The Chilliwack Players Guild will be bringing another installment of its ever popular British Pub Nights to the Cultural Centre stage starting next week.
The show, Cool Britannia, features a musical and comical foray back to Britain’s psychedelic ’60s.
This will be the 27th version of British Pub Nights, a confirmation of their tremendous popularity with local theatre patrons.
Director Clint Hames has been involved in the production for several years.
“If you study comedy, there’s really two kind of styles of English language comedy. There’s the American style and British comedy,” says Hames. “American comedy takes absurd situations and makes them funny. British comedy is different — it takes absurd situations and tries to make them normal.”
“I really like the juxtaposition of British comedy where they normalize absurdity instead of ‘absurdifying’ normalcy,” he says with a laugh.
Hames has been working closely with musical director, Judy Hill, to figure out which skits will be performed and how best they flow together. They’ve worked together on British Pub Nights and other musicals about 10 times.
“The skits are ones that we’ve seen or found. Sometimes we write them — some of the news snippets are ones we’ve written,” says Hames.
One of Hames’ favourite skits is called ‘Crossed Lines’, where the audience hears one side of two separate phone conversations, but the two conversations hilariously mesh together.
Along with Monty Python-esque skits, audience members will be treated to the best of Chilliwack’s own Judy Tuesday, the Chilliwack Players Guild’s official pit band.
Hames really has his hands full since he’s directing and playing in the band which will be onstage throughout Cool Britannia, and play several times during the show. He admits it is a bit distracting to juggle directing and playing in the band at the same time.
Judy Tuesday band members rehearse separately on the side. The group consists of Judy Hill (keyboard), Stu Coleman (bass), Phil Mulholland (drums), and Hames (guitar). They have been together for a few years, and will be playing music by The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Gerry and The Pacemakers, and Dusty Springfield.
“1960s music, especially The Beatles, was the soundtrack of my teenage years,” says Hill, who also sings in the band. “For many people, including me, it began to drive a deep interest in music and the arts in general. The band is made up of people from this generation.”
“I believe all of us were touched by music in the same way,” Hames adds. “We have held many of the songs we perform with some kind of special reverence, wishing to replicate them as accurately as we can.”
The play features a cast of 17, plus the four-member band, and a crew of about 20. Cool Britannia is produced by Laura Hames.
The Chilliwack Players Guild has been offering its British Pub Night for more than 40 years. It used to be an annual production, but now it’s performed every other year.
The performance is done pub-style where the flat-floor seating area is set up with several cabaret tables, each with four seats. The audience can drink beer while enjoying the show. They’re also serving a pub lunch during intermission.
“We’ve never used really large venues,” says Hames, adding that their largest crowd was about 200 people. Typical crowds now are 150.
Cool Britannia runs July 6-15 in the Rotary Theatre at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. Show times are: July 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15 at 7:30 p.m., plus a matinee Sunday, July 9 at 2 p.m.
All tickets are $25 and include a pub-style lunch. Tickets available at 604-391-7469, chilliwackculturalcentre.ca, or at the Centre Box Office at 9201 Corbould St.