What a great new addition to the community.
It was my first time to a production by the Qualicum Bay Theatre Group (the group’s second performance), at the Lighthouse Community Hall Saturday night.
I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect: a great big hall for a venue; a small, new theatre group with a number of first-time performers, and the director was also leading the catering for the dinner theatre show….
But I was pleasantly surprised. The organizers created a small intimate space within the hall to accommodate the sold-out show called Tea-A-Ria, and although it could have been more lavishly decorated, it served its purpose. (And proceeds from the shows are going to improving the lighting and sets).
The food came out promptly and the casual servers were attentive and friendly. The food was good; the salad fresh, the lasagna hot and flavourful and the gelato dessert, a nice touch.
The Jazzervoir Dogs, a quintet of talented young men from KSS’ music program, were thoroughly entertaining during dinner service.
The actors really set the mood. They were funny and seemed at ease, and the play—written by the director’s friend in the States (Laurie Nienhaus)—was sweet and snappy. The story surrounds a young American Italian woman Leonie Palazatto, who decides to open a teahouse, much to the dismay of her Italian family, although of course they still love and support her. The family members are more interested in wine, liquor and meat-filled sandwiches, rather than tea and scones.
Jane C was a convincing young shop owner, polished and earnest and often embarrassed by her overbearing family.
I loved Justina Ekl in her role as Enza Malandra the “wanton hussy” with her New York accent and sassy comments to the crowd about poor hair styles and decor.
Donna Prima, who was also the director and caterer, really brought her old, crazy, italian grandmother character to life, and the crowd loved her. Similarly Terri Petz played her character, a dramatic Italian Aunt named Sabina, with style and ease. Enza was having an affair with Aunt Sabina’s husband and the two make a nice scene during tea service.
Geoff Barnum was a nice fit for the over-protective family friend, who had clearly fallen for Leonie. Community theatre veteran Gerry Fraser was solid in his role as an English patron who tries to reason with his wife to vacate the erratic tea house. But Barbara St. James, played superbly by Lifetime Echo Player’s member Dori McGarrigle, was thrilled to be watching a live soap opera—as were the rest of us.
Hats off to Sheena McCorquodale the producer and founding member of the theatre group.
There was also an afternoon matinee that ran Sunday afternoon with lunch.
Check out the Lighthouse Community Hall’s website for details on the next show, which will be the culmination of an improv acting workshop put on by local theatre guru Thea Stavroff. www.communityhall.ca.