Members and patrons of the Victoria Theatre Guild, owner and operator of Langham Court Theatre, celebrated the venerable company’s 90th season with a shindig at Government House on Friday.
After the board, life members and past and present actors, directors and technical experts were congratulated by Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin for continuing to produce entertaining community theatre, Langham production chair Alan Penty unveiled the company’s plans for its 91st campaign in Rockland.
Next season offers a little bit of everything, he says, with a mix designed to broaden the theatre’s demographic somewhat.
“I just was really trying for a diverse season that would have something of interest to several groups and would welcome them into Langham,” he says, noting that the company has a reputation for having an older core audience.
The opening play, Over the River and Through the Woods, a heartwarming comedy written by Joe Pietro, was selected for its accessibility, Penty says. The story follows a young man whose potential promotion in Seattle would take him away from the grandparents in Chicago he sees every Sunday. They try to set him up with a woman and in the end it comes down to making the tough decision.
“It’s a nice play about family and a play that everybody can relate to, because we’ve all had to make a career decision in our lives and this will connect with people,” Penty says.
Following in order for the 2019-20 season are:
Rope — The stage version of an Alfred Hitchcock movie based on the 1924 case of Leopold and Loeb, two young men who tried to get away with murdering a teen. “It’s a creepy kind of mystery,” says Penty.
Company — A Stephen Sondheim musical about a single man who celebrates his 35th birthday and wonders whether it’s worthwhile to follow his friends, get into a relationship and start a family.
The Blue Light — A thought-provoking fictional piece by Canadian writer Mieko Ouchi that follows real-life filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, who unapologetically made Nazi propaganda films including Triumph of the Will, among others, as she heads to Hollywood to try and get one last feature film made.
Silent Sky — “A beautiful, lyrical play,” Penty says, about Henrietta Swan Leavitt, who wanted to be an astronomer in the 1890s but was rebuked by the male-dominated academia. She winds up at Harvard counting stars and noting their position, and ultimately creates a theory that opens up the whole world of astronomy.
Mambo Italiano — Running in June during Victoria Pride Week, this “very accessible” comedy follows two Italian gay men whose families think they are roommates, and the lengths they go to to hide the fact they are actually lovers. “Hopefully this will appeal to the LGBTQ community,” says Penty.
Penty had hoped to create a gender-balanced season with three female and three male directors, and an equal balance among playwrights. The final count is four male and two female in each, but the inclusion of Silent Sky adds a feminist aspect to the roster.
“It was a conscious decision to include a feminist piece in the mix,” he says. “The whole #MeToo movement is so big right now.”
Penty’s hope to have three Canadian-written plays in the mix also fell just short, with The Blue Light and Mambo Italiano by Montreal’s Steven Gallluccio the lone Canadian entries.