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'Silly and brilliant' play is Coward's best

Coquitlam's Elie Savoie started acting in his younger years in the 1950s and, at age 14, directed his first play.

Coquitlam's Elie Savoie started acting in his younger years in the 1950s and, at age 14, directed his first play.

Now 75, Savoie is directing Hay Fever, a Noel Coward classic comedy running Thursday through May 7 at Evergreen Cultural Centre (1205 Pinetree Way).

Savoie's passion for theatre has hardly diminished over time. He also has an extensive background in television, having worked for CBC as a producer, director and broadcast production executive for nearly 28 years before retiring in 1991.

But Savoie says it's the stage - and working around it - that keeps him young.

"I find it uplifting," says Savoie, whose Stage 43 crew was busy rehearsing last week at a makeshift studio in an industrial area on Aberdeen Avenue, where the set was being constructed. "It's always a challenge and it keeps me from vegetating on the couch or behind a computer like so many do these days. It keeps me alive."

Coward's plays epitomize the sophisticated wit of the era between world wars.

The story of the Bliss family riot is the playwright at his "silly and brilliant best," states a Stage 43 press release.

The family's weekend jaunt in the country is most entertaining - chaotic may perhaps be more apt - as each family member has unknowingly invited a guest.

The maid and chief bottle washer, Clara, are among those kept in the dark.

The show completes a trilogy of Stage 43 British-driven comedies at Evergreen, where Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and Charley's Aunt by Brandon Thomas both drew hearty responses earlier in the season.

"Interpreting [Hay Fever] is a bit of a challenge," Savoie says. "Noel Coward has a very different style... very crisp, very distinguished. You kind of have to be familiar with that era."

For tickets at $20/$18 and/or more information, visit www.stage43.org or call the Evergreen Cultural Centre (1205 Pinetree Way) at 604-927-6555.

lpruner@tricitynews.com