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Tofino - Ucluelet performers team up with prominent chef for dinner theatre event

It’s Saturday (Or Friday) Night Live at Ucluelet Community Centre Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4.
West Coast performers are excited to delight audiences at the Ucluelet Community Centre on May 3 and 4. (Submitted photo)

West Coast performers have teamed up with a prominent local chef to set the stage and tables for two nights of delicious food and hearty laughter.

Dinner theatre is making its long-awaited return with a group of local performers bringing ‘It’s Saturday (Or Friday) Night Live’ to the Ucluelet Community Centre on Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4.

“The West Coast has nothing like this,” the program’s co-founder Jacqueline Holliday told the Westerly News. “It’s an opportunity for people to have a real night out…Have a nice dinner, have a few drinks, support a good cause and have some laughs.”

Holliday and Courtney Johnson launched the dinner theatre events that became popular sources of delight at Ucluelet’s former Officials Sports Lounge and both are ecstatic to be bringing that delight back after a six-year absence.

“The bar closed down in 2018 and we haven’t had a show since. Ever since the bar has closed the actors that were with us originally and all of our guests that bought tickets have all been asking Courtney and just hounding us, when are you going to do it again. When’s the next show,” Holliday said. “Now we’re just in the thick of it right before the finish line.”

The pair partnered with Chef Ian Riddick of Heartwood Kitchen who will be providing a scrumptious three-course meal for audience members.

Johnson, who co-founded the West Coast Glee Kids program in 2012, told the Westerly News community members have been urging her and Holliday to get dinner theatre back on the calendar and both were thrilled to oblige.

“I’m excited. It’s a community event that everybody loved,” Johnson said. “I really missed working with my friends. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I got to do it all again. I’m an instructor and I teach Glee, but I also really miss performing. I love singing. I love being on stage. I can’t always do that when I’m teaching kids.”

She added many of her friends who help her with Glee performances have suggested they miss performing themselves.

“They used to do it when they were younger and then you kind of grow up and your life kind of goes on, but that hunger to be creative is still inside you,” she said.

“If you really want to be a part of something artistic, there’s a way to make it happen…Not only is this program really fun, it makes you more confident to be on stage. More often than not I’ve heard people tell me about the things that they used to do when they were younger and they think they can’t do them anymore and I’m just like, ‘Well, yeah you can. Let’s do it! Why aren’t we doing it?’ None of us might end up being Taylor Swift but we can have a lot of fun within our community.”

She said she and Holliday launched the dinner theatre performances because of their mutual passion for performing and quickly found a gaggle of West Coasters stoked on taking part.

“We just discovered there was a need for a program like this and for a group like this. A lot of people that did it before have come back and we’ve made a lot of new friends too, so there’s definitely a place for it and the community has wanted us to bring it back,” Johnson said.

She said the cast for It’s Saturday (Or Friday) Night Live is made up of about 13 West Coasters who have been rehearsing since January.

“I really appreciate that a lot of the people are people that are a little newer to town that I haven’t met before and are just absolutely lovely people. I’ve really enjoyed meeting them and now I can say they’re a friend now, that’s a really cool thing about this,” she said. “It was great to have that old group come back and meet some more people as well.”

Holliday agreed the program has forged new friendships.

“We meet people and I get such a support network that I wouldn’t otherwise have because people have come to theatre and we get together and we drink wine and we might talk about our day and when you see them on the street now it’s someone you know,” she said.

She added she was not surprised to see so many residents step up wanting to participate.

“Sometimes what does surprise us is that you’ll see somebody in the community that’s really quiet and not quite sure they want to do this and then they come and they absolutely shine on stage,” she said.

“We have a lot of really artistic adults that maybe aren’t in a rock band and they’re finding a way to step outside their box and meet some people. That’s what we are there to provide with a community program for people to come out, be creative and share their talents.”

She added that along with Saturday Night Live sketches, the group will also be performing scenes inspired by Baroness Von Sketch.

“We really wanted to come back with comedy. We wanted to have our fellow community members laugh at us, and laugh at us because it’s funny. If we’re going to make fools out of ourselves, it’s best to be doing comedy,” she laughed.

She added she has an original script she’s excited to start rehearsals for in the fall for adults and has another Glee show coming out for youth.

“What I do with Glee and now expanding into this is what I was put on this planet to do, music and the arts. There will absolutely be more,” she said.

“Hopefully it will grow from here,” added Holliday, adding future shows will perform original scripts.

Johnson encourages anyone interested in performing to reach out to her at 250-266-2077 or the district at 250-726-7772.

“If you’re thinking about it and it’s something you’re interested in, just do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re good at it, if you’ve done it before or never done it before. Try it. If you suck at it and enjoy it, who cares? This is community theatre, it’s not Broadway. Come and enjoy yourself and you might surprise yourself,” she said.

“Who cares if you can or can’t? There’s nobody you really have to impress. If you like doing it then do it and more often than not it turns out you’re good at what you try.”

Tickets for Friday and Saturday’s shows will raise funds for the West Coast Performing Arts Society, formerly known as the Paula Ross Dance Society, and can be purchased from Johnson at Image West Gallery in Ucluelet or at the community centre.

Holliday noted tickets must be pre-purchased and will not be on sale at the show as Riddick needs to know how much food to prepare for goers.

Johnson said she’s hoping to see a large number of residents come and support local arts.

“First of all, it’s your community members. Second of all, this is really funny and I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like to laugh. Seriously, laughter is my favourite thing. If I could I would do it all the time everyday. It’s really hard to be miserable when you are having a good time, having good food and laughing at your friends on stage,” she said.

She added the district’s parks and recreation team at the community centre has been incredibly supportive of the group, adding Windsor Plywood provided materials for the sets, Sea Wench donated makeup supplies and the Ucluelet Co-op has pitched in as well.

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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