As good luck would have it, the Emerald Pig Theatrical Society’s 13th annual Bard on the Bandstand will feature one of William Shakespeare’s greatest farces, The Merry Wives of Windsor, set in the Wild West.
“Picture a bicycle built for two, a honky-tonk piano and the Can Can dancers,” laughed producer Kathleen Hatley, who will also be joining the Golden Spike Can Can Dancers on stage.
“Each year, often times, we’ve set the production in a different era to add to the fun and sometimes to make the story a little more accessible to our modern audiences,” Hatley explained, adding that it was the idea of director Sharon Malone to set the play in this era.
“As soon as I read the Merry Wives and saw that it was set at the Garter Inn, I knew we had to have a honky-tonk piano player, can-can dancers and a bicycle built for two! And we do,” said Malone.
The comedy is believed to have been written by the famous playwright in 1597 and follows the plight of Sir John Falstaff, an older, over weight, braggart, confident, arrogant knight. Falstaff is running out of money and he gets this idea to seduce these two women who are the wives of wealthy men in town. His plan is to have affairs with them and through them gain access to their money.
“He thinks they will fall for him right away. They, of course, don’t but decide to lead him on a merry chase and make a complete fool out of him,” said Michael McIntyre who plays Falstaff in the production.
“Think of an aging frat boy who never grew up,” McIntyre chuckled.
One of the wives Falstaff is attempting to seduce has a daughter who she is trying to marry off to one man, her husband wants the daughter to marry another man and the daughter wants to marry someone else.
“They want her to marry money and power and she wants to marry true love,” said Hatley.
Peter Tam will be playing the part of the honky-tonk pianist and he built a shell around his own piano to create the look of an old-fashioned one for the Garter Saloon, where most of the play takes place.
There are 22 cast members and between 12 to 15 team members behind the scenes.
The group started rehearsing in April.
Hatley says there is a lot more community involvement in this years Bard production than ever before including the Lions Club who will be barbecuing hot dogs at all of the performances by donation for the Friends In Need Food Bank. McDonald’s will also be providing coffee.
“To continue the tradition of inclusion, support for those less fortunate than ourselves and championing the value of the arts is worth everything to me,” said Malone.
There are also more songs than previous productions including a song by the songstress in the Garter Inn, Tam will be performing for the pre-show and during scene changes, there will be a Can Can dance, a fairy dance and then the finale dance of the full cast.
Hatley’s favourite part is when Falstaff gets tricked into getting stuffed into a laundry basket.
“Then two old ladies come on and they have to pull him off. It’s a good thing it’s on wheels,” Hatley laughed.
Bring a lawn chair, blanket, and a donation to the Friends in Need Food Bank to the free family friendly show that takes place July 19, 20 and 21 at Spirit Square in Pitt Meadows and July 26, 27, and 28 at Memorial Peace Park in Maple Ridge.
A pre-show will take place at 6:30 p.m. and at 7 p.m. the play will start.
For more information go to emeraldpig.ca.