THE BIG PERSONALITY: Meet Janet Wright

Corner Gas actress has close ties to Victoria

Janet Wright is directing Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre's production of Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs

Born in Saskatchewan, and living in Vancouver, Janet Wright’s connection to Victoria runs deep

Best known for her role as the crocheting matriarch Emma Leroy in CTV’s sitcom Corner Gas, Wright is also an accomplished theatre actor and director — in fact she started Saskatoon’s Persephone Theatre in 1974 with her late sister Susan and then-husband Brian Richmond, artistic director of Victoria’s Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre. Their son Jacob, artistic director of Victoria’s Atomic Vaudeville was born that first season. Jacob’s sister Celine came shortly afterwards. (Wright’s third child Rachel with second husband and musician Bruce Davis died eight years ago in a tragic shooting outside Vancouver’s Purple Onion Nightclub when she was just 23).

Wright often spends the holidays in Victoria, visiting family, especially since Jacob and his partner had a baby boy earlier this year. But she only started coming here for work when she stared alongside Bruce Greenwood (Double Jeopardy) in Blue Bridge’s production of Love Letters in March.

“I hadn’t worked with Brian since Persephone,” says Wright. “Even though we’re divorced, we’ve been friends over the years and I’ve been here quite a lot.”

Now she’s back directing Blue Bridge’s production of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs,  running July 2-14 at the McPherson Playhouse.

Wright has been so impressed by her experience working in Victoria that she plans to move here.

“For the size of the place, it’s incredible the amount of talented performers you have here,” says Wright in a break from rehearsals at UVic. “There are some really good actors here in Victoria.”

Over the years, Wright has seen a number of Atomic Vaudeville’s cabarets and is constantly astounded at the breadth of talent among its ranks. “It’s always been top grade and most of the cast has come through UVic, they didn’t have to go looking elsewhere. It’s amazing,” she says.

Wright says another enticing thing about Victoria is that “It’s the most beautiful city in Canada.”

“We always made fun of Victoria, saying it was only for old people… I just love it. Mind you, I’m old now.”

 

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