New Westminster’s Vagabond Players must be doing something right, as this is their 77th season. I just attended their production of Fawlty Towers, written by the legendary team of John Cleese and Connie Booth. The play features three of the original twelve television episodes: Gourmet Night, Waldorf Salad and The Germans. Director Casey Por has done an excellent job of adapting the television series for the stage.
When I entered the old, intimate 150 seat theatre, I saw what looked to be a cardboard mock of a car sitting in front of the stage and I knew I was in for a good time (fans of the show will understand). The time is 1975 and the setting is a poorly run small hotel in the seaside town of Torquay in Devon, along the southern coast of England.
All but the main characters play three roles; one in each episode. The show is well cast, with a few minor deviations from the television series. My only criticism, is that the company needs some help with its costuming, especially when trying to dress taller men. So come and meet, or more likely, reacquaint yourself with Basil, Sybil, Manuel, Polly and the various other wonderfully wacky characters that stayed at Fawlty Towers. I guarantee you an afternoon, or an evening, full of laughs.
The Vagabond Players have a great crew of volunteers who make sure things run smoothly in the theatre, from greeting and seating customers, handing out the programs, running the concession and all the important things that happen backstage. Remember to bring some cash and take part in their 50/50 draw to help support the organization.
The Bernie Legge Theatre is a great place to see a play. Because of its age, you feel like you are stepping back in time and because of its small size, you are never far from the stage. Because of its location, it is pleasant to walk around the park either pre or post performance.
As my friend Frank described it, “In a backwater street within Queens Park in New Westminster, is a playhouse that seems as old as the park itself and it has been established as a mecca for those enjoying stage plays that are acted, and played, with a gusto of youth and energy that endears viewers. The trilogy presently produced exemplifies these characteristics with the romp and comic dialogue of the original television shows as the foundations upon which to display their talents. The playhouse is, as is the talent, a gem.”
Fawlty Towers, runs until June 21 at the Bernie Legge Theatre in Queens Park, New Westminster.