A director, a stage manager, a choreographer, three actors, a costume creator, and others from Langley are part of a massive Langley creative team that have come together to mount one of the most famous and endearing musicals on a local stage.
Theatre in the Country (TIC), Langley’s lone community-based dinner theatre, raised the curtain last week on Sound of Music, and artistic director Reg Parks is not at all surprised that shows so far have been sold out.
It doesn’t shock Val Bardot, either. The relative recent transplant from Kelowna, who for the first time served as TIC’s costume assistant, took in the show Saturday night, accompanied by her daughter.
She was “very impressed with the whole production… so kudos to everybody,” said the 78-year-old costume creator who is new to TIC but not to theatre.
“Her recent move to Langley has allowed TIC to take full advantage of the experience and excellent work she gave to the Actors Studio in Kelowna,” Parks said, noting Bardot is assisting the play’s costume designer Shelley Boe and overseeing the creation and upkeep of all of Maria’s costumes for this production.
Asked about her funniest and worst moments leading up to this show, the sewing machine breaking down takes the cake for bad timing, said Bardot, who worked for years on costumes and props for the Actors Studio, the Canadian School of Ballet, and Ballet Kelowna – as well as performing for 14 years in The Nutcracker.
On a humorous note, however, being directed to make the “ugly” dress for Maria, “when I am used to making elegant Victorian costumes,” definitely left her chuckling.
“I grew up with theatre being a big part of life,” she said, so getting involved again –once her children grew up – was her way of filling “the gap.”
Since relocated to the Lower Mainland during the major floods in November 2021, she has taken up teaching tai chi, she sings with the Langley Community Chorus, enjoys gardens, reads, and plays hand drums.
But she was missing her long-established relationship with the treadle. So when she attended a past TIC production, she took the opportunity to introduce herself to Parks and offered her services.
He didn’t hesitate. He connected her with Boe, TIC’s wardrobe mistress, and the pair immediately went to work.
“This show marks the largest number of Langley citizens ever involved in a show at TIC,” Parks noted, listing off a few other local thespians, in addition to Bardot, who have come onboard for the TIC rendition of Sound of Music.
Jacq Ainsworth returns to TIC to direct The Sound of Music. Her last show at the theatre was a limited audience and livestream production of Secrets of Soccer Mom during COVID-19. Ainsworth has directed throughout the Fraser Valley, and is a well regarded performer in her own right.
Amber Schneider came to TIC last year as a way to get back into theatre after graduating from the Douglas College theatre program. She has taken on a number of growing backstage roles at TIC, and this her first time stage managing a major musical.
Liam Nimmo plays Rolf, and it is his first time on the TIC stage. His great voice and excellent performance skills bring the complicated role to life, said Parks.
Oliver Blair plays the oldest boy in the Von Trapp family, Fredrich. This is Oliver’s first show with TIC.
Reginald Pillay has performed with a number of companies around the Lower Mainland, but this is his first show with TIC where he plays the key role of Captain von Trapp.
“His fantastic voice and stage presence bring the reserved captain to life with grace and veritas,” Parks insisted.
Lea Miriam Zachewicz, of Fort Langley, is an international student from Germany who attends Langley Fine Arts School.
She takes on the role of Zeller. This role is usually portrayed as an older male character, but Lea transformed it into a “chilling take as a zealot from the Hitler youth. It should be noted that Lea is playing very much against her personal character and interests,” explained Parks.
Megan Kimoto and Emese Dome are both also served as costume assistants on this show.
Kimoto has fulfilled many roles at TIC from actor to backstage crew and most recently as a stage manager, while Dome is a local seamstress with a passion for period costumes who has helped out a number of TIC shows.
Kaitlyn Zairn serves as assistant choreographer for the show. She also performs as part of the ensemble along with her fellow Langley residents Brendan Boyd, Robbie Burns, and Maurice Kimball IV.
The Sound of Music has been delighting audiences since it first hit Broadway in 1959, where it won the Tony for best musical, best performance by a leading actress in a musical, best direction, and three others.
The story is based on the real life experience of the von Trapp family who fled the Nazi occupation with great risk.
TIC’s production features a large scale set that takes the viewer from the Abbey to the von Trapp Villa and up to the mountains above Salzburg, Austria. Animated projections add, what Parks called, a magic touch to the show as the audience travels back in time to the onset of the Second World War.
“This is one of the best musicals ever, with catchy songs (although we were asked not to sing along), and a message of hope that is as relevant today as it was when it first played,” said Bardot, encouraging people to check it out.
“It is a very well done production, with fabulous singing.”
The songs from Do-Re-Mi to Climb Every Mountain to the titular The Sound of Music have “become part of the world’s music canon and are sung globally, as the musical is almost always running somewhere in many different languages,” added Parks, who produced the show with his wife, Erin.
This is Theatre in the Country’s second time performing The Sound of Music, having mounted it during its second year of operation in 2014.
Paul Becket played Captain von Trapp in that production and returns as Uncle Max this time around. Wendy Wade-Maxwell returns as Mother Abbess in the role that first brought the opera trained singer to TIC.
“Her Climb Every Mountain is one not-to-be-missed moment of the show,” Parks said.
“For me this show transcends generations. So many have grown up on the movie or sing the songs without even knowing where they originated. It is arguably the world’s best-known musical and it is an honour to be able to produce such a classic show. The voices and talent we have in this show are outstanding and will leave you breathless,” he concluded.
Tickets are currently on sale for The Sound of Music, running at Theatre in the Country until June 17.
People can see the show with or without the dinner buffet. Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday matinee shows are offered at a 10-per-cent discount. Tickets can be purchased online at www.theatreinthecountry.com or by calling 604-259-9737.
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