Live theatre to return to White Rock Playhouse in the fall

In line with the BC Restart Program, White Rock Players Club is announcing a new season of live theatre performances at the White Rock Playhouse on Johnston Road for 2021-2022 – with a proviso that ticket holders will be updated on provincial health orders and recommendations closer to scheduled show times.

“We’re going to be keeping our fingers crossed that we can do live shows, and perhaps even at full capacity houses,” said club president Rebekah MacEwan.

“We’re not going to be breaking any rules, that’s for sure,” she added, noting that the club will be studying provincial health orders and guidelines closely to make sure that shows are presented safely for both audiences and participants.

The experience of dealing with COVID-19-inspired health directives over the last year and a half has helped the club be more flexible, she said – which has included presenting streamed video shows such as her own musical comedy revue Duets in March and April of this year.

“We know a lot more now than we did at first,” she said. “We had a plan in place when we had another wave, for example – we have a lot more going for us now.”

All of the shows were originally announced for last year, MacEwan said, but fortunately all the amateur rights-granting organizations involved have been very understanding and co-operative about revising contracts due to pandemic postponements.

Starting the schedule with a bang will be Monty Python’s Spamalot, currently in rehearsal for a Sept. 8 to Oct. 3 run.

The supremely silly Broadway hit by Eric Idle, loosely derived from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, will have directors Dann Wilhelm and Lisa Pavilionis using all of their previous pantomime-guiding experience to bring the elaborate musical to the small stage.

“We were originally going to start at the beginning of September, but we thought we hold off until the next phase (of the Restart program) MacEwan said.

“We’d like to be able to have a full house for this one. I know it has a strong cast and I can’t wait to see it.”

Producer Charles Buettner and director Cathe Busswood are also aiming for a full live return of the grand old tradition of the White Rock Players’ Christmas pantomime with Robinson Crusoe, with a Dec. 1 to Dec. 26 run.

It’s credited to the ‘Charlottans’, which means that it’s an updated, and more politically correct, version of a vintage Charlotte Johnson pantomime first produced in 1961, and subsequently revived in 1972, 1981, 1990 and 2010.

“There is some material from the past that we don’t feel comfortable with today,” MacEwan said. “But that’s one of the great things about the pantomime – you can always update (each new production) to make it more current.”

Planned as the first show of 2022 is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Simon Stephens, based on the popular novel by Mark Haddon and directed by Linda McRae.

Curious was about to go onstage (in 2020, when the pandemic hit) ” MacEwan said. “The set was pretty much built and the cast were almost off-book when we had to pull the plug.”

The show, which vividly presents the viewpoint of a 15 year-old mathematic genius with an ‘autism spectrum’ disorder, typically uses lighting and projections, combined with multiple offstage voices, to help convey his world.

“It’s a very technical show, probably one of the most technical shows out there, but fortunately we had a lot of people who were keen to do it and were on top of the projection effects,” MacEwan said.

“Linda is contacting all of the original team and cast members, and hopefully everyone will be able to come back.”

Scheduled for an April 6 to April 23 run is Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz, a family-reunion-elicits-dark-secrets drama set in Palm Springs on Christmas Eve, 2004.

Planned as the season closer is Over The River and Through the Woods, by Joe DePietro (June 1 to June 18) a comedy about a young Italian-American bachelor and his uneasy relationship with two sets of manipulative, over-protective grandparents.

“There are some great roles in there for senior actors – that will be a good one,” MacEwan said.

Masks will still be recommended for audience members for the scheduled shows, and ticket holders who feel unwell on the performance date (particularly with cold and flu symptoms) are urged to stay home and exchange the ticket for another occasion.

Individual tickets or season passes (excluding the pantomime) can be purchased at the White Rock Playhouse box office at 1532 Johnston Rd. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; by email ( or by calling 604-536-7535.

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Alex Browne

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