Fearful of over-saturating the theatre world with his smiling mug, Raymond Hatton is sidestepping the stage for a bit – opting to work behind the scenes in Langley Player’s production of Dinner with Friends.
The 62-year-old Langley City man is trying his hand at producing for the first time, jokingly blaming the job switch on his friend Mary Renvall – who, it just so happens, is directing the play.
“I was drafted by Mary for the job. It is a new challenge and one I was happy to take on,” Hatton told the Langley Advance.
“Mary has a vision for the production, and I am trying to assist her in bringing that vision to the stage,” he added.
While this is his first time producing, Hatton did work as Renvall’s assistant when she produced the award-winning show, Lost in Yonkers, back in 2010.
And producing this drama, he hopes, will better prepare him for another theatre job he aspires to take on – that of director.
“I want to direct in the near future, and you need to have all the help you can get to succeed as a new director,” he said.
Hatton is no stranger to theatre. Like many, he was active in theatre during high school – then nothing for decades.
“Life got in the way and I did nothing until I saw something for Langley Players in the local newspaper in the fall of 2008. I was invited to the theatre by Mary Renvall, and the rest is – as they say – history,” he recounted.
Hatton has since acted in a dozen plays, including four with Langley Players, as well as others with Surrey Little Theatre, the Emerald Pig Theatrical Society in Maple Ridge, Stage 43 in Coquitlam, and the White Rock Players.
Acting full time is not what Hatton would call an easy life and consequently not in the cards for him.
But being self-employed does give him the flexibility to get his fix of acting at the community theatre level, he explained.
“I have met so many wonderful people through Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, throughout the last few years, as a result of theatre. Many are now my close friends,” Hatton said.
“Theatre feeds my soul in a way nothing else in my life does. I am thankful theatre found me again… Thanks to all of you in my theatre family.”
Hatton has also worked behind the scenes with set decoration and costumes.
“I do prefer acting, but there are not always parts available that fit me,” Hatton said, “and besides, you do not want to over expose yourself and have people saying ‘oh, not him again?’”
The Dinner with Friends team started preparing for this production back in the summer, and Hatton was asked what the funniest moment has been during all the long hours of rehearsals.
“I think the funniest moments have come from working through the more intimate compules scenes. We have all had many good laughs while trying to get them just right,” he said, quickly countering with his worst moment being a fall off a stool that landed him with a cut to his ear and a number of bruised ribs.
He was asked if he regrets taking a back stage role for this production, a story about two intertwined couples and what happens when one marriage falls apart.
“Well, I am a ham, and so – of course – I want to be on stage. But we have cast very talent actors for this play, and I am glad they are on stage performing it. I regret nothing.”
This Donald Margulies play opens on the Langley stage Thursday, Oct. 22, and Dinner with Friends runs until Nov. 21 at the Playhouse in Brookswood, 4307 200th St. It runs THursdays to Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $15 and can be reserved online at www.brownpapertickets.com/producer/133005, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 604-534-7469.
Langley Advance ticket contest
Two lucky Langley Advance readers will each win a pair of tickets to Langley Player’s production of Dinner with Friends opening Oct. 22.
The show runs until Nov. 21, Thursdays to Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.
How do you win?
• Click on the live link in the story about Ray Hatton and Dinner with Friends at www.langleyadvance.com, 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 Thursday, Oct. 22, and the winner will be notified by email and/or phone. 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.
PHOTO: Raymond Hatton (right) chatted with three of the actors in Dinner with Friends – Larry Hamm, Gemma Martini, and Shannon Pedder – about the script during one of the recent rehearsals. The play opens next Thursday, Oct. 22 at the Langley Playhouse. (Dave Williams/Special to the Langley Advance)