(WELLS) When Theatre Royal Producer Richard Wright suggested telling the rest of the province that Wells, Barkerville and the rest of the Cariboo was open for business, the locals told him to get outta town — in a nice way. They even helped pay Wright and his travelling troupe’s tickets so they could hit the road with their musical message of hope and resilience.
You might say they’re the wind beneath the wings of the Phoenix Tour, a series of rousing musical performances celebrating the region’s resilience in the face of back-to-back, record-setting fire seasons.
“We’ve received tremendous support from local sponsors — big ones like Barkerville Historic Town and Barkerville Gold Mines, but also from smaller businesses like Frog on the Bog Gifts, Mountain Thyme Guesthouse and the St. George Hotel,” says Wright of the Newman & Wright Theatre Company.
“The Friends of Barkerville have also contributed locally and we’ve received funding from other generous sponsors who have helped the Phoenix Tour take flight.”
The tour kicks off May 3 in Wells with a performance at the Sunset Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Admission is by donation and the show is sponsored by Barkerville Gold Mines. Other shows will be held in Prince George, Burns Lake, Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, Valemount and Ashcroft.
The tour features performances of “Mrs. McGinley’s Gold Rush Variety Show.” Set in 1869, it has songs and dances suitable for the entire family. From farcical comedy to a poignant song from home to stirring dance numbers, the performance will bring a smile to the faces of audience members and get their toes tapping.
In the ensemble cast, Amy Newman plays Mrs. McGinley, Simon Paterson is Major Downey, Theo Budd is Isaac Birch Fisher and Lucy Sim plays Miss Dolly Johns.
“I really appreciate the whole concept of the tour getting out there and helping communities recover from wildfires,” says sponsor Dave Jorgenson, who runs Frog on the Bog Gifts and the St. George Hotel.
“What the Phoenix Tour is doing is creating a sense of normalcy for people and saying, ‘get out there and enjoy life this summer.’ I think that’s an important message.”
Other sponsors include the Community Resilience Through Arts and Culture program (Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture) and the New Pathways to Gold Society.
“Barkerville and many Interior communities have always shown their resilience by rising from the ashes like the legendary Phoenix bird to rebuild and thrive,” said James Douglas, Public Programming and Global Media Development Lead for Barkerville Historical Town and Park.
“We wanted to send that message and it’s especially appropriate that, this year, we’re celebrating the 150th anniversary of the rebuilding of the Theatre Royal in Barkerville.”
May 3: Wells, Sunset Theatre 7:30 p.m.
May 5: Prince George, Northern FanCon, performance – 1:30 p.m.
May 6: Burns Lake, school show, Lakes District Secondary School MPR, 7:30 p.m.
May 7: Vanderhoof, school show, Nechako Valley Secondary School, 7:00 p.m.
May 8: Fraser Lake, 7:00 p.m.
May 9: Williams Lake, North Central Local Government Association (one hour performance)
May 10: 100 Mile House, Martin Exeter Hall, 7:00 p.m.
May 11: Valemount, Community Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
May 12: Ashcroft, Ashcroft Hub, 7:00 p.m.
For a sneak preview, check out this video clip of the 2017 performance of “Mrs. McGinley’s Gold Rush Variety Show” staged at Theatre Royal in Barkerville Historic Town & Park. For updates and other information, please visit the Theatre Royal Facebook page.
The project partners gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia.
Communications support for the tour is being provided by NPTGS, a non-profit organization committed to developing local economies in the Hope to Barkerville corridor through heritage tourism development, First Nations reconciliation and Multiculturalism.