Local theatre talent among best in Vancouver

Two Trinity Western University staff members will be crossing their fingers on June 19 at the Commodore Ballroom, where the Jessie Richardson awards will honour the best in Vancouver professional theatre. Ron Reed, who has taught theatre at TWU for over 15 years, and costume designer Nicole Bach have been nominated for three Jessies for their work with Pacific Theatre.

Reed, founder of Pacific Theatre and newly-appointed Artist-in-Residence in TWU's theatre department, is nominated in the Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role category for his portrayal of C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands. The large-cast play was a risk for Pacific Theatre, which usually specializes in small-cast shows, but for Reed it was worth it.

“Live theatre has everything to do with taking risks,” he says, “and some plays are especially worth going out on a limb for. That's how we feel about this one. It's been a remarkable journey.”

Reed isn't the only member of the TWU community to be honoured with a Jessie nod. Nicole Bach, Costume Designer at both Trinity Western and Pacific Theatre, has received two nominations for Costume Design.

“I was surprised that I was nominated at all, let alone twice,” she says. “You do this kind of work because you love it, not because you expect to be nominated—but it's really nice to have your work recognized by others in the professional theatre community.”

The scope of Bach's work makes the twin nominations even more impressive. One nomination is for Shadowlands, an intimate tale of the faith and doubt set in mid-century Oxford for which Bach pored over biographies and historical photographs for inspiration. The other is for The Farndale Christmas Carol, an upbeat comedy with over 30 eccentric costumes that, according to Bach, “are a strange mix of Charles Dickens and ridiculous gag theatre.”

The nominations cap off a tremendous 22nd year for Pacific Theatre, Vancouver's third-longest running professional theatre company. The group garnered 20 Jessie nominations for their 2005-2006 season—more than any other theatre company. One key to Pacific Theatre's success is their strong relationship with Trinity Western University's theatre department. The partnership gives TWU students internship opportunities and has led to co-productions such as Remnants, a play by Jason Sherman which will run at Pacific Theatre next spring.

TWU drama department chair Angela Konrad, who also occasionally directs Pacific Theatre productions, explains the mutual benefits of the partnership: “Co-productions give our students an insider's experience of professional theatre and make it possible for Pacific theatre to do large-cast shows,” she says. “For a university theatre department of any size to have such a close relationship with a highly respected professional theatre company is just phenomenal. These Jessie nominations confirm that we have top theatre professionals in the field.”

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,300 students this year. With a broad based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 39 major areas of study ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 14 other graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and leadership.

Last Updated: 2007-10-11
Author: Erin Mussolum