From the Belfry to Broadway and a decade at the Stratford Festival in between, one local actor will make a unique virtual return to Victoria next month.
University of Victoria theatre department grad (1998) Sara Topham made her Broadway debut this winter in the revival of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.
The show, back on Broadway for the first time in 33 years, features Topham in the role of Lady Bracknell’s daughter, Gwendolyn.
Filmed in high-definition at the American Airlines Theatre on Broadway in New York City, the play will be screened at Cineplex movie theatres nationwide next month, including Silver City Tillicum.
The special event follows a popular screening last month of Memphis, the first-ever Broadway show shown by Cineplex. Taped-theatre screenings – successful in the U.S. – have been requested by Canadians, said Kyle Moffatt, communications director for Cineplex Entertainment.
While filming theatrical productions allows more people to experience a show they never would otherwise, audiences can’t expect an experience that replicates live theatre.
“I think it’s a great idea, as long as they are world-class productions that are being broadcast,” said Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre’s producing artistic director Brian Richmond. “I think the customer should be aware of what they’re going to see.”
Richmond, also a professor at the University of Victoria, took in a taping of Phèdre, starring Helen Mirren and produced at London’s National Theatre.
The movie theatre screenings are a valuable service, he said, but are simply not the same as watching live actors.
“If it’s not a world-class production with world-class theatre artists in it, it probably isn’t worth the money. Probably better to go to a local play.”
In July, Blue Bridge welcomes Academy Award nominee Meg Tilly in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf – an example of well-known actors taking the local stage, Richmond said.
Tickets to see Topham in The Importance of Being Earnest, screening June 2 and 25, are $22.50.