A Coquitlam theatrical troupe that’s been sidelined for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be back on stage this month.
Stage 43 returns to the Evergreen Cultural Centre next Saturday night with The 39 Steps, a comedy/murder-mystery picked because of its title as the company marks its 39th year.
President Claire Pinkett told the Tri-City News that the show was also selected as the comeback performance because it involves only four actors — key to physical distancing as the virus persists — and the production keeps the crew busy with plenty of sound and lighting cues.
“It’s not just a show for the actors,” she said. “It allows everybody to be doing something all the time because it’s a fast-paced comedy. It’s very entertaining to watch.”
Pinkett said the organization has taken “every safety precaution” for the vaccinated cast and crew to be safe during the three months of rehearsals under the direction of Wayne Nolan.
And she said ticket-holders can also be assured that the venue is well-ventilated, with fresh air being pumped into the studio theatre every 20 minutes. As per provincial health orders, the shows are limited to a 50 per cent capacity, with 128 seats available in the 256-seat theatre.
Performed by Tri-City residents Ryan Johnson, Luca Herring and Dan Jabour, as well as Kelsey Robertson, The 39 Steps is an Alfred Hitchcock-meets-Monty Python play that sees nearly 150 costume changes for the various characters. “It’s a laugh a minute,” Pinkett said.
Jabour takes on the lead role of Richard Hannay, while Robertson plays Annabella Schmidt/Pamela/Margaret; Johnson and Herring are Clown 1 and 2, respectively.
Pinkett said Stage 43 is grateful to the City of Coquitlam for its $5,000 grant as part of its Community Support and Recovery Plan to help non-profit groups that are struggling during the pandemic. That money will be put toward the rental of storage space for costumes, props and construction materials, and for insurance.
Still, despite the extra precautions and the additional funds, the group is struggling to sell tickets.
On Jan. 6, the board, which has been meeting monthly via Zoom since the pandemic began, agreed to scale back the number of shows. As a result, opening night is now on Jan. 15 — not Jan. 13.
And if performances are cancelled, ticket-holders are guaranteed their money back, Pinkett said.
Show times for The 39 Steps at the Evergreen Cultural Centre (1205 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam) are on Jan. 15 at 8 p.m., Jan. 16 at 3 p.m., and Jan. 19 to 21 at 8 p.m. The Jan. 19 show is a two-for-one for adult seats (use promo code 3939). Ticket-holders must be double vaccinated and wear a mask while inside the venue. Visit evegreenculturalcentre.ca or call 604-927-6555.