Qualicum Bay Theatre Group in the news...

by  Lissa Alexander - Parksville Qualicum Beach News
posted Apr 10, 2014 at 10:00 AM
What a great new addition to the community.

It was my first time to a production by the Qualicum Bay Theatre Group (the group's second performance), at the Lighthouse Community Hall Saturday night.

I have to admit I wasn't sure what to expect: a great big hall for a venue; a small, new theatre group with a number of first-time performers, and the director was also leading the catering for the dinner theatre show....

But I was pleasantly surprised. The organizers created a small intimate space within the hall to accommodate the sold-out show called Tea-A-Ria, and although it could have been more lavishly decorated, it served its purpose. (And proceeds from the shows are going to improving the lighting and sets).

The food came out promptly and the casual servers were attentive and friendly. The food was good; the salad fresh, the lasagna hot and flavourful and the gelato dessert, a nice touch.

The Jazzervoir Dogs, a quintet of talented young men from KSS’ music program, were thoroughly entertaining during dinner service.

The actors really set the mood. They were funny and seemed at ease, and the play—written by the director's friend in the States (Laurie Nienhaus)—was sweet and snappy. The story surrounds a young American Italian woman Leonie Palazatto, who decides to open a teahouse, much to the dismay of her Italian family, although of course they still love and support her. The family members are more interested in wine, liquor and meat-filled sandwiches, rather than tea and scones.

Jane C was a convincing young shop owner, polished and earnest and often embarrassed by her overbearing family.

I loved Justina Ekl in her role as Enza Malandra the “wanton hussy" with her New York accent and sassy comments to the crowd about poor hair styles and decor.

Donna Prima, who was also the director and caterer, really brought her old, crazy, italian grandmother character to life, and the crowd loved her. Similarly Terri Petz played her character, a dramatic Italian Aunt named Sabina, with style and ease. Enza was having an affair with Aunt Sabina’s husband and the two make a nice scene during tea service.

Geoff Barnum was a nice fit for the over-protective family friend, who had clearly fallen for Leonie. Community theatre veteran Gerry Fraser was solid in his role as an English patron who tries to reason with his wife to vacate the erratic tea house. But Barbara St. James, played superbly by Lifetime Echo Player’s member Dori McGarrigle, was thrilled to be watching a live soap opera—as were the rest of us.

Hats off to Sheena McCorquodale the producer and founding member of the theatre group.

There was also an afternoon matinee that ran Sunday afternoon with lunch.

Check out the Lighthouse Community Hall’s website for details on the next show, which will be the culmination of an improv acting workshop put on by local theatre guru Thea Stavroff. www.communityhall.ca.


Cast members act out a scene from Tea-A-Ria playing this weekend in Qualicum Bay. From left: Donna Prima, director and also playing Nona Lena; Justina Ekl playing Enza Malandra and Teri Petz playing Aunt Sabina.— Image Credit: Lissa Alexander Photo

Lissa Alexander - Parksville Qualicum Beach News
posted Apr 1, 2014 at 9:00 AM


Attend a play in Qualicum Bay this weekend and you’ll be transported to New York in the 1940s, having a meal with an Italian Family, and you may just find yourself laughing out loud.

The interactive dinner theatre comedy is called Tea-A-Ria and it’s being presented by the Qualicum Bay Theatre Group this Saturday night, April 5 and Sunday afternoon, April 6.

The play was written by Laurie Nienhaus, a friend of director Donna Prima, whom she met while living in the United States.

“It was a show we performed down there for nearly a year and it’s such a fun show I wanted to put it on here.”

The play surrounds a traditional Italian family in which the grand daughter decides to open a tea room. The whole family interferes with her plans and hilarity ensues, Prima explained. The show involves some British tourists, an organized crime-linked bodyguard and a seductive hussy.

Rather than perform up on stage, the actors will be mingling amongst the dinner tables where guests will be dining.

Members of the theatre group are preparing lasagna, garlic bread and salad on Saturday evening and guests that night will also enjoy a gelato-style dessert and tea or coffee. Beer and wine will also be available. On Sunday, ticket holders will get an Italian platter with bruschetta. There will also be a gluten-free alternative.

Music will be performed by the KSS Jazz Band’s The Jazzavoir Dogs, who will be dressed up and performing old jazzy standards.

This is the second show The Qualicum Bay Theatre Group has put on since forming last year. Prima said she thinks people will like the show because it’ll be out of the ordinary for most folks.

“It’s gonna be a different experience, (the guests) are supposed to be made to feel like they are part of the excitement.”

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday night and dinner service starts at 6 p.m. The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 including dinner.

On Sunday lunch will be served at 1 p.m. and the matinee show starts at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 including lunch. Get tickets ahead of time only, find them at the Salish Sea Market and the Georgia Park Store in Bowser, The Shoe Inn in Qualicum Beach and Mulberry Bush Bookstores in Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

The theatre group’s next endeavour will be a four-week improv acting course at the Lighthouse Community Centre, culminating in a improv comedy theatre night.

Stay tuned for more details on that event coming up in The NEWS.

The Lighthouse Community Hall is located at 240 Lions Way in Qualicum Bay. For more on the hall visit:



Treating serious subject matter with some laughs
by  Brenda Gough - Parksville Qualicum Beach News
posted Feb 20, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Lenny Low as Ed the jailbird got the laughs rolling in Pen Pals, one of five skits presented in Opened Mail February 15. The inaugural production of the Qualicum Bay Theatre Group also included a scrumptious dinner buffet and live music.— Image Credit: Brenda Gough Photo

The premiere of the Qualicum Bay Theatre Group’s production of Opened Mail on Saturday  night offered eccentric characters, plenty of laughs, delightful music and a delicious meal.

Anyone who has attended a fringe festival where nothing is censored and no one is too concerned about racy content would have appreciated the show.

Directed by Donna Prima and produced by Sheena McCorquodale, the five short sketches on the newly-renovated stage of Lighthouse Community Hall were well received.

Opened Mail by American playwright Jules Taska is based on a collection of exchanged letters.

Because not every actor had their lines memorized it was a perfect first production for some of the less-experienced members of the cast who occasionally had to read from their letters to stay on track.

A wide range of issues were explored in the humorous and quirky sketches and there was live piano music to set the tone between each skit.

Donna Gladstone and Lenny Low were the first act on stage and presented sincere performances in Pen Pals.  They brought to life some letters written between a naive woman and a prison inmate in jail for shooting a man in the butt when he caught him in bed with his woman.

Musician Bob Steele performed a solid rendition of the Johnny Cash hit Folsom Prison Blues to set the mood of the skit.

Teri Petz and Anthony James were convincing in War Is Annoying.  The letters from a neurotic mother to her son who was serving in Iraq with the U.S. Army dealt with some serious subject matter.  But the audience couldn’t help but laugh out loud over the underlying comedic punches that resonated throughout the piece.

Switching Rooms which portrayed bickering nuns proved a little tricky for Valerie Stewart who played Sister Mary Fryer.  During one of her tongue wags to Sister Agnes Henny played by Heather Keller, she couldn’t find her lines but she handled the glitch with humour and class.

The production reached a high point with solid performances by Jane C and Dion Owen in Postcards From Sicily.

The letters about the hair-raising misadventures of a couple on vacation in Italy included a mafia dust-up, a goat being killed, time spent in an Italian jail with no flushing toilet and a constipated golfer.

Both actors convincingly portrayed their quirky characters.

The theatrics took a crazy turn in the final sketch Fairy Tale Mail.  The twisted ménage of familiar fairy tale characters included Cinderella performed by Donna Gladstone, Sheena McCorquodale as Snow White, Lenny Low as Hansel and Geoff Barnum as Red Riding Hood.

The confessions, declarations of love, secrets revealed and kinky hanky panky presented by this dysfunctional group of characters had a happy ending but one the Brothers Grimm likely would not have predicted.

The evening was a successful blending of many elements; a delicious meal with live music by Peter Mason and Bev Finch and quality performances in a venue that has come a long way since it  opened 30 years ago.

The theatre group will be putting on a second dinner theatre show featuring an Italian menu on April 5.

Tea-A-Ria written by Laurie Nienhaus is a comedy set in the late 1940’s and will have audience interaction.

For more information about the events visit www.communityhall.ca and find the group’s Facebook page called Qualicum Bay Theatre Group.

pqb news  feb 10 2014
New group presents dinner theatre 
Clockwise from top left, Sheena McCorquodale, Donna Gladstone, Anthony James, Valerie Stewart and Heather Keller are all acting in Opened Mail, presented by the Qualicum Bay Theatre Group Feb. 15 at the Lighthouse Community Hall.— Image Credit: LISSA ALEXANDER PHOTO
by  Lissa Alexander - Parksville Qualicum Beach News
posted Feb 6, 2014 at 9:00 AM


A new theatre group in Qualicum Bay is offering an evening of entertainment Feb. 15 promising laughter, dinner, beverages and live music.

The Qualicum Bay Theatre Group was formed by members of the Lighthouse Community Hall Society. They are presenting their premiere show Opened Mail next Saturday night at the Lighthouse Community Hall, which is a collection of short sketches based on exchanged letters. The theatre group will be putting on its second show, Tea-A-Ria on April 5.

“I think anybody who appreciates humour will enjoy both {productions},” said Teri Petz, who is acting in both shows and also does some promotional work for the group. “Opened Mail is satirical and Tea-A-Ria is a perfect portray of cultural clashes.”

Petz hails from Hungary where she used to be heavily involved in theatre. Although she took a rather long hiatus (around 30 years) she said it was on her bucket list to get back into theatre, so she auditioned for the upcoming performances. She plays the neurotic mother of a soldier in Opened Mail and a dramatic Italian busy-body in Tea-A-Ria.

Sheena McCorquodale said when she and some others in the Society announced they were looking for people in the community to start up a community theatre group she thought they would get around 12 people. But 38 people showed up for the meet and greet and now 62 people are registered.

“I was blown away,” McCorquodale said. “There is obviously a strong interest.”

Donna Prima is directing both shows, a veteran of theatre who has won awards for directing, acting and producing in the past. She is a founding member of the Orpheus Players in Fort Myers Beach, Florida and the Attic Theatre Society on Lasqueti Island.

She said she chose the play Opened Mail because she has experience with the production and it’s a good introduction to theatre for those without much acting experience. It’s also very funny, she said. The five short sketches include one called Switching Rooms involving two nuns.

“These two nuns are in moral combat over switching their rooms they have been in for over 40 years,” she said.

The evening ends with a “fairytale menage” which Prima describes as  “racey” involving Cinderella, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel.

There will be live piano music between skits by local musician Bob Steele. Dinner takes place before the show at 6 p.m. and features organic and locally grown items. A salad will be served and then a choice of chicken or prawns for the main course, followed by dessert. The food is being catered by a local professional chef. The play will begin around 7 p.m.

Advance tickets for the show are $25, and they will be $30 at the door. Tickets include dinner and beverages will be available at the bar.

Tea-A- Ria will be another night of dinner theatre in April, this time with audience interaction and an Italian menu. Get tickets for Opened Mail at The Salish Sea Market and The Georgia Park Store in Bowser, The Shoe Inn in Qualicum Beach, and both Mulberry Bush Book Stores in Qualicum Beach and Parksville.


Bash in Lighthouse Country

Sheena McCorquodale, with the Lighthouse Community Centre Society, has been spearheading a major renovation at the community hall for the upcoming 30th anniversary party this weekend.   - Brenda Gough Photo
Sheena McCorquodale, with the Lighthouse Community Centre Society, has been spearheading a major renovation at the community hall for the upcoming 30th anniversary party this weekend. 
— Image Credit: Brenda Gough Photo

The Lighthouse Community Hall has seen many celebrations over its thirty years in Qualicum Bay and this weekend a big party is being held to honour those who had the foresight and spirit to build the facility three decades ago.

The 30th anniversary bash includes a dance Saturday, October 19 with the Maloomba Boogie Band.  On Sunday, October 20 there will be an afternoon tea dance with Bill Cave and Co.

Sheena McCorquodale with the Lighthouse Community Centre Society said the old hall is showing her age so there have been some work bees to spruce up the hall for the anniversary bash.

She said the society is hoping the renovations and future upgrades will make the hall more attractive and generate more bookings.

"This hall is under-utilized.  We had 44 Saturdays last year that were not rented and our rates are amazing for a 5000 sq. ft. dance floor."

One of the projects McCorquodale has been passionate about is the revamping of the stage.  She said they have tossed the crunchy faded orange curtains and are about to hang some brand new custom made theatre curtains.

As well, the existing ceiling was removed and a new 13 foot ceiling has been installed.

"It is exciting.  We are now going to have a functioning theatre."

She said not only will the acoustics improve, so will the lighting and eventually they will have a green room and a costume area.

"My big dream is to have a dinner theatre.  We want to hear from people who are interested in starting a community theatre group because we now have a multi-function stage suitable for theatrical productions," she explained.

McCorquodale said they now have a box-office in their foyer but there are even bigger plans for the front entrance.

"A number of ideas will be presented and we will be looking at different options for creating a new entrance."

Plans include an adopt a door project where digital images of trees and scenery from the local area will be placed on existing doors and sponsors will get their names imbedded on the photos.

She said shrubs have been removed outside and will be replaced with native plants, driftwood and boulders to create a West coast themed landscape.

"There is a two-pronged goal for the entrance.  We want it to reflect the fact that it is a community hall situated between the ocean and the forest and then number two that it will be an attractive backdrop for photo opportunities and be distinctive for this area."

She said they will also be putting in a history wall in the front foyer to commemorate those who helped build the hall.

Back in 1980, the Qualicum Bay Lions Club saw the need for a Community Centre in Qualicum Bay. Two Lions members who approached other local organizations with their vision spearheaded the project and a committee was formed that turned the vision into a reality.

The Qualicum Bay Lions Club received several grants, which equaled approximately half of the building cost of the Community Centre project. The community raised the rest of the funds by selling bricks in the hall, firewood, holding raffles, garage sales and an auction. The labour to build the hall came mainly from the sweat and hard work of many volunteers.

McCorquodale said although some of those who helped build the hall are now deceased, they are hoping relatives will bring old photos to the Sunday tea.

"We will have a room at the tea dance with photo albums and we encourage people to relive the memories and bring photos of people who helped build the hall."