Port Alberni’s Portal Players Dramatic Society is kicking off a new season at the Capitol Theatre with two shows in one night.
Starting on Friday, Nov. 24, the Portal Players will be putting on two romantic comedies written by Canadian playwrights: The Exquisite Hour by Stewart Lemoine and My Narrator by Norm Foster.
The Exquisite Hour is a sparse play, with only two cast members. It will be produced and directed by Liane Fitzpatrick.
“It’s about two people who share a very special 60 minutes together,” explained Darien Edgeler, one of the two actors. Edgeler is returning to the Portal Players after picking up the award for “Best Actor” at the North Island Zone Festival earlier this year for his role in I Hate Hamlet.
Edgeler will once again be sharing the stage with his wife, Cydney Pedersen. They have performed together plenty of times before, most recently during I Hate Hamlet, although Pedersen only had a minor role in that production. The two say they have pretty good chemistry, both on stage and off stage.
“We’re kind of forced to spend time together, and that’s a wonderful thing,” Pedersen laughed.
Edgeler and Pedersen were the ones who approached Fitzpatrick about putting on The Exquisite Hour here in Port Alberni because Edgeler says he performed it once before.
“It was a very bare bones production, and I wanted another crack at the script,” he explained.
Stage manager Branden Chase is somewhat new to the stage. He first got involved in the Portal Players during I Hate Hamlet, working backstage.
“I really only got into it because my daughter was in Stages [Youth Theatre],” Chase explained. “I really enjoyed I Hate Hamlet, so I have no qualms about continuing even if my kid’s not involved anymore.”
Chase explained that The Exquisite Hour is a fairly easy play to stage manage for someone new to theatre—it only has one set and lasts one hour, with no set changes and no “complicated” tech.
“It’s a really light play to get started with,” he said.
While The Exquisite Hour involves a husband and wife team, My Narrator has a mother and son team. Diena Tyne is directing the show, and her son Liam Tyne is one of the lead actors.
“I’ve been directing the boy since he was born,” Diena laughed.
Liam plays Miles, a socially-inept salesman, who gets romantically involved with Lacy (played by Rachelle Mecca), a talented painter. While the two characters begin to develop a relationship, their internal monologues (played by Laurie Blakely and Brenden Rice) also begin to develop a relationship of their own.
“I thought it was fun, it was cute,” explained Diena. “My goal was to find another one-act play to go with The Exquisite Hour, and this one would complement it for an evening. It’s lighthearted and romantic, yet it’s different.”
Diena says that directing a one-act play is a little different than directing a full-length play.
“You can spend more time in each individual scene,” she explained. “It’s not as much pressure, for the actor or the director.”
Liam Tyne has been on stage since he was six years old. Both Blakely and Rice have performed in previous Portal Players productions, while Mecca is brand new to the Portal Players.
“It’s a mix of old and new,” said Diena. “I like bringing in new blood and new energy.”
Pat Ribbins is in charge of set design while Shawn Standley is the stage manager, assisted by Jo Jo the service dog who has been known to run around the theatre seeking belly rubs and treats from the cast when he is not wearing his vest and is “off duty.”
Diena says theatre-goers can expect a fun night at the theatre with both The Exquisite Hour and My Narrator, as well as a night away from reality.
“Although this can be close to some people’s reality,” she laughed.
The sound for both productions is presented by Steven Ivanusic and the set construction for both productions is presented by Allan Jensen. The backstage crew is made up of Ella Standley, Ciara Rice and Ryan Haggas.
Performances will take place on Nov. 24, 25 and 30 and Dec. 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9. Show time is at 7:30 p.m. except for the Dec. 2 performance, which is a 2 p.m. matinee.
Tickets are $25 each and available at www.atthecapitol.org or at the box office on Mondays and Thursdays from 4-6 p.m.