Listen to your elders.
Well, that adage went out the window in the Langley Players newest production of Christmas Belles, coming to the Brookswood playhouse stage later this month.
This time out, the drama club's cast is having to take orders from a teenager for the upcoming show.
Grade 12 Brookswood Secondary student Brandon Smith, who just turned 17 today (Thursday), leapt at the invitation to be stage manager for the Player's next show.
He's no stranger to Langley Players or theatre - for that matter. Brandon's acting career began at age five, when he was cast as a mouse but subbed at the last minute for his stage-fright stricken brother and played the lead as a farmer and narrator in the Young At Arts production of Little Red Hen.
His involvement in theatre was rekindled again by an acting program at school, and "it got me hooked once more_ ever since then I've put all my time and focus into my acting and work at the theatre," Brandon told the Langley Advance.
He's worked on and off stage in a few school productions, and last year joined in his first Player's production. Brandon was cast as Artie Kurnitz, a lead role in Lost in Yonkers, garnering himself provincial and regional theatre awards for his efforts.
He's also been taking some acting lessons in Vancouver, started dance classes, done extra work for three movie productions, and made it to the semi-finals of the ITM North America's Top Model Search.
"I love all aspects of theatre and performing _ being on stage and backstage," he said.
This fall, between his academic studies and current Christmas Belle play rehearsals - which consume at least nine hours a week - Brandon admits his life is insanely busy.
But if working on one production and juggling everything else isn't enough for this aspiring young actor, he's also taken on lighting design and acting roles in his school's production of Legally Blonde: The Musical!
While he jokes that he's enjoying bossing around his elders on the Christmas Belles set, he said with a touch more seriousness: "Going into this production I was a bit concerned about having to manage 11 adults, but they have all been very easy to handle and great to work with, so keeping them under control is not a difficult task."
His responsibilities, however, are about to get a little tougher come next week's premiere.
"Once the show opens, the directors hand the show over to me, as they are no longer backstage, and my job as the stage manager is basically to run the show," he explained.
"I am the one that is responsible for making sure the stage is set the way it's supposed to be, and that the cast has their props and are onstage at the right times, and I call the cues from backstage - which makes the lights and sound go."
All joking aside, however, Brandon said he's grateful to the Langley Players members who have been "so supportive and taught me so much. They are a great group of people."
Christmas Belles is a church Christmas pageant that spins comically out of control in a Southern farce about squabbling sisters, family secrets, a surly Santa, a vengeful sheep, and a reluctant Elvis impersonator.
This is the latest production by Langley Players, coming to the stage from Oct. 18 to Nov. 17 at the playhouse, 4307 200th St.
Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15, and must be reserved ahead by calling 604-534-7469 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christmas Belles is a hysterical holiday comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten.
This production is being directed by Angela Bell and Cindy Peterson Good, with Cyndy Dwyer taking on producer duties.
The story is set at Christmas-time in the small fictional town of Fayro, Texas, and the Futrelle sisters (Frankie, Twink, and Honey Raye) are not exactly in a festive mood.
But the show must go on, and despite a cast and crew made up of town folk who create problem after problem, and the revelation of a family secret that has been carefully guarded for decades, the feuding sisters find a way to pull together in order to present a Christmas program the citizens of Fayro will never forget.
Their hilarious holiday journey through a misadventure-filled Christmas Eve is guaranteed to bring joy to the world, said Bell.
"It's always so exciting working on a new piece, and a comedy is always a hit" the director elaborated. "When I choose a play, I specifically have the audience in mind. I've been doing this long enough to know what they like. They enjoy a fun evening out - and that's exactly what we have put together for them!"
Bell is well known to Langley audiences as the reservations person and past president of the drama club, though on the stage she is best known for her previous direction of Victoria's House, For Better and The Last Real Summer, and most recently appeared for Langley Players as Marta in Waiting for the Parade.
This time around, Bell is joined by a co-director, Peterson Good.
The two are proud of every one of the cast and crew who have worked together to put the show on, Peterson Good said.
"Watching these dedicated and talented actors bring this dysfunctional but loving family to life before our eyes has been a treat. It may be illegal to laugh as much as we have!" she added. "I have so enjoyed collaborating with Angela on the creative process, working with someone who is as much a perfectionist as I am has truly been a pleasure. And I have been made to feel so welcome by everyone at this club, making my first (hopefully, not last) experience directing at Langley a wonderful one."
The whole team is just buzzing, getting ready, Bell said.
"People are working extra hard on this one, and I couldn't be prouder of the cast and the design team. It's been a real treat, the play is so funny we are always laughing during rehearsal - in fact, it's almost been something of a challenge for the actors to not laugh during a scene. It gets hard to remain serious about the job we're doing, but a big part of the reason we are all in theatre is to have fun ourselves, so we seem to have a real winner on our hands in every way."
Dwyer, as producer, has worked with Bell on the last three shows she's directed in Langley.
"You will definitely lose yourself in the laughter. It's a timely seasonal family comedy, and we're pleased to be offering this production suitable for all ages" Dwyer noted.
The story centres around the Futrelle sisters, played by Patricia Braun (Honey Raye Futrelle), Judith Betzler (Frankie Futrelle Dubberly) and Langley's Robyn Roukema (Twink Futrelle). Rounding out the cast are Langley residents Shelly Lewis, Philip Hale and Joe Tenta, along with Brian Johnston, Emily Doreen Wilson, Jeremy Keith Goodrick, Alaina Holland and Robyn Bradley.
Braun, Betzler, Johnston, Wilson, Goodrick, and Bradley are also making their debut on the Langley stage.