The preparation are nearly ready for the opening of the ECHO Players production of Enchanted April on Oct. 11. Here (from left), Adrienne Yee plays Caroline Bramble, Heather Tillmar plays Lotty Wilton and Lesley McVey plays Mrs. Graves during rehearsals in September. — Don Emerson Photo

Hope blooms in Qualicum Beach play: director

ECHO season kicking off with Enchanted April opening Oct. 11

While the ECHO Players’ first play of the season, Enchanted April, may start out in a dreary London winter, hope slowly blooms, says director Wendy Punter.

The play, a romantic comedy set in the 1920s that sees four English ladies escape their country and their lives to rent a castle in Italy for April, will open Oct. 11 and run until Oct. 28 at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach.

It’s a fun, light show that nonetheless can pack an emotional punch, said Punter.

“The one thing that I get from the end of the play is hope,” she said. “No matter what the circumstances, there is always hope for change, and that, if your heart is open to it, change can come about.”

She compared the progress of the play to that of a rosebud.

“It’s closed tight in act one, but when you get to act two, it starts to slowly open, like a flower,” said Punter. “Then by the time we get to the end of the play, that flower is opened and it’s perfect.”

It hasn’t been the easiest road for the ECHO Players production to reach that perfect blossom.

Punter struggled to find her Anthony Wilding — a dapper character who rents the castle — but eventually arrived at a full cast of eight with Jonathan Hamilton as Wilding.

Several cast members have little to no experience performing on stage before, Punter said, but there is some quality raw talent there, and all the cast is committed to learning as much as they can and working hard to put on a great performance.

“It’s hard work, acting,” said Punter. “It’s hard work learning your lines, it’s hard work getting a handle on the character. It takes over your life. You probably wake up in the morning thinking Enchanted April and go to sleep thinking Enchanted April.”

“But once you get those lines in your head, and you can put that character on like slipping into a comfortable coat, then it gets easier and it really starts to be enjoyable, and you can see that in the cast themselves. That is happening. They are relaxing more, they are getting comfortable on the stage, their expressions come more naturally. When that happens, they become believable.”

Punter noted that it’s not just the actors, but all those involved in the play, from the costumers to the set designers and builders and beyond, who are doing all they can to make the performance all it can be.

“It all goes to blend together to make this whole great, big, beautiful bouquet of flowers, if you will.”

Punter said she’s excited to share the play come Oct. 11.

She said she hopes it communicates an important message: “Hope and enchantment, and how enchantment can change our lives, but… you have to let enchantment in… If it calls to you, you have to give in to it.”

Tickets range from $23 for adults to $14 for students with a student card.

They can be purchased online at www.echoplayers.ca/tickets.php, by calling 250-752-3522 or emailing info@echoplayers.ca, as well as at the Village Theatre box office in Qualicum Beach when it’s open (110 West 2nd Ave).

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