Langley Little Theatre presents a play called Radio Suspense Theatre Dec. 10, 11, and 12. Back row from the left: Rita Price (Langley); Thomas Loan-Johnston (Cloverdale) Barb Coulter (Fort Langley); Veda Maharaj (Langley). Bottom row from the left: Shawn McGrory (Langley); and Virginia Cooke (Fort Langley). (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Langley Little Theatre presents a play called Radio Suspense Theatre Dec. 10, 11, and 12. Back row from the left: Rita Price (Langley); Thomas Loan-Johnston (Cloverdale) Barb Coulter (Fort Langley); Veda Maharaj (Langley). Bottom row from the left: Shawn McGrory (Langley); and Virginia Cooke (Fort Langley). (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Curtain goes up soon on annual Christmas radio play

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows actors part of Radio Suspense Theatre in Langley during mid-December

It’s become a bit of a holiday tradition for regional thespians to bring to life a radio play.

And with pandemic restrictions lifting, somewhat, tickets are on sale now and going fast for Langley Little Theatre’s upcoming live, onstage production set for mid-December.

The play, called Radio Suspense Theatre , is a comedy and mystery blended together by Steve Cleberg, and it will feature a pair of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows actors.

Through the play, spectators get a glimpse of the days when radio was the primary home entertainment, said director June Ainsworth.

“This play will take the audience back to an era when families sat in their living rooms and gathered around their radios, listening to tales being masterfully and magically sent to them over the air waves,”Ainsworth elaborated.

“Radio plays are exciting and fun for the audiences because the sound effects are created live onstage and the audiences are cued to participate with an ‘applause’ sign,” she added.

Maple Ridge’s Chris Carver and Pitt Meadows’ Halia Hirniak are familiar faces on stage and/or screen, and they’re excited, Ainsworth said, to be part of this upcoming production.

Carver has been involved in community theatre for some time, earning regional and nationaly acting accolades for his efforts. He was picked as outstanding actor for is role as Rick in the former Surrey Little Theatre’s The Foursome production, as well as the role of Rolly Moore in Langley Players’ Escape from Happiness.

Similarly, Halia has been performing her entire life – first as a dancer, then acting.

“The journey through many productions across the Lower Mainland has been full of wonderful experiences in comedies, tragedies, and dramas on stages from Langley, to Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, New Westminster, Surrey, Vancouver, and soon in White Rock,” she said, noting that almost two years ago now she working in film and television as well.

From Zoom films to a Walgreens commercial, and from student productions to “Motherland: Fort Salem” and Disney, Halia has explored diverse roles. Therapist, middle-aged mom, witch, washed-up cook, biker babe, minister – imagine a 5 ft. 2 in. redhead carrying all those characters in her petite frame, and Halia joked that people would be envisioning her.

There are 24 characters in the upcoming radio play and they are played by 12 actors: It features Carver and Hirniak, as well as Cloverdale’s Thomas Loan-Johnston, Chilliwack’s Raymond Hatton, Port Coquitlam’s Cathie Young and Joyce Gillespie, and Coquitlam’s Roger Meloche. They join the Langley contingent of Veda Maharaj, Barb Coulter, Shawn McGrory, Rita Price, and Virginia Cooke, as well as Langleyite Dawn Adamson, who’s working behind the scenes as the show’s producer.

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Ainsworth has spend much of her time during the past 40 years directing and designing for theatres in and around the Fraser Valley. During that time, she said she’s been captivated by the way characters in a play can evoke an array of emotions, from sadness to joy. 

“Theatre can educate us, transform us, take us on fantastical journeys, or just provide an evening of fun away from the stresses of day-to-day life. Theatre is a large part of my life and I am proud to see my children and grandchildren love theatre as much as I do.”

This play comes to life on the Langley Playhouse stage for three days only – two nights and one matinee showing – Friday and Saturday, Dec. 10 and 11 at 8 p.m., plus Sunday, Dec. 12, at 2 p.m.

“This play is set in a Vancouver radio station in 1942. The radio station employees are doing their best to hold on to their passion for their art while continuing to provide good entertainment during a time of war and uncertainty. Through it all, the life-long friendships, which sustain us and bring us joy in tough times, are evident in this play,” explained Ainsworth.

“I see parallels in this play with the uncertainties we are experiencing today.”

Tickets are $25 and available online at langleylittletheatre.org/tickets or by calling 1-888-961-6111.

As per the current public health mandates, people 12 and older will be required to show proof of two doses of vaccination to enter the theatre and people are required to wear masks when moving around the theatre, with the space deep-cleaned between performances, Adamson said.

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