A&E » Arts

Four actors and a funeral



Terence McNally dramatic comedy Lips Together, Teeth Apart comes to MY Place

What: Lips Together, Teeth Apart

Where: My Place

When: Aug. 28, 30, 31 and Sept. 3, 4, 6, 7

When five of Vancouver’s most distinguished actors converge on Whistler to present an award winning theatre production, you can rest assured it’s going to be worth it.

You don’t just give up busy and lucrative TV and film acting roles to do regional theatre unless there’s a reason. And the reason is?

"Whistler needs it," said Neil Schell, the star of successful TV shows like DaVinci’s Inquest, Outer Limits and Cold Squad.

"On the one hand, from a tourism point of view, Whistler is an international destination that deserves top of the line theatre. But there’s also a great amount of amateur talent in the region that we wanted to utilize for these types of productions," said Schell, who’s been teaching acting in Whistler with his company Quantum Theatre for almost a year.

Along with fellow actors Diana Pavlovska (also from Cold Squad, a TV series called Earthling and a soon to be released feature called The Delicate Art of Parking) and Benson Simmonds (DaVinci’s Inquest and Leo award winner for best actor in the drama Applaud or Die), the three professionally trained thespians are committed to bringing permanent professional theatre to Whistler.

"It’ll be a treat for our guests here on holidays and a touch of Broadway for the locals," said Pavlovska.

The first production starts this Thursday, Aug. 28, kicking off the first ever seven-night run at Millennium Place. Titled Lips Together, Teeth Apart, the play revolves around a 4 th of July weekend with two couples. Written by the award-winning Terence McNally (The Full Monty, Frankie and Johnny, Kiss of the Spiderwoman), LTTA is an explosive comedy full of laughs, shocks and surprises. Not one for the kiddies, but definitely one for the adults is all we can say without giving away too much.

"It’s a pretty bold step for us to be taking," said Simmonds. "But this is our launch and we want to show Whistler that Quantum means business. The idea with our theatre company is to provide provocative, cutting edge plays every couple of months that normally you would have to get to the city to see."

With Quantum committed and ready to move to Whistler, and an impressive list of volunteers and amateur local actors to draw upon, MY Place hopes the new concept catches on.

On the acting side of things, that definitely seems to be the case. General auditions for Quantum’s production were held a few months ago and more than 40 locals turned up.

"Some of these people turned out to be very good actors, which we will most certainly be using for future productions," said Schell.

For the first run though, the performance will consist of the three Quantum directors and Samantha Sewell, a professional actress with Whistler roots.

"I lived here for nine years working in the ski industry," said Sewell who did time with the Whistler Players. "But I chose to go back professionally because it was my first love."

The decision led to a starring role in the Whistler feature film Wild Wind, as well as guest spots on TV shows like Outer Limits and First Wave.

She jumped at the chance to be part of LTTA and calls her role as Sally the most challenging of her career.

"There’s a constant back and forth of emotions in this part but the writing is exquisite and every day I read the script I go ‘wow’."

In the understudy role of John, is Whistler amateur actor, Don Stevenson. The director of sales at Club Intrawest has been spending all his spare time learning the ambitious, intelligent lines in a role the rest of the cast consider essential to the success of the production.

"Don was perfect for the role of John. He’s a very good actor, very talented and most importantly very into this," said Schell. "A couple of other people were offered understudy roles but couldn’t take them due to scheduling conflicts, so it’s testament to Don’s commitment and belief in the project that he’s here with a full time job on the side."

Adding to the top class mix is director June B. Wilde, who herself has starred in over 20 plays and numerous features including Santa Claus 2, DaVinci’s Inquest and the Twilight Zone.

"It’s exciting being a part of this," she said. "It’s a unique concept featuring a unique play and I get excited seeing these actors at work."

Another first for MY Place is a dinner theatre special running during Lips Together, Teeth Apart. In conjunction with Casa Tapas and Wine Bar, a short stroll away from MY Place, theatregoers can get two tickets to the play, two glasses of wine, and three tapas for $70. Call the MY Place box office to reserve tickets and tables now. 604-935-8418.