Players bring the community to community theatre

St. Luke’s Players holding auditions for new season

Dave Hitchcock (front) and Neville Owens share a couple laughs as they prepare for a stellar season of performances by the St. Luke’s Players. The community theatre group is putting on four shows at the St. Luke’s Hall.

Dave Hitchcock (front) and Neville Owens share a couple laughs as they prepare for a stellar season of performances by the St. Luke’s Players. The community theatre group is putting on four shows at the St. Luke’s Hall.

A night out at the theatre usually runs you upwards of $60, after factoring in tickets, parking, concessions and other expenses.

So it’s easy to see how the St. Luke’s Players raise more than a few eyebrows with $48 season tickets and $1 snacks.

The community theatre group has been putting on shows out of the St. Luke’s Hall for nearly seven decades, purely through effort from locals. The actors and crew are unpaid, making the performances true works of passion.

“If we didn’t have fun, I wouldn’t do it, and I’m sure most of us wouldn’t,” said Dave Hitchcock, who is co-directing this year’s production of the pantomime Mother Goose. “But I think it’s also the satisfaction of coming up with something that we can be proud of as a team.”

“It gives great internal satisfaction,” added Neville Owens, who has directed many St. Luke’s productions in the past. “You’re taking a book and interpreting that, and you get satisfaction out of, ‘Wow, six months ago I just read the words and now look what’s there.’”

The Players, which have about 120 members, are preparing their first of four plays this season, a comedy titled Opening Night about a wife dragging her husband to the theatre on their 25th anniversary. Their 2015-16 season is rounded out by Mother Goose, the laugh-out-loud thriller Cliffhanger and the comedic whodunnit Bull in a China Shop.

Hitchcock and Owen both said their choices for productions are somewhat formulaic, as the 4,000 or so attendees who turn out each year generally enjoy comedies, dramas, mysteries and the widely popular pantomimes.

“We try to select plays which are not weird or off the wall,” said Owens. “We’re not trying to do the latest thing, whatever it might be.”

The group does 12 performances per play – eight in the evening and four matinees. Each play takes a considerable amount of time to rehearse, so the group puts out a call for actors a few months prior to their onstage debut.

“We have open auditions, so anybody can come and audition, regardless of how much expertise or experience you have,” said Hitchcock. “We often have people who have never been in a stage production before.

“Essentially, we take two weeks to rehearse a play and build the sets, then there are two weeks of 12 performances, then we tear it down and start again on the next one.”

Between August and May, the theatre group keeps quite busy, with one production starting as soon as the previous one ends. But despite the sometimes hectic schedule, Hitchcock said many actors come back season after season to perform with the group.

“If people want to come back and do it again, that means they must’ve had a good time the first time.”

The St. Luke’s Players are holding auditions for Opening Night this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 21 and 22, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 23 at 2 p.m. They are also holding auditions for the Mother Goose pantomime – a laugh-filled family show that puts a twist on classic nursery rhymes – on Sept. 13 and 20 at 2 p.m., as well as Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.

Hitchcock said he hopes people young and old will come out for the shows this season – and the auditions.

“I’d like to bring more of those people in who have never seen theatre before – particularly people who are maybe a bit younger than we are,” he said with a laugh.

 

 

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

Just Posted

Artist Daniel Cline discusses his sculpture, Harmony Humpbacks, during the June 20 walking tour of Oak Bay’s 2019 ArtsAlive sculptures. Harmony Humpbacks was purchased by Oak Bay as the 2019 people’s choice winner and is permanently installed at the Beach Drive entrance to Willows Park. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Influx of donated art a ‘fantastic problem to have,’ says Oak Bay mayor

Oak Bay goes from zero to 10 permanent art pieces since 2015

Tomo Vranjes, a Greater Victoria musician and longtime fan of late rock guitar icon Eddie Van Halen, joins artist Paul Archer behind the latter’s Fort Street gallery. Archer, whose airbrushed paintings of rock greats have made him many connections in recent years, painted a likeness of Van Halen following the guitarist’s death last month from cancer. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Victoria artist’s king-sized tribute to Eddie Van Halen draws on personal connection

Paul Archer had an up close and personal day with the legendary guitarist in 1980

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse, near Shirley. (Contributed - Lee-Ann Ruttan)
New book shines a light on Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Publication examines history, lightkeepers, and volunteer society

Victoria-based guitarist Eric Harper performs at the Port Theatre on Nov. 27. (Photo credit Tatum Duryba)
Classical guitarist to play at the Port Theatre

Eric Harper to play new songs composed during the pandemic

A sample of some of Lou-ann Neel’s jewelry.
Lou-ann Neel wins the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art

Originally from Alert Bay, Neel’s family is steeped in renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artists

I-Hos Gallery manager Ramona Johnson shows some of the paddles available at the retail outlet. Photo by Terry Farrell
I-Hos Gallery celebrates 25 years of promoting First Nation artwork

K’ómoks First Nation-based outlet has art from all over the country

Bard to Broadway Theatre Society may stage shows outdoors next summer. (PQB News photo file)
Qualicum Beach’s Bard to Broadway group may stage shows outdoors

Theatre society plans smaller productions due to ongoing pandemic

A new short film festival called MORVENFEST is encouraging B.C. secondary students to step into the world of film during their Christmas break. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
New film festival gives Victoria students exciting opportunity

MORVENFEST is open to all B.C. secondary students over Christmas break

Port Alberni author Diane Dobson has put together a collection of childhood memories, with proceeds going towards the Ty Watson House. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni writer looks through the eyes of a child

Book raises funds for the Alberni Valley Hospice Society

Most Read