Hop aboard Car 2426 and take a CP Rail trip to Notch Hill circa 1890 with R.J. Haney Heritage Park and Museum’s Villains and Vittles Dinner Theatre.
Playwright/director Peter Blacklock has created another winning production with The Everlasting Railway Blues.
As always, he has managed to weave interesting nuggets of local history through a well-developed and amusing storyline.
When the railway drove in the last spike in 1885, did it stay in place, or did someone switch it out?
How disappointed was the landowner who bought a large parcel of land in Sunnybrae because he believed CP Rail would follow through on a plan to build a railway bridge across the lake from Canoe – more than 100 years ago?
Did Agnes, the wife of Canada’s first prime minister, ride the rails on a cow catcher at the front of the train so she could enjoy the scenery?
Meet Billy Miner, the habitual thief who came to B.C. to rob trains when stagecoaches went out of vogue during one of his stays in California’s San Quentin Penitentiary.
Find out where he died after drinking swamp water while on the run from another prison.
There’s much more to learn, accompanied by musical numbers, with the audience invited to join in one of the songs.
“The topic for the dinner theatre is always related in some way to the museum display that Deborah and her crew put together,” says Blacklock of curator Deborah Chapman’s new railway exhibition. “I research the topic to come up with interesting facts and bits of information and then try to include them in the story.”
Blacklock says the story is drafted prior to auditions, then redrafted to fit the skill set of the players. Songs come out of the situations of the play, becoming an integral part of the storyline.
As well as creating an enjoyable production, Blacklock has shown a talent for casting.
Emmy Sim, David Wray, Joy Peters and Alaura Bibby perform well together and on their own.
Sim, is a 2014 Salmon Arm Secondary grad with a year of psychology at Simon Fraser University completed.
She’ll be heading back to Vancouver in the fall, this time to Simon Fraser’s Contemporary School of Arts.
Not yet sure of what career path she wishes to follow, Sim has decided to see where theatre studies take her. In the meantime, the talented 19-year-old is enjoying being aboard The Everlasting Railway Blues.
“It’s fun. I like to get into different characters and the play is historically rich,” she says, applauding Salmon Arm Secondary’s drama program. “It’s very fun and very welcoming to anyone who wants to try theatre. No matter how outgoing or quiet you are, there’s a place for you.”
Also playing multiple characters, David Wray is back in Salmon Arm after teaching in Taiwan for two years and entering a Futures Studies program in Finland. The program brings together people from several different specialties such as anthropology, education, law and political life to help plan for businesses and citizens to create better or preferred futures.
Wray is planning to create, appear in and direct a television production, combining his love of education, acting, travel, people and technology.
“I’ve been at Haney before and loved working here, the property and learning about the history. One of the things we’re taught is you have to understand the past to orient the present, to better help determine the future,” says the 2008 SAS grad, who credits former teacher Cathy Hay with igniting his passion for theatre. “This show is fun. Peter is an excellent director and the cast is brilliant,” he says.
The two other members of the show include Joy Peters, who will be heading to UVic to pursue a degree in theatre, and Alaura Bibby, who recently returned from theatre school in Alberta.
While the play is definitely an integral part of the evening, the dinner is extremely popular with patrons of the family friendly show. A delicious roast pork dinner is served prior to the show and a mouth-watering rhubarb crisp follows the play. Wine is available for purchase.
The show runs Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays with check-in at 5:30 p.m. and dinner is served at 6. Reservations are a must and can be made at 250-832-5243. For more information on R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum at www.salmonarmmuseum.org.