For the love of film 

Local theatre production goes to the movies for Valentine’s Day

What: Famous Movie Monologues of Love and Lust

When: Friday, Feb. 11-MY Millennium Place (Whistler)

When: Saturday, Feb. 12-Eagle Eye Theatre (Squamish)

Who could have ever predicted that one day the chance would arise to see Roxie from Chicago, Satine from Moulin Rouge, Buttercup from the Princess Bride, Jessica Rabbit and Charlie Brown all in the same room without the ingestion of psychedelic drugs?

But wouldn’t you know it, a brand new stage production by Whistler’s Short Skirt Theatre Co. and Between Shifts Theatre in Squamish includes all of the above, plus nine more characters from movie lore.

Famous Movie Monologues of Love & Lust is the brainchild of Short Skirt founder and local arts impresario Gillie Easdon. Easdon put out the call last November for community members who had a specific film character’s monologue in mind that they would like to perform as part of a showcase. Auditions were held in January, resulting in a lineup of 14 performers – all women with the exception of pre-teen thespian Ben Groulx, a veteran of past Short Skirt Pantomime productions. Experience levels ranged from stage virgins to trained local actor/directors with numerous shows to their name.

Easdon’s vision from the start was not simply to stage a spectacle but to contribute to the development of talent in the corridor. A grant from the Whistler Arts Council provided for the hiring of Susanna Uchatius, a professional theatre director from the Lower Mainland for one-on-one rehearsals with each performer.

Though an experienced director with countless productions to her name, a showcase of monologues was something Uchatius had never encountered. And despite its pop-culture roots the production, Uchatius noted, has turned out to be anything but "theatre-lite."

"Each monologue has to be complete unto itself out of the context of the movie," Uchatius explained. "They have to make it work as a complete beginning, middle and end. Like a story."

To prepare, Uchatius said she viewed all 14 films and found that the chosen monologues in many cases not only define the particular characters, but are the heart of the film as well. The performers, she said, met the challenge with a work ethic that left her "blown away."

"I just loved it," Uchatius emoted. "Working on monologues with one person, especially if they’re open and willing to work, it’s very nurturing for any director. It’s like chocolate."

The production as a whole is much like a box of assorted chocolates. Another challenge was turning 14 separate pieces into a cohesive stage show. Uchatius eventually settled on a thematic approach to lace the various pieces together.

"This is not 14 shows; it’s one show with 14 people," she said.

According to Short Skirt’s Heather Paul, who is performing a monologue from the character of Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the unorthodox format of Love and Lust has proved a perfect fit with Whistler’s high season. Winter demands render it impossible to schedule group rehearsals, resulting in the majority of community theatre being staged in the off-season.

Paul says the success in preparing Love and Lust is suggesting the production could become an annual event with different themes each year.

Although, if the goal is to hold it every February, you really can’t improve on "Love and Lust." Especially in a town with this much heart.

Famous Movie Monologues of Love and Lust presents a two show run, Friday, Feb. 11 at MY Place in Whistler and Saturday, Feb. 12 at the Eagle Eye Theatre in Squamish. Both shows begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $9.99. For Whistler tickets call the MY Place box office at 604-935-8410. Squamish tickets are available in advance from Billie’s Bouquet.

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