(WELLS) Like the legendary Phoenix, Cariboo communities have been through ordeal by fire and risen from the ashes to thrive again. So when Barkerville’s Theatre Royal decided to hit the road this spring for a series of rousing musical performances to celebrate the region’s resilience, there was really only one logical choice for a tour title.
The Phoenix Tour reaches back into our province’s past to give hope to present-day communities hard-hit by back-to-back, record-setting fire seasons. The Theatre Royal travelling troupe will give audiences from Wells to Ashcroft high-energy song and dance performances, connecting them to the spirit of resilience of previous generations of residents who rebounded from misfortune, rebuilt and prospered.
“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 Producer Richard Wright of Theatre Royal and the Newman & Wright Theatre Company.
“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.”
Wright says the May 4-14 tour will show the Cariboo is open for visitation and takes its inspiration in part from how Barkerville rebuilt following the disastrous fire of September 1868.
The parallels between that misfortune and the record-setting fire seasons of 2017 and 2018 are not lost on the residents of the Interior who are still rebuilding.
“The historic towns of Barkerville and Ashcroft have much in common, including a firsthand look at the devastation that fire can bring,” says Ashcroft Mayor Barbara Roden. “Like Barkerville, the community and the area have always rebounded.
“Since the wildfires of 2017, Ashcroft residents have worked to help our friends and neighbours who lost so much and strengthen the ties that bind us. Like the phoenix, we’ve risen from the ashes stronger than before and we look forward to the Phoenix Tour shining a spotlight on our town and bringing people together to enjoy a taste of our province’s past.”
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.
“We have a talented, professional six-person troupe staging the show and we greatly appreciate financial support from the Province of British Columbia and our sponsors,” said Wright.
Other sponsors include the Community Resilience Through Arts and Culture program (Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture), Barkerville Gold Mines, the New Pathways to Gold Society (NPTGS), the Friends of Barkerville Cariboo Goldfields Historical Society, Barkerville Historic Town & Park and Frog on the Bog/Mountain Thyme/St. George Hotel.
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. For more information, please visit the NPTGS website.