John Nolan (as Peter Ravenswaal) and Ashley Chodat (Anita) in Surrey Little Theatre’s production of ‘Wrong Turn at Lungfish,’ staged at the Clayton-area theatre for a month starting on Oct. 26. (Photo: submitted)

John Nolan (as Peter Ravenswaal) and Ashley Chodat (Anita) in Surrey Little Theatre’s production of ‘Wrong Turn at Lungfish,’ staged at the Clayton-area theatre for a month starting on Oct. 26. (Photo: submitted)

MINTY: Blind college prof meets feisty nurse in Surrey Little Theatre season-opener

Cast of ‘Wrong Turn at Lungfish’ has back stories that should be heard

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

SURREY — My life is an avalanche of emails and Facebook postings. There seems to be an app for everything nowadays, including an app for managing all these electronic messages. If I can’t spend an hour each day on my personal email, I fall behind. Overwhelmed. My fault. I just don’t look at my emails every day – and there are many days that I don’t even look at my cell phone. Amazing, I know.

Yet, I spend at least an hour each day reading a book. A real book. On paper, with real ink. Don’t know if that helps me understand the real world that now has its feet firmly planted in technology, but it does give me an appreciation of what we call the back story.

Surrey Little Theatre is opening its 2017/2018 season with “Wrong Turn At Lungfish,” by Garry Marshall and Lowell Ganz. The play will run from Oct. 26 to Nov. 25.

Marshall and Ganz were, until “Wrong Turn at Lungfish,” exclusively involved in film and television comedy, with shows like “Happy Days” and movies like “City Slickers” among their enormous successes. That’s their back story.

“Wrong Turn at Lungfish” is dramatic comedy, with some adult content, and takes place in a hospital room. It’s about a blind and bitter college professor and his encounter with a saucy, streetwise young woman who volunteers to read to him in the hospital.

This is no “City Slickers” type of story. I have been to rehearsals, and read the script, and have done a small part in getting this play together for the opening night. Actually, a very small part. Others involved with this play have unique and interesting back stories. You need to know the back story.

Aleisha Fernandes, from Surrey, plays the nurse. Aleisha is not only an avid theatre fanatic but it has always been a dream of hers to act in one of the shows at SLT. She grew up in the Clayton Heights area, and SLT was the beacon. Her dream has become a reality in her first theatre performance in “Wrong Turn at Lungfish.” The feisty and sarcastic nurse comes to life.

Director Brad Williams has had a long career in community theatre, broadcasting, film and television. His experience and back story could be a book-long listing. So, there is Aleisha just starting out in the world of live theatre, and Williams bringing a lifetime of experience to the stage. Winner.

John Nolan as the patient, Peter Ravenswaal, was best actor at Theatre BC’s Mainstage festival twice for Clarence Darrow and for R.P. Murphy (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”). He toured across Canada with “Tommy!” – a one-man show about Tommy Douglas – and had “a three-year world holiday masquerading as a photographer on the Love Boat.” He’s also written plays, and has trained actors who now perform in the U.K., U.S. and Canada.

Again, tons of experience, and he’s sharing this with not just the cast of “Wrong Turn at Lungfish,” but with everyone who will attend the play. Nolan can certainly add theatre consultant, actor, director, producer, adjudicator, playwright, dramaturge and acting technique mentor to his list of accomplishments. Not only am I impressed by his accomplishments, I also love that Nolan is appearing with Surrey Little Theatre newcomers.

COLUMN CONTINUES BELOW

Ashley Chodat (as Anita Merendino) was previously a part of the company’s Youth Improv Team and the cast of SLT’s youth show, “Splinters.” She is a recent graduate of the Douglas College theatre program. Meanwhile, Spencer Shearman (Dominic De Caesar) was 14 when he started doing community-theatre work. He cut his teeth as backstage crew and moved on to the tech board. He was even a living prop once. Ah, what a story that would make!

Surrey Little Theatre is located at the top of Clayton Hill, at 7027 184th St., a half-block north of Fraser Highway. Here is another part of the back story: Lungfish are an ancient fish that have both gills and lungs. When the swamps and rivers dry up due to drought, it is able to survive in the mud for years. I get it. An anomaly. Wonder what would happen to us if we could no longer text and tweet. Would anything ever get done?

The show runs Thursdays through Saturdays, with three Sunday matinees. Tickets are $17/$15. You can pay at the door with a credit card now, thanks to technology. Or go to brownpapertickets.com, make email arrangements at reservations@surreylittletheatre.com or go “old school” and phone 604-576-8451.

Elsewhere, Peace Arch Spinners and Weavers take us back in time by preserving the ancient arts of spinning and weaving techniques. They do not require electronic apps to create handmade fashion accessories and home décor. They don’t actually even require electricity, but hey – we don’t have to give up all the mod cons.

The group’s annual “Fibre Flare” show and sale runs from Nov. 3 to 5 at Turnbull Gallery in the South Surrey Recreation and Arts Centre, 14601 20th Ave. A silent auction, demonstrations and door prizes are featured, plus free parking. How can you resist? Admission by donation. Even better. I haven’t figured out that parking app yet. Yep, I am definitely old-school. That’s my back story.

melminty@telus.net