Arts & Culture

‘Cariboo Magi’ is a dream come true

By Lorraine Graves

Published 2:22 PST, Wed December 4, 2019

Last Updated: 2:37 PST, Tue January 7, 2020

We’ve watched Richmond’s Shelby Wyminga grow from a university graduate to a professional intern at Pacific Theatre. She’s paid her dues and learned her craft, both on stage and behind the scenes. 

Living in Capstan Arts Village, one of the city’s artist colonies, Wyminga and her sister Joelle have achieved a long-time goal, their own professional theatre company, Far From the Tree Productions. 

Their first show, Cariboo Magi, opens Dec. 4 at the Havana.

Playwright Lucia Frangione’s very Canadian play has universal appeal. In previous productions, Cariboo Magi has been described as a hysterical and heartwarming Christmas farce. 

Set at the end of the California Gold Rush, a saloon owner facing foreclosure intercepts a theatre contract that pays a tidy sum for the production of a Christmas play in the frontier town of Barkerville. The saloon owner hires what Wyminga calls “three other lost souls” to pretend to be a theatre company, perform the sacred play and save her saloon.

A line from the play says it all: “We are short on saints here…I am going to have to cast the sinners.”

Wyminga describes the characters as a drunk ex-Anglican minister, a gun-toting saloon owner, a disgraced child star, and a Canadian miner with a flair for the poetic who form a rag tag theatre troupe to make the treacherous journey from San Diego to Barkerville in the winter of 1870 to put on a Christmas play.

Wyminga says as they journey through the Canadian wilderness, they rehearse a dizzying pastiche of mismatched plays, braving wolves, weather and frostbite, and somehow find themselves along the way.

With tickets running $15 to $25, this is professional theatre at an affordable price. Cariboo Magi runs Dec. 4 to 14 at the Havana Theatre, 1212 Commercial Dr. As a bonus, you can stop in at the front-of-house Havana Restaurant for a snack, drink or meal before or after the play. 

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