A familiar face in Langley’s community theatre scene is headed for retirement, after directing a final production called Let There Be Love that starts Wednesday, Feb. 20 in Abbotsford.
Faith Toronchuk, a 70-year-old resident who lives in the Aldergrove area, is finally retiring after being a show director since her mid-30s, beginning in Grand Prairie, Alta., and ending in the Fraser Valley.
The show is produced by the Fraser Valley Stage.
Let There Be Love is the third show in a series called The Starlight Radio Series – a series of radio plays – that Toronchuk has been involved with since 2009.
Toronchuk describes the latest production as a “step back in time to the fabulous late 1940’s era when jazz is king and swing’s the thing, and ‘bebop’ is knocking on the door.”
“This is a delightful vintage musical – one to be enjoyed by anyone from five to 95 years. It’s exciting and there’s lots of stuff going on on stage,” she added.
Prior to working with the Fraser Valley Stage, Toronchuk was known as the founder, producer, and director of Imagine That! Productions in Langley that ran for 15 years, and closed last year.
Toronchuck explained her production company had lost their performance space, and said the time had come to “say goodbye,” to that part of her life. At the time, she was also considering retiring, but felt there was something more to be done as a writer and director.
Within a week, the Fraser Valley Stage in Abbotsford called Toronchuk, who had worked with them in the past, and invited her to write and direct another episode in the Starlight Radio series.
Since last spring, Toronchuk has been working to make Let There Be Love come alive.
“I am very proud of this production and can’t think of a better way to say farewell and close the curtain on my 41 years in the world of community theatre,” added Toronchuk.
Toronchuk has always “loved all of the arts genres,” but said she wasn’t encouraged to pursue it as the majority of parents in her era thought there was “no tangible future with it.”
While living in Grand Prairie and raising three children as a single mother, Toronchuk came across an ad in the paper for auditions for a community production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
And the rest was history, as Toronchuk landed a role and said she was “hooked.”
After her first performance, Toronchuk took various theatre classes, and eventually enrolled in a directing program.
“When I took the directing course, I loved it. By that time I was 32 years old, and I’d been busy being a single mom,” she explained.
Toronchuk’s family moved to the Fraser Valley, and she started directing shows through local churches before starting Imagine That! Productions.
“I really enjoy working with people particularly who are on the shy side and not sure what they have. I love drawing the treasure out of them and that’s kind of been my thing. When I write I like to write for the people who are going to be performing,” Toronchuk elaborated.
While Toronchuk is finished with her theatre days, one of her younger family members is following in her theatrical footsteps.
Toronchuk’s 19-year-old granddaughter Miranda Croft also lives in Langley and was involved with Imagine That! Productions since she was five.
Croft is singing and tap dancing in the upcoming production of Let There Be Love.
“I’m really excited. This is going to be a great show for her [Toronchuk] to end her career on. The cast and the crew are great and I’m really excited for her. She definitely introduced me to theatre,” explained Croft.
Croft added Toronchuk’s shows have a “wholesome” feel, and provide a “family atmosphere.”
During her retirement, Toronchuk plans to spend time travelling around Vancouver Island and the Oregon coast.
Toronchuk added she may continue writing theatre scripts, and working on visual arts such as painting, and crafting.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute and I don’t regret a thing, but it’s time [to retire] and I know it.”
Starlight Radio Theatre’s Let There Be Love runs from Wednesday, Feb. 20 to 24 at the Abbotsford Arts Centre
To view showtimes and purchase tickets, visit: http://www.fraservalleystage.com/events/