Elyse Ritchie took her current acting role as Emma Borden in memory of her sister.
The soon to be 32-year-old Langley City actor takes to the stage tonight in the Langley Players production of Blood Relations, and for Ritchie the production holds some significant sentimental meaning.
“I wanted to be in this play because I lost my older sister [Leanne Erickson] last year to cancer and she was always so supportive of my acting,” Ritchie told the Langley Advance.
“I knew she would want me to continue doing what I love most.”
Ritchie started her acting career once she made it to kindergarten, or so she tells it.
“I have always loved reading out loud, and changing my voice for different characters, so it made perfect sense,” she said of her early start on stage.
In fact, she’s listed with a local talent agency and has auditioned for a few commercials and extra parts. But it seems her voice is getting more attention.
“I absolutely love doing voiceover work,” she said. “I am told on a daily basis that I have a very unique voice. I hope to continue that passion once Blood Relations wraps up.”
Ritchie actual began her involvement in community theatre in 2007, her first duties as a stage manager in the White Rock Players’ showing of HA!.
Since then, she’s participated in four shows in the past four years with Langley Players, not to mention taken part in various productions with Surrey Little Theatre, Royal Canadian Theatre Company, and Peninsula Productions.
By day, Ritchie works at Coast Capital Savings full-time. But her hours as an administrator, combined with her “understanding” husband, family, and friends allow her to pursue her passion for acting in her spare time.
They understand “they may see less of me,” for the four months stretch from the beginning of rehearsals through to the final curtain call.
In the case of Blood Relations, the first showing debuts tonight (Thursday, April 19) at the Langley Playhouse. This play runs until mid-May. They’ve been rehearsing for the past two months.
“The most rewarding part has been the new friendships formed and how we have all been able to collaborate on this production,” Ritchie said of the experience.
“I have had so much fun working with this amazingly talented group of people. Everyone has been so supportive and complimentary… I think the funniest moment for me was during rehearsals we could be totally in the moment of the scene but then just burst into laughter. It just made everyone seem to loosen up and have fun.”
While there were many laughs shared in rehearsals leading up to tonight’s curtain call, it is no comedy. Far from. It delves into the story of two parents who were murdered with an axe.
“This is a thriller mystery, which will keep you on the edge of your seat,” Ritchie said, encouraging theatre lovers to give it a shot.
On Aug. 4, 1892, Andrew and Abigail Borden were found axe murdered in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts.
Andrew’s youngest daughter Lizzie was charged but later acquitted of the double murder.
Years after her trial, Lizzie and her friend re-enact the tension within the Borden home in the days leading up to the infamous murder.
As the audience you can decide her guilt or innocence, or whether the murders were the only way out of a constrained existence in the mind of Lizzie Borden. Did she or didn’t she?
The question still reverberates.
Sharon Pollock is Canadian playwright, actor, and director who was awarded the Governor General’s Literary Award for this 1981 drama.
“I just want people to know that they will not be disappointed with the show. They really will be in for a treat,” Ritchie concluded.
She shares the stage with Maple Ridge’s T.J. MacPherson as Miss Lizzie, Langley’s Kristine Brams as the actress, Port Coquitlam’s Mary Ellen Shimell as Abigail Borden, Coquitlam’s Roger Meloche as Andrew Borden, Maple Ridge’s Paul Beckett as Harry Wingate, and Cloverdale’s Thomas Loan-Johnston as Dr. Patrick.
This play is directed by Langley’s Raymond Hatton, Langley’s production manager Mary Renvall, and the assistant production manager Tarrah Tanaka is from Cloverdale.
On until May 19
Blood Relations is featured Thursdays through Saturdays until May 19 with evening shows at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.