Standing in the spotlight is a first for a Langley couple who are playing a husband-wife duo in the upcoming production of a musical called Understood Betsy which opens on Valentine’s Day at Coquitlam’s Evergreen Theatre.
Langley’s Linda Wack explained she tried out for the role of “Old Mrs. Lathrop” after her daughter auditioned for a different role in the production.
Wack’s daughter suggested her mom try out, as the production was looking for actors similar in age to the characters.
“I said ‘well okay, I’ll go out on a limb and audition,’ and I got the part. It’s a very small role, but for me it’s huge,” said Wack.
And then Wack’s real-life husband Kevin got the role of Mrs. Lathrop’s on-stage husband.
“It’s been wonderful. I think I would of felt guilty spending so much time on this play had it just been myself, but I’m enjoying it a lot. He [Kevin] said he’ll never do it again,” she laughed.
Understood Betsy is a musical that was written and composed by Coquitlam resident Caroline M. Forsyth, who was inspired to write the musical despite living with multiple sclerosis.
The musical is inspired by a novel of the same title by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, and tells the story of Elizabeth Ann, an overprotected, young city girl, who is sent to live with her country cousins.
Wack has known Forsyth for many years, as both of their children attended Xtreme Theatre in Maple Ridge.
“It’s become a family thing,” added Wack.
Despite playing a small role, performing on stage is a “dream come true” that Wack never imagined would happen.
“I’m really proud how it’s come together. It’s going to be fulfilling for us all.”
The 53-year-old moved to Langley 15 years ago, and explained her three adult children were always involved in musical theatre and the arts growing up, so she kept busy behind-the-scenes sewing costumes, and helping them prepare for shows.
Wack explained her daughter also landed a role in the show, but had to drop-out for school priorities, leaving just Wack and her husband on stage.
“It’s a total reversal,” laughed Wack.
“We do a bit of dancing and singing. I’m a little nervous. I’ve repeated my lines so many times, but it’s very exciting as well. The process is just as exciting as the theatre week will be and I’ve made lots of friends. It’s a good experience for me.”
Wack said the first live-musical she saw was Phantom of the Opera when she was 22.
“I hadn’t had any experience [with theatre] and I just wept after that production. I was so moved by it, and I had fallen in love with musical theatre,” she added.
Originally from Edmonton, Atla., Wack has lived in Langley for the past 15 years, where she has worked as a stay-at-home mother to raise her three children.
In the future, Wack said she’s unsure if she will further pursue community theatre, although the production has encouraged her to take singing lessons that she plans to continue with.
“I’m considering this my one-and-only time on the stage, but I’d like to continue with my vocal lessons to be a stronger singer. But there’s always opportunities to audition around the Lower Mainland, so you never know.”
Wack added she’s also interested in working behind-the-scenes sewing costumes for future productions.
Understood Betsy opens on Thursday, Feb. 14 to Feb. 16 at the Evergreen Cultural Centre at 1205 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 also features a 2 p.m. matinee.
Part of the proceeds from the matinee will be donated to the MS Society of Canada.
Tickets are available online at https://evergreenculturalcentre.ca/schedule/ or by calling 604-927-6550.