The Kaatza Lakeside Players is welcoming a new director to its stage this fall, and he’s promising a Christmas production that doesn’t preach and features a whole host of people behaving in less-than-Yuletide ways.
Erin Butler, a longtime KLP member, will be directing The Regifters by Robert Lynn, in which a couple re-gifts an undesirable Christmas present only to discover it’s actually worth a fortune. To get it back, they’ll do everything in their power, however, it turns out they aren’t the only ones who have passed it off on someone else.
“It is a Christmas play, first off, and it’s about values and love and friendship. But there’s also a large streak of schadenfreude,” said Butler. “You get joy out of seeing people who are not at their best come around. Realize lessons. Though it certainly isn’t dictatorial.”
Butler and KLP artistic director Dena McPhee chose the play because it’s humorous and because it will be fun for everyone involved, not just the audience.
The play isn’t difficult, according to Butler, and will be “fine for beginners or for veterans… It’s a matter of getting timing and tempo.”
There will be a cast of nine people —four men and five women — and they can be any age over 20. While there are no roles for children, the play is appropriate for audience members of all ages and has “enough action” to keep kids entertained.
KLP will be holding auditions Sept. 13 and 15 at Upper Centennial Hall at 6:30 p.m.
However, they’re not just looking for actors.
“One thing I want to [emphasize] is the importance of crew,” said Butler. “If people are interested in being around the stage but don’t want to get on the stage, running crew is an excellent place to start and it’s an excellent way to help out.”
Running crew is the people responsible for changing the sets between scenes. Butler is also looking for a stage manager. He said there will be other volunteer opportunities such as helping to hang lights and build sets.
Butler knows a thing or two about working behind the scenes — he grew up on Saltspring Island and was immersed in its theatre community, doing everything from working backstage to controlling lights and sound. He has acted on stage, too, performing with KLP for the first time in its production of The Foursome by Norm Foster.
And while this may be his directorial debut in Lake Cowichan, Butler is no stranger to sitting in the director’s chair. Last year with Shawnigan Players, Butler directed the award-winning Jack and Jill by Jane Martin.
“I like directing. I’m always interested in it,” he said. “When I did Jack and Jill, I joked that previously I played a sociopathic murderer [on stage] so directing was a natural progression for me.”
With a small cast of nine, Butler will be able to provide more individual direction to his cast members than he’d be able to with a large production last this year’s Annie.
He said the theatre group is hoping to put on two or three productions each year, with at least one of them being something that more kids can get involved with, like musicals or children’s plays.
“We just want to get a good mix of what’s up there in terms of getting as many people involved as possible,” he said.
The Regifters will open in late November.