Marit Christenson (left) and Nicola Prigge (right) perform in Gallery 7 Theatre’s production of Doubt, a Parable by John Patrick Shanley. (Dianna Lewis Photography)

Creative avenues run from driftwood crafts to theatre for Fort Langley actor

A Fort Langley housecleaner is trying her hand at another ‘sister’ role, decades after her first.

Nicola Prigge has been passionate about theatre since she was first cast as the ugly step-sister in Cinderella back in Grade 2.

Now the 28-year-old Fort Langley actor, director, and stage manager is revisiting the role of a sister on stage in Abbotsford – but this time she’s playing Sister James in Gallery 7’s upcoming production of Doubt, A Parable.

Prigge, who’s making her debut on the Gallery 7 stage this Friday (Jan. 26), is playing a young and impressionable sister who is a new teacher at a religious school.

This play, by John Patrick Shanley, was adapted into an award-winning film featuring Meryl Streep and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

“We studied this play a lot in school for scene study classes,” said Prigge, who auditioned last fall, anxious to be part of this production.

“It is very well written and has beautiful, nuanced characters that are fun to explore and discover over time,” said Prigge.

She graduated a few years back with a bachelor of arts in theatre from Trinity Western University.

“I have been doing a lot of musical theatre lately, so I thought I would challenge myself by doing a ‘straight play’ again. It has been a joy to peel the layers back on this character, and discover the similarities her journey has to my own,” she elaborated, drawing parallels between herself and her character.

“Sister James and I are both really passionate about our faith. We both feel overwhelmed and scared when we become unsure about what we used to hold with certainty. We hold authority in high regard, and struggle if people we once respected are called into question.”

While this is Prigge’s first time on stage with Gallery 7, she was stage manager for Cotton Patch Gospel back in 2008.

And more recently, she’s participated in a few productions with the Maple Ridge-based Theatre in the Country (which has just last year expanded to include productions in Walnut Grove).

“After a three year break from acting, I am back into it now. I missed it. I am definitely a lot healthier and happier when I am involved in theatre,” Prigge added, noting she also has four years of voice lessons under her belt, she’s a swing dancer, and she’s just started taking ballet classes in Langley.

Fortunately, Prigge said, she’s self-employed, owning a housecleaning business in Fort Langley. So, she’s able to arrange her “low-stress job around what I am passionate about – theatre and the arts.”

She’s also a visual artist, crafting reclaimed driftwood and other materials into products for sale “when I have time.”

The curtain goes up this week on the Gallery 7 production of Doubt, and it carries through until Feb. 10 at the Abbotsford Community Arts Addition, 2329 Crescent Way.

Performances will be held Jan. 26, 27, and 31, then again Feb. 3 and Feb. 7 through 10, at 7:30 p.m., with matinees on Jan. 27, Feb. 3, and Feb. 10 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are available online at www.gallery7theatre.com, in person at House of James (2743 Emerson St.), or by calling 604-852-3701 or 1-800-665-8828.

“This production is short and sweet and packs a strong punch,” Prigge said. “It raises questions and leaves you wanting to talk it over afterwards with a friend. It is an important, talked-about play that raises very current themes and questions.”

About the play

Sister Aloysius, a Bronx school principal, is shaken to her moral core when she suspects that young Father Flynn is having an inappropriate relationship with a male student, explained the play’s director and Gallery 7’s artistic director Ken Hildebrandt.

“The play is a riveting and entertaining story of what happens when uncertainty occurs in our lives,” Hildebrandt said.

“The play is not a celebration of doubt. Rather, it serves as an inspiration and challenge for us to embrace times of uncertainty as opportunities to grow. Plus, it explores some extremely timely questions about suspicion, race and abuse. ”

In addition to Prigge’s presence in the cast, there are a few other Gallery 7 newbies and seasoned actors taking the stage.

Playing the role of Sister Aloysius is Gallery 7 newcomer Marit Christensen. Christensen has a wealth of theatre experience, having performed in productions in Calgary, Vancouver and Salt Spring Island.

Father Flynn, the young priest who is the focus of Sister Aloysius’ suspicions, is played by film and stage actor Jay Danziger. Fraser Valley audiences will remember his work in productions of The Giver, Shadowlands, and Damien.

Playing the role of Mrs. Muller, the embattled mother of the only black student at the school, is UFV theatre student Abigail Kibarita. Kibarita last appeared on the Gallery 7 stage as Babette, the feather duster, in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

“I’m so thrilled to be working with such a talented and passionate group of performers. Their performances are electrifying and engaging, and I believe this show will be another outstanding showcase of the incredible talent we have in the Fraser Valley,” Hildebrandt said.

“We have an equally talented and passionate group of designers and production team members bringing this play to life.”

Set design is by Calvin Baker, who last designed lights for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and costume design is by Dani Dejong, who last designed the costumes for Little Women.

Lighting design is by Matthew Piton, who designed the set for this fall’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher, and sound design is by actor, choreographer and designer, Tessa Trach. Stage manager for the show is Cameron McKerchar, and the production photographer is Dianna Lewis Photography.

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