Wild Guys ready to perform November 25 – December 3

“It’s sure different with just the four guys on stage,” says actor Tom Szalay, commenting on the first South Okanagan Amateur Player’s production to feature an all-male cast. Szalay is referring to The Wild Guys, a Canadian comedy by Andrew Wreggitt and Rebecca Shaw. It opens the weekend of November 25 and 26 at OSS Minitheatre in Osoyoos, and continues on December 2 and 3 at the Oliver Seniors Centre.

“We guys definitely need more beer events after rehearsals to better develop our manly characters, ” he says, grinning, and with tongue firmly in cheek.

Above Photo: “Men’s sensitivity weekend” junkie Robin (Craig Bjornson, left) teaches Andy (Tom Szalay) how to get in touch with the natural world using meditation.

The four male co-stars are Craig Bjornson, David Badger, Patrick Turner, and Szalay. They play a new age hippie, a high powered lawyer, a grocer and a sales executive who all venture into the Alberta bush on a men’s sensitivity weekend. What begins as a simple hike to a cabin for some steaks, fishing, and heart-to heart talk becomes a hilarious survival weekend when the foursome lose their way and discover supplies have disappeared. Bjornson enjoys the home-grown feel of the script: “I like that it is a Canadian play with references and locations that an audience will recognize.”

Above Photo: Stewart (Patrick Turner, right) is more interested in relaxing with a beer. 

Each character has his own mid-life crisis, facing issues of career advancement, romance and marriage, aging, and mortality. Szalay describes his character as “a geeky know-it-all who only thinks he has it all together!” Turner’s grocer is “stuck in a rut at the Lone Pine Co-op and would like some advancement. But he’s really just a small town boy.” Badger, playing an abrasive lawyer with all the perks of his lifestyle, eventually confides his insecurities. Bjornson says his tree-hugging character is “a soul of the earth kind of guy but he spends way too much time trying to change the world”, only to discover what needs to change is himself. Huddling around a campfire, the men eventually pour out their secrets, some poignant, some wry, some funny. 

The revelations may bring a tear or two to the audience, but the laughs follow right behind. Physical comedy, sight gags, pop culture references, and poking fun at male stereotypes will all guarantee lots of chuckles.

Above Photo: Starving Andy scarfs down some saskatoon berries he’s collected in his hat  while Randall (David Badger, left) watches greedily.


While the cast breaks manly stereotypes onstage in The Wild Guys, ladies working behind the scenes break stereotypes of their own in key jobs as producer, stage manager, lead hand (set), sound and lighting. Director Ted Osborne enjoys the challenge of balancing the testosterone onstage and the estrogen backstage. “Yep,” he laughs, “It’s that age old story where guys on stage just want to bluster ahead and “get the job done” and the female crew backstage want to organize and adjust. Now, keeping that working in harmony can be a challenge alright!”

 Photo: Lawyer Randall loses patience with crystal gazing, tree-hugging Robin.  


Tickets for The Wild Guys are $15 adults and $12 seniors / students and are available at Sundance Video (Oliver), Your Dollar Store with More (Osoyoos), and at the door.

Photo: Andy earnestly tries to explain the principles of the men’s sensitivity movement to Randall.















SOAP’s spring production may reverse gender worlds. The troupe plans to produce the all-female, hit Broadway play Love, Loss, and What I Wore by Nora Ephron and her sister Delia. Females wishing to audition, and guys wishing to work backstage are invited contact SOAP at SOAP@telus.net or 250-498-3597.

Photo: Randall and Robin share some deep secrets at the campfire. Come find out what they are !

Tickets on sale October 31 for The Wild Guys

A Canadian comedy about four middle-aged men dissatisfied with their humdrum lives who embark on a men’s sensitivity retreat in the woods. Once they get lost, all chaos – and comedy – breaks loose. Special deal: your ticket price includes free concession!

A great show for guys … and the gals who love ’em.

For more information, contact SOAP @ telus.net


SOAP auditions seek four Wild Guys

The South Okanagan Amateur Players are holding open auditions for their fall comedy, The Wild Guys by Andrew Wreggitt and Rebecca Shaw, directed by Ted Osborne. In this Canadian play, four good-natured guys “take off to the great white north” on a men’s sensitivity weekend. This popular male bonding event takes city slickers into a wilderness setting to confront their primal fears and get in touch with their inner selves.

Andy, a CEO and men’s movement advocate, and Robin, a crystal-gazing New Ager, coax Stewart, an unsuspecting grocer, and Randall, a sceptical lawyer, into reluctantly participating in primitive rituals and communal hugs. The weekend quickly unravels when the guys become lost and discover all their food has disappeared. The result? Hockey cheers and Neil Young singalongs! This play is a satire on men’s self-help encounters of the type made famous by drum-beating poet Robert Bly and the new-age, touchy-feely movement that supported it.

The four male characters range from mid 20s to early 60s. The dialogue is fast-paced, funny, and easy to memorize. The roles are of equal size. Newcomers welcome. The production is scheduled for November, with rehearsals progressing from two to three times per week.

Auditions are on Sunday August 28 from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Osoyoos Art Gallery (upstairs, west entrance), at the corner of 89th and Main; and on Monday August 29 from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Quail’s Nest Arts Centre 34274 -95th St., Oliver. To find out more information or to schedule an alternate audition, contact SOAP@telus.net

Closeup on The Odd Couple

The South Okanagan Amateur Players are into production! The Odd Couple by Neil Simon runs for two weekends: April 29 -30 at the Osoyoos Mini Theatre and  May 6 – 7 at the SOSS Venables Theatre.  Slobby divorcee Olive Madison reluctantly invites neat-freak Florence Unger to share her apartment. The gals re-enter the dating scene when they double-date the Costazuela brothers.

Tickets $15 and $12 available at Sundance Video (Oliver) Your Dollar Store with More (Osoyoos), and at the door. Curtain rises at 8:00 p.m.

Here are some shots from their performance.

Photo 1: Colleen Misner, makeup and hairstylist, turns Tom Szalay into “tall dark and Spanish” suitor Manolo Costazuela. Next on the regimen: black hair dye and a double-breasted suit for Tom.

Photo 2: Leslee Hatherly (Florence Unger) touches up Paul Everest (Jesus Costazuela).  Next up for Paul: tons of dark makeup and a suit to transform him into a Spanish gentleman.

Photo 3: Olive Madison (played by Aimee Grice, second from left) complains about her new roomate Florence Unger to her Trivial Pursuit playing girlfriends: Vera (Lynne Richards), Mickey (Diane Gludovatz), Renee (Linda Venables) and Sylvie (Jen Jensen).

Photo 4: Jesus Costazuela (Paul Everest) greets Florence Unger (Leslee Hatherly) while his brother Manolo (Tom Szalay) and Olive Madison (Aimee Grice) look on.

Photo 5: Manolo (Tom Szalay, left) and  Jesus (Paul Everest, right) comfort Florence (Leslee Hatherly, centre) as she reminisces over her family photo album.

Photo credit: Penelope Johnson

Got Your Tickets Yet?

Meet Olive Madison: “I love sports, I like to paint. I like photography. I don’t like to clean up. When I got married my wedding dress had CocaCola stains on it.”  Separated and man-crazy, more concerned about bringing home the bacon than frying it up in a pan, Olive is the epitome of the word SLOB.

Meet Florence Unger: ” Just you wait. I’ll turn this apartment into something out of Architectural Digest. You’ll see furniture you never knew you had. ” Separated and still missing her “short, hairless cowboy” husband, Florence channels her insecurities about singlehood into cleaning up…. after Olive.

Olive’s big mistake? Allowing Florence to move in. Florence’s big mistake? Underestimating Olive’s frustration. Your big mistake? Missing this hilarious comedy. Get your tickets today!

Laughs double up cast at Odd Couple rehearsals

Aimee Grice is wiping the tears from her eyes. “Sorry, I just can’t go on,” she splutters. “Let me … just … catch my breath.”  She’s not crying: Grice is doubled over in a fit of giggles.

Grice is in rehearsal for SOAP’s upcoming production of Neil Simon’s  The Odd Couple. In the female version of the famous comedy, the eponymous “Oscar” and “Felix” become the slobby divorcee Olive Madison (played by Grice) and her irritatingly neat roomate Florence Unger (played by Leslee Hatherly). The comedy follows two newly single ladies as they navigate the rules of sharing an apartment and returning to the dating scene.

Grice and Hatherly (at left)  are two strong actors, although relative newcomers to SOAP. This is Aimee’s fourth production, after singing in the nuns chorus in The Sound of Music (2008), then taking the lead in Sand Mountain (2009) and an ensemble part in Rumors (2010). Leslee took a small and serious role in this season’s drama, Twelve Angry Jurors, but her comic talents take centre stage in The Odd Couple.

Director Penelope Johnson is taking the cast through one of the funniest scenes in the play: Olive and Florence on a double date with their attractive Spanish neighbours, the Costazuela brothers. Aimee’s shoulders shake as she struggles to remain in character.  Waiting patiently for the rehearsal to continue are Tom Szalay (as Monolo Costazuela) and Paul Everest (as Jesus Costazuela).  Szalay and Everest have been practicing the Castilian accents and charming manners  required for their roles.

 “Monolo and I have brrrrought you frrresh flowers and frrresh candy,” says Everest, rolling his Rs. “Please to accept my deep felicitations. We hope you like them. The candy ees …  um ….no good.”

“No good?” responds Grice as Olive, trying unsuccessfully not to smile.

“Si. Very chewy,” says Tom as Manolo.

“Do you mean nougat?” says Olive.

“Ah si! Nou–gat! Not ‘no good’… nougat! So stoopid. We are steeell berry new at Engleesh.”  

Aimee splutters again. “Sorry,” she says, holding up her hand to call another halt. “It’s too funny,  plus I’m soooo tired.”  Grice is a new mother, battling sleep deprivation. Her babe-in-arms occasionally joins her at rehearsals. “That’s the deal,” explains Penelope Johnson. “Aimee can perform if I direct while dandling her baby on my knee.”  

Also in the cast are Linda Venables, Lynne Richards, Diane Gludovatz and Jen Jensen as the Trivial Pursuit playing girlfriends of Olive and Florence. In the play, the ladies add some “gal pal” humour to the storyline, give advice, and play referees to Olive and Florence’s squabbles over housekeeping and dating. The foursome also  act as surrogate moms to Grice’s baby, passing the little girl from knee to knee as they practice their lines. 

Grice and Hatherly find they are growing into their characters during the rehearsal period.  “Olive is not a stretch for me,” admits Aimee Grice, who revels in the opportunity to make a mess on stage. On the other hand, Leslee Hatherly, as the house-proud Florence, is dicovering her hidden neat freak. “My kitchen at home has never been SO CLEAN. I’m really immersing myself in this character.” 

The lead actors are enjoying their time together at rehearsal. “Olive and Florence get quite a workout on stage,” says director Johnson. “The action can get fast and furious.”  Lately they have been choreographing a couple of fight scenes (involving a vacuum cleaner, a ladle, a can of deodorizer, and a plate of linguini) and a chase scene (involving a can of pepper spray and a suitcase of lingerie).  Curiously enough, Hatherly and Grice find the hilarity and crazy antics at rehearsals an antidote to their busy lives.

The Odd Couple is slated for production on Friday April 29 and Saturday April 30 at the Osoyoos  MiniTheatre (OSS), and on Friday May 6 and Saturday May 7 at the Frank Venables Auditorium (SOSS) in Oliver.  Tickets are $15 Adults and $12 Seniors/Students.  They go on sale at the end of March, through Your Dollar Store with More (Osoyoos), and Sundance Video (Oliver). Watch for posters to indicate the start of ticket sales.  More information can be obtained at SOAP@telus.net

Verdict so far on Twelve Angry Jurors? Great Show!

The South Okanagan Amateur Players has been following rigorous tri-weekly rehearsal schedule in order to bring the crime drama Twelve Angry Jurors to the stage. Catch it this week in Oliver.

The play is set in 1971 Chicago – the last year in which capital punishment was the sentence for murder in the state of Illinois. A jury which has just heard a murder case must decide the guilt or innocence of a nineteen year old  “slum kid” convicted of stabbing his father. The defendant’s life is at stake.  But the evidence suggests the case is open-and-shut. One juror cites reasonable doubt and stands alone in favour of a not guilty verdict.  Over the course of the play each juror must confront their prejudices to separate fact from assumption. Will the majority pressure the sole juror into changing her vote to guilty? Will the arguing result in a hung jury? Or will a potential murderer be turned loose on the streets?  

The production opened at the OSS Minitheatre in Osoyoos on the November 5 – 6 weekend. The large Friday night crowd gave noisy appreciation throughout the show, gasping aloud at the dramatic and surprising turns of the plot, and chuckling at the play’s irony. The Saturday audience, although more subdued during the show, showed their approval with several murmurs and “ooohs” during the emotionally charged scenes and with loud lengthy applause at the curtain call.

The production moves to Oliver this week: Friday November 12 and Saturday November 13  at the Frank Venables (SOSS) Auditorium, 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 adults and $12 seniors and students.  They are available at the door or from vendors Sundance Video (Oliver) and Your Dollar Store with More (Osoyoos).

Below the SOAP Players get into costume, makeup and hair backstage.  

Diane Gludovatz (Juror #11) and Leslie Hatherly (Juror # 12) show the “before and after” of makeup and hairdressing. Diane awaits her turn to apply the greasepaint and get into her wig , while Leslie  is “stage ready”. Diane is a SOAP veteran comedienne in a rare dramatic role, and Leslee is a SOAP newcomer.


“Keeping it in the family” are actors Darryl and daughter Chenoa Mackenzie (Foreman and Juror #5) . Both are veteran SOAPers. This will be Chenoa’s last opportunity to act with her dad before heading off to university, where she will continue her studies in the dramatic arts. 


Who’s the guilty one? These four jurors each have their own opinion. Darryl MacKenzie (Jury Foreman), Paul Tait (Juror #6), Michael Ryan (Juror #3) and David Badger (Juror #10) ham it up backstage before turning serious on stage.

 The cast and crew welcome you to join them for an exciting evening of live theatre. See (and hear) you in the audience!