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Surrey’s Royal Canadian Theatre Company moves forward without King as managing artistic director

New roles for Crystal Weltzin and Kerri Norris as three new shows are announced for 2022-23 season
Ellie King in a Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s promo photo for a production of Noel Coward’s play “Blithe Spirit” in October 2021.

Ellie King has officially retired from the job of leading Surrey-based Royal Canadian Theatre Company, which has announced its next round of shows.

In stepping back from work as managing artistic director of the theatre company she co-founded in 2006, King has handed the reins to production manager Crystal Weltzin and artistic director Kerri Norris.

King says she’ll continue to act and direct.

“I am getting back to my own career which has kind of been hold since 2000,” she told friends on Facebook. “Oddly enough, since retiring officially I’ve had a slew of auditions!”

Royal Canadian will be taken to “the next level” by Norris and Weltzin, King said, with the help of a board of directors led by president Linda McCrossin. “Together this strong team will not only carry on our work, but build it into an even more to-be-reckoned-with entity,” King posted.


King has been part of Metro Vancouver’s theatre scene since the early 1980s, and in 2013 won a Surrey Civic Treasure award for her work with the Royal Canadian company.

She’s well known for writing and directing British-style pantomime theatre productions each holiday season.

Last December, Royal Canadian’s panto “Alice in Wonderland” was written by Weltzin and directed by Norris, who’d inherited those roles from King for the first time.

• READ MORE: Girl gets lost in new ‘Alice’ panto in Surrey, a full-circle adventure for creative team.

Norris has worked with King since before RCTC’s beginnings, and has been with the company since its inception in 2006.

Weltzin recently mentored with King on the production-management side, and first worked with Royal Canadian in 2010 as an ensemble member in King’s “Robin Hood” panto.

“While (King) is stepping back to enjoy a well-deserved break,” the company says in a news release, “the foundation she has built for the company and her passion for the arts will resonate in the work of those she mentored along the way.”

King “has played an instrumental role in the Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s continuance and survival, especially throughout COVID-19,” the news release continues. “She has guided new performers and grown our creative teams into the thriving theatre company we are today. Ellie’s devotion and can-do attitude have made her an incredibly valuable advisor to RCTC. Her leadership and collaboration with the Board of Directors and Production team will be greatly missed, and we are deeply grateful for the significant contributions she has made to create this theatre family.”

Meantime, King thanked those “who have worked for, volunteered their time for, supported and cheered on our little theatre company that could – and did and does – present excellent, truly entertaining and affordable theatre. An especial thanks to long-suffering husband Geoff and my beloved family for putting up with my almost complete absence during my time working to build and run RCTC.”

Looking ahead, Royal Canadian is planning its 2022-23 season of shows, starting with the romantic comedy “Ghost of a Chance” in October at Surrey Arts Centre and also Anvil Centre in New Westminster. This year’s panto will be “The Snow Queen: A Frozen Adventure,” followed next spring by a production of Neil Simon’s “The Last of the Red-Hot Lovers,” directed by Nicole DesLauriers. More details are found on

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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