If we are lucky enough to stay healthy, we can be assured of reaching a "certain age," too often defined by a mid-life crisis. It used to be that when men reached the age of 50-something, they would buy a sports car or find a "younger" woman to recapture youth. Women suffer hormonal changes with menopause, and anything can happen. Today, however, these mid-life crises reflect the downturn in the economy with resultant job loss for the over-50 person. Life changes.
Henry and Alice: Into the Wild examines one couple's modern mid-life crisis - loss of employment, change of lifestyle, disrupted plans for the future. This play should not be funny, as the real-life problems it poses are hardly laughable. Yet we did laugh and thoroughly enjoyed this lively production, from Arts Club Theatre Co. and running at Surrey Arts Centre's main stage until Saturday, Jan. 26.
This is a professional show by a professional theatre company, so tickets do reflect that fact. But budgets are tight. Here's a tip: Just call the box office for tickets and use the password "friend" for a $5 discount.
The object is to acquire new audience members, so here is just a little incentive. Call 604-501-5566 or visit tickets.surrey.ca. Remember, you are a friend.
It's good to be a friend. Facebook keeps telling me I have hundreds of friends - good to know. I like friends, and I often decide to go see a certain production because friends are involved. Langley Players' current production is just full of friends - must book tickets. The play is Jim & Shorty, by Canadian actor/writer Alex Poch-Goldin.
No, I don't know him, but I do know most of the cast. You might recognize Dann Wilhelm (Jim) from past productions by Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society, including The Pirates of Penzance and The Gondoliers. This is Dann's first production for Langley Players and his first non-musical play in seven years.
Reginald Pillay plays Shorty, and he has also appeared in many FVG&S productions. His non-musical roles include A Midsummer Night's Dream (Beach House Theatre) and A Talent for Murder (Stage 43). Currently, Reginald can be seen on TV and at the movies in the Encorp Return-It commercial playing opposite a juice carton-shaped puppet. Reg is the guy who doesn't recycle.
Langley resident Mitch Kapustinsky is making his Langley Players acting debut as Big Tom, an aboriginal Canadian. Previously, Mitch has worked behind the scenes doing sound and lighting. Add another friend to Facebook.
Marko Hohlbein directs this "dramedy" - comedy and drama combined, I guess. Marko is a very careful director, and you can bet your friendship that he has selected the best actors for each part. Should be a good show. The story centres around three men living on the fringe of society. They draw us into their world as they trade stories about doughnuts and smokes, sisters and girlfriends, shelters and welfare. Acts of kindness follow acts of selfishness, and humour keeps pace with despair. Life on the street is given a human face as three lonely men fumble to make a connection. Friends, perhaps.
Jim & Shorty runs to Feb. 16 (Thursdays to Sundays) at Langley Playhouse, 4307 200th St. All tickets are $15 via 604-534-7469 and www.langleyplayers.com.
Although Langley Players Club is strictly community theatre, their volunteer actors do have training behind them. Whether they participated in school drama classes, or availed themselves of community workshops or college courses, training and experience is essential, even at the amateur level. Our little world is full of talented people who would like to have a career on the stage, and it takes work to get there.
For several seasons now, Surrey Arts Centre has offered a Mini Musical Theatre Intensive for young performers, during spring break. This year the dates are March 18 to 22 (Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and the fee is $265. Interested students must apply by Feb. 8. Application and registration details are online at www.surrey.ca/arts.
This short course helps talented students gain the skills, confidence and contacts necessary to continue their musical-theatre education and pursue their dreams. As workshop co-ordinator, instructor and founder Peter Jorgensen says, "We don't just teach the notes of the song and the steps of the dance, we give our students the skills to understand, interpret and communicate the story." The top-level instruction gives a young performer the advantage they need to move toward their goals. Some graduates of the classes are now working professionally and studying at some of the best theatre schools in North America.