The Peninsula Players are grieving the loss of a key member of their organization.
Dick Mells, who wrote the Players’ latest production, a pantomime titled Cinderella, died Nov. 11 after he suffered a fatal heart attack while setting up for a rehearsal.
“He contributed a great deal to this community and he will be greatly missed,” said producer Glen Brown.
Mells is survived his by his wife, Alison, and their two sons, Warrick and Rory.
Mells was born in New Plymouth, New Zealand where he took a teaching degree, later completing his formal education at Harvard University. He immigrated to Canada in the 1960s and spent most of his time in Alberta.
Mells left teaching soon after his arrival in Canada and became a theatre director in Lethbridge and Fort McMurray, directing more than 100 plays during his working life and twice directing the opening ceremonies for the Canada Games.
“He even founded a theatre in Lethbridge which recently celebrated it’s 30th anniversary at which he was a guest of honour,” added Brown, noting that during his years in Alberta, Mells also wrote, danced, acted and lectured.
Mells moved to Sidney with his wife about seven years ago and immediately became involved with the Peninsula Players.
“Many members came to know Dick through his involvement in several shows, mostly as director but also as a writer, producer, actor and member of the executive,” said Brown.
“He was kind of the driving force behind the revival of the Peninsula Players and he brought a whole new level of theatre to the community.”
Even with the loss of one of their key members and the show’s writer, the Peninsula Players are pressing on to present their production of the Christmas pantomime Cinderella later this month. The Peninsula Players pantomime tradition was started by Mells himself and Brown said the group is looking forward to doing the show justice in memory of Mells.
“He was quite proud of Cinderella and the pantomime concept,” said Brown.
“Everything you’ll see on stage comes from him. Even though it’s hard without him, we know he would have wanted the show to go on.”
The Players rendition of Cinderella is being produced under the direction of Matt Watson who also plays one of the Ugly Sisters, Buttercup. Watsons other “sister” Violette, is played by Tony Garnett. Garnett wowed audiences as Dame Twit in the Players previous pantomime, Wind In The Willows.
The nasty step-mother is being played by Players new-comer Rosemary Corcoran and the role of Cinderella is being portrayed by Taylor Christensen. The Players also brought choreographer Gail Neuman on board for the production.
Cinderella runs at the Charlie White Theatre from Dec. 26 to Dec. 31 and tickets for the production are $18 for adults and $15 for seniors and students.
They are available online at thepeninsulaplayers.ca or from the Mary Winspear box office by phone at 250-656-0275.