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They were in pre-production for 'The Elephant Man.' Then COVID hit

Coquitlam-based Stage 43 remounts "The Elephant Man," a play postponed by the 2020 pandemic lockdowns, with actors from the Tri-Cities, New Westminster and Vancouver.

A play that Stage 43 postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns will close the company’s season — four years later.

The Coquitlam troupe will present The Elephant Man, a production written by Bernard Pomerance that’s based on the life of Englishman Joseph “John” Merrick, who died in 1890 and was known for his severe physical deformities.

The script, based on a 1923 book by Frederick Treves, was adapted into a movie in 1980 starring John Hurt as Merrick; in 2014, Bradley Cooper portrayed Merrick on stage for a Broadway revival.

Stage 43's version, with actors from the Tri-Cities, New Westminster and Vancouver, marks the 100th show for director Dale Kelly, a Coquitlam resident who has worked with nearly two dozen theatrical groups around the province.

“We just love working with Dale,” Stage 43 producer Claire Pinkett said in an interview today, April 9. “One hundred shows is something to celebrate.”

As well, actors Ryan Johnson (Merrick); Kurtis Maguire (Dr. Treves); Colleen Bignell (Mrs. Kendal); and Kevin Sloan (Conductor/Snork) are returning to their roles following the four-year hiatus.

Maguire, a former Tri-City resident, has since moved out of B.C.

“I have flown across the country from my new home in Halifax to be part of this show,” he said in a news release.

"There are only a few directors or theatre companies I would do that for. Dale Kelly and Stage 43 are definitely one of them.”

Running from April 25 to May 4 at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam, The Elephant Man also includes Tri-City thespians:

  • Bruce Dunham (Ross/Bishop)
  • Parker Thompson (Belgian Police/London Police/Porter/Lord John)
  • September Stokes (Manager of Pinheads/Miss Sandwich)
  • Donna Thompson (Pinhead 1/Princess Alexandria)
  • Emily Thun (Countess/Pinhead 2)

Lydia Rogers of Vancouver and Chris Gursche of New Westminster also have parts.

The Elephant Man will be Stage 43’s entry to the Theatre BC Fraser Valley Zone Festival  in May; the winning production from that competition will represent Fraser Valley at Theatre BC’s Mainstage Festival in July.

For tickets to see The Elephant Man at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam (1205 Pinetree Way), you can call the box office at 604-927-6555 or visit the facility website. Prices are $28/$24; the play is suitable for ages 18 and up.