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Behind the Scenes: Interview with Director Melissa Young

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an actor, director, and choreographer who currently resides in Victoria. I am also an educator who has taught acting and musical theatre in the public school system for the past 10 years. I love musicals and I really enjoy creating physical theatre.

Why Narnia?

I think the Narnia series is timeless and its appeal is multi-generational because of the core values embedded within the stories such as teaching kindness to others, the importance of courage, and selflessness. Ultimately the stories engage our imaginations which is exciting to readers, and of course, a theatre audience.

Did the fact that the work of C.S. Lewis is famous make this an intimidating task to adapt?

Yes, there is a lot of text and Lewis has a specific tone and style which I wanted to remain true to.

Have you read all the books in the Narnia series? Which one is your favorite?

Yes, I have. I really love The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. However, after this process, I have a new appreciation for The Magician’s Nephew.

What is your writing process like?

I read the novel again and again. I then examine each chapter and pick out the most significant plot points and actions within the chapter and then join the actions together. I find speaking in role as I write the dialogue to be very helpful to the process.

What was the first play that you wrote?

I haven’t written a play, but the first piece I adapted was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

What did you do to try to make the story and characters your own?

Reading the text out loud allowed for me to improv with myself and through that process I was able to put my own “stamp” on the work. For example, the phrasing of the Queen’s lines are very similar to how I might speak if I put myself in the position of the Queen. My acting training has really helped me with the adaptation process.

Do you have a favorite moment in the story?

I love the dramatic parts; in particular, I really like the moment in the garden between Digory and the Queen. Digory is forced to choose between obeying Aslan’s direction, or doing what he thinks might save his mother.

What did you edit OUT of this story?

The cabby, the cabby’s wife, and Digory’s Aunt. I found they weren’t essential to the story we were telling. We still have Digory’s mother—but she is represented in a different way.

What do you want your young audience members to take away from this story?

Always do your best to be brave and kind, even when you are faced with fear and doubt.

What will you be working on next?

Lumberjacks in Love.

By |July 25th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

ABBA in the Theatre

ABBA entered the world of the theatre when Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, along with lyricist Tim Rice, wrote their first musical, Chess. Chess proved to be a cult hit around the world, producing the hit singles, “One Night In Bangkok” and “I Know Him So Well.”

It was Judy Craymer, the executive producer of Chess, who first recognized the inherent theatricality of ABBA’s pop songs. “The Winner Takes It All” suggested to her “the rollercoaster of love and loss,” she said, “It was extraordinarily theatrical.” She slowly began to work on her idea, sitting on the floor of her apartment, she remembers, “listening to ABBA’s records late into the night.” She commissioned award-winning playwright Catherine Johnson to create the story, insisting that the musical have an original and contemporary story, interwoven with the existing songs, rather than being simply a tribute show to ABBA.

Craymer then hired director Phyllida Lloyd. Craymer later wrote that having this trio of powerful women leading a major musical venture –an unusual thing in the world of theatre –helped to create the strong female characters of MAMMA MIA! On April 6, 1999 (the anniversary of ABBA’s win at the Eurovision Song Contest 25 years earlier), MAMMA MIA! opened at London’s Prince Edward Theatre. “We really had no idea how it was going to be received, “said Craymer, “The audience went wild. They were literally out of their seats and singing and dancing in
the aisles…”

From there, it went on to the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto, Canada, and then to Broadway, to the Winter Garden Theatre in 2001, where it opened with one of the biggest advance sales in theatre history. MAMMA MIA! has gone on to become one of the most popular theatre productions in history, having been seen by over 30 million people around the world. There are currently more productions of MAMMA MIA! playing than any other musical. Each and every night, 17,000 people around the world see ABBA’s breathtaking music come to vivid life right in front of them, live on stage.

By |June 26th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Behind the Scenes: An Interview with Choreographer Nicol Spinola

How would you describe what you do?

My job as a choreographer is to create all of the movement and dance that you see in a show. I work closely with the director to create work that supports the story we are telling.

What’s a typical work week like?

During rehearsals, we work six days a week – eight and a half hours a day. Once we get closer to show time, we start working longer days at the theatre in order to add all of the technical elements of the show like the costumes, lights and the set.

How did you get started?

My mom put me into dance when I was a little girl and I loved it. When I was 13, my musical theatre teacher cast me in a show and I fell in love with musical theatre. I was always interested in the choreography aspect of the show and after high school started to assist local choreographers on different productions. Eventually, I was offered my own show and have been working professionally ever since.

What is most challenging about what you do?

I think the most challenging aspect of my job is taking the music and lyrics and converting them into movement that supports the story. My job is to make every performer look great on stage so working within their skill set to create movement and dancing that they can do well and looks great.

Can you talk a little bit about the different dance styles in this production?

This show is filled with a mix of styles! You are going to see a lot of classic jazz, street jazz, ballroom and of course, Disco.

When did you begin choreographing? Tell us about your first experience.

I started choreographing when I was 15 years old for students at the dance school I attended. Since then, I’ve gone on to choreograph many competition pieces for different dance groups on the lower mainland and children’s theatre. My first professional choreography job was with Theatre Under the Stars and their production of Mary Poppins. It was a huge production with over 30 members in the cast. It was both challenging and exciting.

What is your process like? Are you driven by the music first or a specific concept?

I think it is a bit of both. When I am first starting to create choreography, I often sit down and listen to the music and write down the things I am imagining. I work with the script and the director to create and really understand the story and how we are going to tell it, and then create movement that aligns with the story and the vision for the show. I then get on my feet and start physically working out what each dance step will be and where all of the performers will be standing on stage.

What is your favorite genre to choreograph?

I really enjoy choreographing classic tap pieces. It’s fun to come up with different rhythms that add to the music.

Do you have a favorite routine in this show?

There are so many great pieces in the show. I am actually a really big ABBA fan so it’s been a blast getting to listen to their music every day. If I had to pick, Voulez Vous is one of my favourites.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Being here in Chemanius and getting to create theatre in such a beautiful location is very special. I hope that audiences enjoy Mamma Mia as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it.

By |June 7th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Are You Ready for Mamma Mia? Test your ABBA knowledge!

DO YOU KNOW ABBA?

A QUIZ ON THE BAND AND MUSIC BEHIND THE MUSICAL

Recording together as a duo, Björn & Benny released their debut album in 1970. What was it called?
A. Lycka              C. Björn & Benny
B. The Duo         D. Laika

On what TV show did ABBA stage their final appearance?
A. The Morning Show                           C. The Tonight Show
B. The Late, Late Breakfast Show      D. The Oprah Winfrey Show

Which of these albums was the only one not to chart in the UK?
A. Super Trouper                 C. Ring, Ring
B. Voulez-Vous                     D. Waterloo

Which Swedish artist designed ABBA’s logo, and all of their album covers from 1976-1986?
A. Ruun Söderqvist               C. Rune Söderqvist
B. Rona Söderqvist               D. Ron Söderqvist

Which popular Swedish company of the same name did ABBA need to get naming rights permission from?
A. A theatre company                      C. A chewing gum brand
B. A clothing line                              D. A fish canning company

As long as they didn’t wear the super flashy ensembles they became famous for donning onstage while
they weren’t performing, they were considered deductible by Swedish law.
A. True                        B. False

The group was in such high demand that they made the unique arrangement for Russia to pay them with
oil to perform while touring the Soviet Union during the Cold War when rubles had been embargoed.
A. True                        B. False

Before they were ABBA, what was the band known as?
A. Frida                                C. The A’s and B’s
B. BABA                               D. Festfolk

Answers: A, B, C, C, D, A, A, D

By |May 20th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

DID YOU KNOW? The true story of the von Trapp Family

The film adaptation The Sound of Music was released March 2, 1965, and for many households, was the introduction to the von Trapp Family, and beloved classic songs such as “Do-Re-Mi”, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”. However, while The Sound of Music was based on Maria von Trapp’s book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers (published 1949), there were a number of key differences between the true story of the von Trapp family, and that of the film and Broadway (first performed 1959) adaptations.

THE VON TRAPP FAMILY DID NOT CROSS THE ALPS TO ESCAPE THE NAZIS.
During the climactic scene of the show, the von Trapp family will flee Salzburg, Austria by hiking over the surrounding mountains. In real life, however, this would have lead the von Trapps into Nazi Germany, the very regime they were trying to escape! The real-life departure of the von Trapps was far less dramatic—in broad daylight, the family left their villa and crossed the railway tracks behind their home in order to board a train to Italy, under the guise of a family vacation. They did, however, leave just in time, as the next day the Austrian borders were sealed.

Interesting Historic Fact:
Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler used the von Trapp’s villa during World War II as a summer residence once the von Trapp family had fled.

THE REAL-LIFE MARIA WAS A TUTOR TO ONE OF THE CHILDREN, NOT A GOVERNESS TO THEM ALL.
Georg von Trapp’s second-oldest daughter, Maria, contracted scarlet fever in 1926, and could no longer make the journey to school. Georg sought out Salzburg’s Nonnbery Abbey to find a tutor for his sick daughter. At this time, Maria Augusta Kutschera had entered the Abbey two years previous as a novice, and was the perfect candidate given her training at Vienna’s State Teachers College for Progressive Education. Her time with the von Trapps was to be a 10-month assignment before she formally entered the convent.

MARIA AND GEORG MARRIED LONG BEFORE FLEEING AUSTRIA. AND SHE DID NOT LOVE HIM—AT THE TIME.
47-year old Georg von Trapp and 22-year-old Maria Augusta Kutschera were married on November 26, 1927, more than a decade before they fled. Maria claimed she fell in love with the children at first sight, and she liked their father, but did not love him. Though, as the years went by, Maria did learn to love Georg von Trapp.

THE NAMES OF THE VON TRAPP CHILDREN WERE CHANGED IN BOTH THE BROADWAY AND FILM ADAPTATIONS OF THE STORY OF THE TRAPP FAMILY SINGERS.
Overall, there were 10 von Trapp children, not 7. The names, ages and sexes of the children were all changed. The oldest von Trapp child in real life was Rupert von Trapp, born in 1911 and a practicing physician by the time the von Trapps fled Austria in 1938.

Interesting Historic Fact:
While the von Trapps were offered many enticements by the Nazis—greater fame as a singing group, a position as a medical doctor for Rupert, a further naval career for Georg. The von Trapps knew they were on thin ice—they refused to fly a Nazi flag above their home, refused to sing at Hitler’s birthday party, and Georg declined a naval command. After weighing the benefits against leaving behind their family, friends, estate and all of their possessions, they decided they could not compromise their principles and integrity, and they left.

THE VON TRAPP FAMILY WAS NOT HAPPY WITH THE PORTRAYAL OF THEIR PATRIARCH.
The captain was a warmer father figure than he was made out to be. While he did carry a whistle, and did have a distinct whistle sound for each of his children, as well as dressed his children in sailor suits, he did not have them marching or standing at attention. Out of the two parents, Maria was the one with a cooler demeanor. Though she was a caring and loving person, the real-life Maria was also prone to fits of temper.

MARIA DID NOT BRING MUSIC TO THE VON TRAPP HOUSEHOLD.
The captain and his first wife (who died of scarlet fever) enjoyed music, introducing it to their children and household long before Maria came from the Abbey. Before Maria came, the von Trapp children already knew how to sing and played a number of instruments. What Maria did teach them was madrigals.
Madrigal: “a complex polyphonic unaccompanied vocal piece
on a secular text developed especially in the 16th and 17th centuries”
—Merriam-Webster

WHY DID THEY BEGIN PERFORMING?
What originally lead the von Trapp family to begin singing professionally was, like many families, the loss of their fortune in the Great Depression. The von Trapps actually took in boarders in order to bring in additional funds. One of these boarders was Father Franz Wasner, who would act as their musical director for over 20 years. The fictional Max Detweiler never existed in real-life. After fleeing Austria with the von Trapps, Wasner accompanied them on their tours of Europe and the United States.

Sources:
https://www.history.com/news/the-real-history-behind-the-sound-of-music
https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/winter/von-trapps.html
By |March 1st, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Book Signing with M. Morgan Warren

Originally from Great Britain, M. Morgan Warren now lives and maintains a working Studio at Canoe Cove Marina, North Saanich, B.C. Through her highly detailed, realistic watercolours of birds and animals, she strives to give viewers of her work a special glimpse into the hidden lives of her subjects. During the past thirty-two years she has made an in-depth study of the fauna and flora of this region, recording her observations in hundreds of photographs, studies, and notes.

Morgan’s paintings and reproductions can be found in many private collections all over the world, including those of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. In 1996 she was the special guest of the DeYoung Museum of Fine Arts in San Francisco, where she demonstrated the techniques of John James Audubon for visitors to the national Audubon Birds of America Exhibition. Save the Children Fund Christmas cards, the international Sierra Club Foundation Annual Report, and Ducks Unlimited, among others, have featured her work. Rogers Chocolates recently chose six of her images to be included in their special Canadian Art Collection. As well as Morgan’s own Studio, her work can currently be found in a number of locations, including Victoria’s Murchies Tea and Coffee, and the world-famous Butchart Gardens.

“Nature on the Threshold” is Morgan’s second book. A published poet with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing and one successful book, “Through Their Eyes and Mine”, already to her credit, Morgan has eloquently portrayed in words and watercolours the creatures and plants of the area where she lives. It is her wish that this book will enhance an awareness and appreciation of the beauties of our imperilled Natural World.

By |February 25th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Behind the Scenes: Costume Designer Laurin Kelsey

When were you first introduced to The Sound of Music?

I don’t recall the first time I saw The Sound of Music as a child, but I do remember being fascinated immediately by the costumes, the story, and especially by the music. Growing up I had a childhood friend who adored the film and called it ‘Maria’ instead of The Sound of Music, so in my mind since then I’ve always fondly thought of it as ‘Maria’.

What drew you to want to design the costumes for The Sound of Music?

There’s something so nostalgic about working on a show that you’ve grown up with and always admired. For me I think I have a list of about 25 films or shows that inspired me to enter such a creative career and The Sound of Music was definitely one of them. Because of that, it always holds a special place in your heart and to work on a show like that as a professional is so special, every design reminds you of that magical feeling you had when you were younger watching and experiencing the show for the first time.

The Sound of Music is a very widely known classic – was it challenging to come up with your own costume designs?

Certainly it’s always a challenge to design costumes for a show that’s so popular and well-known. There’s an expectation from fans of the show to see some of the iconic favourites from the film – costumes like the dress that Maria wears in the opening sequence of the film in The Hills are Alive is so iconic that doing anything other than her dress and smock look feels intuitively wrong for that moment. In the case of a classic like The Sound of Music I think it’s about finding a balance between bringing your own fresh perspective to the film while paying tribute and honouring some of the favourite designs established by Dorthy Jeakins in the 1965 film.

Can you tell us a bit about your design process?

My design process always begins with the script and with conversations with the Director, who has the overall vision and approach to the show in mind. Based on the script and those initial conversations, I begin to brainstorm and develop a concept for the costumes that will work within the overall vision that Director has. The first step to developing that concept is to dive into a great deal of research, both historical and visual – by that I mean that I’m looking for images and information regarding the exact country and time period that the show takes place in, while also looking for images, colours, textures and fabrics that inspire me and provide me with a ‘feeling’ of the show. Instinctively I like to think about the overall feeling of the costumes first, before diving into each character and their personality. Once I have some ideas in mind, there are more conversations and discussions with the Director, as well as some interactions with the Set Designer in order to see the world that they’re creating as that’s the same world my designs need to live in. From there it’s time to delve into character-specific studies and ask myself and other members of the creative team detailed questions about the characters and where they fit in this world and how that can be expressed through their costumes. From there I create collages for each character or look with my research and any colours or images that evoke the feeling I’m going for. These are the preliminary designs, which then go to the Director and the Head of Wardrobe for review and discussion. Once approved, we work together to suss out any details or specific challenges or costume needs, such as how long an actor has to actually get changed between scenes or if a particular actor needs some additional make-up to change their age to match their characters, then I begin sketching the final renderings. The renderings can take anywhere from 2 to 8 hours each to complete, so it’s a lengthy process to render costumes for such a large show, but it’s an important part of the process as this is when I develop the details for each character, and it gives me the ability to see all the costumes together on paper before they become a reality. Once the renderings are done, they go back to the Theatre for review and when they’re approved we move forward into realizing the costumes that will then appear on stage.

What research goes into designing costumes? 

For a show like The Sound of Music, there’s several layers to the research because you’re telling a period-specific story that’s based on both real characters as well as a real event in time, the Anschluss. Not only that, but I think it would be impossible to ignore the 1965 film and first production of the musical, which means looking at the costumes and world created through the goggles of the creators in the 1960s. I find these types of projects to be the most interesting because each of these layers adds something to the costumes and to the overall feeling of the “world” we’re creating as a creative team.

Is it easier or harder to design costumes for a different era?

I think from my perspective it’s actually a similar level of difficulty – the challenge with designing costumes for another era is that you weren’t necessarily there to witness it firsthand, so you’re basing all of your work off of your interpretation of historical research and your knowledge of that time period. Depending on the period, it might also be that some of your audience members have lived in that period, so you have to be very specific and knowledgeable about what you’re putting on stage. On the other hand, I find designing modern costumes equally challenging because everyone in the audience knows what costumes should look like in a modern show, they’re living in that time period, it’s so easy to separate the audience from the characters if you’re not accurate. If you see a modern show in 2018 and someone is wearing a hat that’s from the 1980s (and not currently in fashion), audience members will likely see that error and it can distract or separate them from relating to the story.

The Sound of Music has a large cast – do you find it difficult to create different costumes and styles for all of the different character personalities?

Absolutely, the show contains over 90 costumes for 26 characters so it’s a large amount to design, create, and manage. One thing that always helps me is to remember that although each character is unique and has their own personality, they still have to fit in the world that we’re creating and by setting the rules of that world, it helps to narrow down the looks of the show and the ways in which we express each character’s personality. It’s also good to remember that not every personality is expressed overtly through their costumes, sometimes costumes play only a minor supporting role to the physicality, movement and voice that an actor or actress gives to their character and if the costumes are over-designed, it can take away from their performance or ability to perform.

Which character was your favourite to design for?

I think the children have been my favourite characters to design for, despite the fact that their looks are some of the most iconic of the show and have less room for flexibility/creativity. What I love about them though is that you can truly show the transformation of the children throughout the show, from their strict grey-blue sailor uniforms at the top of the show, to the exuberant and fun curtain-made play clothes and then their more individualized looks as they blossom for the concert performance under Maria’s care and love. By the end of the show I think that the children have this overall unified family look, but each costume has individualized details and we see a rainbow of colours and personalities expressed within their wardrobe.

Is there any particular feature of your designs that you want the audience to know about?

One of the simplest yet most effective elements to my designs is the colour story I create with the characters. Each character undergoes some sort of transformation in the show, told partially through the use of colour. An example would be Maria, who starts out generic in her black postulant costume, where she’s living limited by the rules of the Abbey, but once she goes to the Von Trapp family home, we see her in the colours of the natural environment that she loves, the Alps. I tried to bring in lots of golden yellows, warm whites, rich grassy greens and sky blues. In a similar way, the Von Trapp’s wear greys and dull blues, the costumes are uniform and lifeless. Once Maria arrives, I wanted to spread her warmth and natural colours to the children and Captain Von Trapp, which you’ll see in their slow but steady transformation to their end look. Other colours you’ll notice play prominently are the stark red, white, and black of the Nazi flag, which creates a strong and intentional contrast and sense of oppression against Maria and the children.

What’s the biggest challenge about designing costumes for this show?

I think the biggest challenge for a show like The Sound of Music is finding the balance between meeting high audience expectations while bringing something new and interesting to the table. No one wants to see The Sound of Music and not recognize their favourite characters and moments, for most people seeing The Sound of Music will be nostalgic and reminiscent of their childhood or the time that they first saw The Sound of Music and I want to honour that feeling.

Do you have a favourite costume?

I would have to say that my favourite costume in the show is the wedding dress for Maria. When I began my research, I was positive that the dress worn by Julie Andrews in the film was completely wrong for the time period, the tiny waist and full skirt came off as very 1950s, however, once I delved in deeper I found that it was actually very similar to a lot of dresses I saw in my research of the time period. In the end, the design I’ve come up with is intended to have less fullness in the skirt and a slightly softer fabric to lean more towards the looks of the 1930s, but I’ve opted to keep a lot of the features from the film, like the higher neckline and simple fabric with no lace or frills. I’ve recently been shopping for my own wedding dress so I had a special place in my heart for designing Maria’s.

How are your costume designs bringing something new to this show?

I think that every time we design a show, we put on these goggles that contain all of our life experiences, where we come from, who we knew, all of our history and the way we view the world and that it’s impossible not to put our own touch on what we design because we’re viewing the show through these goggles. Despite sticking to so much of the historically accurate and original looks of the show, I know that each costume has my stamp on it, whether it’s the style of trim on the concert skirts that I picked based on memories I have of being in Austria and Germany a few years ago, or the fabric that Maria twirls through the hills in during the first scene, selected because it reminds me of a dress I had when I was younger, I think those details and subtle choices are the way that I bring something new and unique to the show, even when the overall looks are so iconic and recognizable.

By |February 14th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Behind the Scenes: Little Women

 

To me, this story has a beautiful kaleidoscopic effect. When you meet these characters at a different time in your life, the images shift; relationships and moments that slipped by you previously come into focus in brilliant, moving detail. The words are the same, but you are different; therefore the story is, too. For those of us who worked on the 2005 production, we’ve all experienced this. We’ve seen and felt new things, shaped by how we’ve grown – who we’ve become – since we last visited the world of Jo and her family. It’s wondrous and exciting, to realize how our perspective shifts, how capable are brains and hearts are, of growing, increasing, transforming.

Given this, the show has something for everyone, even for those who’ve seen it before – and it’s great for families, for mixes of generations, because there’s something for all stages of life. For children who are so rich in imagination, always ready to play and make-believe; for young adults new to love, marriage and all its complications; for those of us who are caretakers, grappling with the inevitable loss of loved ones; for parents (and grandparents!) who recognize, and share, the gifts of hard-earned wisdom.

What’s more, this show is a great reminder of the potential of this holiday season. When families gather, it’s powerful: our capacity to love one another despite our faults, our ways of supporting and inspiring one another to become the best

version of ourselves. It’s a time of rest and celebration, yes, but also of transformation, and renewal.

These are the ideas that inspired the design and staging of our brand-new production. Rooted in Jo’s power to create and transform herself and the world around her, we begin simply, with the image of Jo at her writing desk, a single lantern in the darkness, the artist imagining how to fill the empty page. As she writes, people pour onto the stage, their voices, and stories emerging from the shadows, growing brighter and more distinct as Jo’s storytelling gains force. And with this, there’s the potent juxtaposition of the warm heart of the March household, and the darker realities of the Civil War battlefront.

This tension between hopefulness and despair lingers throughout, which feels so true to me – because

that’s life, isn’t it? And always, that ineffable human ability to make something out of nothing, whether that’s weaving a story seemingly out of thin air, or how capable we are of finding the plenty in the scarcity; that way we have of finding something to share and celebrate, even when it seems we have very little.

It is our stories, and our relationships, that make us rich. And it is my hope that audiences will leave the theatre thinking about this, about the countless little gifts and privileges that surround us. “What do I have to celebrate? What do I have to share?” Likely more than you think…

Julie McIsaac, Director

www.juliemcisaac.com

By |December 6th, 2018|Categories: 2018 Season|0 Comments

Gallery Farm Market

The Gallery Gift Shop at Chemainus Theatre Festival is one of the best shopping experiences around. This special place is known by visitors and locals as a wonderful spot to find quality artwork, gifts and more. Whether you are perusing during intermission, or shopping the wonderful boutiques of Chemainus, it is easy to find a special treasure.

If you have not been in the gift shop lately, there is a new addition to the existing 100+ works of local BC artisans: the Gallery Farm Market. You will find an assortment of delectable goodies from local suppliers – a great way to support the theatre and Vancouver Island’s finest farms.

In particular, Yellow Point Cranberries resides just north of Chemainus – beyond the delicious, classic cranberry sauce, there are jellies, mustard, and chutney. These make a great addition to any table the next time you are entertaining.

For the foodies in your life, there is ‘Old School Coffee Salt’ – this unique blend pairs espresso with local sea salt to add flavour anytime, whether as a rub for grilled meat or being sprinkled onto desserts or baking. There are other salt blends, olive oil, honey, salmon, and maple syrup. Stop by soon to see new additions and visit the rest of the gift shop to see the ever-changing assortment of items that have made the Gallery Gift Shop one of the best stops in Chemainus for shopping!

By |October 15th, 2018|Categories: The Gallery Gift Shop|0 Comments

A Glorious! Connection to Vancouver Island

Pay attention during our upcoming performance of Glorious! and you will catch the name ‘Tallulah Bankhead’. Our main character, Florence Foster Jenkins, ran in a well-known New York circle during 1940s that included Miss Bankhead as one of her close friends and supporters. This amazing and wonderful true store of Miss Jenkins is one you will be glad you saw!

Dola Dunsmuir

Tallulah Bankhead, a well-known actress of her time, had a long-time friend and companion in notable Vancouver Island resident, Dola Dunsmuir. Dola’s grandfather and grandmother, Robert and Joan Dunsmuir, built the coal industry on Vancouver Island, the E&N Railroad and Craigdarroch Castle. Her father, James Dunsmuir, continued running the family business and built Hatley Castle. She even has few connections to the Cowichan Valley, James Dunsmuir also owned a cabin on Cowichan Lake and Dola’s Uncle, Henry Croft, founded Chemainus’ neighbouring town of Crofton.

Tallulah Bankhead at Dolaura House

Tallulah and Dola met in London. Dola was a great fan of the theatre, and of Tallulah, and eventually went backstage to meet her. Dola would visit Tallulah frequently (perhaps even catching one of Miss Florence Foster Jenkins famous performances). When Dola wasn’t following Tallulah on tour, Tallulah would visit Dola at her Vancouver Island home, Dolaura, where they would throw wild parties! Dola passed away in 1966 but her story is part of the legacy of the Dunsmuir family on Vancouver Island.

Don’t miss Chemainus Theatre’s production of Glorious! running September 14th – October 6th.

Photos courtesy of the Craigdarroch Castle archives.

By |September 17th, 2018|Categories: 2018 Season|0 Comments