits to ‘Cinderella’ panto

Stella Gardner has worked on TV's 'Xena: Warrior Princess' and more

Stella Gardener in costume.

WHITE ROCK — Life is a funny old journey, isn’t it? There are those who know their destination and determinedly follow the path they have chosen. In my experience, most of us hop aboard for the journey, destination unknown. It can be an adventure that way, and full of possibilities. We just have to search for those possibilities and find friends with like-minded interests.

Many years ago when I first joined Surrey Little Theatre, one person summed up why he always sought out a community theatre club to join whenever he moved to a new place: They give the best parties. Well, that makes sense. Most people involved in community theatre are outgoing and are prepared to look at life differently. Most have a “regular” job and theatre is a “hobby.” It is a place that offers creative outlet, lets you donate all your free time to the cause, exhausts every bit of your energy – and they do have great parties.

So when Stella Gardner moved here from New Zealand seven months ago, she found a place near and dear to her heart with White Rock Players’ Club. She signed on to help with costumes for “Cinderella,” the company’s current panto production at Coast Capital Playhouse. Resident costume genius Pat McLean, is thrilled to have Gardner join the group to help with costumes, wigs and makeup.

“My mother used to tell me that I was sewing before I could walk,” Gardner recalled. “As a baby I was always crawling over her foot pedal while she was at the machine. As I grew up, she taught me to sew by teaching me to work it out myself and only pointing it out when I got it wrong. This was the perfect way for me to learn, as it let me work out the logic of how to do things, and allowed me to work outside the box and be creative in ways only my brain would work.”

Gardner wanted a life journey that would allow her to be a teacher. At age 14 she was placed in work studies at a local Kindergarten in Auckland. She discovered that she could make costumes from scraps for the kids, and one thing led to another. Soon she had her own costume company that she later sold for a neat profit.

When members of the club were asked to be extras on TV’s “Xena: Warrior Princess” set, they came in costumes.

“Within 30 minutes I was inducted into the costume department and was covered in brown tempura paint as I dirtied up costumes,” Gardner recalled. “From there, I worked on ‘Hercules,’ ‘Mask of Zorro,’ ‘Narnia,’ ‘Last Samurai,’ and then found myself doing work on ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit.’”

OK, wow! I guess it was about being in the right place at the right time with the right skills following the right path in life.

A move to Christchurch got Gardner involved in theatre, in a job working for the largest costume department in New Zealand, making and designing costumes for children’s shows.

“I found my love of theatre there, making one-off costumes, bringing joy to children’s faces as a lollipop-pumpkin-frog monster dances across the stage,” she revealed. “There is something more magical about theatre, onstage reveals and costume changes that you can’t hide with computer programs and calling cut.”

After spending seven years in earthquake-hit Christchurch, Gardner decided to move to Canada, where she spent time as a child and has duel citizenship.

“I am living with a wonderful man named Shawn Van Egdom, but needed something to complete my life.”

Last June, she saw “I Hate Hamlet” at the playhouse in White Rock, “fell in love with the feeling in the building, the history and the stories it has to tell,” and also developed a connection with those who stage shows there.

In Canada, with Michael Bell, who owned a touring theatre company that goes to schools all over New Zealand Australia to introduce children to the joy of theatre, she plans to open a playhouse within the next five years.

For now, she says, “White Rock Players’ Club is a family, one I am very happy to be part of.”

melminty@telus.net

 

 

Just Posted

Surrey goalie gets a shot with NHL Boston Bruins on China trip

On tryout contract, Derek Dun practiced with team ahead of pre-season game

SFU unveils new lab at Surrey Memorial Hospital

Combination of MRI, MEG allows for ‘best possible windows’ intro brain function

White Rock mayor attacks ‘fearmongering’ candidates

Wayne Baldwin condemns anti-highrise petition, saying Democracy Direct candidates ‘not fit for office’

Comic Strippers to return to Surrey’s Bell for third time

Improv-comedy show is ‘semi-dressed and completely unscripted’

UPDATE: Surrey firefighters trying to determine what caused Bridgeview propane blaze

Firefighters fought blaze at Pacific Propane Container Recycling

U.S. congressman issues dire warning to Canada’s NAFTA team: time is running out

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to resume talks with the U.S.

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

Cyclists finish North America trip to highlight Ukraine struggle

The 10,000 bike ride raised over $10,000 for victims of the war in Ukraine.

21 new paramedics promised for B.C. Interior

A total of 18 new full-time paramedics will be hired for Kamloops and three are being hired for Chase.

Drop-in to a Cloverdale Library Philosophers Café

First cafe of the fall is Tuesday, Sept. 18

Federal stats show slight increase in irregular migrant claims in August

113 extra people tried to cross the Canadian border last month

Tornado reported near B.C. lake

Environment Canada investigates, says a ‘possible’ tornado took place in Mission, by Hayward Lake

Work begins to remove cargo from grounded Haida Gwaii barge and fishing lodge

Westcoast Resorts’ Hippa Lodge broke from its moorings and ran aground early this month

Most Read