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Port Moody is thirsty for theatre, director says as he débuts "Love Letters" at the legion

Mike Arseneault, the newly retired brand marketing manager for Nike, recently founded the Ioco Players theatrical troupe.

Mike Arseneault is on the go — a lot.

Two months ago, the newly retired brand marketing manager for Nike moved from Beaverton, Ore., where the sporting company is based, to Port Moody.

He relocated at the recommendation of friends, purchasing his Port Moody condo following a FaceTime call with a realtor; a few weeks later, once he settled in the City of the Arts, he bought a bigger place.

But in between packing and unpacking boxes, the Fredericton native has also kept busy by meeting with the city’s movers and shakers, penning shows and starting a new theatrical company — named in tribute of a historical landmark: Ioco.

“I’ve been in theatre for 30 years now and I believe it’s a good way to connect with the community,” Arseneault told the Tri-City News last week, noting his acting, directing, producing and playwriting credits have stretched from Toronto (where he worked for Second Cup, HMV, Levi’s and Nike) to Oregon and beyond.

His words have proven true as the Ioco Players’ first production — Love Letters by A.R. Gurney, timed to coincide with Valentine’s Day — sold out in two days.

Featuring Melanie Scarcella, Jenny Norris and Port Moody Coun. Zoe Royer alternating in the role of Melissa, Love Letters runs for three shows this month at the city’s legion with Arseneault portraying the male character of Andrew.

Arseneault said he picked the play as Ioco Players’ début “because it’s inspirational and has stood the test of time.”

He also noted it’s the third time he’s performed the show over the years. “It’s about how great a relationship can be, and how we need each other.”

In his conversations with Port Moody municipal staff and fellow artists, Arseneault said there’s a thirst for live stage presentations in Port Moody. 

Already, he’s spoken before the city’s arts and culture advisory committee to give guidance on boosting the craft.

His aim for the Ioco Players? 

To produce smaller-scale theatre in Port Moody to showcase in interesting venues.

Currently, he’s writing a musical revue focusing on the compositions of Stephen Sondheim (Follies, Into the Woods) and Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked); it will also have an educational component.

As well, he’s organizing table readings for the community to watch later this year. 

Next up? A twist on 12 Angry Jurors.

“There are a lot of people in Port Moody who don’t want to drive out to Vancouver but want to see quality entertainment,” said Arseneault, who will be speaking before city council on Feb. 22.

“By having a new theatre group in town, it creates energy and excitement.”

“And we learn how to find ways to support each other locally.”

To get involved in the Ioco Players, email [email protected].