‘Such stuff as dreams are made on’

 Actors Russel Chartrand and Marina Benitez-Lazzarotto ponder their roles in the creation of a new Shakespeare festival – Beach House Theatre – which plans to bring the Bard’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Crescent Beach this August. - Contributed photo
Actors Russel Chartrand and Marina Benitez-Lazzarotto ponder their roles in the creation of a new Shakespeare festival – Beach House Theatre – which plans to bring the Bard’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Crescent Beach this August.
— image credit: Contributed photo

It’s scarcely been a “winter of discontent” for producers Candace Radcliffe, Rick Harmon and their creative partners in Beach House Theatre, whose plans to bring live Shakespeare to Crescent Beach each year seem bound for a “glorious summer” – starting with a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream this August.

A sold-out-and-then-some fundraiser this Saturday (Feb. 25) at Morgan Creek Golf Club – the tickets were almost gone before it was even formally announced – is only the latest manifestation of waves of support that have come rolling in for the project as surely as the tides that lap around Blackie Spit.

“We’ve made wonderful progress in the last couple of months,” said artistic director Radcliffe, who confessed she is astonished at the way her long-held dream of a Shakespeare festival in her village community has captured the imagination of people across the Peninsula.

Already greenlighted for its inaugural year by the City of Surrey (“We’ve been working closely with the special events department,” Radcliffe said), the venture received its registered charity status from the Canadian Revenue Agency in December, which means all donations are now tax deductible.

And Bosa Properties has come on board as a major community sponsor for the project.

“It’s got a life of it’s own, now,” chuckled Harmon, who also serves as associate director for Beach House .

Of course it doesn’t hurt that Harmon, as the former drama guru at Earl Marriott Secondary, and Radcliffe, as his frequent collaborator and successor, have generations of passionate former drama kids and family volunteers as a handy support base.

Two alumni, actors Russel Chartrand and Marina Benitez-Lazzarotto – who appeared in Harmon and Radcliffe’s magical 2005 Marriott production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – have already signed on to participate in and promote the production, even though final roles are far from assigned.

That included a recent photo session, in suitably Shakespearian costume, at Blackie Spit, where the Beach House production team, including designer Nicole Chartrand, technical director Geoff McEvoy and production manager Sarah Adams will bring their professional skills to building a temporary, fully-covered, 250-seat theatre for  the Aug. 15-19 run.

This Saturday’s dinner and auction fundraiser was such a success right out of the gate that Radcliffe and Harmon say they’ll have offer another one – probably a pub-night-style event – in the near future.

They doff their caps to an enthusiastic board and the fund-raising volunteer group headed by Jane Finley.

“She’s a dynamo – she basically organized the event for us,” said Radcliffe, who said that local businesses and individuals proved eager to donate auction items.

“And John Kavanagh of Hooked Fish Bar on Crescent Beach has been a huge supporter right from the beginning.”

But the support of development giant Bosa is undeniably a major turning point, Radcliffe and Harmon agree.

“I think they’ve realized the potential of this – they’re significant supporters,” Radcliffe said. “At the same time, we’re not turning away other sponsors at all.”

Which is all to the good, said Harmon.

“We just had a budget meeting, and the cost of tents and risers continues to add up,” he noted.

And there are still some missing pieces to the puzzle – like a space to build and store set pieces for the production before the show opens.

Initial estimates of the cost of the project for the first year were in the $70,000 to $80,000 range.

“Our goal from the beginning was to find some financial partners for this – and what makes us really excited is that a couple of other companies are considering joining us,” Radcliffe said.

“It all adds strength and legitimacy – and helps us build roots.”

For more information, including ways to donate or volunteer, visit www.beachhousetheatre.org


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