Langley City’s own Cathe Busswood (right) plays Vernadette in Surrey Little Theatre’s current production of The Dixie Swim Club.

Comedic role speaks to long-time Langley thespian

Langley City’s Cathe Busswood steps onto the stage in hubby’s production of The Dixie Swim Club.

Cathe Busswood’s kids tell her not to show her “moves” to the world – or anyone else, for that matter.

Her husband, Mike, pleads with her not to sing – although she sang with the Langley Women’s Opus Choir last year.

“He won’t let me sing very often,” she added with a chuckle.

Mike also tells her she’s not very good at accents, although the Langley City community theatre actor vehemently disagrees with her hubby on that front.

Fortunately, singing and dancing aren’t among the talents she’s being asked to demonstrate on stage of the Surrey Little Theatre’s (SLT’s) current production of The Dixie Swim Club.

Busswood plays one of five Southern women in this comedy.

“Not often does a play come along where the part actually speaks to me,” she said.

“Although I auditioned for almost all the characters, I really only wanted Vernadette. She is a loser with a sense of humour and a character that many can see a bit of themselves in,” she added.

Much like her character Busswood’s a natural “loud mouth.”

Although she’s been involved in community theatre since she was 14 years old – when she joined the Fraser Valley Musical Theatre Guild in Abbotsford – she describes herself as the rookie of this cast.

“The women I am on stage with, are some that I have admired for a long time. I sometimes feel like the rookie, but they are the warmest, most hilarious group I have ever had the pleasure to work with,” Busswood said.

Now, the director, that’s a different matter. She calls him a bit of a tyrant – but she does so in jest.

Theatre is a family affair

Her husband is tackling his second turn in the director’s chair with Dixie.

“I thought this would be really tough, and although I know he picked on me on occasion, he still gave some of the best ‘bits’ and was a very considerate director,” Busswood said, cautious of lavishing too much praise on the man.

“This is only the second time he has directed, as he is normally found on stage. But now has maybe found a new outlet for his passion,” she said, noting he’s currently president of SLT, as well.

Community theatre is actually a family affair in the Busswood household – spreading beyond just mom and dad.

Cathe and Mike have been taking their turns on and off stage in many productions through the years at Surrey Little Theatre, as well as with the Langley Players, the White Rock Players, and the Vagabonds in New Westminster.

Their daughters, Samantha and Kaitlyn, are now fully immersed, as well.

Kait was in The Last Lifeboat, with her father, and this year she is a Community Theatre Coalition representative (CTC). Before that she was seen on stage in White Rock and Maple Ridge.

Sam, who takes mostly takes after her mom, can be found behind the scenes as a stage manager, and as she has recently moved to Chilliwack, she has already been approached to work with the Chilliwack Players.

“Sam is the one who brought The Dixie Swim Club to SLT, as she had seen a community theatre production in Arizona two years ago, and thought this was perfect for us,” Mom recounted.

Scripts and snarling dogs

In prepping for this current SLT production, which runs until Nov. 19, the cast and crew spent weeks and weeks in rehearsal.

Leading up to the first performance, Busswood shared one of the funniest moments of The Dixie Swim Club.

“I actually have a problem with learning my lines. There was one sentence that used to give me particular trouble, ‘sic a pack of snarling dogs,’ which usually came out as ‘pic and pack of darlin snoogs.’ Everyone laughed so hard, but I finally got it.”

Admittedly, Busswood said she’s not typically that comfortable on stage, as she is behind the scenes.

“My first love is behind the scenes. I have produced, stage managed, been a lighting operator, done props, set decoration, and set construction. I have been on stage as well, usually when a part speaks to me,” she said.

The play, written by Jamie Wooten, Jessie Jones, and Nicholas Hope, did speak to her.

It tells the story of this fistful of women whose friendships began many years ago on their college swim team.

They meet at the same beach cottage every year to catch up, laugh, and meddle in each other’s lives.

The bonds of friendship and team camaraderie stay with them through the good times and bad; through love and loss; in sickness and in health.

“The authors of this show really put together one of their best. And, the talent of the club, set construction, design, makeup and hair, costumes, lights and the sound, and finally a cast of wonderfully capable actors that live to you laugh,” Busswood said.

The Dixie Swim Club runs Thursdays to Saturdays at 8 p.m. at the Surrey Little Theatre, until Nov. 19, and also includes a few Sunday matinees on Nov. 6 and 13, at 2 p.m. Tickets are available online at Brownpapertickets.com, or by calling 604-576-8451.

Recognized for years in theatre

“My love of community theatre is quite strong,” she said.

She’s participated in 58 productions in her 58 years.

Her years of dedication to community theatre earned her lifetime achievement award from the CTC in 2015.

“Receiving that award just made me realize how many more shows I want and need to be involved with. Long live community theatre!” Busswood cheered.

Asked if she’s done any other kind of acting in TV, movies, or in other forums, Busswood laughed and said only at home, when trying she delivers very believable performances for her husband, convincing him she’s interested in his opinions.

Actually, her passion is community theatre, and while it’s just a hobby she’s incredibly grateful that her family is so understanding, supportive, and involved.

Moreover, she’s been the office administrator for Notary Public Donna Van Beek for the past 23 years, and is “seriously” appreciative of her boss’ support, too.

“If I didn’t work for someone who understands why I am so tired after a long rehearsal night, I really don’t know what I would do.”

CAPTION: Cathe Busswood has been involved in community theatre since she was 14, receiving a lifetime achievement award last year for all her work. The 58-year-old thespian has been involved in 58 different performances.

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