Director brings impressive credentials

You may have seen Norman Browning on TV or in films like Watchers

Norman Browning brings his substantial experience as a director to latest B2B outing

Norman Browning brings his substantial experience as a director to latest B2B outing

A big name in theatre is working with Bard to Broadway this summer season in Qualicum Beach.

Norman Browning has had an illustrious theatre career around the country, and he’s also made film and television appearances. He’s been a mainstay at the Shaw Festival in Ontario for 22 seasons, he has performed in 36 productions for the Arts Club in Vancouver and 16 with the Vancouver Playhouse until it closed last year. He’s had roles in the TV series Poltergeist: The Legacy and worked with the late Corey Haim in the film Watchers.

Browning is directing Sexy Laundry for Bard to Broadway and is also working with the cast from B2B’s other two plays this season, The Drowsy Chaperone and Little Women.

Browning was born and raised in Vancouver and became hooked on theatre in high school. He went to Simon Fraser University in its inaugural year looking to pursue a career in law, and noticed the shiny, brand new theatre.

“I thought, I should audition. It was A Man For All Seasons and I got the part of Cromwell (the lead role),” he said. “And the next thing you know I’m in the next play.”

Browning left university for a couple years and when he returned there was a professor of drama by the name of John Juliani. Browning became his lead male actor. In 1969, there was turmoil on campus with the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement going on, he said, and a number of professors were dismissed. Juliani quit his position at SFU and Browning found himself marching and protesting in support of his professors.

“I thought, to hell with this, and I followed this director and we formed a company and did plays on the street. We did them in cafes (and) at the art gallery.”

Browning began to get gigs with the Playhouse Theatre company, but before too long he said he was blacklisted for not joining the Actors’ Equity Association, which was at the time, an American-run association. He wanted little to do with American enterprises, he said,  so he took off “in a hippy-state-of-mind” with his first wife to Grand Forks where he lived in a Doukhobor commune for about eight years.

Once Equity became a Canadian association he went back to Vancouver and resumed his acting career. A director from the well-known Stratford Festival in Ontario selected him for a show while in Vancouver in 1980, and Browning headed off to work with the likes of Maggie Smith, Brian Bedford and Bill Hut.

“I had never seen this kind of theatre before,” he said. “And that’s in no way denigrating what I had done or seen in Vancouver, it’s just that it was Maggie Smith for chrissakes.”

Following that stint he did a number of shows in Vancouver and across Canada, including the Shaw Festival located at Niagara-on-the-Lake.

It was there he met his current wife Laurie Paton.

“I swore I’d never marry an actress. I changed my mind. The most extraordinary woman came into my life at Shaw, and we fell in love.”

But life hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. In 2003 Browning was in the emergency ward with spleen failure when he “died a couple of times.” Literally.

He remembers being in excruciating pain and suddenly, it went away. He could feel all the turmoil of the room for a fleeting moment while he watched in peace, he said, and then he was back on the table, fighting for his life.

But he recovered, and although he missed most of that acting season, he was able to come back and perform in the season closer.

These days, Browning and Paton split their time between their apartment in Vancouver and their home in Niagara-on-the-Lake, depending on where they have work.

Paton’s parents lived in Qualicum Beach for many years and her sister and brother-in-law are also in the area and involved in Bard to Broadway.

Browning and Paton have been spending winters in Qualicum Beach for years, and this year, Browning was invited to work with Bard to Broadway.

He picked two incredible actors to play the two roles in Sexy Laundry, he said, and it’s been quite a journey working with them. The actors are Rosalee Sullivan as Alice Lane and Dave Bigelow as Henry Lane and they pull their parts off like nobody’s business, Browning said.

“I’m not blowing smoke here, I cannot say enough about these people.”

The play, written by Canadian playwright Michele Riml, surrounds a middle aged couple looking to rekindle passion in their 25-year-old relationship.

Sexy Laundry opens July 3 and runs to  August 13 at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach. Tickets for the first three performances are $17 for seniors and students and $19 for adults. After July 15 tickets go up $3. For information call 250-752-4470 or visit


CONTEST: Win two tickets to see Sexy Laundry.  Email with Send Me to Sexy Laundry in the subject line for your chance to win. Include your name and phone number. Draw will be done July 2.



Just Posted

Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville will host the 2021 B.C. Junior Golf Championships. (PQB News file photo)
Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville to host 150 of B.C’s top junior golfers

Provincial boys and girls championship begins June 28

Hannes Grosse, left, and Iris Steigemann, right, as they prepared for their 'Moments of Silence' exhibit. The father-daughter duo are showing at The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach until June 26. (Submitted photo)
Cortes Island artists exhibit at Qualicum Beach’s TOSH in first father-daughter show

Both artists will be present at shows on Friday, June 25 and Saturday, June 26

The Lighthouse Country Marine Rescue Society will get more funding from the Regional District of Nanaimo. (Submitted Photo)
More PQB communities to fund Lighthouse Country Marine Rescue Society

RDN to introduce amendment to service bylaw contribution

A slide on best practices when reporting a suspected impaired driver that was presented to Parksville city council on June 7 by Margarita Bernard, a volunteer with MADD. The organization’s Report Impaired Drivers campaign involves the installation of informative signs within the City of Parksville. (Mandy Moraes photo)
MADD brings campaign to report impaired drivers to Parksville

Aim is to raise awareness that 911 should be called

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the two patients, a man and a woman likely acquired the virus in the hospital

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Attorney General David Eby attend opening of the first government-run B.C. Cannabis Store, Kamloops, Oct. 19, 2018. (B.C. government)
B.C. government to allow home cannabis delivery starting July 15

Added convenience expected to persuade buyers to ‘go legal’

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

BC Ferries’ newest Island Class vessel is experiencing an issue with one of its thrusters off the Algerian coast. Photo courtesy
BC Ferries newest vessel having mechanical issues in Mediterranean

Island 4 will be repaired in Spain before crossing Atlantic

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read