Daniel no stranger to stage

Middle school student has a lead role in ECHO Players’ Blitzen

Daniel Handley

A Christmas story for the whole family is taking place on stage at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach.

Blitzen is a warm, moving story of a family re-discovering the magic of Christmas.

ECHO Players will present 13 performances of Blitzen until December 31.

Blitzen is directed by Eileen Butts, a long-serving member of ECHO Players who most recently directed Anne of Green Gables for Bard to Broadway.

The play, written by Julian Wiles, is based on a true story of a South Carolina family who survives a 1989 hurricane.

The comedy is centered around the Christmas after Hugo, one of the largest hurricanes ever to hit the coast. Stephen and Andy’s room, like most of their house, is still in shambles. Younger brother Andy writes to Santa Claus to ask him to fix up their room for Christmas. Of course, no one, especially Stephen, thinks this is possible, and then Blitzen shows up.

The play is about beliefs and believing and how if you really want to believe in magic, sometimes you have to make the magic yourself.

The play runs about an hour and 45 minutes and Butts said while it is billed as a comedy there are some moments that tug at your heart but you will definitely leave feeling good.

Blitzen is the 20th directorial venture for Butts and she said it has been a lot of fun working with the cast.

Butts said she is particularly thrilled with the three young actors they chose for the roles of Andy, Stephen and Alex.


Playing the lead role of Stephen Harrison is 13-year- old Daniel Handley. The Grade 8 Oceanside Middle School student is no stranger to the stage.

He has done two previous Echo performances with parts in Robinson Crusoe and Aladdin.

Handley was bitten by the acting bug when he was just a little boy and according to his mom Carmen he has always been a performer and loves being on the stage.

Last year Handley had the lead role in Oceanside’s production of Nottingham and he admitted it was challenging to have a great performance in that play.

“There was a fair amount of pressure because you have some of he most important lines in the play and if you forget them it takes a lot of ad libbing to recover,” he stated.

Handley has had more than his fair share of lines to memorize for Blitzen, but he said he managed to learn his dialogue and keep up with school work, although during rehearsals he had some pretty late nights.

“I have a lot of lines and 13 big monologues as well.”

Handley said some of his scenes are intense and require a lot of emotional energy but he is up to the challenge.

It is a big commitment for a young actor to take on a lead role and Handley has had to sacrifice some of his social life for his stage work.

He missed his school’s Christmas dance and band concert due to rehearsals, but he said his friends understand.

Although Handley has been told by some of his teachers that he should get an agent and start working towards an acting career, he said his future on the stage remains to be seen and for now he will keep up his good marks in school and work towards becoming a computer engineer.

You can see the young thespian as well as the rest of the cast during nightly shows at 7 p.m. and in some matinees.

Blitzen runs until Dec. 31 at The Village Theatre located at 110 West 2nd Avenue in Qualicum Beach.  Call 250-752-3522 for tickets.


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