NEWTON — While the name of a new theatre company sounds kind of erotic, the three guys behind Naked Stage Productions Society promise otherwise.
For shows starting in September, their stage will be “naked,” not the performers.
Nudity was certainly not on Jim Trimble’s mind when he came up with the concept and recruited fellow theatre/music lovers Peter McCreath and Ed Milaney to get it going.
Together, the trio will launch the “readers theatre” venture at Newton Cultural Centre with a three-performance run in mid-September.
“There’s no props, no backdrops, no sets, no microphones, just actors on stage, probably seated on a stool with a stand there, and they read a script,” Trimble explained.
“It’s very similar to old-time radio,” he continued. “Those of us who were brought up in the ’30s and early ’40s, we would rush home from school every day to listen to Captain Midnight or Jack Armstrong or Orphan Annie, whatever it might be, and the whole gang from school would sit around the radio and the listen to this. You were forced to use your imagination, and that’s what this is as well.”
Trimble was involved in The Vaudevillians, a seniors entertainment troupe, for 15 years. When illness forced him to retire from the stage as emcee, he went about creating Naked Stage to bring audiences something he says hasn’t been done in Surrey before.
“A group used to do it many years ago in East Vancouver,” Trimble said. “It’s done in Miami, a big group there, and other places like Mexico, where Pat (his wife) and I saw it while vacation in the wintertime, and we thoroughly enjoyed those shows.”
McCreath, a barbershop singer and founding member of Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society, is the group’s vice-president, and Milaney, a Surrey Civic Treasure award winner with 50 years of stage experience, is the artistic director.
“I’m really so blessed to have recruited some fabulous people to work with me on this,” Trimble said.
Open auditions for the first Naked Stage show, “Any Wednesday,” will be held at Newton Cultural Centre on Saturday, July 23 from 9:30 a.m. to noon and on Sunday, July 24 from 1 to 4 p.m. Show dates are on Sept. 16, 17 and 18 at the cultural centre’s 100-seat “black box” theatre, on 72nd Avenue.
“It’s a delightful play that was made into a movie starring Jane Fonda (in 1966),” Trimble said about “Any Wednesday,” written by Muriel Resnik. “It has some great humour in it, a situational comedy. The play ran for 993 performances on Broadway. It was a hit, with good reason.”
The story centers on a Manhattan woman who is trying to decide between two suitors, one married and one not, on the day of her 30th birthday.
Naked Stage Productions Society plans to do a show every two months.
“I think it’s something the community will enjoy, and will be enduring,” Trimble said.
“I’ve never been as enthused about any initiative in my life.”
The company had considered opening with “Barefoot in the Park,” but the performance fees were too steep, Trimble said.
“The reality is, we don’t know how this will be accepted (by audiences),” he reasoned. “Ed is looking at which plays would be best to do, and we decide on them.… ‘Barefoot’ would bring out a lot of people but as an opener we weren’t sure, because unless you know you’ll put tushes in seats, you don’t want to stick your neck out.”
Another key for Naked Stage is involving younger actors and, ultimately, audiences.
“There’s a school in Langley that uses this method (to teach acting),” Trimble noted, “and we’d love to get involved with Studio 58 at Langara College.”
He paused and smiled.
“Working with (young acting students) is something we’d like because we don’t know too many young people anymore.”