British Pub Nights is back at the Cultural Centre.
The Chilliwack Players Guild (CPG) has been offering its British humour theatre production since 1976, and this year’s show — their 28th production — is called Pirate Radio.
Moving away from the classic Monty Python-esque skits and more into modern comedy, director Graham Archer is offering pieces from new-age shows like British TV program The Sketch Show and comedy duo Mitchell and Webb.
This is Archer’s seventh time directing the “immensely popular” British Pub Nights, plus he’s acted in about 10 as well.
The show features 15 skits balanced with 18 musical numbers. Each skit runs anywhere from about 30 seconds to about five minutes long.
All of the music will be performed live by members of the band Judy Tuesday. They, along with the 20-person cast, will be rocking out to some of the most popular tunes from the 1960s, just like folks did while listening to pirate radio more than 50 years ago.
What is pirate radio? In the ’60s and ’70s, BBC radio was playing the new pop music less than one hour a day, so some free-thinking entrepreneurs formed “pirate” radio stations located on boats anchored outside British waters. They only lasted a few years before the authorities closed them down, but they gained millions of listeners.
The phenomenon even made it to the big screen 10 years ago. The movie Pirate Radio starring Philip Seymour Hoffman came out in 2009.
Joan Hogan is a veteran of the CPG’s British Pub Nights productions. Pirate Radio marks her 20th British Pub Nights show with the local theatre company.
She began in 1982 with their Merry Old England production and says the years have flown by.
“I was a brunette, and now I’m a white-head,” she says in a Yorkshire accent.
Over those 37 years she’s only missed one production. She wanted to experience the show from the audience, but it didn’t feel right for her to just sit back and watch. So, the next British Pub Nights production she was right back onstage.
“I love making people laugh. That’s my forte,” she says.
In Pirate Radio, Hogan will be speaking her original Yorkshire accent, as well as an Irish accent and “upper-crust” English accent (the posh accent the Queen uses).
Fellow cast member Darby Howard will be acting and singing alongside Hogan, but this will be the first British Pub Nights for the 19-year-old.
“I am loving the experience so far, it’s so much fun,” she says. All the joking around and hilarious moments make rehearsals a blast, she adds.
Howard doesn’t have an English accent, but she’s been practising by watching a lot of British TV. It seems to be working because she has Hogan’s nod of approval.
The show is produced by Laura Hames and Debra Archer. Musical director is Judy Hill.
Pirate Radio will be performed in the Rotary Hall Studio Theatre at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre in a cabaret setting. Seating will be for tables of four, and beer will be available. The show includes a pub-style lunch at intermission.
Opening night for the Chilliwack Players Guild’s British Pub Nights “Pirate Radio” is Thursday, July 4 and it runs until July 12 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. Show times are: July 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. Matinee is Sunday, July 7 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 and available at the centre’s box office, online at chilliwackculturalcentre.ca or by phone at 604-391-7469.