Victoria’s Kaleidoscope Theatre troupe returns this weekend for its 44th season with The Secret Garden.
The classic tale of orphan Mary Lennox – who uncovers a magic world when she’s sent to live with her reclusive uncle – runs this weekend, Nov. 4 and 5 at McPherson Theatre.
It’s the first of Kaleidscope’s three upcoming shows this season. Next is Peter Pan the pantomime, Dec. 28 to 30, followed by Pinocchio, March 10 and 11.
It’s rare for Kaleidoscope to bring back a show but Secret Garden is just that. Most of the cast are returning from Kaleidoscope’s 2013 pop-up performance staged in an otherwise vacant Uptown storefront.
“Uptown was a great space and a great sponsor but [afterward] we felt we were confusing our audience by not holding all our shows in the same place,” said Kaleidoscope’s artistic director Roderick Glanville. “We’re back at the McPherson where we’ve been since the ‘90s.”
Kaleidoscope will again use Glanville’s stage adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 novel, as it did four years ago.
“The story’s as relevant now as ever.”
The 2016-17 season had two of Kaleidoscope’s biggest breakthroughs in recent memory as the introduction of a pantomime, Snow White, went over well. So did the bilingual performance of Little Prince.
“We found Victoria is crazy about the pantos,” Glanville said. “And we found such [a niche demand] for Little Prince within the Francophone community we added a second show.”
Writer and directer Stephen Andrew adapted Snow White by infusing the type of genre-specific twists that make up a pantomime, and is back to do Peter Pan.
“We had an annual show around Halloween, things like Little Shop of Horrors and Rocky Horror Picture Show, and we found the [Halloween stage] market got oversaturated with other productions jumping on the bandwagon,” Glanville said. “So we looked at the holidays and found an opportunity.
“Andrew is versed in panto and it was such a success, I was very pleased and also surprised.”
Glanville still finds himself explaining pantomimes, a traditional English stage show with specific formulas.
“Last year’s was so popular we had to turn a lot of actors away who were interested in being part of it,” Glanville said.
It’s unlikely they’ll run a bilingual show this season but there is plans to do one again.
Pinocchio will bring an end to the season, the classic tale of the boy who never grew up. Kaleidoscope has partnered with renowned Kaska/Tlingit artist Dean Heron in the stage design for their adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s famous tale.
Kaleidoscope also runs theatre school programs for between 100 and 200 people per year, youth aged three to five, and five to 17, at Cedar Hill and Juan de Fuca rec centres.