At Wiltons General Store

Michael Hamper and Jonee Janolino in At Wilton’s General Store

Michael Hamper and Jonee Janolino in At Wilton’s General Store

At Wilton’s General Store is the first play in a series of fictional plays by Meldy Wilton that are loosely based on events seen from the eyes of a young prairie boy, Art, played by Brandon Norbury, and his experience of moving to Nanaimo in the 1940’s. This play covers a variety of exciting happenings around town in the 1940’s. It takes us back to a time before cell phones and computers, before TV and CD players, before ipods and digital cameras; to a time when North America was trying to recover from the big stock market crash and depression. A time when everyone clung to the hope that life would be better soon, that just taking a chance was worth it and our young people were the key to recovering our hearts, souls, and finances.

Art arrives in Nanaimo in the 1940’s on his parents demand, he is to help run their newly acquired general store. He soon starts work as a salesman and shipper with the Central Lumber Company. The play involves a fresh look at the town’s people and events he came across in Nanaimo from a young man’s perspective and the crossing of social barriers. Having been moved from the family acreages shared by aunts and uncles without wanting to leave, he plays piano at a drinking establishment after having to leave his honky tonk band that was becoming popular across the prairies and his religious mother thought was the devils work; and leaves his spot on the Edmonton Canadians hockey team to do so. He rebels against coming to a dingy dieing coal town and leaving his very bright future behind.

Michael Hamper, experienced character actor, plays Mr. Jerry Bavar, European restaurant owner with his sweet wife, Mrs. Bavar, played by local musical talent, Bobbi Schram. Mr. Bavar also runs the local drinking establishment, unbeknownst to his loving wife. The establishment is scandalously well known and frequented by all ages, races, and genders. Jonee Janolino, with many accomplished roles in his repertoire, plays Mr. York the respected tailor and business man that is privy to secrets of his wealthy and high class clientele. Danica Keating plays Miss Monique Francouer the very young and beautiful apprentice for the older gentleman tailor that happens to be the competitor to Mr. York. Miss Francouer’s “French ways” and openness is thought to be quite “loose morals” by many who question what a young woman from France would be learning from a tailor 40 years her senior and what dirty thing is this haute couture fashion she speaks. Evelyn Applin, winner of the best actress award 2009 Vancouver Island One Act Play Festival, portrays Mrs. Gough the savvy and well liked owner of the four star hotel in town, that is busy with wealthy tourists from around the globe. There is however, some discussion amongst towns people about  the unusual fact that she seems to spend allot of her social time with Miss Francouer. Add the lighting design and set design by RP Broad, the dance consultation by Anne Gogo, and you have a mired of characters that come together for an evening of fun entertainment. Reminisce about a different time era and share a bit of Top Ten Hit Parade of the 1940’s and a time that people refer to as a “simpler time”. Was it a simpler time? Are people and situations that different? You decide.

At Wilton’s General Store will perform a 20 minute “Teaser” for The Port Theatre – Studio Series on Tuesday, October 5, 2010, at 7:30 pm. Rush seating is $5-10 at the door. The full play will be performed at 7:30 pm on November 19 and 20, 2010, at the Nanaimo Entertainment Centre, 46 Nicol Street. Tickets ($17) are available in advance or for cash at the door if not sold out. For more information, use the Contact Form on the Wilton Broad Players website.