Life’s a beach, or so it is said. And if you live in Crescent Beach and your life is theatre, it just makes sense that you would want to establish a theatre venue on the beach. For Candace Radcliffe, it not only made sense; she worked on a plan to make Beach House Theatre a reality. She is now the artistic director/producer for the company, and is more than grateful to the community at Crescent Beach for supporting and encouraging the development of the pop-up theatre in tents on Blackie Spit Park for the past five years. And special thanks to nearby Alexandra Neighborhood House for providing rehearsal space from the very beginning.
Beach House Theatre has been a success from the beginning. It took two years of planning and Radcliffe cajoled Rick Harmon into joining forces with her, because “he didn’t think it was a crazy idea”.
Harmon is a well-recognized theatre director, mostly from his years of teaching at Earl Marriott Secondary and heading the drama department. No coincidence that Radcliffe now holds this post, since Harmon’s retirement. What a treasure for this school to have such talented, dedicated and enthusiastic people involved.
But I digress (not unusual).
Go to the Beach House Theatre website (Beachhousetheatre.org) and read all about the people involved in this amazing project. It is staggering, especially when you know that it’s a non-profit society run on volunteer labour, including the actors, ticket takers, ushers and most of the crew.
It does take a bit of labour, after all, to create a living, breathing theatre on a patch of gravel that serves as a parking lot for the adjacent beach area. Absolutely everything is brought in to the site – tents, chairs, risers, fencing, toilets, tables and stage. Most of this equipment is rented annually, as the society has one small storage unit for pieces that can be reused. Radcliffe admits that extra costuming is “stored in my basement.”
Only about 40 per cent of the operating costs come from ticket sales – which are always brisk and sell out quickly. Even with the run now six days instead of four, it takes quick work to secure a ticket. So both Radcliffe and Harmon heap praises on their volunteers and sponsors, and the show could not happen without either of these groups. “If you can handle money, we need you,” stated Radcliffe when talking about volunteers needed to man the box office. “And if you have money, we need you,” she added. Love the sense of humour.
For the first three years, Beach House Theatre presented William Shakespeare plays. Last year, they changed the offering to “The Importance of Being Earnest.” This year, the play is “The Foreigner,” a sensitive and heartwarming script which is as relevant today as it was in 1984. Shows start at 8 p.m. nightly from Aug. 9 to 14. Get tickets today via the company’s website. Note, this play is not suitable for children.
There is another side to Beach House Theatre, though, that is absolutely wonderful for children. “Aesop’s Fables” runs from Aug. 10 to 14, with an 11 a.m. show time. Running time is about 45 minutes, so no worries for keeping children’s attention. For three years, Robert Munsch plays were the children’s fare, so this year is another change-up. Director Courtney Shields started with Beach House Theatre as an actor, and now has taken on directorial duties. “We love her energies and ability,” said Radcliffe, and Harmon adds that he has “no worries that the show will be anything less than magnificent” with Shields as director. High praise. Get tickets now.
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Community theatre is run by the community – on volunteer power. The Vaudevillians are a seniors company of performers who are very active in bringing the era of vaudeville to our local stages. They are now in dire need of some good volunteers to fill these positions: artistic director, emcee, sound technician, performers and backstage help. Contact entertainment@the vaudevillians.com, or go to Thevaudevillians.com for more details.
Pat Trimble, a longtime Vaudevillian, asked me to post this notice. Retired seniors can still retire from a volunteer job, and I am sure there are people out there who, like Candace Radcliffe and Rick Harmon, have the passion to dedicate to the preservation of community theatre. Please pass this message along to anyone you think can help the Vaudevillians. It’s a golden opportunity for golden-agers. Don’t put it off; investigate the possibility. If you can’t spend your life on a beach, you may as well spend it in the theatre. Sand optional.