Langley Players’ show all about party people

LANGLEY – There are definite ups and downs when bringing an 11-cast comedy to the stage for all to see, and Dave Williams confesses Cocktails at Pam’s has had its challenges.

Despite some obstacles that have arisen since casting in mid-August, the 64-year-old drama club president and first-time director said he was excited to raise the curtain on this Stewart Lemoine-penned play starting last Thursday (Oct. 16) at Langley Playhouse.

The cast size alone would expectedly be a hurdle, said the retired Walnut Grove educator.

“Large casts are interesting to work with, however difficulty is not a factor of size but a factor of personalities,” or so Williams learned.

“The actors were a great fit of personalities, they worked well together and seemed to form a cohesive group rather than a collection of 11 individuals,” he said.

“Turns out a big cast in a small theatre – for a cocktail party – it’s exactly what you need.”

That said, working with a cast of 11 was not without its difficulties.

Williams has been working on and off stage with the Langley Players since 2007, lured in by his daughter Joanna and wife Arleen’s involvement and primarily taking on a lot of behind-the-scenes roles such as set design and construction. Despite his experience, this is his first turn at the helm, and trying to track each actor at all times proved harder than he expected.

“There is simply too much to watch at any one time,” he said.

And while this isn’t the largest cast ever for Langley Players, it certainly is one of the biggest and in Williams’ view, one of the funniest.

He recounted when veteran actor Philip Hale (who plays Leon Bandelier) suddenly appeared on stage wearing a wig as a beard, then later that same day appeared with the same wig atop his head.

“The rest of the cast carried on as if this was quite normal,” Williams recounted.

For him, it was one of the funniest moments of the show thus far, and that image came back to him frequently during rehearsals.

While this is a comical production, it has not been without its moments of panic, as well.

No director – regardless of how much experience he or she may have – can really be prepared for the sense of dread that rocked the Cocktails cast on Sept. 10.

Lisa Marie Bresett, the actor playing Cynthia Dallas in the Stewart Lemoine comedy, hadn’t shown up for rehearsal. That was very out of character for her.

“A phone call was made to her home and it was confirmed that she had left for rehearsal,” Williams said.

But she never showed. “The next morning we learned that she had been in a car accident on her way to rehearsal and was in the hospital.”

Fortunately, he clarified, she was OK – nothing too serious. Her injuries, however, knocked her out of commission for a while, and she had to bow out of the production.

A month before the play was set to open, Williams and producer Mary Renvall set about recasting the role. Fortunately, the director said, Emily Gingera was able to step into the role and ensure the production could proceed.

Despite some turbulence, Williams is convinced this play will take off and be popular with new and existing theatergoers.

“When I saw the B.C. premiere of Cocktails at Pam’s last fall, I felt that the play would be a good fit for Langley Players. It is a true ensemble piece, involving many actors. It represents a situation where we have all been – although slightly exaggerated,” Williams said.

Cocktails at Pam’s opened Thursday (Oct. 16) and runs until Nov. 15 – on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. – at Langley Playhouse, 4307 200th St., in Brookswood.

Tickets are $15 and are available by emailing reservations@langleyplayers.com or by calling 604-534-7469.

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