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Another cool play slides onto the Chemainus Theatre stage

Actors take a shot at rock-solid curling comedy Hurry Hard

Hockey and curling aren’t subjects you typically see played out in storylines on stage in live theatre performances.

After all, the ice component or environment is obviously difficult to replicate.

But the Chemainus Theatre staff is never one to stand on its laurels or play it safe. Anything and everything is fair game and this latest production is a fine example.

Glory, the story of the Preston Rivulettes women’s ice hockey team from the 1930s, set the stage for the ice age in September of 2022 with a riveting account of a little-known piece of Canadiana. The hockey action sequences were brought to life with masterful choreography.

Related story: To the victor goes the Glory

Now we have curling in the spotlight as the theatre gets into the hack for its 30th anniversary season, although the actors emphasize the sport is merely a backdrop for a comedy of epic proportions.

Emma Rendell was one of the actors in Glory and she’s back to take a shot at Hurry Hard by Canadian playwright Kristen Da Silva.

“It’s amazing the parallels between the two,” said Rendell, 33. “It’s funny to be returning here again on ice. It’s like an unexpected niche I’ve fallen into.”

Rendell was born in Edmonton, grew up in South Surrey and just moved to Vancouver a year ago after living abroad for a while in London, England. She studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art for two years.

Rendell said acting has been in her blood from an early age.

“Ever since I was little – my parents are both in the arts and some of my siblings are in the arts – so it runs in the family.”

Rendell attended the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria when she was 17.

Returning to the Chemainus Theatre stage for a part in this clever comedy is exciting for Rendell.

“People who know curling will get a big kick out of it,” she said.

The theatre’s season sponsor, Brent Dellebuur of Duncan Iron Works, an avid curler, will surely be loving this.

However, don’t despair all you non-curlers. “The curling has honestly not that much to do with it, other than the setting,” said Rendell, who finds similarities between her character Sandy in this performance and her role as Hilda Ranscombe in Glory plus her own personality.

Veteran actor Raugi Yu as Bill Mead is making his Chemainus Theatre debut, although he’s well-known in the industry for his long career in film and TV. He also teaches and coaches actors and has been to the Chemainus Theatre before to see A Streetcar Named Desire many years ago and, more recently, Gaslight, last year.

“You try to diversify,” said Yu, 51, of his many roles in the industry.

He grew up in Montreal and took drama classes in Grades 7-8 .

“I fell in love and I never wanted to do anything else,” Yu said.

He graduated from Dawson College in Montreal and then moved west with further schooling at UBC in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program before branching out into many roles.

Yu said he’s even been recognized in Chemainus at Country Grocer and the Great Canadian Dollar Store during the lead-up to the start of Hurry Hard for his appearances in Hallmark movies on TV.

“If anyone Googles my name, you’ll see the Hallmark movies I’ve done,” he indicated.

Yu is also well-known for kids’ shows Mr. Young and Some Assembly Required.

He’s thrilled to now be acting at the Chemainus Theatre. “It’s a great company, great people – the people matter,” Yu said.

With Hurry Hard, “the whole play’s written so well,” he added. “The jokes are every 10 seconds, something funny is being said or happening, also not in a fluffy way.

“I think this play kind of has it all. There are some moments that are broader than others, something for everyone.”

Yu said his character Bill’s reality makes him funny and he’s still in love with his ex-wife of seven years.

“He’s a little bit emotionally stunted,” noted Yu. “He doesn’t like conflict, he’s got a lot of heart.”

That’s a total departure from the true Yu, he added.

“I’m super direct. I’m not afraid to show love. If I’m in those moments, I address it right away.”

Other cast members include: Sean Baker (Terry), Naomi Costain (Darlene) and Dylan Floyde (Johnny).

The play is directed by the Chemainus Theatre’s artistic director Mark DuMez. The rest of the creative team includes: set designer Hans Saefkow, costume designer Crystal Hanson, lighting designer Emily Trepanier, stage manager Melissa Cameron and assistant stage manager Katerina Sokyrko.

The setting is winter on a present day at a curling club in Stayner, Ontario.

The set looks a lot like the lobby of the Duncan Curling Club. Photos of past club presidents that hang in the background are representative of the curling club’s upper lounge except with Yu’s photo neatly tucked among them as the current president.

The play revolves around Sandy and Bill, a formerly married couple whose curling team split up when they did. Separated into a men’s team and a women’s team who begrudgingly share the ice at the local curling club, the two teams are set to compete in a big regional bonspiel against a neighbouring community. But a medical emergency leaves the men’s team one player short, and the two teams need to reconcile their differences to work as one if there’s any hope of taking home the trophy.

Hurry Hard is on until April 14. For tickets, call the theatre box office 1-800-565-7738 or click here.

Chemainus Theatre’s anniversary season continues with Jeeves at Sea (May 10-June 2), 9 to 5 The Musical (June 28-Aug. 25), The Piano Teacher (Sept. 27-Oct. 20), and Miss Bennet, Christmas at Pemberley (Nov. 22-Dec. 22).

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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