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Arabian Nights promises a spectacle you won’t want to miss

The first production of UFV Theatre’s new season of productions is Arabian Nights, which premieres November 11 at 7:30.

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By Dessa Bayrock (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: November 9, 2011

The UFV theatre traditionally puts on three major productions a year; this year, the first production is Arabian Nights. The mind immediately leaps to the folk tale every kid is vaguely familiar with, but don’t let that fool you – this show is in no way intended for kids. As Josh Tompke, one of the actors, put it, “younger children and the prudish should find a better use of their evening.”  It is raunchy; it is sexy; it is hilarious; and it’s a spectacle you won’t want to miss.

The show is very similar to the pasteurized version of the folktale we all kind of learned as kids, but much like the difference between Grimm’s original fairy tales and the Disney versions, the grown-up version promises to be a lot more fun. As those involved keep telling me, “There’s no swearing and we keep our clothes on.” But there is a generous helping of innuendo and various physical gags to keep things – shall we say – lively.

The plot revolves around a girl named Scheherazade who has to tell stories to save her life. Her life lasts only as long as the stories do; this lends it a sort of urgency, but also ensures suspense to keep the audience engaged. If it gets boring, theoretically, the story-teller dies. So obviously the tales will be entertaining – not only for those she tells them to in order to save her life, but also for the audience.

Theatre at UFV is generally of a high calibre. Unlike other theatre programs elsewhere (cough, UVic, cough, cough) the theatre department places very little emphasis on competition. And unlike other post-secondary institutions, anyone is able to audition for any role, and there are never limited spots in the program that have to be fought for. This creates a bond between cast and crew that is palpable onstage – it lends them an energy and a spice that is lacking in many theatre productions. It’s not just a community, but a family, and this attitude is infectious. In a fast-paced, high-energy, song-and-dance show like this one, having a cast that trusts and loves one another might sound like a hippy, theatre ideal, but it’s one that works.

In any case, it promises to be a spectacle, in every sense of the word – not only is the theatre department known for its solid acting, but also elaborate sets, props and costumes. “I’m wearing several layers of embroidered velvet,” Thompke said. “It’s as uncomfortable as it sounds, and twice as impressive.” Spencer Densmore, another actor, agreed. “Plus you absolutely have to see some of the amazing hats we have… seriously,” he said.

A word to the wise – theatre productions are generally a perfect way to impress that special someone with your cultural affluence, and make a great first, second, or hundredth date.

Preview nights and student rates also make it affordable: ticket prices run from $9-$20. Shows run from November 9 to 27, and the box office can be reached at 604-795-2814 or 604-504-7441 for tickets, show times or more information.

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