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Around Town: Langham Court is honoured

Vice-regal visit delights performers, patrons and behind-the-scenes workers at popular community theatre

For Victoria’s theatre community, it was the equivalent of a command performance for the Queen herself.

Indeed, the Queen’s representative in B.C., Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon, attracted as much attention as the cast of Better Living when she arrived as guest of honour at Thursday night’s performance at Langham Court Theatre.

Guichon didn’t even have to leave her neighbourhood to reach the historic community theatre, which is tucked into Pentrelew Place, a quiet cul-de-sac off Rockland Avenue, just a few blocks from Government House.

Board president Michael King, who ushered Guichon around with active member Paul Gillan, said he wasn’t particularly nervous about having B.C.’s 29th lieutenant-governor there, adding with a laugh “unless she’s afraid of the F-bomb.”

Before Guichon and honorary aide-de-camp Maj. Ross Campbell pulled up in her official vehicle, a gleaming black Lexus sedan, some wondered whether she’d find the coarse language in celebrated Canadian playwright George F. Walker’s dark comedy focusing on a ridiculously dysfunctional family off-putting.

Director Wendy Merk said her concerns were outweighed by delight over Guichon attending the season’s only Canadian play.

“I also understand she’s a cattle rancher so she’s probably come across a few bad words in her career,” laughed Merk.

The Nicola Valley rancher and former president of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association, graciously confirmed as much.

“I’ve probably heard it all,” she laughed before showtime.

“Cattle can raise the level of frustration in anybody.”

Guichon, an enthusiastic patron of the arts, said she was honoured when Langham Court’s past-president Toshik Bukowiecki sent her an invitation last year to attend a Langham Court show when her schedule permitted.

“I think healthy communities have to have a component of arts and music,” she said. “I play in a small band in my community and arts are very important to me.”

The lieutenant-governor’s presence prompted one wag to note he felt like he was in a production himself — an episode of Law and Order — when house manager Alex Carroll said “All rise” to the audience for Guichon’s entrance and departure.

Indeed, having such an honoured, arts-friendly guest was a mini-production in itself.

“Being a one-time event, everything has to go smoothly, with no chance to polish it,” said Chad Laidlaw, the clipboard-toting box-office manager who stage-managed Guichon’s visit. “It’s a unique challenge. We have to get it right on the first try.”