Month: October 2018

Dark comedy offers challenge to returning Langley actor [LAT]

By Roxanne Hooper

October 24, 2018
[ click to read at their site]

Dark comedy offers challenge to returning Langley actor

A local actor steps back on stage in Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s showing of Arsenic and Old Lace.

Theatre was been a part of Shaun McHale’s world for much of his life, and he thanks his late grandma for making that so.

As a boy growing up in White Rock, his grandmother would volunteer at the local playhouse at least twice a month, and he’d be invited to tag along.

He’d always sneak in to watch the play of the day. Needless to say the action on and off stage resonated with young Shaun, and by age 13 he was cast in his first lead role as Horton in Suessical: The Musical.

“I found it was a really good way to express my creativity and curb my excess energy,” said Shaun, now 28.

Following that first production, he immersed himself in pantomimes and musicals for years, with both the Surrey Youth Theatre and White Rock Players. He even went to acting school in Vancouver a few years back.

But following the passing of his grandmother, Terry McHale, about three years ago he opted to step back from theatre for a while – instead focusing on his paying gig as a full-time landscaper.

It’s his girlfriend, Amy Goheen, he said who can be credited for pulling him back into the theatrical world – and specifically into the world of the Royal Canadian Theatre Company.

It was a chance to share more time with Goheen, who is assistant stage manager on the current production. But it was also Joseph Kesselring’s script and the “ridiculous characters” that ultimately compelled Shaun to audition for the RCTC’s production of Arsenic and Old Lace.

It’s nice to be back in theatre again, Shaun said, admitting he missed it more than he realized.

Shaun has taken on the minor role as Officer Pat Brophy, an Irish cop in Brooklyn in the 1940s. He’s only on stage at the beginning and end of the show.

“It’s a bit of something new for me,” said the young man who lives on the Langley-Surrey border and is aspiring to become a mental health and addictions counselor.

Describing his character, Shaun said Officer Brophy is not the “sharpest tool in the shed.” But in looking for personality parallels, he said they both share a good sense of humour and “we both enjoy having a good time with loved ones and friends.”

It’s the differences between them, he said, that are motivating him to test himself and grow as an actor.

He’s never done a dark comedy before, and finds the new role challenging. But at the same time, he said, it’s incredibly rewarding, especially under the direction of fellow Langleyite Ellie King.

Shaun said he’s looking forward to it, his uncle, step-father, and brother are expected to be in the audience.

“The show will split your sides and rupture your spleen. It’s a dark comedy you don’t want to miss,” he said, attempting to convince other theatre goers to attend this weekend’s showings.

“You’ll be totally entertained. I think you’ll enjoy every minute of it,” Shaun concluded.

More Press:

Photos included, if any, originally supplied by The Royal Canadian Theatre Company unless credited to the specific publication.

Articles quoted with full attribution under fair use doctrine. The link to the original publication may be deleted by the original publisher. This is beyond the control of RCTC.

Photo Credit:

Playing foes in Arsenic and Old Lace [SNL]

By Tom Zillich

October 22, 2018
[ click to read at their site]

Battling Brewsters: In Surrey, married pair enjoy the thrill of playing foes in ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’

Michael and Jacqueline Charrois hit the stage together in Royal Canadian’s dark comedy

You’d never guess it by their work as adversaries in Arsenic and Old Lace, Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s entertaining current production, but Michael and Jacqueline Charrois really do like to play together.

The 80-year-old black comedy features the married pair in starring roles – Michael as Jonathan Brewster, the evil nephew opposite Jacqueline’s aunt Martha Brewster, one of the twisted sisters in Joseph Kesselring’s story of murder, insanity and family infighting at a Brooklyn mansion.

The play, RCTC’s season-opener, was staged at New Westminster’s Anvil Centre late last week, and is brought to Surrey Arts Centre for a trio of shows this Friday and Saturday (Oct. 26-27).

As a married couple, Michael and Jacqueline relish the opportunity to hit the stage together.

“Michael and I, we always have fun playing together on stage – it’s just easy, you know,” Jacqueline said in a conference-call interview with the two on Friday, the morning after Arsenic and Old Lace previewed in New West.

“When you’re on stage, there’s a definite familiarity, even though you’re playing different characters every time out. There are times when I go, ‘Oh, you’re doing that little trick!’ And that’s the familiarity we have.”

Michael and Jacqueline met at the Burr Theatre in New Westminster in 2003 while working on a production of Harvey, and have gone on to act together in close to a dozen plays.

Michael is a full-time actor, while Jacqueline recently retired from her job in the commercial real estate business – “not as a seller but as an administrator,” she noted. They live in North Vancouver, and commute regularly to Royal Canadian’s rehearsal studio in the heart of Whalley.

“We’ve done that for the last two or three years, quite a bit,” explained Jacqueline, noting a long history with Ellie King, the theatre company’s artistic director.

“Michael was already involved in her (shows) at the Burr Theatre when I came aboard, and right away, (King) was so nice – a wonderful, welcoming, warm person and highly creative, so it’s just a thrill to work with her so often.”

In conversation, Michael and Jacqueline finish each other’s sentences. In one sequence, Michael started. “Jacqueline, Steve Weller and myself, two seasons ago, played the cousins in It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, and Ellie liked the… “…chemistry between the three of us,” Jacqueline said without missing a beat. Michael continued. “And when it came to this play she said, ‘Oh, you guys would be great as these three characters in (Arsenic and Old Lace). She always wanted to do that play…” “…which was great,” Jacqueline quickly added. “I saw the original movie, with Cary Grant, when I was a little kid – I’m over 60 now, but I saw that film and I’ve always just loved it, always. So this is a role I’ve always wanted to do, so I was very excited when Ellie mentioned it.”

In Royal Canadian’s version, Weller wears dresses and a wig to play Abby Brewster, Martha’s sister. Together, they work to poison visitors who happen upon their home, much to the horror of their nephew Mortimer (played by Steven Simpson), a theatre critic. When his long-lost brother Jonathan shows up with an uneasy plastic surgeon (Kurtis Maguire), things get even darker in a house with a jet-black secret.

Last Thursday’s show included a hiccup with an old phone that just wouldn’t ring properly – but no problem, just on with the show. “When we were backstage and waiting to go on for the second act, and Ellie commented (to the audience) about it being a preview and how the phone didn’t ring properly, that was lovely because it brings the audience in, and the audience knows, right,” Jacqueline said. “It’s just that acknowledgement, and gives them a good laugh. It’s some insight about the show, and it’s real. That’s the thing today, because a lot of people who go to theatre don’t realize that we only get one shot at this, we don’t get to stop and say, ‘OK, let’s take that again,’ like they do on TV and in the movies. So it’s all what’s happening now, at that moment, and if something goes wrong, well OK, you have to deal with it.” Added Michael, with a laugh: “And that’s why we study improvisation, so we can fly by the seat of our pants.”

Other actors featured in RCTC’s Arsenic and Old Lace include Charles Buettner (as Harper/Rooney), Victor Vander Merwe (Teddy), Shaun McHale (Brophy), Kyle Brogan (Klein), Amanda Prasow (Elaine), Jess Redmond (O’Hara) and Rob Larsen (Gibbs/Witherspoon).

The show comes with an audience advisory of some slightly scary situations, and is suitable for older children.

More Press:

Photos included, if any, originally supplied by The Royal Canadian Theatre Company unless credited to the specific publication.

Articles quoted with full attribution under fair use doctrine. The link to the original publication may be deleted by the original publisher. This is beyond the control of RCTC.

Photo Credit:

Arsenic and Old Lace [NWR]

By Staff Reporter

October 3, 2018
[ click to read at their site]

Classic comedy Arsenic and Old Lace coming to Anvil Centre

A classic black comedy is coming to the stage at Anvil Centre this month.

The Royal Canadian Theatre Company is staging Arsenic and Old Lace in New Westminster from Oct. 18 to 20, followed by shows at the Surrey Arts Centre Oct. 26 and 27.

The play – best known from the 1944 Frank Capra film, starring Cary Grant – tells the story of Mortimer Brewster, a happy man who heads home to announce his engagement to his family. But there’s a catch: his family is, well, crazy. And in his attempt to keep his fiancée safe from his homicidal aunts, an uncle who believes he’s Teddy Roosevelt and another who doesn’t look quite like he used to, Mortimer starts to lose his own sanity.

The Royal Canadian Theatre Company production features a return of the trio of Steve Weller, Michael Charrois and Jacqueline Becher, who were a hit in the theatre company’s 2016 production of It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.

It also includes the talents of two New Westminster actors: Kurtis Maguire, who plays Dr. Einstein, and Rob Larsen, who plays Mr. Gibbs and Mr. Witherspoon. Steven Simpson is Mortimer, and Amanda Prasow is his fiancée, Elaine.

More Press:

Photos included, if any, originally supplied by The Royal Canadian Theatre Company unless credited to the specific publication.

Articles quoted with full attribution under fair use doctrine. The link to the original publication may be deleted by the original publisher. This is beyond the control of RCTC.

Photo Credit:

Bowling Fundraiser 2019

Bowling Fundraiser!

Tuesday, November 20, 6-9pm
Dell Lanes, 10576 King George Boulevard, Surrey, BC  [Location Map]
Royal Canadian Theatre Company is hosting a Bowling Night at Dell Lanes in Surrey on November 20th. This fundraiser will help raise money for RCTC’s upcoming Pantomime, their March production and make improvements to the studio. Not only will you be helping raise money for a local theatre company, you will have pizza, wings and 3 hours of bowling!

  • One Large Three topping pizza and 1 pound of chicken wings per lane
  • Shoe rental for all
  • 3 hours of fun!


  • Individuals: $20
  • Fun Pack (4 tickets on a shared lane): $60
  • Full Lane: (6 bowlers on a private lane): $95