Adam Kveton Photo The Pirate King, played by Brian Lecky, centre, is in a bind during the ECHO Players’ dress rehearsal of the Pirates of Penzance on Tuesday, April 25. The production was nearly sold out every night to finish out the players’ season, said the players’ president, Ken McCready.

Qualicum Beach’s ECHO Players close curtain on 16/17 season

Theatre group nearing mural fundraising goal

With the ECHO Players’ production of The Pirates of Penzance having performed its last show on Sunday, the group is closing out its Village Theatre 2016/17 season in strong fashion, said the group’s president, Ken McCready.

“This season’s been very successful,” he said. “We are very pleased, and the current production, Pirates of Penzance, is basically a sell-out. Most nights are either sell-out or with a few single seats left.”

This season included The Cocktail Hour, Dick Whittington as the Christmas show, Marion Bridge and Pirates. McCready called out Alan Clift’s rendition of the Major General in Pirates as particularly notable this season, as well as Julian Packer’s work on the pantomime, rags-to-riches story Dick Whittington, for which he served as director and an actor.

“This year we’re quite happy with the attendance overall,” said McCready.

But there is still more to look forward to this season. The ECHO Players’ production of Marion Bridge from earlier this year is entered in the North Island Zone Festival, to be performed Saturday, May 20 at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay. McCready said he is optimistic that it will do well in the competition.

The players’ fundraising this year has been focused on a 19×5-metre mural depicting past shows and the local actors who performed in them. Of the $60,000 fundraising target to have it painted and then installed on the Village Theatre’s west wall, more than $50,000 has been raised, said McCready.

“We’re quite impressed the way various events have been organized that raise funds and others who have contributed (funds from) their shows,” he said.

The plan is for the mural to be unveiled on July 1, though the theatre’s roof must first be retarred this month.

“Obviously we’d love to have raised the money totally,” said McCready. “We’ve still got applications in to various authorities, including the township and the regional municipality. We can be optimistic still that the balance of what we need can be found.”

As for the upcoming season, productions will include Hilda’s Yard, The Christmas Express, Hay Fever and My Old Lady. Auditions for Hay Fever were already scheduled to have taken place, while auditions for Hilda’s Yard will take place May 28, 29 and 31. Next are The Christmas Express and My Old Lady with auditions in June.

McCready said the upcoming season will be different as it doesn’t include a musical, but it should nonetheless be a fun season, with The Christmas Express providing plenty of holiday cheer.

He said he’s looking forward to Hay Fever in particular, as the comedy will be the ECHO Players’ entry for the North Island Zone Festival next year.

McCready encouraged any and all persons interested in acting to come to auditions, noting that middle-aged men and women are generally pretty scarce.

“We would encourage anybody who’s thinking of acting to apply,” he said. For more information on the ECHO Players’ upcoming season, go to www.echoplayers.ca/news.php.