Langley City resident Karin Fitzgerald is trying her hand at acting for the first time in the Langley Players’ production of Parents Night

First time on stage as teacher thrills new Langley City actor

Langley Players presents a double bill of George Walker plays, starting tonight on their Brookswood stage.

Karin Fitzgerald’s character Nicole is a Grade 3 teacher, which she finds ironic, since her grandfather always told her she should be a teacher when she grew up.

Well, she’s realizing his dream – albeit on the stage of the upcoming Langley Player’s production called Parents Night.

“I actually have quite a few teachers in my extended family, but it’s not what I ended up doing,” said the 37-year-old Langley City woman who’s trying her hand at acting for the first time in the lead role of one of two one-act plays being performed in tandem at the Langley Playhouse starting Thursday, Oct. 20.

“I do think it’s neat that my first part is a teacher,” Fitzgerald told the Langley Advance.

“I like kids and have been around kids a lot my whole life, as an older sister (I have three younger brothers) and three kids of my own now (ages: 15, 11 and 10).

“I like that my character is a teacher who deeply cares about her students. She is intelligent and optimistic and also very open minded and compassionate. She’s also very calm and in control until she reaches her breaking point, which I can definitely relate to.”

Fitzgerald’s first actual role with the local theatre group was that of club secretary. She auditioned – on a whim – for her first role in June 2014, for the Player’s showing of Cocktails at Pam’s.

“I decided to go for it,” recalled the full-time receptionist-administrative assistant at South Alder Farms, a family-run blueberry farm and packing plant in Aldergrove.

“When I did not get a part, I was asked if I would like to be involved in the production as assistant stage manager by the stage manager Bev Pride, and I said ‘yes,’ and I’m so glad I did. It was a real learning experience, and since I had never been involved in community theatre before, being assistant stage manager really immersed me in the process.

“Watching the production come together during the rehearsal process, getting to know the actors and watch them bring their characters to life; and seeing the set design and decorating transform the stage, and then the costumes and all that goes into that. It was really fun and rewarding to be a part of it all,” Fitzgerald said.

Since then, she’s served as stage manager for two other Langley Player’s productions: Self Help, directed by Mary Renvall (2015) and Enchanted April, directed by Marko Hohlbein (2016)

Now she has an opportunity to showcase her thespian skills as Nicole.

“This is actually my first time as an actor. I have only been involved behind the scenes up until now,” she said, admitting that community theatre is time consuming.

“We have been rehearsing three times a week since late August, so about nine hours a week, plus memorizing lines at home. It can be challenging juggling personal life, family time, work and rehearsals. There were a few times it felt like I would get home from work only to turn around and leave for the theatre right away. It was kind of a hi – bye situation with my husband and kids. But they have been very supportive…,” she explained.

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New to theatre

Coming to community theatre later in life, Fitzgerald said she’s been anxious to audition for as many roles as possible, in part to gain new experience.

Actually securing the role of Nicole in Parents Night was a bit of a surprise.

“I did not specifically try out for the part of Nicole, but I am so pleased that I was offered the role. I think the directors and casting committee did a really good job of casting this show, she said, noting that these two plays are being directed by Langley Players’ stalwarts Dave Williams and Raymond Hatton.

So, what is it about this play that spoke to her, and that Fitzgerald is convinced will appeal to the audience?

“Have you ever had that one day at work when all you want to do is get it over with, go home, crawl into bed with a good book and a cup of tea? Or maybe a bottle of wine…?

“That’s the kind of day my character is about to have. All she has to do is make it through two parent meetings, but things don’t go as smoothly as planned,” Fitzgerald said.

“Come prepared to laugh at the outrageous behaviour of all of us at times, but also the touching moments of how even when life seems completely out of control there is potential for growth, understanding and love.

“I would also say there are some ‘potty mouth’ moments for sure – and a few times you might want to put a character or two in ‘time out.’ But, all-in-all, the characters are very human and well written. It’s a well written play. George F Walker is a talented Canadian playwright, who has a good understanding of the education system (the pros and cons) and also social issues that affect Canadians. “

Each production brings what she says are new rewards and challenges, and she’s especially grateful for all she’s learned along the way.

“One great asset of Langley Players is they have a wonderful group of talented members who are very welcoming and a lot of fun to be around, so I’ve met a lot of interesting people,” said Fitzgerald, who has yet to perform with any other Lower Mainland theatre groups, but hasn’t ruled it out.

Asked about her other talents on stage – other than acting – she said she can play piano and is learning the bass guitar, but is not yet ready to test those skills on stage.

As for singing, she flatly insists that she’s “terrible.”

As for dancing… well “I think I’m an awesome dancer, but my kids would strongly disagree with that.”

Tickets are available

Parents Night is one of two plays being performed each night by Langley Players, both by the same Canadian playwright George F. Walker.

The second play is The Bigger Issue, and both are set inside a school, explained Williams, one of the directors.

“The characters in these plays are anything but stereotypical. They embody a range of emotions and values that we often don’t see in school situations. They most certainly are not Normal Rockwell-type portraits of school!” he said.

“Walker’s plays are not always comfortable and often force us to confront darker realities we choose not to see. After seeing a Walker play, you often leave with a different perspective and appreciation of ‘others’ in our communities.”

These plays – both making their Western Canadian premiere on the Langley Playhouse stage, run Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday evenings (8 p.m.) and Sunday matinees (2 p.m.) until Nov. 19.

Tickets are $15 and available at 604-534-7469 or online at the Langley Players website.

Also appearing in The Bigger Issue are fellow Langley residents and community theatre-award recipients Sheila Greentree (as Maggie) and Andy Wood (as Jack).

How to win…

One lucky Langley Advance reader will win a pair of tickets to Langley Players’ Parents Night and The Bigger Issue running Oct. 20 to Nov. 19.

How do you win?

Click on this link, and tell us why you want to attend this show. You will be entered into the draw.

Preference will be given to Langley residents.

Postings must be received prior to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 25, and the winner will be notified by phone and/or email. No staff or family of the Langley Advance or Black Press are eligible. This giveaway is restricted to online participants, 19 years or older only. Must include name and phone number.

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