Vagabond Players’ production of “Little Shop of Horrors” features these cast members. Pictured in the top row, left to right, are Janellle Reid as Ronnette, Tiana Swan as Chiffon, Carly June Friesen as Crystal, Ryan Waechter as Seymour Krelbourn, Ross Friesen as Mr. Mushnik, Annie Arbuckle as Audrey and Thomas Lamont as Orin Scrivello. Shown on the bottom row are chorus members Richard Wiens and Regi Olives Nevada.

Vagabond Players’ production of “Little Shop of Horrors” features these cast members. Pictured in the top row, left to right, are Janellle Reid as Ronnette, Tiana Swan as Chiffon, Carly June Friesen as Crystal, Ryan Waechter as Seymour Krelbourn, Ross Friesen as Mr. Mushnik, Annie Arbuckle as Audrey and Thomas Lamont as Orin Scrivello. Shown on the bottom row are chorus members Richard Wiens and Regi Olives Nevada.

MINTY: A twisted ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ and other Halloween-month tales on local stages

Also: ‘The Woman in Black’ in White Rock, and Peninsula Productions gets busy at Surrey’s Centre Stage

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

SURREY — We have arrived, officially, in the fall season. Also officially, this is Culture Days weekend, with a huge variety of cultural and arts events happening all over Canada. I am sure you have already checked the schedule (posted at bc.culturedays.ca/en) and plan to attend a few special cultural activities this weekend. But don’t just walk away after this weekend. Fall is officially the start of the theatre season. Go see a live production. I promise, it is addictive.

Vagabond Players in New Westminster open their season with the insane – and insanely popular – musical Little Shop of Horrors. Of course, the movie was great, but don’t give a pass on the live staged version just because you saw the movie. This cult classic hit musical has a couple of Surrey actors in the cast.

Ryan Waechter, a Tamanawis Secondary grad, landed the plum role of Seymour in his first production out of high school. Seymour is a meek and mild flower shop assistant who discovers a peculiar new plant that grows into a demanding, evil, bad-ass carnivore plant that can make things happen for Seymour as long as Audrey Two (the plant) keeps getting the daily dose of blood – or even better, bodies!

Mixing Motown, B-movies and the “American Dream,” Little Shop of Horrors is challenging Vagabond Players to be “out for blood” with this quirky musical, which debuted 35 years ago. Puppets are needed to play the part of Audrey Two – and Vagabond has an all-new, custom-built set of puppets to introduce Audrey Two in all stages of growth.

Directed by Matthew Davenport, with musical direction by Julie Atchison and choreography by Damon Bradley Jang, Little Shop of Horrors runs from Oct. 5 to 29 at Bernie Legge Theatre, at Queen’s Park in New West, from Wednesday to Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25, or $23 for seniors/youth. Seats for groups (10 or more) are $20 each, with $15 previews on Oct. 5 and 6. Purchase your tickets at vagabondplayers.ca/tickets or call 604-521-0412. I expect great things from this production, and the show should attract sold-out houses.

Mike Busswood, current president of Surrey Little Theatre, moves his talents to White Rock Players this month to direct The Woman in Black. This horror story (perfect for Halloween lead-in) is about a lawyer who, certain that a curse has been placed on him, hires an actor to tell his strange story. But as they start to delve into his more terrifying memories, the creepy tale starts to come to life, and a shadowy figure emerges. Creepy and scary – without the use of clowns.

The Woman in Black runs from Oct. 13 to 28 at Coast Capital Playhouse in White Rock. Oct. 11 and 12 are preview nights and tickets are only $10. The box office is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. Call 604 -536-7535, or you can purchase tickets online at White Rock Players website, whiterockplayers.ca.

It is costly to mount a full-on live theatre presentation, especially for community theatre. Community theatre relies on volunteer labour, for the most part. Sets, costumes, rehearsal time, props – and even puppets – take time and money. It is a difficult world to find funding for all the fabulous shows local theatre companies would like to present, whether professional, semi-professional or amateur. “Reader’s theatre” offers an alternate to big expenses.

In this type of theatre, there are no costumes, sets or actions. Rehearsals are minimal. The actors do not memorize their scripts, they refer to the script while on stage. Surrey’s Naked Stage company, now in its second season, has attracted good-sized audiences to Newton Cultural Centre for its plays, including last week’s performance of Poor Richard.

Peninsula Productions has been very successful with its staged readings. This year, all of its staged readings are part of the Surrey Spectacular Series. All of these events will be at Centre Stage at Surrey City Hall. This stage area is a perfect venue for staged readings. The first show is For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, by Michel Tremblay. In this play, Tremblay pays homage to his mother as we follow the story through five different stages of this mother-son relationship. The show in Surrey is on Oct. 18 at 8 p.m.; tickets are $15. Remember, you will have to pay for parking in the parkade below city hall. Box office: 604 536-7535, peninsulaproductions.org. Note, the show will also be done Oct. 15 at Peninsula Productions’ space, 14600 North Bluff Rd., White Rock

So welcome, fall season of 2017. Daytime hours get shorter, the outside temperature drops, rain and fog are in the forecast. Sounds like perfect timing to head indoors to a live-theatre venue. It’s official.

melminty@telus.net

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