From left, Kryst Hogan, Brianna Clark, Cathy Wilmot and Dionne Phillips, a Surrey resident, star in a production of “Better Than This,” an original musical revue that chronicles the evolution of women’s roles in musical theatre, at Havana Theatre on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive from Feb. 28 to March 9. For more details, visit showpass.com or click on facebook.com/FabulistTheatreVancouver. (submitted photo)

MINTY: Surrey needs small, affordable theatre space – and here’s why

‘A Comedy of Tenors’ was a delight, and ‘A Bedfull Of Foreigners’ promises more adult laughs

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

Did we have snow fun days or what? I know it’s only a few days that we have to be cautious and careful on the roads, but those pretty white flakes that sugarcoated our landscape did mess up my schedule, re dance classes and trekking to Vancouver for a show. But shout-out to Surrey for really good snow removal from the streets, so I did get to my place of business safely. Good job. We survived.

Before the first snowfall, though, I did make it out to the White Rock Players presentation of A Comedy of Tenors, which closes Saturday night (Feb. 23). It was delightful, funny, well cast. The set’s Art Deco design was great, and I mostly loved the costuming as well. I have to give a shout-out because White Rock Players Club is run by volunteers. So, great job and carry on playing. Sorry the snow days decreased your attendance numbers, but I am totally happy that I made it out for the gala. I hear there is possibly a name change in the future, as Coast Capital is no longer a sponsor of the theatre. Pity. But there it is. Blessings upon your future productions, and may you have all sold-out houses for the revitalized players club.

• RELATED STORY: Strong cast, direction helps ‘A Comedy of Tenors’ hit the high notes.

The playhouse, on Johnston Road, is privately owned by White Rock Players Club. It is a huge financial cost to keep this theatre running and it is an absolutely lovely venue. So here is where I take another stand and give a shout-out to Surrey: There is a great need for smaller theatre space (250 to 450 seats) that is affordable for community groups. WRPC does rent out their space to other community theatre clubs, but their own schedule does not permit many of these rentals.

Is there a solution? I know so many dance schools, for example, that cannot book space at Surrey Arts Centre, the Bell Performing Arts Centre is too big, and other smaller venues are also fully booked. Our local dance schools must take their recitals and presentations to Burnaby, Delta and Ladner locations. That is just one example. Building a theatre complex is an expensive proposition, I know. But somewhere there is an answer.

I take all the Surrey CitySpeaks surveys that come to me online. Sometimes the topic is not relevant to my life, but it is important to participate. My comment every survey I take: “Is anyone listening?” Leaders in the performing arts in Surrey have collectively consulted regarding their needs and hopes. Somewhere there is a collection of information, and it is time to act on it. Yes, I know, Cloverdale needs another sheet of ice. Those of us in the performing arts need another medium-sized, affordable theatre space. That’s just the way it is – Surrey is growing and the arts cannot be ignored. We are bursting out of our seams.

If you need to know what I mean of what a performing arts theatre should look like, take a peek at Surrey Arts Centre’s Mainstage. This is a beautifully appointed, 406-seat theatre space with all the correct amenities, for a memorable theatre experience. Some of the productions are professional (actors and all get paid), some are a mix of professional and amateur, and some are purely community theatre (no one gets paid). It’s an eclectic blend of presentations, for sure. I love this place, both as a performer and an audience member. It has grown up and improved in its 50-year history.

• RELATED STORY: Joni Mitchell’s rearranged hits in Surrey on ‘Circle Game’ musical tour.

Arts Club Theatre Company, a professional company, wraps its 30th touring season with the Firehall Arts Centre’s production of Circle Game: Reimagining the Music of Joni Mitchell. In the early days of this program, known as Arts Club on Tour, Surrey Arts Centre was the number-one place on the tour. They loved us – and the love affair continues. Circle Game is on the Mainstage now, and continues to March 2. The music of Mitchell is iconic and still connects to our current politics. Some things just don’t evolve very quickly. Get tickets by calling 604-501-5566, or visit tickets.surrey.ca.

Royal Canadian Theatre Company, with artistic director Ellie King, has become one of the staples of performing arts productions at Surrey Arts Centre along with FVGSS, a Musical Theatre Company. Next up is A Bedfull Of Foreigners – a funny adult comedy. It is on March 8 (7:30) and March 9 (3:30 and 7:30) at the arts centre, with 50 per cent off tickets on preview night (March 8). RCTC has its home base in Surrey so we should really support it.

This comedy is described as a mix of Benny Hill and Fawlty Towers, if you like that sort of thing. It does have some slightly suggestive “situations.” Oh goody. Sounds perfect. This is your challenge now – check out the theatre, buy a ticket and support our very local theatre companies. It’s live theatre, and you never know what might happen, or who you will meet in the lobby. Real people in real time creating real theatre. You might enjoy it.

Melanie Minty writes twice monthly for the Now-Leader. Email her at melminty@telus.net.

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