A unique partnership between St. John’s United Church in Davis Bay and a trio of experienced musical theatre artists will soon bring the sound of singing pirates to the Sunshine Coast.
Under the direction of the newly-formed Coast Music Theatre Company, the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance is preparing for auditions and a March 2024 performance.
A committee of St. John’s members, headed by Ian Poole, successfully applied for a grant to support new community programming at the institution. “Having a musical at St. John’s would fit with the whole theme of applying for this grant,” said Poole. “Post-COVID, St. John’s really wanted to find ways to connect with the community and the community with us.”
Poole approached Sara Douglas and Tom Kellough, both recently retired music educators with School District 46.
The pair was still riding high from their summertime performances of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown at Sechelt’s Rockwood Pavilion, in which they had collaborated with choreographer Sylvain Brochu. They realized it was an opportunity to revive a Coast tradition that has been dormant for two decades. The area’s last community musical theatre production was staged in 2002: Lionel Bart’s Oliver!.
“People have been hounding Tom and I for a few years about when we were going to do music theatre with adults,” said Douglas. She most recently directed School District 46 students in a dynamic production of Brigadoon in 2022. “We wanted to have a musical that would bring people in and give people a really good first experience with community musical theatre. Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates is just so much fun that it just seemed the obvious choice.”
Douglas, Kellough and Brochu formed the Coast Music Theatre Company and issued a call for auditions on Nov. 4. Performances are scheduled for early March 2024. The group plans to produce future musicals on an annual basis.
The Pirates of Penzance will be performed at St. John’s United Church with full costumes and sets. Douglas said she will adhere to a longstanding Gilbert and Sullivan tradition by adding sly local references to the operetta’s libretto (fitting for a community that is home to Smuggler Cove).
An ad hoc instrumental corps will be recruited for orchestral accompaniment.
“Musical theatre is a little bit of everything,” added Douglas. “It’s theatre, it’s singing, it’s dance, it’s instruments. For people who can’t necessarily get on stage, who don’t feel comfortable singing or acting, they can still be involved. It can be a whole community thing.”
Audition reservations are available online at coastmusictheatre.weebly.com.
Film society plays with fire
The Sunshine Coast Film Society will present the Oscar-nominated and award-winning documentary Writing with Fire on Monday, Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m. at the Gibsons Heritage Playhouse and Thursday, Nov. 9 at the Raven’s Cry Theatre in Sechelt.
The film depicts a cluttered media landscape dominated by men in which Khabar Lahariya is India’s only newspaper and news channel run by women. As they pivot to online publishing, armed with smartphones and tenacity, fearless journalists led by chief reporter Meera Devi, learn their trade, break traditions, and redefine what it means to be powerful.
Society membership is required to purchase tickets. Memberships and tickets can be purchased in advance online or with cash at the door. Visit scfs.ca for details.
Opera takes flight at Raven’s Cry
Live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City have returned to the Raven’s Cry Theatre in Sechelt.
On Nov. 18, the theatre will present X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X live from the Met. Composed by Anthony Davis, the work premiered in 1986, and is an operatic retelling of the civil rights leader’s life.
Tickets for the 9:55 a.m. screening on Nov. 18 are available online at ravenscrytheatre.com.
An additional six operas are planned for broadcast this season, with Verdi’s Nabucco scheduled for Jan. 6.