Arts & Culture

Richmondites shine in Metro Theatre comedy

By Lorraine Graves and Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 10:27 PST, Wed November 4, 2020

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

Two Richmond residents are among the cast of Metro Theatre’s latest show, Five Alarm by Kristen Da Silva.

The show focuses on a chili cook-off in Lumby, BC, a rural community near Vernon. Ava Rose (Marcia Strang) has us in the palm of her hand from the moment she steps on stage. More than a story about a cook-off, this is a tale of friendships—old, new and lost. 

Richmond’s Cindy Hirschberg-Schon, a fashion technical designer by day, plays Ava’s rival Connie. 

“Ava and Connie have a lot of history, and we learn about this relationship in the first act,” says Hirschberg-Schon. “Connie is a smart woman who has a thick layer protecting her but deep down there’s a glimmer of who she really is.”

She describes the show as “a delightfully funny show with a lot of personality.” That sentiment comes through: the laughter started early and continued throughout the play. Usually in a mostly-empty theatre, the laughter, if it comes at all, is weak—but not here. 

Fellow Richmondite Mark “Sparky” MacDonald, a regular in Metro’s shows, plays Tucker Dell. 

“This production has been a blast to work on and has definitely provided a certain social catharsis that only putting on a show can provide,” says MacDonald. “In the times we live in nowadays, interactivity has never been more vital to maintaining morale.”

He adds that making audiences laugh and bringing plays to life, as well as the collaborative process, keep him coming back to Metro’s productions.

“I especially love that I get to work with an amazing community of people who love theatre, performing, and acting as much as I do.”

Five Alarm is playwriting at its best, full of local flavour and Canadian references. The lighting, sound, direction and set are all of a fully professional quality. The acting throughout is good with each person (Strang, Hirschberg-Schon, MacDonald, Erica Bearss and Shane Steward) well-chosen for their role.

The woman doing the announcing was clear and easily understood. In fact, the whole production was clear and easy to hear. The incidental music, normally a real strength of Metro’s, was custom selected for this show; throughout the production, the music added to the overall flavour effectively.

Metro Theatre re-opened recently with strict COVID-19 protocols in place for audiences. Normally seating over 300, there was only one pair of seats filled in each row to allow for physical distancing. Staff wore matching chili masks, custom-made by one of the volunteers. Distancing on-stage was accomplished thanks to very natural blocking, and never seemed forced.

“The cast and crew have been awesome and during these crazy times it’s great to share this common experience with both the actors and our audience,” Hirschberg-Schon adds.

“It seems like years since we’ve been able to go out to something like this,” said one theatre-goer.

Five Alarm runs through Nov. 21. Each performance runs for 90 minutes without an intermission. Adult tickets start at $30, with special offers available, and can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 604-266-7191.

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