Theatre company bridges gap between film and live performance

Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre opens the doors to the newly renovated Roxy Theatre with Sam Shepard's True West.

Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre artistic director Brian Richmond.

Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre artistic director Brian Richmond.

Next week’s season opener for the Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre will be a two-pronged affair.

Not only is the Victoria company launching its sixth season with True West, the Sam Shepard-penned tale of two estranged brothers who reconnect, it is presenting its conversion of the Roxy Theatre into a full-fledged live performance space.

“Our people are working round the clock to get the theatre ready,” says Brian Richmond, Blue Bridge’s artistic producing director. “We think it’ll be a great performance space.”

Converting a facility that has only known life as a movie house into a live performance venue has meant starting somewhat from scratch.

A stage had to be built, along with a backstage area; lighting racks and a sound system had to be installed, and from a comfort point of view, the washrooms had to be upgraded and expanded.

Blue Bridge invited guests in for a sneak peek Halloween night with the screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Kicking things off with a production of one of the multi-talented Shepard’s best-known and respected plays makes sense for Blue Bridge, Richmond says.

“We’re a company that’s become known for productions of classic plays,” he says, adding Shepard’s writing work fits into that category. “But even though (True West) was written in 1980, it still has a contemporary edge to it.”

Richmond points out the script has attracted such Hollywood veteran actors as Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly and Bruce Willis, and a young Gary Sinise and John Malkovich.

Victoria’s version stars Blue Bridge stalwart Jacob Richmond (Brian’s son) and newcomer Paul Fateux and is directed by Britt Small from Atomic Vaudeville.

Looking ahead, Blue Bridge has an eclectic mix of productions in store for 2013-14. Guest appearances include Old Trout Puppet Workshop’s Ignorance, about the evolution of humanity explored through puppets; and the aptly placed Annie Baker play, The Flick, about the end of days for a old-style movie theatre.

Other Blue Bridge productions include Tennessee Williams’ classic The Glass Menagerie and Cruel Tears/Lagrimas Crueles, a Tex-Mex version of Shakespeare’s Othello.

As a way to help pay the bills between its theatre production schedule, Blue Bridge will be screening movies regularly at the Roxy, 2657 Quadra St. Watch bluebridgetheatre.ca for more details.

True West runs Nov. 19 to Dec. 1, with shows Tuesdays through Sundays. Weekday shows are 8pm, Sundays are 2pm and extra 2pm matinees are scheduled for Nov. 27 and 30.

 

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