Paul Beckett as Jacob Marley’s Ghost, left, and Reg Parks as Scrooge in Theatre In The Country’s past production of the Charles Dickens tale A Christmas Carol in 2014. (Contributed)

Maple Ridge theatre company is on the move

Theatre in the Country is on the hunt for a new home

Theatre in the Country is on the move.

The local theatre group that called the old school gym of Whonnock elementary, later christened the North Fraser Events Centre home for the past five years, is on the hunt for a new location.

The building recently sold and will soon become a daycare.

“It’s been for sale for two-and-a-half years so we’ve known for a long time that a move was likely,” explained artistic director Reg Parks, thankful that the new owners have extended their time at the facility until March to allow for the theatre school for children to finish the shows they have already planned.

But, in a double whammy, the group also lost their space in Walnut Grove as well.

“We lost the Walnut Grove location in the same week. It was a bit of a rough go, I won’t lie,” said Parks.

“The church there had been very gracious for the year and it had always been a bit of a test for a year,” Parks continued.

“But, they felt it was just a little overwhelming. They are only a church of 50 people most of them are senior citizens and it was just a little more than they could handle,” he said.

Now Parks is on the hunt on both sides of the Fraser for a new permanent location for the theatre company.

The good news is they did find a location in Langley for their upcoming production in February of Anne of Green Gables. The show will take place at the Friends Langley Vineyard church.

“(It) is actually prepped for theatre. It’s got a good sized stage and it’s got pipes in the air for lighting and different things like that,” said Parks adding that the group will only be there for the one production.

Although he hasn’t ruled anything out, Parks does not expect to find more theatre space in Maple Ridge.

“I think we may bring a play in to Maple Ridge once in a while because we have a deep affinity for it and our roots are here,” said the local thespian, adding that his group requires a bigger venue than other theatre organizations because they need to be able to set up for three weeks and host enough people for dinner.

On Dec. 30 Theatre in the Country will be saying their final goodbyes in a night filled with songs, story telling and improv. They are going to have a few laughs and a few cries, said Parks.

Tickets sold out in just 90 minutes.

For now, he says, they are describing themselves as theatre on the move as they search for places. His wife has joked that this year they are going to be a pop-up theatre company.

“We found our first pop-up for Anne and we are going to find our second pop-up,” he said

Auditions for Anne of Green Gables have just wrapped up and they are just in the process of deciding who they are going to cast.

“We got a lot of response from new actors and actresses because there are a lot of younger parts in it so that was fun to see,” said Parks who personally loves the story of Anne because, “it’s got such a resonance of family and home and a sense of making your way in the world.”

As for the other four shows the theatre company has planned for 2018, ” I feel pretty confident that we will find homes for all of them,” said Parks.

Theatre in the Country’s production of Anne of Green Gables opens Feb. 14 at Friends Langley Vineyard, 5708 Glover Rd. in Langley.

For more information visit theatreinthecountry.com.

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