Murdoch Mysteries fans get sneak peek at holiday special on big screen

Fans of CBC’s Murdoch Mysteries can see a free preview of Home For the Holidays — the long-running period drama’s two-hour Christmas special, filmed in part in the capital region — on the big screen at SilverCity Victoria today (Dec. 16, 2017).

The free public screening at 12:55 p.m. is being presented as part of the Cineplex Events series.

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Cineplex Entertainment partnered with CBC and Shaftesbury Films to screen the special two days before it makes its debut Dec. 18 at 9 p.m. on CBC.

It will be rebroadcast Dec. 25 at 6:30 p.m.

(Free tickets are available only through Eventbrite. To reserve, go to bit.ly/2C9hMZk.)

Capital region locations for the late 19th-century detective drama include Gowlland Tod Park and Cattle Point, where crews created a Songhees village in early October.

The episode follows detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) and Dr. Ogden (Helene Joy) to Victoria. They’re visiting Murdoch’s half-brother, RCMP officer Jasper Linney, played by Dylan Neal, better known here for his work as writer, executive producer and star of Hallmark’s Gourmet Detective series.

“I’m just an actor today,” said Neal during a set visit on the windy waterfront. “Normally I wear three or four hats when I’m in Victoria.”

Neal, who also appeared during the second season, said the joke is that despite being separated their entire lives, the brothers “share the same DNA. They’re the country mouse and city mouse, but they’re identical.”

In the local scenes, they investigate a murder connected to an archaeologist (Megan Follows), who leads them to an ancient Indigenous settlement and encounters with the Songhees and Haida nations.

The Murdoch Mysteries screening is part of the theatre chain’s ever-expanding Cineplex Events series of alternative programming, including its popular Stage Series.

“It’s all about trying different things and giving audiences a chance to see it first on the big screen,” said Brad LaDouceur, vice-president of Cineplex Events.

“We know Murdoch Mysteries has a rabid, fantastic audience across the country and they love to share those kinds of experiences.”

As part of its 2018 Stage Series lineup, Cineplex will celebrate Oscar Wilde with productions of four of the Victorian playwright and poet’s most notable plays, broadcast live from London’s West End Vaudeville Theatre.

The roster includes A Woman of No Importance (Jan. 18), Lady Windermere’s Fan (April 26), An Ideal Husband (Sept. 27) and The Importance of Being Earnest (Nov. 8).

The 2018 season will also showcase new and returning National Theatre Live shows, including The Young Marx, Nicholas Hytner’s production starring Rory Kinnear that opened at London’s Bridge Theatre.

Theatre-loving cinema-goers will also be able to see Benedict Andrews’ production of the Tennessee Williams classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, starring Sienna Miller, Jack O’Connell and Colm Meaney, as well as encore presentations of Hamlet (March 1 and 4) starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and Hytner’s Julius Caesar (March 22, May 12), featuring an all-star cast that includes Ben Whishaw and David Morrissey.

The series also features the popular Broadway HD component, which recently showcased Kevin Kline in Broadway productions of Present Laughter and Cyrano de Bergerac.

Another hot ticket has been the National Theatre Live broadcast of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, starring Imelda Staunton, with an encore presentation scheduled for Jan. 20.

“For us, it’s about expanding the variety of the stage presentations, because we know Shakespeare isn’t for everyone,” said LaDouceur.

Also back is the chain’s popular In the Gallery series, which provides art lovers with access to the lives of artists such as David Hockney and Paul Cezanne, their art and the galleries that showcase their work.

“A passion for the arts is something that should always be nurtured, and if you’re unable to travel to a gallery or museum abroad, this is the perfect way to experience a wide range of outstanding work,” LaDouceur said.

The Met Live in HD, continuing in 2018 with productions including Puccini’s Tosca and La Boheme, has also taken off at the Odeon, which general manager Pierre Gauthier attributes to new luxury recliners.

“Victoria has been one of our top-performing markets since we launched,” said LaDouceur. “It’s always one of the first to sell out, and we know there’s a built-in performing arts audience there.”

Cinemas have been increasingly relying upon event presentations to augment film fare, especially when Hollywood blockbusters aren’t gobbling up every available screen, LaDouceur said.

He said the company hopes to have a dedicated screen in the Victoria market in 2018 for a broadening array of “event” fare, from concerts to sporting events, plays and operas.

“One thing we’ve always done is said [to potential partners]: ‘If you bring us a production, we’ll consider putting our foot in the water and testing the temperature,’ ” he said, citing a series of TED talks as an example.

The company took such a chance with positive results six years ago when it screened Toronto filmmaker Larry Weinstein’s operatic political satire Mulroney.

“We love doing Canadian productions,” said LaDouceur, noting the theatre chain’s broadcasts of Stratford Festival productions have proven particularly popular.

mreid@timescolonist.com

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