The Quebec Art Company celebrates its 30th anniversary

“There’s No Business Like Show Business”

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Photo: Isabelle Soucy Chartier

Past and present members of the Quebec Art Company celebrate together

The stage of Espace St. Michael was alive with the sound of music and the scene of a great party last Friday evening attended by past and present members of the Quebec Art Company as they got together to celebrate their 30th Anniversary.

QAC President, Cheryl Rimmer, welcomed all those present who have worked so hard over the years, whether back stage or on stage, to ensure good quality amateur theatre in Quebec City. Rimmer also a read a list of Art Company foibles and fond memories over the years.
Previous President, Anne Chapman, read the names of QAC members who once graced the stage who passed away in recent years: Jack Odgers, Allen Petryk, Ron Smith, Lorne Wheeler and Chris Yarwood.

Musical excerpts from various past productions were performed, such as "Company Tonight" from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, by Guy Peron and Peter Calkin; "Get Me to the Church on Time" from My Fair Lady by Larry Hodgson, Peter and Jonathan Black; "There is Nothing Like a Dame" by a bevy of bare-chested sailors from the cast of South Pacific; and a hilarious rendition of "Honeybun" also from South Pacific by Sharon MacLeod and Larry Hodgson. We were also treated to a sneak preview of "Sue Me" sung by Laura Palladino and J.P. Chartier from the upcoming production of Guys and Dolls.

Comic touches livened the evening as Alec Roberts, as Teddy from the QAC's 2006 production of Arsenic and Old Lace, "charged" across the stage blowing his trumpet every time someone said the word "charge," and perennial backstage prop man, John Dickinson, repeatedly stumbled and bumbled across the stage with a tray full of bottles and glasses . . . at the wrong time.

Finally, the entire audience was invited to join in a rousing sing-along rendition of "There's No Business Like Show Business" from Irving Berlin's musical of the same name.

Since the Quebec Art Company was founded it has produced over 40 shows. It is the longest running English amateur theatre company in Quebec City. For the past thirty years the community has come together and offered their talent, time and love of theatre to make productions possible. Offering a wide variety of English theatre ranging from popular musicals to original plays, they perform at least two productions to the community each year.

One of the QAC's founding members, Hugh Bignell, explained that there had been a group called the Quebec Art Theatre that presented shows in the early 1950s and 60s. He recalled having been in its first production, The Ninth Guest, that was presented in Chalmers-Wesley's church hall in 1954. That troupe eventually dissolved and after many years with no active English theatre in Quebec City, the Quebec Art Company was founded in 1981. Bignall was the Pirate King in the QAC's premier performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance. In following years they performed The Mikado, HMS Pinafore, and Brigadoon, before moving on to other musicals such The Music Man, and Anne of Green Gables.

In the fall of 1988, the company started presenting dramatic plays such as Witness for the Prosecution, Run for your Wife, Charley's Aunt and The Lion in Winter alternating with musical productions in the fall of every second year. Among the most recent productions have been such favourites as Oklahoma!, Harvey, South Pacific and Murder on the Nile.

The QAC is presently in rehearsal for Guys and Dolls that will be presented from December 1 to 4 at Holland Elementary School auditorium. Tickets will go on sale in November. Be sure not to miss this great musical theatre production about what happens to gambling men and the women who long to tame them. Set in the colourful world of New York City in the mid 20th century, the romantic and funny Guys And Dolls is populated with gangsters and gamblers, missionaries and scantily clad showgirls, and has one of the greatest musical scores in the history of American theatre.