Incompetence. Snobbery. Witless bureaucracy. Some things never go out of style.
While the obvious hilarity of fairies rubbing elbows with ineffective politicians doesn’t necessarily resonate with contemporary audiences the way it did in Victorian times, Gilbert & Sullivan (G&S) shows carry themes that still resonate today. G&S comedic operas have great fun with the idea of people who rise to power who are untrained and incompetent, and control everyone else. That’s a joke that never dies.
President Barbie Warwick of FVGSS – A Musical Theatre Company (Formerly the Fraser Valley Gilbert and Sullivan Society) believes in preserving the cultural history G&S brought to the world of theatre, despite the challenges: “One of the greatest struggles in mounting a Gilbert and Sullivan show in 2018 is the fact that the popularity has waned over the past few generations.” Warwick explains, “People who recognize the name G&S are either over 70 years old or ‘music geeks’. The majority of the population isn’t familiar with them. This is a shame because Gilbert and Sullivan were so ahead of their time and their shows are very relevant to today’s society. They push against cultural mores and they use their wit to take the establishment and politicians to task.”
FVGSS is a Surrey-based non-profit organization, committed to producing amateur shows to a professional standard, and keeping the Gilbert & Sullivan shows alive and relevant to today’s audiences. They produce Pantomimes each Holiday Season, and bring the topsy turvy world of G&S to the stage in the spring. Since 1982 many members of FVGSS return year-after-year to bring the works of G&S to life. Lyn Verra-Lay was a fairy in the society’s 1996 mount of Iolanthe, and will return behind the scenes as co-producer for the 2018 production.
Verra-Lay started as a musician with FVGSS in 1988, but moved to the stage by the end of that year. “The family atmosphere led to me to recruit my husband and children; they’ve been involved in many of the productions on and off-stage. I’m thrilled to still be involved 29 years later.” Verra-Lay’s daughter Elisabeth co-choreographed her first FVGSS pantomime in 2017, with Verra-Lay as a chorus member.
This season, FVGSS is producing Iolanthe, the fantasy tale that, bizarrely, brings together fairies and the House of Lords. Directed by Jacqollyne Keath, with music direction by John Arsenault and choreography by Tamara Jaune, love, treachery and death lie at the heart of the tale of Iolanthe. It tells the story of a fairy who fell in love with a mortal. Their son has fallen in love with a ward of the Lord Chancellor. Unfortunately, the path of true love rarely runs smoothly and fairy intervention in the House of Lords causes chaos, as it would.
FVGSS’s Iolanthe ran May 16 to 20 2018 at the Anvil Centre (777 Columbia Street) in New Westminster.
The fifth annual fund raising Ceilidh supporting FVGSS, A Musical Theatre Company was held at the Rose Room at Valleyview Funeral Home in Surrey, on March 10, 2018. The evening featured a live band comprised of long-time Society favourites including Adrian Duncan, “Dangerous” Mary Brunner, Tim Tucker, Adam “Boomer” LaRusic, Mike Balser and several other surprise guests.
The well attended event was a fun evening of Rock n Roll tributes to some of the great Rock legends. Beer was supplied by Good Company Brewing , a fabulous micro brewery near Gastown.
Some magic moments from our appearances and performances at the Community Theatre Awards!
The CTC winners from 2011/12. Reginald Pillay (Best Production – Musical, “Beauty and the Beast”), Carol Seitz (Best Choreographer, “Beauty and the Beast”), Dann Wilhelm (accepting the awards for Christy Zaporozan – Best Costumes, “The Mikado”, Mike Balser & Omanie Elias – Best Set Design, “Beauty and the Beast”, and Tim Tucker – Best Music Director, “Beauty and the Beast”), Adam Olgui (Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, “The Mikado”) and long-time member/trophy presenter, Elizabeth Lay.
Chelsea Rose Tucker and Joni Hayden-Summerton perform a song from “Phantom of the Panto” at the 2013 CTC Awards Gala.
Kate Naylor, Paula Cooper and Laura Luongo look stunning at the 2013 CTC Awards Gala.
Pour Oh Pour: The cast of “The Pirates of Penzance” perform at the 2015 Community Theatre Coalition Awards show.
James Walker as “Samuel” and the cast of “The Pirates of Penzance” perform at the 2015 Community Theatre Coalition Awards show.
The cast of “The Pirates of Penzance” perform at the 2015 Community Theatre Coalition Awards show.
Jennifer Tiles as “Teazel” performs her popular (and hilarious) lullaby from “Santa Claus The Panto” at the 2015 CTC Awards show, with accompaniment by Tim Tucker.
Past President Dann Wilhelm accepts the award for Best Choreographer on behalf of Carol Seitz who won for her work in “Santa Claus The Panto”.
The FVGSS made an appearance in the 68th Annual Torchlight Parade, part of the White Rock Sea Festival of 2017. August 6, at nearly 9 pm, the floats moved out as the sky began to darken. Of course, we had been there since 3:45, getting the scenery arranged, setting up the lighting and sound equipment and securing the giant clam so our mermaid and her assistant would be safe and visible the whole time. Adding some very fancy frosting to that cake was Lyn Verra Lay, long time FVGSS participant and 2017 BC Culture Days Ambassador for Surrey. The pictures below tell the story!
The FVGSS float promoting our 2017 Panto The Little Mermaid