A scene from Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s production of Arsenic and Old Lace, to be staged at Surrey Arts Centre for two nights in October. Pictured from left to right are Shaun McHale (playing Officer Brophy), Michael Charrois (as Jonathan Brewster) and Kyle Brogan (Officer Klein). (submitted photo: RCTC)

MINTY: Burst pipe strikes theatre company twice in White Rock

Also on stage: Royal Canadian preps classic comedy ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ for Surrey theatre

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

It was a harrowing and unexpected experience. Waves of water crashed through walls, causing severe damage and flooding. No, it wasn’t on the East Coast, and it wasn’t Florence. The flood and damage occurred last week to Coast Capital Playhouse in White Rock. In the course of a water-main pressure test outside the theatre, the pipe burst – twice! The glass front of the Playhouse was shattered, and the lobby was soaked pretty thoroughly.

Actually, the flooding had two shots at the Players: The cast of White Rock Players’ panto (Robin Hood and the Skytrain of Doom) was tested with the first burst of water as they rehearsed dialogue in the lobby. Surprise! Not something you expect during the course of a rehearsal. But, hey, a small disaster did not deter the drama club. The second pipe burst while the cast of Harvey, which opens the company’s 2018-19 season in October, was doing a photo shoot – in the lobby, of course.

• RELATED STORY: Two water main ruptures send glass, rocks flying in White Rock, from Sept. 16.

No one was hurt that afternoon, on Sunday, Sept. 16, but Dann Wilhelm’s script was pretty soaked. Wilhelm wrote the panto script this year, and directs the show. But in the best of theatre tradition, the show must go on. As they posted on Facebook, they are very proud of how the theatre family is tackling this “situation” – just another challenge, I suppose.

Construction of a highrise next door has made access and parking for the theatre tricky and difficult. The water-main pipe burst may not have been a Florence-like force of wind and water, but still. The plucky Players will bring a total package of entertainment to the stage. Soon. We need to be there to support them.

Community theatre takes lots of effort, talent, time and passion for the end product. It is amateur. Cast and crew are not paid anything for their participation. Volunteer time counts in the thousands of hours each year. The windows may be broken, but that damage will be fixed, and the shows will go on.

Mary Chase’s Harvey – an old-fashioned comedy – opens Oct. 10 and runs until Oct. 27. Later, Robin Hood and the Skytrain of Doom runs from Dec. 5 to 27. Purchase tickets online on the website (whiterockplayers.ca), or call the box office at 604-536-7535. May the next “burst” be rounds of applause, and not a water main.


Meanwhile, Royal Canadian Theatre is also bringing us an old-fashioned comedy – or classic, if you prefer that term. The company’s production of Arsenic and Old Lace, written by Joseph Kesselring and directed by Ellie King, features an outstanding cast for this delightful bit of theatre. Catch it at New Westminster’s Anvil Centre Theatre from Oct. 18 to 20 and at Surrey Arts Centre on Oct. 26 and 27. The Anvil is a decent “black box” theatre and very friendly with lots of parking available. Test the waters, so to speak. For tickets there, call 604-521-5050 or click on ticketsnw.ca.

Of course, you know how fab Surrey Arts Centre is. You must have box office phone number on speed dial already. If not, it’s 604-501-5566, or go online at tickets.surrey.ca.

Arsenic and Old Lace is the perfect show for folks who think they live in a dysfunctional family. Mortimer Brewster has an uncle who thinks he is Theodore Roosevelt, and “Teddy” lives with little-old-lady aunts who are inclined to homicide. On the main stage, this comedy explores the risks people will go for their family. Royal Canadian is interested in showing the hilarious side of desperation, brought on by haywire family members. The cast includes Steve Weller, Charles Buettner, Victor Van der Merwe, Shaun McHale, Kyle Brogan, Jacqueline Charrois, Steven Simpson, Amanda Prasow, Michael Charrois, Kurtis Maguire, Jess Redmond and Rob Larsen, along with stage manager Stephanie Bruce.

There is a story behind every story. And of course, there is a lot of “drama” in our theatre clubs. Can’t always rely on a flood to bring the story to your attention. Live theatre is a miracle. The show must – and does – go on.

Elsewhere, next up for Surrey Little Theatre is Beer for Breakfast, scheduled to open on Oct. 18 for a month-long run. What can possibly go wrong on a “guys weekend” in a snowed-in cabin, and one of the guys is, in fact, not a guy? Guess you will just have to find out for yourself. Get the full story at surreylittletheatre.com.

Melanie Minty writes twice monthly for the Now-Leader. She can be reached at melminty@telus.net.

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