For theatre lovers wanting a behind-the-scenes peek at what makes a show go from good to great, Stage 43 has just the ticket.
Next week, the Coquitlam-based group will play host to the Fraser Valley Festival of Plays, an annual contest that draws hundreds of cast and crew from six commnity companies vying for the regional title.
Stage 43, which ends its As Seen on Screen season on Saturday at the Evergreen Cultural Centre, opens the fest on Mother’s Day Sunday with its entry: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, directed by Aaron Davis.
The production will be followed by:
• May 13: Dancing at Lughanasa (Langley Players Drama Club);
• May 14: Sealed For Freshness (Surrey Little Theatre);
• May 15: Age of Arousal (Opening Nite Theatre Society, of Mission);
• May 16: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Chilliwack School of Performing Arts);
• and May 17: Chickens the Musical (Offtopic Theatre Society, of Chilliwack).
Stage 43 president Claire Pinkett, who is organizing the regional fest, said Cuckoo will likely be the longest show, at 2.5 hours. After each presentation, adjudicator Katrina Dunn will critique the performance, giving advice on acting, direction, stage management, set and costume design, technical lighting and sound, and other elements.
And, for visitors with multi-day festival passes, they can also hear Dunn deliver a closed-door adjudication the next day, at 5 p.m.
Dunn will announce the winners at the May 18 gala, with the company scooping the Best Production title moving on to the provincials.
Theatre BC’s Mainstage — to be held in Port Alberni from July 5 to 13 — will see the best performances from the zones: North Shore, which is currently having its fest at Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver; Central Interior; Fraser Valley (scheduled for July 8); North Island; Okanagan; and Peace River.
Pinkett said Stage 43 last represented Fraser Valley two years ago with Bingo!; in 2010, it clinched Mainstage’s top prize, with Ravenscroft.
Because it’s community theatre, budgets are tight: Last June, Stage 43 won a Spirit of Coquitlam gaming grant of $12,562 to host the zone festival; ticket sales and other proceeds will offset operation costs as well as expenses for the winning company to travel to and from Vancouver Island.
“It’s a lot of time and money spent to mount a production — and usually out of the members’ pockets,” Pinkett said. “Every little bit helps.”
Still, sharing the experience of being part of a theatre is what drives them, Pinkett said, noting this year’s theme is Celebrating Community (a “hands’ tree is in the Evergreen lobby for attendees to write messages and make donations).
Single tickets for Fraser Valley zone festival plays are $24/$19; a three-show pass is $54 and, to see all six productions is $100. Call the Evergreen Cultural Centre (1205 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam) at 604-927-6555 or visit evergreenculturalcentre.ca. More details can be found at stage43.org/fvz-festival.