Bard returns to the beach this summer
Theatre fans had best position themselves near the starting blocks in time for Monday, June 24 at 8 a.m.
That's the time that tickets go on sale to the general public for Beach House Theatre's second season of Shakespearian comedy and romance at Crescent Beach, through the society's website (www.beachhousetheatre.org).
Almost the only complaint about last year's brilliant, staggeringly well-received production of the Bard's A Midsummer Night's Dream was that, only a few days after tickets went on sale, there was nary one to be had, for love or money.
Beach House founders and directors Candace Radcliffe and Rick Harmon say it's disappointing to them, too, that more people didn't get to see the sold-out show.
But with only so many seats in a temporary tent/awning theatre space at Blackie Spit – and only a few days window in August granted by the City of Surrey – the show has to be literally a first-come, first-served proposition. (There is another way to beat the lineup, however – those who have donated $200 or more to the society get first crack at buying tickets starting June 15.)
This year's play is another highly-accessible favourite, Twelfth Night, which runs Aug. 14-18 with performances at 8 p.m.
Described as "a festive riot of mischief and misplaced desire," the play concerns Viola, shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria, who finds employment in the house of Duke Orsino, but only in the guise of a young man, Cesario.
While the disguised Viola finds herself falling for the Duke, his attentions are fastened on Countess Olivia, who, in turn, falls for the Duke's messenger – none other than Cesario/Viola herself.
Throw in Olivia's pompous servant, Malvolio, drunken uncle Sir Toby Belch and his companions – who would like nothing better than to take Malvolio down a peg or two by convincing him he is the object of his mistress' love – and you have everything from knockabout comedy to deliciously-sustained romantic confusion.
"When you stage live Shakespeare, you want people to connect with it and get the jokes," Radcliffe said.
"This is so, so funny and so physical, but it also has some of the most beautiful language in all of his works."
Radcliffe and Harmon have another treat in store for audiences this year – a second, morning show, running Aug. 13-16 at 11 a.m. each day
Called Munsch Ado About Nothing, it's aimed at a family audience, they say, or children "aged four to 94."
Debbie Patterson's adaptation of five stories by famed children's author Robert Munsch has a distinctly Elizabethan quality – since the carnival-like players and storytellers are named Shakespeare, Burbage and Kempe.
"It's like a circus show – three performers in a multitude of roles, with a minimum of props, costumes and changes," said Harmon.
"After the show the performers will be on stage so the kids can meet with them, talk and take pictures."
Tickets for the hour-long play also go on sale June 24, with a warning that seating is general – in other words, first arrivals get the best seats.
For Radcliffe and Harmon, the second season of Beach House has come at a rush, following close on the heels of the success of the first, which exceeded even their own expectations.
"We're still reflecting on our first year, still absorbing all that it was," Radcliffe said.
"We think about all the amazing people who came and got involved. It became such a community effort, and we have an unbelievable board of directors."
Exemplary support was also received from business, and community organizations, including Alexandra Neighbourhood House (aka Camp Alexandra) which, Radcliffe said, "swept in and rescued us when we needed rehearsal space both inside and outside."
"It really helps actors get a feel for the necessary projection," Harmon commented.
"We worked hard to make community connections last year," Radcliffe said.
As two educators (Radcliffe is drama teacher at Earl Marriott Secondary, and Harmon – who retired from Marriott several years ago – is still teaching drama for Surrey School District) they're justly proud of their mentorship of young players and technicians.
Many of their casts are drawn from the ranks of alumni and just-graduated students, while last year Beach House scholarship recipient Zack Dallas, who had just finished Grade 12 at Elgin Park Secondary, ran lights, and Grade 10 Marriott student Riley Lieper ran sound.
"They were excellent – Zack was there from each morning to the end of the show," said Radcliffe.
"And Riley created all the sound cues under (technical director Geoff McEvoy)'s supervision," said Harmon.
A lot of Beach House Theatre's energy this year, aside from the productions themselves, is also going into fine-tuning the experience for playgoers.
That includes slight shifts in location and timing to avoid sun-in-the-eyes issues of staging a play just prior to sunset.
"We've pushed the start of the evening show back half an hour to eight o'clock," said Harmon.
"And we're also looking at further options for food on the site," added Radcliffe.
For more information, visit www.beachhousetheatre.org