Special to The Record
“It feels like I never left,” says Andrew Arnold. But he did. It is 10 years since he appeared on a Comox Valley stage. “I was welcomed back with extremely open arms,” says Chelsea Keene, returning after years away from her home community.
Courtenay Little Theatre is delighted that these superb home-grown actors play the leads in the upcoming production of It’s a Wonderful Life. The classic Christmas movie has been developed into a charming and lyrical musical.
Directed by award-winning Susan Bradshaw, the story of how George Bailey sees the world without him delights audiences of all ages. This musical production has a large cast of talented, enthusiastic performers. Some are familiar faces, others are new, and still others, like Chelsea and Andrew, are back.
Chelsea studied at the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, while Andrew was on the production side of the film industry, studying at the Victoria Motion Picture School.
As children and teenagers they were active not only with Courtenay Little Theatre but also with Rainbow Youth Theatre, TheatreWorks and high school performances. For several summers Chelsea also appeared in CYMC Musical Theatre presentations.
Both performers noted the importance of the support they received from their families when they were Valley children with an interest in theatre.
As they have known each other since that time they find working together on stage to be a n enjoyable experience.
“It is quite special,” comments Chelsea. “It has eliminated any tension that can be there when performing with a stranger.”
Rehearsals have to be fitted around their busy work schedules. Andrew is moving into real estate, working with his mother Carla, while Chelsea is a preschool teacher with degrees in both theatre and education. She is also part of the creative team of the local performance school Love to Perform Theatre Arts. As George and Mary Bailey, Andrew and Chelsea have devoted all of their spare time to developing their roles. They can act, they can sing, and they bring life experiences to the timeless story.
Andrew notes that he is fortunate in the casting of the angel who reveals the impact George had on family and friends. Pat McKenna, now well-established as a Valley favourite, has the delightful role of Clarence, a guardian angel if ever there was one.
With a cast of such talented performers, the town of Bedford Falls will once again be celebrated in this outstanding production.
Tickets for It’s A Wonderful Life are on sale at the Sid Williams Theatre box office on Cliffe Avenue. Evening shows, 7:30 p.m., are Dec. 28, 29, 30, 31 and Jan. 2 for $22.
There is one matinee on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2 p.m., for $20 a ticket. Consider purchasing a flex pass (six tickets for the price of five) for It’s A Wonderful Life or any of this season’s CLT shows.