If comedy is what people want, comedy’s what they’ll get.
This has become a rallying cry for Surrey-based Royal Canadian Theatre Company, which promises to bring “all comedy, all the way” to the stage over the next few years.
“We listened to what people tell us they want to see on stage,” said Ellie King, the company’s managing artistic director, “and they’ve told us very clearly that comedy – especially given all the dire news right now – is their number-one choice, and so that’s what we’re going to do.”
Fittingly, the company has planned a night of standup comedy to raise funds for its youth mentorship program.
An “All in Good Fund” event is set for Wednesday, Sept. 25 at Elements Casino in Cloverdale, starting at 7 p.m. The benefit show will be headlined by comedy pro Simon King, who happens to be Ellie King’s son.
The fundraiser will be staged just a few weeks before Royal Canadian launches its 2019-20 theatre season with a production of Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web, billed as “a humorous murder mystery” on the company’s website (rctheatreco.com). The pre-Halloween show creeps into New Westminster’s Anvil Centre from Oct. 18 to 20 before shifting to Surrey Arts Centre on Oct. 25 and 26.
Other shows in Royal Canadian’s upcoming theatre season include Snow White, another Ellie King-written pantomime, in December and spring dates for Norm Foster’s Screwball Comedy. Play rehearsals are held at the company’s studio space at 10660 City Parkway, Surrey.
The company’s youth mentorship program, meanwhile, is a chance for kids to improve their co-ordination, build literacy skills, get a physical workout, make lifelong friends, become part of a fun and creative team and also show what they’ve learned in front of thousands of people, according to King.
“The program does all of this and more – often helping kids with issues such as anxiety, those on the spectrum or with behavioural problems,” she said.
Each year, RCTC brings a group of youngsters into this program, which is free for participants. All expenses – “venue rentals alone are in excess of $20,000,” King says – are paid for by RCTC.
“And because the program is free,” she explained, “it means that there need be no financial or any other barriers for kids to participate, making it open to all. RCTC embraces diversity in all areas. But in order to keep the program running, RCTC is raising funds the best way they know how: by bringing entertainment to the stage.”
Simon King’s credits include national television appearances on Comedy Network, CBC, CTV and other networks, radio play on both terrestrial and satellite stations, and shows at comedy festivals across North America.
“Simon will have a guest with him, and together they will bring us an exceptional, hilarious, side-splitting evening of entertainment,” Ellie King promised.
Meantime, the Fraser Valley Comedy series continues at Elements Casino with a Sept. 7 show featuring John Beuhler, Gina Harms and Ryan Gunther, with guest performers Denis Dos Santos, James Brown, Lisa Person and Tim Charles. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $10 plus service fees.