Where: Nov. 22-Dec. 10
When: Langham Court Theatre, 805 Langham Ct.
Tickets: $17 from langhamtheatre.ca or 250-384-2142
Theatre is the sum of many moving parts, which is why it takes an extended amount of time — months, in most cases — to bring a play to fruition.
Director Tony Cain and his team had only five weeks to get Almost, Maine — the first in-house production at Langham Court in over a year — ready to open tonight. “That’s record time,” Cain said with a laugh. “We did auditions on a Thursday and were doing a reading on the Monday.”
The director has decades of experience, in Canada and the United Kingdom, which helped steady things as rehearsals progressed. But the production could have veered sideways at any moment, especially with a relatively young and inexperienced cast. Cain said everyone in front of and behind the curtain rallied to get Almost, Maine ready for the stage, with work on the romantic comedy by John Cariani taking place daily since Oct. 13.
“That commitment is so appropriate for the new beginning of Langham Court,” Cain said. “The new generation is so keen and full of enthusiasm.”
Almost, Maine is the first in-house production at Langham Court since November 2021, and the first under new management. Stewardship of the theatre is now under an entirely new board, members of which were voted in during a Sept. 28 emergency general meeting. The previous board resigned after one year in control, citing the need to repair a toxic culture at the theatre, which has been in operation since 1929.
“I believe in Langham,” Cain said. “This is a very precious gem of the community in Victoria. That’s important to me. I support Langham 100 per cent. We want inclusivity, we want to bring the young people in. They are our future, after all. Some of them aspire to go into the profession, and this is where they start. We have to nurture them.”
Almost, Maine, which runs for 15 performances through Dec. 10, was cast largely with students from the Victoria Academy of Dramatic Arts. There is some heavy lifting involved — 10 actors will play roles in nine absurdist vignettes — but there’s a light-hearted side to it. Cariani’s breezy writing made this the perfect opportunity for the young talent, some of whom are making their professional debuts, to gain some important real-world experience.
Organizers brought in noted choreographer Sylvia Hosie, who served as an intimacy coach for scenes that involved kissing. Cain felt it was important to run the cast through its paces with Hosie as a reference point and guide. “We brought Sylvia in to talk about intimacy on stage, and respect. The cast felt very safe, and that was important. I keep saying it all along, ‘This is a safe environment.’ When it come to those intimate moments, we wanted everyone to feel comfortable.”
The prospect of theatre returning to Langham Court has lead to some genuine gestures from the community, Cain said. Some set builders have donated their time and materials, while many on staff did double-duty; some patrons, according to Almost, Maine producer Holly McGimpsey, have donated money to the ticketing office. It’s clear how much Langham Court was missed during its absence.
“It’s a whole team who said, ‘We’re going to get this done,’ ” Cain said. “That’s what this little gem of a theatre does. It makes it happen.”