Fred Partridge photo An ensemble cast brings to life the frantic days of live television broadcasts in the early 1950s – and the team of comedy writers who keep a major network’s hit variety show afloat – in White Rock Players Club’s production of Neil Simon’s Laughter On The 23rd Floor, June 12 to June 29 at the Playhouse.

THE SCENE

Arts and entertainment on the Semiahmoo Peninsula

Neil Simon comedy

The White Rock Players Club’s next production is the comedy Laughter on the 23rd Floor by Neil Simon, previewing tonight and Thursday, and opening formally on Friday (June 14), at White Rock’s Playhouse, 1532 Johnston Rd.

It’s a semi-autobiographical piece based on Simon’s experiences writing for volatile comedy genius Sid Caesar in the early days of live television in the 1950s, alongside such talents as Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart and Woody Allen.

In his play, seven wisecracking writers – of varying degrees of eccentricity – toil in a Manhattan skyscraper office for ‘Max Prince,’ star of a weekly comedy-variety show.

Director Lance Peverley notes that Laughter on the 23rd Floor provides an opportunity to shine for some versatile acting talents from recent and former productions at the Playhouse, along with newcomers to the White Rock stage who have been featured notably with other groups in productions across the Lower Mainland.

“We wanted to cast actors who are close to as described in Simon’s masterful blueprint,” Peverley said in a news release.

“And that means mainly younger personalities in their 20s and early 30s, (similar to those) who worked under Caesar’s leadership in Your Show of Shows, Caesar’s Hour and follow-up ventures.”

Nikolas Perry (Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s A Bedfull of Foreigners) returns to the White Rock stage – after a long absence – as Max in a fine ensemble cast that also includes Adrian Shaffer (Harvey, Comedy of Tenors) as Simon’s counterpart Lucas Brickman, Rebekah MacEwan (most recently seen in FVGSS’ Seussical), Janelle Carss (Present Laughter), Charles Buettner (Ninotchka), Daleal Monjazeb, Yukon DeLeeuw, Callum Henderson and Adam Beggs.

Performances are Wednesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.

For tickets ($22, seniors and students $19 – all tickets $10 on Wednesdays), visit whiterockplayers.ca or call 604-536-7535.

Memorial Park movies

The White Rock BIA and Freshair Cinema are presenting some all-time favourite family movies in free outdoor shows at Memorial Park, on Marine Drive (next to White Rock Museum and Archives), on three successive Thursday evenings this month.

First up tomorrow (Thursday, June 13) is Mamma Mia! – the original 2008 musical starring Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Christine Baranski and a ton of ABBA tunes (and not to be confused with the recent, appalling Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again).

On June 20 it’s the classic 1987 cult spoof of swashbuckling adventure movies, The Princess Bride with Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn and Andre the Giant.

And on June 27, it’s the original 1977 Star Wars movie (now known as Episode IV – A New Hope) with Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing. Screenings begin at sunset, but participants are encouraged to come early to secure the best seating.

Club 240

Crescent Legion’s Club 240 (2643 128 St.) is the location for Friday-night dances organized by the Semiahmoo Music Consortium, along with other special Saturday events throughout the year and a regular Wednesday bluegrass jam.

Coming up this Friday (June 14) will be something different: a Blues Jam Night starting at 8 p.m., and featuring some of the best blues musicians in the Lower Mainland and beyond in an informal setting.

Tickets for consortium dances ($20) are on sale at www.brownpapertickets.com and at the legion box office (604-535-1043), which is open daily from 4-9 p.m.

Blue Frog Studios

There’s always something hopping at White Rock’s Blue Frog Studios, the city’s unmatched intimate venue for up-close concerts by national and international touring acts, as well as local and B.C.-based artists.

Upcoming highlights include A Night of Bowie starring Syl Thompson (tickets still available for an added show June 20) and folk-pop icon Shari Ulrich and her five-piece band (June 22, tickets still available for the second show).

And on July 5, there are still tickets available for the second show of vocalist D.L. Car’s tribute show Classic Ronstadt – The Legacy of Linda. Visit bluefrogstudios.ca or call 604-542-3055.

Arts Umbrella

Arts Umbrella South Surrey’s Expressions Festival, celebrating the creativity of young local students in art and design, continues until June 22 at White Rock’s Landmark Pop-Uptown Gallery in Central Plaza (at 15140 North Bluff Rd.). Opening hours for the exhibition are 1-5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit artsumbrella.com/expressions

Traditional jazz

White Rock Traditional Jazz Society’s regular series of Sunday dances may be on hiatus at Crescent Legion Branch’s Club 240, but the sounds of live New Orleans and Chicago jazz and small-band swing can still be heard every Sunday, 2-5 p.m., at the venue, thanks to a new summer series by the society’s house band, veteran pianist and vocalist Rice Honeywell Sr.’s Red Beans N’ Rice.

Starting this Sunday (June 9), they’ll be keeping the jazz going until the return of regular society sessions in the fall.

Honeywell’s elegantly rhythmic piano stylings and vocals are complemented by all-star sidemen Jim Armstrong on trumpet, Ray Batten on trombone, Gerry Green on clarinet and tenor sax, Don Ogilvie on guitar, Casey Tolhurst on bass and Scott Robertson on drums. The venue is at 2643 128 St.; admission is $10; $12 (non-members) and $6 (students with ID).

Yvonne Maximchuk

Author, artist and former White Rock resident Yvonne Maximchuk, still well-known on the Semiahmoo Peninsula for her paintings – and her lively memoir – returns to where her art career began with a show of new work at White Rock Library through June.

Imbued with the salty tang of life on the B.C. coast – including the environs of Maximchuk’s current home, Echo Bay – the paintings employ her careful draftsmanship, as well as her sense of colour and mood.

The library is located at 15342 Buena Vista Ave.

For more information on Maximchuk’s show, call 604-541-2201.

Open-mics

The burgeoning Semiahmoo Peninsula scene for open-mics and coffee houses continues to grow.

A live open-mic for musicians, hosted by well-known local musician Dennis Peterson, is a regular Saturday night feature, 6-9 p.m. at Pelican Rouge Coffee Shop, 15142 North Bluff Rd.

Sign up is at 5:30 p.m.

A music-oriented open-mic is held most Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. at Three Dogs Brewing (1515 Johnston Rd.); and, while it’s not an open-mic, per se, students of NUVO Music School are regularly featured in Saturday afternoon performances at Everbean Cafe (106-15331 16 Ave.)

The long-established Crescent Moon Coffee House is at Kwomais Point Park’s Sanford Hall every Thursday night from 8-11 p.m.

Parking is free at the venue, which is located at 1367 128 St.

Suggested donation at the door is $5.

For more information, subscribe to Crescent Moon’s newsletter at http://bit.ly/cmcoffeehouse

For fans of stand-up comedy, and aspiring comics, Lizzie Allan’s Addictive Comedy presents a regular open-mic every second and fourth Friday (7-9 p.m.) at 1-1381 King George Blvd.

It’s advertised as “a safe space to try comedy, get ready for shows or just watch.”

Admission is by donation.

For more information on the event, email lizzie@addictivecomedy.com or call 604-354-3369.

Meanwhile, the popular monthly open-mic night created by The Drama Class’ Michele Partridge continues the last Sunday of each month at 7 p.m., at the White Rock Community Centre, 15154 Russell Ave.

Open to actors, musicians, singers, comedians and storytellers of all ages – and featuring a regular over-the-top lip-sync contest each month – the show is hosted by well-known local actor and director Dann Wilhelm.

Next show is scheduled for June 30.

Admission is $5 at the door; performers can register at the sound check at 6:30 p.m. or, in advance, by email to dannwilhelm@gmail.com

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