Company C brings the Highlands to Victoria’s Scottish mansion, Craigdarroch Castle, for its season finale Ruddigore.
“One of the great things that’s happening in a lot of independent theatre especially is site-specific work,” said director Glynis Leyshon. “Nothing fits quite like the Craigdarroch. It seems like a pretty perfect fit and we were pretty excited here at the Canadian College of the Performing Arts when the Craigdarroch Castle Society allowed us to have free reign with audience in tow.”
The students of the Oak Bay-based CCPA Company C studio ensemble closes with a new adaptation of the classic Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Heather Burns is musical director.
“I think the idea of young people doing it is refreshing. This isn’t the way it’s been done for 100 and some odd years,” Leyshon said. “They’re going to see Ruddigore in a venue that has never had Gilbert and Sullivan performed in it before.”
As part of their training, the performers of Company C work under the guidance of professional mentors on the technical aspects of the production from lighting and sets, to props and wardrobe, stage management and choreography.
“It’s been a lot of fun doing this,” said actor Devin Arams. “Gilbert and Sullivan, they have a very modern sense of humour about them. This particular show I feel is still very relevant. It’s about people who don’t want to be in the circumstances they’re in and they do something about it.
In a departure from his usual roles, Arams portrays Sir Despard Murgatroyd, forced to perform a crime a day.
“I’m not used to playing characters that have a bit more of a villainous edge to them,” Arams admits, leaning toward the soft spoken or father figure.
“I took one look at him and said there’s a villain,” Leyshon interjected.
Audiences are fully immersed in the setting of Craigdarroch Castle, with characters interacting within the rooms of the castle. The many spirits of the Murgatroyd family drift through the stairways as they weave the musical ghost story throws lovers into a gothic world of witches, baronets and an age old curse.
“We had to be very careful of sound. It’s a musical, so how and when do our musicians move through spaces as well as the actors,” Leyshon said.
“It ends in the ballroom of Craigdarroch Castle where the audience can all sit down and enjoy the finale of the piece. … Gilbert and Sullivan has a wonderful extended singing finale at the end of the first half that we have incorporated into the finale.”
The venue is not wheelchair friendly; audience members must be mobile.
Performances are Jan. 27 to 29 and Feb. 1 to 4 at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.
Tickets are $28 with discounts for castle members and students. Visit www.ccpacanada.com or call the box office at 250- 595-9970 ext. 222 for tickets.