With more than 80 productions since its start in 1995, it’s clear that Footlighters Theatre Society always has something in the works. And 2019 was no exception, with three productions — two of them locally written — including a comedy, a drama and a musical.
Tackling issues including infertility, mental health and co-dependency, it co-starred and was co-directed by Devan Coward, Brian Lawrence and Simone Wiebe. Designed for a smaller audience, it was performed in a “black box” style, right on the stage at Prince Charles Theatre.
“Performing it in such an intimate setting was such a change from what we’re used to,” said Wiebe. “It really made us feel like the audience was part of the show. And it was really exciting to leave them with so many questions — no tidy ending with this one!”
Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Play Right, also written by Chubb and Smith, debuted in May, and the comedy featured two playwrights whose personal conflicts creep into a play as it unfolds around them.
“It’s always exciting to see the words we wrote come to life,” said Smith, who directed. “And while the show-within-a-show format was something we’d never done before, the cast was more than up to the challenge.”
The plays were both written with the goal of competing for a chance to perform at Theatre BC’s Mainstage festival in July. With only the two Creston plays competing in the Kootenay Zone, they were pitted against Ladysmith Little Theatre’s Stones In His Pockets, which ultimately earned the chance to move on. Footlighters members did earn four awards, though: Smith (best set design), Chubb (best supporting actress), Jennifer Dewald (best costume design) and Lucas Szuch (best supporting actor).
After a summer hiatus between seasons, the troupe jumped back into action with rehearsals for the 2019-2020 season-opening musical, White Christmas — which ran for three sold-out performances in November.
With a cast of nearly 30, a band of 10 led by music director Leah Darby, choreography — including tap dancing! — led by Kate Webb, over 100 costumes supervised by Dewald, sets designed by Smith, and video segments produced by Dan Caverly, the production was one of the most technically challenging the group has presented.
“Those parts came together perfectly,” said Lawrence, who directed. “It took a lot of work, though — once you add the stage crew, backstage dressers and front-of-house team to the performers, we had about 65 volunteers working on the show each night.”
Footlighters’ 25th season will continue in April with Star Trak, a spoof written by Chubb and Smith of the Star Trek TV series, and finish in June with Wotcha! Gotcha!, Brittney Boehmer’s directorial debut, a steampunk melodrama in which Shamrock Holmes must rescue Alice (of Wonderland fame) from the villains Mad Hat and Moriarty.
“It’s easy to say that this is one of our most diverse seasons ever,” said Lawrence, the society’s president. “And although the schedule for our next season isn’t confirmed yet, it’s safe to say that we’ll offer just as much variety with that one.”