Starting this week, Barkerville’s Theatre Royal will hit the road not only to entertain people, but also to bring hope to communities hard hit by wildfires in the last couple of years through song and dance.
Theatre Royal is embarking on a Phoenix Tour May 3-12 and recently received a $5,000 grant from the New Pathways to Gold Society (NPTGS) to help support the nine-show tour.
“We are delighted to help make this tour through the communities hardest hit by fires and flood over the past two seasons possible,” NPTGS co-chair Terry Raymond said in a press release. “Not only will these performances lift the spirits of local residents, they’ll allow each community to raise funds for its individual fire relief initiatives.”
The Phoenix Tour will give communities from Wells to Ashcroft a high-energy song and dance performance, connecting them to the spirit of resilience of previous generations of residents who rebounded from misfortune, rebuilt and prospered.
Producer Richard Wright of Theatre Royal and the Newman and Wright Theatre Company says the Phoenix Tour will show that the Cariboo is open for visitation, celebrating the region’s resilience. He says the show takes its inspiration in part from how Barkerville rebuilt following the disastrous fire of September 1868.
“Barkerville and many Interior communities have always risen from the ashes like the legendary Phoenix,” said Wright. “It’s especially appropriate that this year, we’re celebrating the 150th anniversary of the building of the Theatre Royal in Barkerville.”
The show’s core is a performance of “Mrs. McGinley’s Gold Rush Variety Show.” Set in 1869, the show features songs and dances suitable for the entire family. From farcical comedy to a poignant song from home to rousing dance numbers, the performance will bring audience members back to the heyday of Barkerville in the 1860s, presenting the kind of entertainment the miners enjoyed on the local stage.
“We have a talented, professional six-person troupe staging the show, and we greatly appreciate New Pathways to Gold Society’s financial support,” said Wright.
The Phoenix Tour begins May 3 in Wells with a 7:30 p.m. performance at the Sunset Theatre. From there, the tour travels to Prince George (May 5 at 1:30 p.m. at Northern FanCon), Burns Lake (May 6 at 7:30 p.m. at LDSS MPR), Vanderhoof (May 7 at 7 p.m. at NVSS), Fraser Lake (May 8 at 7 p.m.), Williams Lake (NCLGA one-hour performance on May 9), 100 Mile House (May 10 at 7 p.m. at the Martin Exeter Hall), Valemount (May 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Community Theatre) and Ashcroft (May 12 at 7 p.m. at the Ashcroft Hub).
“These local performances have tremendous power to bring people within the community together,” said NPTGS First Nations Co-Chair Cheryl Chapman. “They recall everyone to the things that unite them — a sense of community, of collective purpose and, most importantly, of collective action.”
Other sponsors of the Phoenix Tour include the Community Resilience Through Arts and Culture program (Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture), Barkerville Gold Mines, the Friends of Barkerville Cariboo Goldfields Historical Society, Barkerville Historic Town & Park and Frog on the Bog/Mountain Thyme/St. George Hotel.
For the latest news on performance dates and other information, visit the Theatre Royal Facebook page.