Acting out 

Comedy revue with a Whistler spin, one night only at Millennium Place

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALYSSA NOEL - buzz worthy Shannon Hearn and Tara O'Doherty playing a pair of enamoured mayflies during rehearsal.
  • Photo by ALYSSA NOEL
  • buzz worthy Shannon Hearn and Tara O'Doherty playing a pair of enamoured mayflies during rehearsal.

Call it theatre for the short attention span.

"A Comedy Revue — Whistler Style!"— running for one night only on Nov. 16 — will pack five wildly varying one act plays into the span of two hours. "They're all comedies. The longest one is about 25 minutes in length," says local actress/director Susan Hutchinson, who produced the event. "I was going to put a one act in there by (Anton) Chekhov but I thought to myself, 'Maybe that's not going to draw everyone in.' I think Whistler is ready for that, but I wanted to start off with something that's going to be relatable."

To that end, Hutchinson selected a range of plays — including two penned by local playwright Karen Mcleod — that would offer something for everybody. There's Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Zombie Hordes, a twist on the popular detective franchise where Holmes and his sidekick Watson are akin to Dumb and Dumber; Beer Girl, featuring a love story between a man and his homemade beer can girlfriend; Book Club, which tells the tale of a boozy group of readers and Council's Den, a Whistler spin on the Dragon's Den TV series where entrepreneurs pitch their (sometimes half-baked) ideas to a panel of investors.

But Hutchinson's "baby" is Time Flies, which she first saw staged in Squamish two years ago, about two mayflies that discover the truth about their short lifespan and decide to jump into a torrid affair. "I saw it performed and I was like, 'Oh my God, this is such a cute, funny play.' It's about two mayflies who come home from a party, they're kind of attracted to each other, they're buzzing around each other and they decide to watch TV. Well, (British broadcaster) David Attenborough comes on and they realize he's talking about their pod and they only have 24 hours to live ... I really wanted to put it on," Hutchinson says. "I'm directing it (and) I've been really happy with the actors."

Fornicating flies and other grown-up topics prompted a rating of 16 and up for the show.

"There's a little bit of adult humour, some swearing. There's a lot of talk about sex," she says.

But besides that, "I think everybody is going to find their own play they connect with. There's something for everybody. If you're not fond of zombies, you might like book clubs."

In an effort to get back into acting — which had taken a backseat to work and motherhood over the last several years — Hutchinson drew inspiration from her experiences acting in Squamish's Between Shifts Theatre, local performer Michele Bush's series of comedy skits and Heather Paul's Short Skirt Theatre pantomime and began to put together the production.

"I sent out some e-mails to people I had acted with before and said, 'Come over to my house if you want to be involved,'" she recalls. "We had readings of the plays, and drank some wine and had a killer game of charades afterwards."

Cast secured, Hutchinson set out to select plays that were varied and could include a Whistler angle.

Council's Den, for instance, has the most in-humour, imagining what would happen if Whistler council fielded suggestions for outrageous festivals in exchange for tax dollars.

The joke for those in the know: former mayoral candidate Kristi Wells makes a cameo appearance as mayor. "Kristi is helping me out a lot with costumes and props," Hutchinson adds. "She's been amazing."

Many of the actors are also pulling double duty, jumping from one very different role to the next. Shannon Hearn, who plays both a mayfly and the main man in Beer Girl, falling in love with his can creation, says the one act concept was part of the production's appeal.

"I think it's a great format because you're not having to rehearse for months on end," he says. "It's an easier process for Whistler, for local theatre. We all have jobs and lives and to be able to do this a couple nights a week is great, to get your creativity out there."

His mayfly squeeze, played by Tara O'Doherty, agrees. She also plays Watson. "The audience can go on a journey," she says. "It will leave you wanting more. It's kind of like a switch: one rehearsal you're one person and the next you're another character."

With over a dozen actors, just coordinating the rehearsals has been a major feat. "The people in the plays with me are fantastic," Hutchinson adds. "They want to act and they've been working really hard for no money and I really appreciate that."

Catch the revue's one and only performance on Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. at Millennium Place. Tickets can be purchsed in advance for $20 at artswhistler.com.

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