Val (played by Bonnie Kemble) raises her glass in a toast while Andy (Stephen Novik) watches on. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Portal Players Looking for love onstage in Port Alberni

Newcomers bring fun Norm Foster play to life for short run

The latest production by Portal Players Dramatic Society takes a fun and witty look at new relationships.

From Norm Foster, one of Canada’s most popular playwrights, comes Looking—a hilarious comedy which opens Friday, Feb. 22 at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni and plays on select weekend dates through to March 9.

Val is an O.R. nurse. Andy is in the storage business. Nina is a police officer, and Matt is the host of a morning radio show. They’re middle-aged, single and looking. Val agrees to meet Andy after answering his personal ad in the newspaper, and Nina and Matt are coaxed into joining their friends for support. What follows is hilarious, touching and so very true to life.

Portal Players’ production of Looking features five actors and a large production team, all of whom are local volunteers, doing the show for the fun of it.

Director Jacqollyne Keath, who last year re-located to Port Alberni from the Lower Mainland, is making her directing debut with the Portal Players.

“It’s been a great pleasure meeting and working with the team here for Looking,” she said. “Our actors are doing an outstanding job, and I know that the audience is going to love the show.”

Looking is a familiar piece to Keath—she worked on it previously while she was volunteering on the mainland.

“Because I was new to town, it made sense to resurrect something I’ve done before and enjoyed,” said Keath. “It was a familiar piece.”

Foster, who is an East Coast playwright, often localizes his plays, so Keath has changed out some of the dialogue to be Port Alberni-specific. Listen for references to local landmarks like Char’s Landing.

Producers Peter Wienold and Nicole Saugstad have assembled a diverse production team, including a number of newcomers to the Portal Players. Sandra Heatherington, who recently moved to Port Alberni, is the group’s newest costumer.

“She is just one of the many dedicated volunteers on our crew,” Wienold said. “It’s been quite amazing to see the level of interest shown for involvement by new people.”

Portal Players has a big year ahead of them—another play called Sisters opens in the spring and will travel to Qualicum Beach for the Theatre BC North Island Zone Drama Festival in May. Portal Players will also host Theatre BC’s Provincial Drama Festival—called Mainstage—for a week in early July.

Looking opens at the Capitol Theatre on Friday, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. and runs on weekend dates through to March 9, including one Sunday matinee on March 3.

Tickets are available now at the theatre box office, Rollin Art Centre and online. For more information, to hear the Portal Players’ podcast and to buy tickets, check out


Nina (played by Diena Tyne) and Matt (Dale Hillman) get to know one another during a performance of Norm Foster’s Looking at the Capitol Theatre. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

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