For director Toshik Bukowiecki, Langham Court Theatre's final production of the season is not just a classic romantic comedy, but an ode to a friend and member of the local theatre community.
Sylvia Rhodes passed away suddenly in her sleep at the age of 79 in her Saanich home last January. While she was an avid reader, her greatest passion was theatre.
Her first role came at age five in Birmingham, England. After immigrating to Canada with her then husband, Rhodes continued her passion, acting, directing and producing in a number of productions with local theatres in Calgary, the Lower Mainland and Saskatoon, before she eventually settled in Victoria in 1978.
Rhodes, who was named a lifetime member of Langham Court, was putting on a theatre production in Victoria and passed away just days after opening night.
“I was certainly shocked, I think we all were,” said Bukowiecki, who has known Rhodes for more than three decades and worked on plays with her in both Calgary and Victoria.
“We did many shows together, I couldn't even begin to count.”
Rhodes was originally scheduled to direct Langham Court's final production of the season, She Stoops to Conquer. After her passing, Bukowiecki was tasked with sitting in the director's chair.
She Stoops to Conquer is a classic romantic comedy written by Oliver Goldsmith and first performed in London in 1773, and includes mistaken identities and misinformation that creates hilarity.
Wealthy countryman Mr. Hardcastle arranges for his daughter Kate to meet Charles Marlowe, the son of a rich Londoner, hoping the pair will marry. But Marlowe is nervous around upper-class women, yet able to speak to working-class women. Kate then poses as a maid, hoping to put Marlowe at ease so he falls in love with her.
In Bukowiecki's version of the 13-cast play, it is set in the 1920s instead of the 1770s.
“I think by changing it, we've made it more relatable to a modern audience,” said Jason Vikse, who plays Marlowe in his first production with Langham Court.
“It's just a laugh. It's a light comedy and we hope people come and enjoy it, have fun with the characters. There's a lot of laughing with the characters and laughing at them, which is always fun for an audience.”
One of the performances will be dedicated to Rhodes.
“We are dedicating a production to her memory,” Bukowiecki said. “The fact that it was a show that she was going to do (has special significance).”
She Stoops to Conquer is the final production in Langham Court's season and runs from June 9 to 25. Tickets can be purchased online at langhamtheatre.ca, by phone at 250-384-2142 or at the box office at 805 Langham Crt.