Pictured from left, Eric Fortin, Lori Tych, Ben Odberg and Cale Walde in White Rock Players’ Club’s October production of “Dracula: The Bloody Truth.” (Photo: facebook.com/whiterockplayersclub)

COLUMN

MINTY: Stage is set for fall theatre shows in Surrey and beyond

October dates for ‘Social Security,’ ‘Dracula: The Bloody Truth,’ and ‘Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web’

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

We are starting a new season. No, not fall. There is the continuous calendar concept of time, of course. And, just like the time and temperature changes of the calendar seasons, this is also the time for the new season of community theatre. Social comments, thrillers, spooky and the macabre are themes for these first-of-the-season productions.

Surrey Little Theatre’s first production of this season is Social Security, by Andrew Bergman. Directed by Kayt Roth, this comedy-drama looks at three generations of the same family who are navigated into a new social situation. Can a bitter mother move in with her upscale-Manhattan art-dealer daughter? Can her sister accept her college daughter’s new lifestyle? Can love be found late in life? Mild adult themes add a bit of spice to the dialogue as six diverse people explore their changing social situation.

Social Security runs from Oct. 17 to Nov. 16 at Surrey Little Theatre. Tickets are available online at surreylittletheatre.com/tickets. Reservations and advance ticket purchase is advised, as you can no longer reserve by phone without prepayment – that’s just the way our world works now.

This may be the last season for SLT in its current location, in Clayton. Development in the area is forging ahead, but at least now there is hope for the future of SLT as new locations are becoming possible. For now, let us celebrate Surrey Little Theatre in its 60th season.

White Rock Players’ Club, now 75 years old, is ready with a thrilling, spooky-season-appropriate production, Dracula: The Bloody Truth, written by Le Navet Bete and John Nicholson. This show has played to rave reviews since its debut in Exeter in 2017, and the WRPC is pleased to present the British Columbia premier. I don’t know what to tell you about this show except what stage manager Sarah Lohnes told me: “It is a cross between Dracula meets Woman in Black meets Monty Python.”

I got my tickets. My active imagination does not do well with horror flicks and thrillers (nightmares), but this should just be fun.

The plot centres around the scary dude, Abraham Van Helsing himself. Van H. is aided by three enthusiastic but unskilled assistants as he attempts to illustrate to the audience the true story of Dracula. In order to tell this story, all four actors portray 40 different characters, including Jonathan Harker (Ben Odberg) and Mina (Lori Tych). Dracula is portrayed by Eric Fortin, and the show is directed by Cathe Busswood.

Creeped out yet? Cale Walde becomes Van Helsing and says: “You must have all heard by now of the recent novel, Dracula, that was released three years ago in 1897 by that dreadful man Bram Stoker, yes? I gave that money grabber, Mr. Stoker, all of my research notes, letters, diary entries to write up to warn you: It wasn’t a fictional story at all, no! It was fact, true, real.”

Dracula: The Bloody Truth runs from Oct. 9 to 26, Wednesday to Saturday, with Sunday matinees on Oct. 13 and 20. There will be two opportunities for the audience to quiz the cast and crew with Talk-Back Thursdays on Oct. 17 and 24. The production has reduced-rate previews on Oct. 9 and 10, with the gala opening on Friday, Oct. 11. Oh sure, let’s all go to the talk-back nights and chat with a vampire. More show details are posted on whiterockplayers.ca, or call 604-536-7535.

In Surrey, Royal Canadian Theatre Company gets into the spirit of the season with Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web, for a three-show run at the arts centre’s Main Stage on Oct. 25-26. Look for details at rctheatreco.com, or dial 604-501-5566.

In New Westminster, the 83rd season of Vagabond Players opens with Terror by Gaslight. Tim Kelly has crafted his play with suspense and sudden shocks in a macabre tale of body-snatching, explosive jealousies and murder in 19th-century Philadelphia. Yep, nightmare alley. Directed by Dale Kelly, the show is sure to be a period-perfect season-opener at Bernie Legge Theatre, in Queens Park, from Oct. 3 to 26. Tickets can be purchased online at vagabondplayers.ca, or call 604-521-0412.

All of these community theatre clubs share the talent around. Sarah Lohnes is president of Surrey Little Theatre’s board of directors, but is taking up the stage manager role for Dracula: The Bloody Truth, in White Rock. Cathe Busswood is found on stage – or behind the scenes – with all of these theatre clubs, as is Director of the Century, Dale Kelly. Remember, these people are not paid for their services. They are passionate about bringing quality live-theatre productions to our communities – at a price everyone can afford.

So, pass the pumpkin juice and be ready to participate in the new season of community theatre productions.

Melanie Minty writes twice monthly for the Now-Leader. Email: melminty@telus.net.

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