The Portal Players Dramatic Society in Port Alberni is hoping to bring audiences back to the Capitol Theatre this month with a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy.
I Take This Man, written by American playwright Jack Sharkey, opens at the Capitol Theatre (4904 Argyle Street) on Thursday, Feb. 16. The show is directed by Diena Tyne and produced by Nicole Foster, while Dale Hillman has stepped up as stage manager.
In the play, a young woman named Gideon (played by Richelle Titus) spots a man unconscious near the finish line of the Boston Marathon after the race is over and figures he must be Mr. Right, since “nice guys finish last.” Fantasy and deep-seated desperation bubble to the surface as she brings him home, convinced that he’s the man for her.
Tyne described it as a cross between a family-friendly romantic comedy and a “screwball farce.” It’s the second time she’s directed the play, although her first production was in the 1990s.
“I always wanted to do it again,” she said. “After two to three years of COVID-19, I wanted something to make people laugh and give everybody a good time.”
The cast includes a combination of Portal Players newcomers and veterans. The two leads, Gideon and Bret, are played by Titus and Scott Lemkay, respectively. Titus is new to the Portal Players, although she has experience in live theatre, while Lemkay is new to the stage entirely.
The supporting cast is played by Chris Arthurs, Daniel Brennan and Gabrielle Eyford, who will be familiar faces to many theatre patrons in Port Alberni.
The Portal Players, like many other volunteer organizations in the Alberni Valley, were “devastated” by the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic. The theatre was lucky that their last big production, Mamma Mia! in 2019, had a very large audience turnout, and they also received several financial contributions to help them restart after the pandemic, including donations from the 100+ Women Who Care and the San Group.
“Financially it’s been tough,” said Tyne. “We need more sponsors, more people to get involved, more volunteers. We want to revive live arts in Port Alberni again.”
The theatre has hosted a few small events over the last two years, including a rerun of their award-winning production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) in late 2021, but I Take This Man will be their first full-scale production since the pandemic interrupted their 2020 season.
Tyne said their goal with this production is to rejuvenate the theatrical experience in Port Alberni—for both the theatre volunteers and the patrons.
The show opens Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. and also runs on Feb. 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25. Tickets are available at the Alberni Co-op administration office on Beaver Creek Road or by calling or texting 250-913-0454. Tickets will also be available at the door on show nights.