By Lynn Hodge
Special to The Record
Courtenay Little Theatre (CLT) presents Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution, Oct. 4-12 at the Sid Williams Theatre.
In post-war London, a brutal murder has occurred, stirring up outrage. At the ensuing trial, mounting evidence and contradictory testimonies make for a compelling drama full of deceit and lies. Or is it the truth being revealed?
This courtroom drama is the first production of the theatre company’s recently announced season. For the 2019-2020 theatre year, CLT has a lineup of diverse and exciting entertainment. October’s Witness for the Prosecution will be followed by Disney’s musical The Little Mermaid Dec. 21-31, and Doubt, A Parable, April 3-11.
So how does a theatre company decide which plays will be produced over the year? CLT has a selection committee. To honour the club’s 60th anniversary in 2020, this committee was tasked by the board to consider reprising one of the company’s successes of its six-decade history. The committee agreed that a follow-up of Christie’s suspenseful The Mousetrap from 2010 would be a great choice. Committee member and director Ross Stephenson read all of Christie’s plays and unanimously chose Witness for the Prosecution. Stephenson felt particularly connected to this play given the current backdrop of political claims of ‘alternate facts’. What is the truth? Who can we trust?
Connections play an important role in live theatre. The story must connect with the director, cast and crew to resonate true to an audience. Witness for the Prosecution certainly fits the bill.
CLT member Bill Chadwick first saw this play in 1955 in New York City and he has vivid memories of Frances L. Sullivan’s Tony Award-winning performance in the role of Sir Wilfred Robards.
A second amazing connection came to light when CLT’s wig department, headed by Nancy Parker, was asked to create period barrister and judge wigs.
Parker was a theatre brat, spending many hours in rehearsal halls watching her parents act and direct, and eventually she was on stage herself in Our Town with Anchorage Little Theatre around 1950. Parker’s father, Arthur B. See, played the role of Sir Wilfred Robards in 1957.
Eventually, Parker and her family moved to Courtenay and joined the theatre community when son Rob became involved. Parker — today an honoured lifetime member — joined CLT in 1986 and was instrumental in setting up the successful wig department, which now owns almost 100 wigs and pieces. Now, Witness for the Prosecution needs Parker’s skills to fabricate some special wigs.
It seems the story has come full circle.
Connections in any community are important. Connections in the theatre community make for memorable, heartfelt productions. Witness for the Prosecution exemplifies community theatre at its best.
Tickets for the evening show Oct. 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12 are $28 and the Sunday, Oct. 6 matinée is $26.
Group purchases of six tickets or more are $24 each.
Tickets are available at the Sid Williams Theatre box office on Cliffe Avenue or online at sidwilliamstheatre.com.