Alexander: ‘a delightful surprise’

Qualicum Beach- Echo Players nails HMS Pinafore with incredible local talent

Echo Players have a hit with their current musical comedy

Sitting in the quant Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach on Friday I found myself smiling away as the talented actors sang their hearts out in brilliant shimmering dresses and striped sailor suits, and I felt lucky.

Echo Player’s production of the musical comedy H.M.S. Pinafore was a delightful surprise, with a cast that seemed to be hand-picked from the big cities around the country.

The play is set aboard a British naval ship and satirizes the British class system and the royal navy, poking fun at the rise of unqualified people like the First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Joseph, played effectively by local community theatre veteran Paul Churchill.

Catchy tunes with versus like “Stick close to your desks and never go to sea, and you all may be rulers of the Queen’s Navy,” kept audience-members laughing-out-loud, while a small team of musicians played lovely live music from the stage’s upper balcony.

Local soprano Skye Donald’s talent had its usual jaw-dropping effect as she nailed her role as the sweet Buttercup. Similarly young Belle Warner, as the lead female Josephine, garnered plenty of “wow’s” in the audience as she hit her many high notes with ease and grace.  Lead male Nicholas Atkinson was a refreshing addition to the play and the young man also gave a strong performance in his role as sailor Ralph Rackstraw.

Brian Lecky had some great lines in his role as Captain Corcoran and father of Josephine, and played the part convincingly. Alistair McVey played a wonderfully loathsome Deadeye and Terry Whittaker an impressive boatswain.

Hats off to director Lesley McVey and the incredible production team, where the experience and talent of musical director Bonnie Stebbings, vocal director Hilary Whelton and choreographer Donna Wilkins shone brightly.

Both the male and female choruses were outstanding, with impressive harmonies that captured the hilarious lyrics nicely.

Costume and hat makers Celia Wesselman and Yvette Toombs successfully created eye magnets, with flashy taffeta fabric accented with lace and pleats, and gorgeous fascinators busting with feathers, jewels, flowers and ribbons.

Yes I felt lucky. Lucky that all this talent and enthusiasm is at our fingertips and that this gem of a venue is just a short drive from most of our homes.

H.M.S. Pinafore plays until March 3 at the Village Theatre. Tickets are $21, $18 for seniors and $10 for students. Stop by the box office in Qualicum Beach during office hours at 110 West 2nd Ave, or call 250-752-3522 or email

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