Entertainment industry veteran Ellie King has announced retirement after running one of the most successful Lower Mainland theatre facilities for the past 16 years.
For those who have appreciated her work, the Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s (RCTC) founder has one last story to tell before her “final” theatrical goodbye.
The long-time Brookswood resident and her team is bringing Screwball Comedy – what she calls a fast-paced, clever, and hilarious act – to six different theatres in Lower Mainland.
Written by one of Canada’s most famous playwrights, Norm Foster, the play is a popular piece from the 1930s and ’40s.
King, who has always admired Foster’s work, described him as “arguably Canada’s most performed playwright.”
“He is amazing. I love his work… his scripts are funny with an element of truth within it,” she said.
Under the direction of King, the team was able to give the original script an update featuring “outrageous” characters with the added spice of mystery.
Like in the play, in real life, too, King is keeping the details of her succession a mystery. While she confirmed that she has identified the two individuals who would be taking over the artistic director and production manager roles, King said the official announcement with the names would soon be made to the public.
The company has grown through time and now employs many people, but, King recalled the time when she was running a one-woman show.
“I was doing everything up until a few years ago and now we have a production team,” she said. “It was a long way,” King added with a grin.
Sharing her favourite moments from her decades-long and successful professional career, King described her role as Shirley Valentine as a memory she will cherish for a lifetime. She performed that role on and off for 20 years.
Though King will retire soon, she plans on keeping the artist and her love for theatre alive.
She is working on organizing two festivals – one for art and another centred on comedy. In addition to working as an advisor for RCTC, King wants to continue her activism and push proposals to the Township and City of Langley for more theatre facilities.
“I hope they will talk to me about theatre. I hope they come to my door and ask questions so I can help.”
Sharing some lessons King learned over time, she said that one should not be afraid of trying new things as an actor.
“You never know what might work… always explore.”
Retirement is also a time to reflect on how far one has come. For King, too, it has been a long and exciting journey.
Starting as a ballet dancer in the United Kingdom, King has also worked in film music before studying drama.
When she couldn’t find work in Canada as an actor, she became a drama teacher in school. In 1988, she got the opportunity she was hunting for, and there was no looking back after.
Screwball Comedy stars are wishing King a happy retirement, including Ian Harmon, who plays the lead character of Jeff Kincaid.
“Ellie has been a fixture in the theatre scene in the Lower Mainland for many years,” Harmon said. “Her energy and passion for theatre is infectious and it will be greatly missed. I wish her well in retirement.”
King is happy to have this play as “possibly” her last main stage directorial gig, encouraged people to come and watch “Screwball Comedy.”
“It is so funny. It is a wonderful piece,” she shared.
Screwball Comedy is running in six different venues throughout the Lower Mainland starting April 30 at The ACT in Maple Ridge. Next, the team will visit Chilliwack, New Westminster, Coquitlam, and Vancouver.
For more details and tickets, people can visit RCTC’s website, rctheatreco.com.
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