The Heather Paul theatre experience usually includes tears standing in a pool of spilled paint in her kitchen, scrambling to ready sets for the yearly Short Skirt Theatre Pantomime.
Acting is putting a brave face on to keep up the energy of 40 kids she directs for the yearly Whistler Secondary School musical theatre production.
For the first time in almost two decades, Whistler's community theatre cornerstone will drop her paint brush, step out of the director's chair and onto a professional stage in the inaugural Whistler Theatre Project production of Midsummer Night's Dream Aug. 2 to Sept. 3 at Ross Rebagliati Park.
"I am going to be able to bring so much of what I learned (in the show) back to the high school and Short Skirt Theatre," said Paul from her office at the Resort Municipality of Whistler, where she works as a system analyst.
"It's going to be a great refresher and great opportunity to see something different."
The Whistler resident of eight years will play the role of Tom Snout, more famously known by Bard fans as The Wall, as well as a fairy and musician. Paul was cast after fellow thespian and friend Angie Nolan bowed out of the role due to rehearsal conflicts with her work schedule.
"After directing Heather in Sleeping Beauty, I discovered something very vital about this woman," Nolan shares. "She doesn't throw herself into a role. Oh no. She takes a running start from 100 km away, comes in guns a' blazing, winds a' changing, earth a' moving until no-one realizes what hit them and you walk away never forgetting a Heather Paul performance."
The name of Paul and Whistler theatre are synonymous, one never far from the other. Paul's local directing credits include Bye Bye Birdie, Aladdin, Snow White, Footloose!, Anything Goes, Singing in the Rain and Captain Hook's Revenge.
While acting is nothing new for the formally trained actor, Paul picked up an accordion for the first time at last weekend's The Dream rehearsal at Vancouver Playhouse. An instrument of torture at this point, Paul, who plays the piano and reads music, is enjoying the challenge.
"I am going to have lots of fun," she said. "I've only been to two rehearsals so far, but you can tell already that it's going to be a great show."
Compared to writing, producing and directing local productions, just having to worry about her one role as actor is a walk in the Rebagliati Park - or maybe a leap or spin; the fairy section hasn't been rehearsed yet.
The balancing act between acting and the computer world is always difficult. The systems analyst rehearses in Vancouver up to four times a week then every day two weeks before the show. All the while, she works at municipal hall during the day. Her next day off won't be for another 56 days.
"At one point, I am going to have to decide," she said. "This is as far as I've pushed myself to the divide."
Until the day comes, passion continues to drive her up the Sea to Sky Highway in pursuit of her own personal dream.
For more information on A Midsummer Night's Dream, visit www.whistlertheatreproject.com.