Cakewalk – Local actors provide great entertainment

Esther Darlington MacDonald's monthly column of insights and opinions of small town living.

Switching Principals

Mavourneen Varcoe-Ryan has done it again! Directed a fast paced farce by Pat Cook that delighted and left not one false start in the entire production. Indeed, the cast of 20 brought the farce off with professional skill. Most of the actors had played in the November 2012 production, Midsummer Mid Term, also directed by Varcoe-Ryan, and performances were more polished than ever. The design of the set was very simple. A principal’s office, with three doors and a portrait of the Queen. Sets didn’t have to be changed, which makes for an easier production all around. The doors of the office didn’t open without a new surprise, and a new burst of energy.

John Kidder’s oiley fraud artist was played nothing short of, well, I’m going to write it, masterfully.  And Connie Walkem as his girl friend didn’t miss a timing beat. In fact, everyone in the cast didn’t miss a cue. Wherever did John get that suit, those socks? Bright orange, with broad lapels and socks worn by circus clowns. John’s hair, adroitly dyed and with manicured partings by Lene Madeiros certainly deserved special mention. It all added to the fun.

Barbara Roden played the domineering wife and board member to perfection. Her body language, controlled, and entirely effective, fitted the role beautifully and certainly created the feeling in the audience that she deserved just what she got in the end.

Jean Burgess, who brought the house down when she performed in Midsummer Mid Term as Puck, had a much smaller part in Switching Principals as a janitor. But as usual, she gave it all she had, with the kind of bouncy energy while shuffling the worthless stocks sold to her by con artist George Thurlow.

David Dubois, as the befuddled principal had a smaller part too, but he played the part with perfectly convincing befuddlement. As did Judith Hightower, aka as Keya Belin, as a secret agent of the RCMP, which she wasn’t. Hightower made the twist at the end of the farce an utter surprise.

Karla Cummins, who was billed as ‘the superstitious lady’, whose connection with the hiring of the principal was a little ambiguous (unless I got it wrong), was bizarre enough to make you wonder about the effectivity of the school board’s hiring process.

All the rest in the cast didn’t miss a beat. Even the younger cast members, school kids, with special mention for Leith McLean, who played the ‘over active student’ to a T.

Another bull’s eye for the Winding Rivers Arts and Performing Society and all those volunteers who helped make the entire production worthy of a Gold Star!

A Birthday Party

For birthday gal, Anita Ladoski, haute coutre designer of womens’ hats and costumes, whose special day was held in the lovely home of Joan Henderson in North Ashcroft. Fabulous deserts, and a great bowl of trifle, with Joplin type jazz tunes hammered away by our own tiny Geraldine on Joan’s piano, made for a pretty fun time on that warm sunny afternoon. Thanks so much for the invitation.

Facebook and the Tuoheys

At the birthday party (above), Anita mentioned that Bob and Debbie Tuohey of Ashcroft had visited my daughter Nadine in her gallery in Maui. A picture of the three of them on Facebook seems to have circulated around the town because after the birthday party, I dropped into Revelations and Pam Sidwell said, “Have you seen your daughter with Debbie and Bob on Facebook? No, I hadn’t.  Promptly emailed Nadine and asked her to send me the pic. She did, and commented that Debbie had “a beautiful smile”.

Pam and others were surprised when I told them Nadine was 64 years old. “She looks half that,” exclaimed Pam. Well, I wouldn’t say that, exactly. But she does have the arch of my brows and the shape of my upper lip!

Hand written letters

In this age of digital communication, it is a special treat to get a handwritten letter. Well, I recently received two of them the same day in the mail. Former Ashcroft resident and stage actress, Liz Ekering, who now lives in Kamloops, is very much involved in the theatre scene there. She will perform with others in the Vagina Monologues at the Convention Centre, and Liz has just completed a role in a Ring Lardner play. She’s added another string to her bow as well. A show of her paintings in Riverside Park come Canada Day. Congratulations Liz!

The other letter was from my sister in Los Alamos, New Mexico, who is concerned for the growing drought effecting the area, as well as sundry worries about the growing power of corporate internationals. Whatever the bleakness of my sister’s letters in so noting, they are balanced by her gardening skills, vegetarian menus, and her dog Boo. I am blessed.

Our economy – getting it right

We’re told over and over again by the economists that Canada’s economy is shaky. Well, so is the world’s, I guess. But the fear mongering that seems to foment around Christmas time, that the economy will trash because people probably won’t have as much money to spend, has once again, proven entirely wrong.

So, we’re only growing plus one per cent. Why do they think the economy of any country, including ours which is as rich as Croesus, should grow like an exponential curve? There comes a time when the old boom and bust type of so-called growth, has to peter out. And a time of stability of economies will hover over that one or two per cent. I once used to eat lunch with a couple of economists at the University of Manitoba, and they chided themselves for their uncertain professions. I was just a secretary. I’m no economist. I’m just another consumer. But if you keep informed a little – and I do via the National Post’s Financial pages, – you eventually come to realize that economies keeping steady is really a sign of health. But the economic Casandras of this world want to scare us into thinking otherwise. With no apologies to the pundits on Peter Mansbridge’s panels, or the rants of Newfie’s Rex Murphy and that other guy from the “Rock”, Rich Mercer. My! What a show off he is!

Ashcroft’s diminishing cafes

I was really sorry to hear that Darryl Starbucks has closed his Buffalo Station. (Again). I don’t know, the location seems just about right. As far as the building itself is concerned, it is roomy enough and has the nice rustic feeling that should attract. But Darryl moaned that he just couldn’t make it with the trickle coming in. Thinks there is too many eateries in this small town. Maybe he’s right.

But the Central’s business has sure picked up, it seems. And the Ashcroft Bakery’s business, too, seems a regular. Often, when you enter these establishments, the places are filled. You have to wait, as you have to do in other places, or you go elsewhere. The take out business seems to be doing pretty well too. And then there is Soups On, every Friday, an all-donated effort to bring people together. We are certainly not starving!

Tasting B.C.’s wines

This was my first time to attend the Rotary’s annual wine tasting event, which also featured ales and hops. The event is very tastefully (pardon the pun) put together, and offers an ample selection of wines, as well as an exhibition of art.

Joris Ekering, a Rotary member, hung 13 of my paintings in the show, and they looked pretty nice against that broad white wall in St. Alban’s Hall, March 7. Local attendees were down. If it hadn’t been for the bus load of Rotarians that came from Kamloops, the whole event might have been a disappointment for the organizers who obviously put a lot of work into the presentation. I’m told that Rotary will be giving the event some thought to maybe changing the time of the year of the event. The curling Brier was on that weekend. March is always a busy month in Ashcroft.

Spring has sprung

There’s probably no need to remind people that our stores are filling with sacks of soil, fertilizer, racks of seed of every variety, and the signs of spring are everywhere around us. Ashcroft is blessed with an early spring. In years past, the odour of lilacs and fresh baking bread used to fill the downtown core. It still does. But in recent years, one friend of mine noted the other day, a long time resident, that the climate here is changing. She said she used to look forward to spring in Ashcroft, but recent seasons here have been rainy, windy, and not terribly warm. Global warming might be changing our semi – desert country into something less deserty. (Is there such a word?) They say that the arctic polar ice and glaciers are melting at unprecedented speeds, while the antarctic is getting colder! Is it that “Lucky old sun with nothing to do but roll around heavens all day,” got anything to do with the phenomenon?

Esther Darlington MacDonald