Not all witches have pointy black hats, stir cauldrons and carry a broom; real witches have large nostrils, wear wigs to hide their bald heads, have blue spit and toe-less feet that make it very difficult to wear fancy shoes.
In fact, real witches look a lot like ordinary women and beginning on Friday, Nov. 4, audiences can see these witches for themselves on stage at the Capitol Theatre.
Portal Players Dramatic Society presents The Witches, the 1983 children’s fantasy novel by British author Roald Dahl that was adapted by David Wood in the early ‘90s.
“This was one of my favourite books growing up, I absolutely loved it.” said director Naomi Boutwell. “Roald Dahl is my favorite story-time teller.”
The Witches is about a seven-year-old boy who goes to live with his grandmother after his parents are killed in a car accident. The boy’s grandmother is a great storyteller who often shares elaborate stories about witches—who she says are horrific creatures—and witchophiles, who hunt witches.
The boy and his grandmother eventually return to England, where they aim to defeat the Grand High Witch, the feared leader of all of the world’s witches, and her followers, who are holding a conference in an English seaside hotel.
Working as a teacher-on-call in the Alberni Valley, Boutwell said she will often read The Witches to her students.
“I take the book with me everywhere I go,” Boutwell said. “I read it because there’s this wonderful moment at the end of the first chapter that says ‘any nice lady can be a witch, even your lovely teacher reading you this book right now,’ and then I smile.”
Boutwell initially brought the idea of performing The Witches at the Capitol Theatre early last year during an artist’s direction committee meeting.
“One of the things they asked for is something that would be family-friendly or for children, Boutwell said. “I went through my script library and I had [The Witches] sitting there and I went ‘how much fun would that be’ so I put together the proposal and they accepted.”
Rehearsals for The Witches began at the beginning of September and much of the cast of about 19 members are first timers to a Capitol Theatre production.
“There are some complete new timers and we are so delighted to have them,” Boutwell said. “We’ve got two of our STAGES youth program students in it. I’m really proud of the both of them.”
The Witches will run on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. from Nov. 4 to 20 at 7:30 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
“It’s going to be a fun night,” Boutwell said. “It’s going to be a night you can take your family out to laugh and enjoy yourself.”
Advance tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for students and seniors at the theatre box office or the Rollin Art Centre. Tickets will also be available at the door for $20 for adults and $17 for students and seniors.