With restrictions further lifted for events such as live theatre, Langley Little Theatre (LLT) is hopeful it can “pack” the house for its upcoming in-person comedy.
The Brookswood-based theatre group, a recent amalgamation of Langley Players and Surrey Little Theatre, prepares to lift the proverbial curtain on Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike early next month.
After almost two solid months of rehearsing, the Christopher Durang play comes to the stage of the Langley Playhouse starting Nov. 4, and it’s being directed by long-time local thespian Bev Pride.
“I love to direct big comedies, not necessarily in cast numbers, but shows that make you laugh out loud,” she said of her decision to take on the latest LLT production.
“I love physical comedy and lots of slapstick humour. I am a big panto[mime] fan. My granddaughter and I used to see as many in the Christmas season that were being produced.”
So, when she learned LLT was putting on Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike she admits to being drawn. She’s seen the Arts Club’s rendition at the Stanley in 2015, and “liked it a lot… Durang’s script is brilliant,” Pride said.
The story follows adult siblings Vanya and Sonia – played by Langley’s Andy Woods and Jacq Ainsworth – who often spend their days mourning their lost dreams and missed opportunities.
When their fortune-telling maid warns of impending dangers and their movie-star sister, Masha, arrives unexpectedly with young, sexy, boy toy Spike, to attend a costume party in the neighborhood, the family is launched into a rollicking weekend of one-upmanship, exposed nerves and lamented lost lives.
“Christopher Durang throws Chekhov’s famous characters into his usual blender of absurdity and produces Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, a modern-day story about the toils and troubles of celebrity, social networking, and age,” said Pride.
Admittedly, the director was a little reluctant at first to jump back into theatre – not because of the play or the people, though.
“During 2020, being a creative person, I wrote three children’s stories, started baking sourdough, created and sold Junk Journals, and generally kept busy. But like everyone in the world, I was missing live theatre,” Pride recounted.
“There were loads of online performances, Zoom play reading, but nothing could replace the live theatre experience.,” she elaborated.
“Then I became used to not going out and I wondered if I ever would go back. However, I read somewhere that a person has to ‘breathe’ life into the way things are and embrace the differences not hide from them. Once I got double vaxxed and LLT put out the request for comedies to re-open the new society, I knew…”
That said, Pride admitted it wasn’t an easy decision “to jump back into it, it’s a lot of work and time. But once I did, I felt whole again,” she said, now anxiously awaiting the play’s debut.
Pride has long been immersed in the world of live theatre in the Lower Mainland, the former Walnut Grove (now New Westminster) resident having worked on and off stage for numerous theatre groups through the decades.
Asked about what roles she’s preferred playing throughout the years, Pride pondered a bit before replying.
“I’ve done everything that is necessary to bring a play to the stage. I’ve enjoyed them all,” she said, noting she leans more to behind the scenes work, such as set design, construction, decoration, and costume design and creation.
This is her second official directorial position. She previously co-directing Vagabond Player’s production of Sleeping Beauty with Elizabeth Drummond, and also having helped at the helm of youth theatre in Surrey and on a few Bard in the Valley plays.
Before the Surrey Little Theatre and Langley Players amalgamated last year to become Langley Little Theatre, Pride dipped had her toe into both camps – as do many local thespians. She started in Surrey in 1995, and 15 years ago joined Langley Players, as well.
She’s also worked for Emerald Pig, Footlight Players, Bard on the Bandstand, and Bard on the Beach.
“I have done some Zoom play reading and workshops during the shutdown, but LLT is the first club I’ve been active with since live theatre has been allowed to re-open.”
Like many, this is Pride’s first in-person show since COVID. Prior to that, her last production – where she played Mrs. Cuop – was the September 2019 Vagabond Players’ adaptation of Terror by Gaslight, in which she also did costumes and set decoration.
She’s joined behind the stage on this upcoming show by production manager Dawn Adamson and stage manager Tarrah Tanaka. Also on stage with Wood and Ainsworth are Kelly Thompson, Nik Trotzuk, Katie Thompson, and Judith Betzler.
The play runs Thursdays to Sundays, from Nov. 4 to 27, at Langley Little Theatre, 4307 200th Street, in Brookswood. Showtime is 8 p.m. on Thursdays to Saturdays, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sundays. Tickets are $25 for all performances and can be booked online at langleylittletheatre.org.
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