If there’s any top-rate theatrical performance going on in Sooke, you can be sure of one thing: the Sooke Harbour Players had their hands in it in some shape or form.
And they’re busy as ever to make you smile and entertain you all night long, not with one, but three shows down the pipe and ready for the curtain: Cabaret Sooke’s Sticky Mess, Oct. 30, The Who’s Tommy, Nov. 6 to 21, and Barney Bentall and the Cariboo Express, Nov. 22.
But who are the Players, these unsung heroes of Sooke entertainment?
Well, for one, they’ve played a central role of providing theatrical performances in Sooke for more than 30 years, with productions pretty much right out of Broadway and off the silver screen.
Over the years, it expanded from just a handful of members to a currently-strong 60-plus production crew that is more or less involved in just about everything that is local theatre, whether it is supporting the costume and technical needs of the Sooke Youth Show Choir’s recent and colourful Wizard of Oz (which also starred Mayor Maja Tait as… the Mayor of Munchkinland) to a full-on, full-blown and sexy cabaret show for those entertainment-hungry night owls out there.
A former Harbour Players production team member, Sarah Wilson, is the founder of the Sooke Youth Show Choir, a separate and independently-run organization from the Sooke Harbour Players.
Regardless of who’s cooking what up behind the curtain, Sooke Harbour Players president Steve Anderson aims the Players to provide variety to their audiences.
“I want to put Sooke on the map and have people out of Victoria coming here and spending their money here, keeping it all live and local,” he said. “Instead of going downtown to all the night clubs, catch some cabaret, or a country show, or a kids’ show.”
While Anderson says he’s not a performer, he’s still the glue that both keeps and brings the whole operation together. And, like any major production, there are uniquely-skilled producers per each wing.
On the cabaret side, you have Jill Sweet, a long-time producer, director and performer with companies such as Cirque de Soleil, Just for Laughs and Circus Space UK. Then Mel Dobres, a musician and producer with the Barney Bentall show, and Joel Scheubel, a veteran producer who helped put performances such as Pirates of Penzance, Miss Saigon, Alice in Wonderland and, just recently, Tommy.
Anderson hopes to get even more acts and something new and different next year at the Edward Milne Community School theatre, thanks to a partnership with the EMCS Society.
“Overall, we’d like to get that theatre hopping, it just sits there empty way too much,” he said, adding that the Players will be trying to get back to their roots in terms of a wider variety of shows, with plans on putting on a dinner theatre in spring.
Anderson said members come and go, but regardless of where their next performance is, the important part is everyone works together towards the same goal: keep the entertainment in Sooke, keep it fun and affordable.