It's play time

Benjamin Buckingham and Julie Casselman play a crime-solving duo with sizzling chemistry in TWU’s Go Back For Murder. - Jef GIBBONS/Trinity Western University photo
Benjamin Buckingham and Julie Casselman play a crime-solving duo with sizzling chemistry in TWU’s Go Back For Murder.
— image credit: Jef GIBBONS/Trinity Western University photo

Autumn is in the air and with it comes the unmistakable rustle of feet across the boards, all over Langley and across the Lower Mainland.

From the first of what will no doubt be many Christmas offerings to a mystery, a murder and a beloved song and dance extravaganza, local theatre groups have something for everyone as they get set to hit the stage for another season.

Belles On

First out of the blocks on Thursday, Oct. 18, will be the Langley Players, with their production of Christmas Belles.

This hysterical holiday comedy centres around a Texas church pageant which spins comically out of control.

It’s Christmastime in the small fictional town of Fayro, Texas, and the Futrelle Sisters — Frankie, Twink and Honey Raye — are not exactly in a festive mood. But ‘the show must go on’, and despite a cast and crew made up of town folk who create problem after problem, and the revelation of a family secret that has been carefully guarded for decades, the feuding sisters find a way to pull together in order to present a Christmas program the citizens of Fayro will never forget.

“It’s always so exciting working on a new piece, and a comedy is always a hit,” said director Angela Bell.

“When I choose a play, I specifically have the audience in mind. I’ve been doing this long enough to know what they like. They enjoy a fun evening out – and that’s exactly what we have put together for them,” said Bell.

The Futrelle sisters are played by Patricia Braun, Judith Betzler and Langley’s Robyn Roukema. Rounding out the cast are Langley residents Shelly Lewis, Philip Hale and Joe Tenta, along with Brian Johnston, Emily Doreen Wilson, Jeremy Keith Goodrick, Alaina Holland and Robyn Bradley.

Christmas Belles runs Thursday to Sunday, from Oct. 18 to Nov.17 at the Langley Playhouse, 4307 200 St.  Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. All tickets are $15, season passes are $45. For reservations, call 604-534-7469, or email reservations@langleyplayers.com.Visit www.langleyplayers.com for more information.

Queen of Murder

Over at Trinity Western University, meanwhile, there are mysterious happenings as the School of Arts Media and Culture (SAMC) presents Go Back for Murder, from the queen of whodunits, Agatha Christie. Set in the 1960s, this story of murder, intrigue, and romance runs from Oct. 23 to Nov. 3 – just in time for Halloween.

Sixteen years before the play begins, Caroline Crale is sent to prison for murdering her husband.  But when Caroline’s daughter comes of age, she receives a secret letter that Caroline wrote before she died, assuring her daughter that she was in fact innocent.  Carla enlists the help of a handsome young lawyer to delve into the past and find out what really happened.  Can any of the witnesses be trusted?  Who has something to hide?

Starring as the young, determined Carla (and also appearing in flashbacks as Carla’s mother) is Julie Casselman.

Casselman, now in her final year of SAMC’s BFA acting program, has professional theatre credits to her name already.  This summer she was the composer and sound designer for Scarlet Satin Productions’ original show [un]BOX[ed] in Vancouver, and in 2011 she performed in Pacific Theatre’s The Great Divorce, directed by two-time Jessie Award winner Kyle Rideout.

“This show has everything you could want in a murder mystery,” said Casselman, “clues and red herrings, death by poison, romance where you least expect it, and of course the gorgeous mansion with a host of quirky characters.”

Among the suspects Julie’s character investigates are a femme fatale, a secretive governess, a tycoon with a vendetta, and the friendly chemist who might be up to more than science.

“There’s only one murderer, but everyone has something to hide.”

The play stars Casselman, Benjamin Buckingham, Mark Fleming, Cody Friesen, Charissa Hurt, Jaclyn Lowdermilk, Sarah Ruth, David Shoffner, Liz Squires, and William Tippery and is directed by Lloyd Arnett.

Show times are 7:30 p.m.  Tuesday to Saturday, with

2 p.m. Saturday matinees. Special pricing on the first Tuesday.

For tickets and information, visit www.twu.ca/theatre or email theatre@twu.ca.

Catchy Piece

Just across Langley’s western border, Surrey Little Theatre is gearing up for their season opening production of Catch Me If You Can, a comedic mystery by Robert Thomas, adapted from a French version by Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert.

The play, Catch Me If You Can, first opened on Broadway in 1965 and is not to be confused with the 2002 Steven Spielberg movie of the same name.

This play, directed by Tyler Seib, will tickle your brain and tease your imagination while you try to stay ahead of the twist and turn plot.

Corban — played by Langley’s Terry Thomas — is beside himself, on his honeymoon in a summer house in the Catskill Mountains belonging to his boss.

His wife of two weeks, Elizabeth (Langley’s Kate Bergen) has been missing for three days when in comes Father Kelleher, who magically produces Elizabeth.

Corban denies that this woman is his wife, even though she can answer Inspector Levine’s (Langley’s Raymond Hatton) questions down to the last detail. Is she his wife and has Corban gone mad, or is she an impostor?

Follow the chase at Surrey Little Theatre with special half price nights on opening preview nights Thursday, Oct. 25 and Friday, Oct. 26.

The production runs on Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. until Nov. 17, with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. on Nov. 4 and 11.

Tickets are $15. To reserve, call 604-576-8451 or email reservations@surreylittletheatre.com or prepaid at www.brownpapertickets.com.

Seasons tickets are now available for all three productions at $42.50. Surrey Little Theatre is located at 7027 184 St.

Greased Lightening

A little further afield — but still connected to Langley — Burnaby’s Footlight Theatre Company is getting set to present that perennial favourite, Grease.

Starring Lucas Blaney (originally from Langley) as Danny Zuko, the hit musical opens on Nov. 9 at Michael J. Fox Theatre.

Plot synopsis? No need. The classic, hilariously corny storyline – first love, teenaged cliques, fast friends and faster cars – will be familiar to many… and so will the ’50s-style pop/rock soundtrack, jam-packed with beloved hits.

From Summer Nights and Greased Lightnin’ to Born to Hand Jive and We Go Together, audiences won’t be able to stop themselves from singing along.

Tickets start at $19.59 at www.ticketstonight.ca.

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