MELANIE MINTY: Sellouts for one Surrey theatre group, struggles for another

"Funny Little Thing Called Love" is light, entertaining and funny

The romantic comedy 'Funny Little Thing Called Love' is staged at Surrey Little Theatre this month.

SURREY — “Funny Little Thing Called Love” is another runaway success for Surrey Little Theatre. This comedy, by the trio of playwrights Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, or just Jones-Hope-Wooten, tells five tongue-in-cheek tales of love in five scenes. Multiples of everything contribute to this success. Nearly 100 people put their hearts on the line to make this show possible. There were four new directors, four new stage managers, 13 actors playing 28 roles, six designers, a half-dozen techies and 4,900 hours of volunteer hours. There’s also one props mistress, Sue Riley.

Brigitte Seib and Ruth Bedell certainly logged a great deal of those volunteer hours as the production-management team. So of course, me being me, I had to ask: Why so many directors and stage managers? The concept was to give new people an opportunity to direct or stage-manage. Learn what goes on. How to do it. Helen Embury mentored the directors and Loryn LeGear mentored the stage managers. LeGear is still in her 20s and reveals that she has spent half her life with Surrey Little Theatre. That almost makes her the veteran of the group; 10 of the cast members are new to SLT, and some are even new to acting. What an experience to be part of a show that is already almost entirely sold-out, even with extra days added to the schedule. Go to the website (Surreylittletheatre.com) to check out available dates.

The show is light, entertaining and funny – certainly worth the price of a ticket, if you can still get one. Seib sums it up nicely: “What you get is a whole lot of love and passion to bring you a couple hours of fun and laughter. We hope that everyone who comes to see the show will keep spreading the love.”

Seib is one of the many people who love Surrey Little Theatre. She has served many years as president of the board of directors, designed and spearheaded the renovations, designs fantastic sets, paints and has even won awards as director. There are other people involved with SLT that also volunteer their time and talents to this small-sized (but big-hearted) community theatre. She is not alone in caring about the theatre.

Recent stories and columns in the Now have brought attention to a serious issue facing Surrey Little Theatre. That is the widening of the road (184th Street), which would take away parking and access to the building. Eventually, a solution will be found, and it is important for the people making the decisions to understand that closing the building is not the solution. To stay viable, community theatre cannot rent civic theatres and warehouse space. They need their own building. There has been a groundswell of support for SLT – and it is all appreciated. President Mike Busswood says they have set up a separate email address for people wanting to write in their support. It is sort of a “bank” of information that can be passed on to the decision makers when the time comes for action. Send your thoughts regarding SLT to support@surreylittletheatre.com. Spread the love.

It never ceases to amaze me how often the decision-makers don’t have all the data they need to provide appropriate action. This is our opportunity to have a voice and put our collective foot forward.

And while we are helping community theatre, I do have to give a plug for Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society (FVGSS). For 35 years this group has brought musical theatre to Surrey with G&S operettas and its annual Christmas-season pantomimes. They involve families in their productions and, just like Surrey Little Theatre, have a boatload of people who are passionate about presenting live theatre in our city.

Unlike SLT, however, the FVGSS do not have their own building for rehearsals and performances. The bill for warehouse space, rehearsal space and ever-increasing theatre rent has nearly crippled this award-winning, non-profit group. Grants from gaming funds have remained static while costs have more than doubled. So right now, there will be no spring show. No “Anne of Green Gables,” no “Pirates of Penzance.” Tim Tucker – often doing duty as music director for the society – is hoping to put together a two-day concert featuring the favourites from past shows. That’s a lot of people who have performed in  a lot of shows.

I am just in awe of people like this who not only keep a full-time day job, but probably spend every other waking moment immersed in a theatre project – as a volunteer. That’s a lot of love and passion for the art. It makes a difference, don’t you think? You can help again, this time with money. Go to the website Gofundme.com/SaveFVGSS or mail a cheque to FVGSS, #2-12357 82nd Ave., Surrey, B.C., V3W 0L5.

Share the love. The show will go on. That’s the tradition of theatre.

melminty@telus.net

 

 

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