Pacific Opera Victoria’s Barber of Seville includes dynamic duo

Morris Panych and Ken MacDonald met at the Belfry Theatre more than 30 years ago and have collaborated on numerous shows

Director Morris Panych, left, and set designer Ken MacDonald have collaborated on over 100 shows after meeting over 30 years ago in Victoria. The Toronto-based duo are currently in Victoria working on the comedic opera The Barber of Seville.

Director Morris Panych, left, and set designer Ken MacDonald have collaborated on over 100 shows after meeting over 30 years ago in Victoria. The Toronto-based duo are currently in Victoria working on the comedic opera The Barber of Seville.

A struggling actor and a rookie set designer would seem an unlikely match. But don’t tell that to Morris Panych and Ken MacDonald, who met at the Belfry Theatre more than 30 years ago and have collaborated on close to 100 shows together since.

The married duo makes a formidable team with Panych now an esteemed director and writer and MacDonald designing sets. After 30 years of teamwork, neither of them have any intention of slowing down any time soon.

Everyone knows there are risks that come with mixing personal and professional lives but Panych and MacDonald have managed to find the perfect balance.

“Our jobs are so different; I’m creating the space for him to put his play on,” MacDonald says, adding things can get tense between him and Panych but not very often.

“He knows all my tricks so he can call me out when I’m being lazy,” he says.

For Panych, the separation of work life and home life is something he thinks about regularly.

“Suddenly, I’m in a position where it’s up to me to say yes or no,” Panych says. “At home, it’s an equal partnership but at work, there’s a natural hierarchy.”

The two are currently working on their rendition of Pierre Beaumarchais’ The Barber of Seville, a comedic opera, which they bring to Victoria’s Royal Theatre Feb. 11 to 21.

Despite any personal disagreements throughout the creative process along the way, both agree the final product fills them with pride.

“Especially when it’s an original piece that Morris writes,” MacDonald says. “We can step back and say, ‘we did that.’ I’m proud of him and he’s proud of me,” – a sentiment that Panych echoes.

“When we walk in and see Ken’s set under light and all the elements come together, that’s the most satisfying moment,” says Panych.

The duo moved from Vancouver to Toronto to take advantage of the theatre community and festival scene. Both are looking forward to returning to the West Coast for their February production.

“We’ve spent so much time in Vancouver that it feels more like home and Victoria is a part of that,” Panych says.

MacDonald has been experimenting with all-white Spanish-style architecture for the Barber of Seville set and Panych is working on exploring the darker aspects of the comedy for this rendition.

“It’s an old-fashioned theatre with a nice space and I’m hoping it will look beautiful,” MacDonald says.



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Alan Tudyk stars as Alien Harry Vanderspeigel in the new series Resident Alien (Photo by: James Dittinger/SYFY)
Resident Alien brings Vancouver Island to the small screen with January premiere

Quirky series shot in Ladysmith will air every Wednesday on the CTV Sci-Fi Channel

Comox-based cinematographer Maxwel Hohn’s new documentary captures the lives of Vancouver Island’s coastal wolves. Photo courtesy Maxwel Hohn.
New mini-documentary shot on Vancouver Island echoes the ‘call of the coastal wolves’

Photography heavyweights from B.C. come together for Maxwel Hohn’s second wildlife documentary

The 2021 Victoria Film Festival includes Vancouver Island produced feature film All-in Madonna. The festival looks a bit different this year, but film-lovers can still expect a full and diverse lineup. (Courtesy of VFF)
Victoria Film Festival returns with virtual viewing

Lineup features 50 films including Vancouver Island-produced All-in Madonna

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”. The natural photo art for the album includes Vancouver Island mountains, rivers and beaches. Scenes from the Cowichan River, Witchcraft Lake, Pipers Lagoon, Wall Beach and other popular Island recreation destinations accentuate the album. (RICHIErichieRichie Music Publishing photo)
Serenity Now! Richie Valley debuts third LP dubbed Apollonian

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”

Victoria artist Noah Layne is conducting online workshops on portrait drawing as part of the Metchosin ArtPod’s About Face portrait show. (Photo courtesy of Noah Layne)
Metchosin Art Pod doing an about-face

Renowned artist Noah Layne hosting online classes in portrait drawing

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

A rendering shows the entrance planned for the Hornby Island Arts Centre. Image supplied
Work on Hornby Island Arts Centre to start this month

Community worked with award-winning architectural firm on design

Western Edge Theatre artistic director Brian March and local theatre artists Brianna Hamilton and Daniel Puglas (from left) make up Western Edge’s new team of “artistic associates.” (News Bulletin file photos/Courtney Harder)
Nanaimo theatre company adds younger, diverse voices to artistic team

Western Edge hopes new ‘artistic associates’ will help form new ideas, reach new audiences

Most Read