The cast of Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s production of “A Bedfull of Foreigners,” playing Surrey Arts Centre on Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9. (submitted photo)

British comedy ‘A Bedfull of Foreigners’ returns to Surrey stage

Royal Canadian Theatre Company brings adult laughs to theatre at Bear Creek Park

Surrey-based Royal Canadian Theatre Company has remounted the comedy A Bedfull of Foreigners, a tale of two couples on holiday in France who are accidentally assigned to the same hotel room.

The British farce, billed as “Fawlty Towers meets Benny Hill,” will be staged three times at Surrey Arts Centre – once on Friday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m., and twice on Saturday, March 9, at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. The show is later staged at Anvil Centre in New Westminster, from March 14 to 16.

The adult comedy involves “a succession of enough disasters and misunderstandings, twists and turns to create the perfect comedy of chaos,” says Ellie King, who directs the play.

King, originally from England, says she holds A Bedfull of Foreigners close to her heart, as she loves exploring how relationships are affected through crazy and zany situations.

Royal Canadian last brought the play to the stage in 2011, for a month-long summer run at Coast Capital Playhouse in White Rock, plus some dates at Coquitlam’s Evergreen Arts Centre.

Some “slightly suggestive situations” are involved in Dave Freeman’s script, first performed in 1973 in London’s West End; in 1998, a film version starred John C. Broderick, who also directed.

“The setting for the play is the dingy Hotel Heinz on the border between France and Germany where the inept staff create pandemonium when they book two couples into the same guest room,” explains a post on the theatre company’s website, rctheatreco.com.

“Mistresses, mistaken identities, misunderstandings and unexpected wives along with food poisoning outbreaks, monks and nun and a Bulgarian lady cyclist all add to the mayhem during the ‘Festival of St. Wolfgang.’”

The seven-actor cast features Gary Peterman (as Karak), Nikolas Perry (Heinz), Steve Weller (Stanley), Sally Anderson (Brenda), Cindy Hirschberg-Schon (Helga), Dan Weber (Claude) and Crystal Weltzin (Simone).

“Gary Peterman is reprising the role (Karak) he played in 2011 when we brought the same show to White Rock,” Ellie King told the Now-Leader. “Crystal Weltzin (who lives in Cloverdale) plays Simone and (she) was backstage for that one. Nick Perry was one of the Burr Babes when I ran the Raymond Burr Performing Arts Centre back in 2000-2005, and I hadn’t seen him for about 15 years until he came out to read for this.

“Dan Weber (Maple Ridge) was also a Burr Babe and played the same role (Claude) at the Burr in about 2003 or so,” King continued. “Cindy (Richmond) I saw in a play in another theatre and asked her to read for Helga because I felt she’d be right for the role, and she’s perfect so that was a bit of serendipity.”

Backstage, the production team includes director and set designer King, her husband Geoff King as technical director and sound/set designer, stage manager Stephanie Bruce, assistant director Jacqueline Charrois, costume designer Mikayla Wuss, lighting designer Nigel Brooke, show marketer Crystal Weltzin, photographer Stacey Sherback, program designer Leah McCullough and front-of-house manager Jean ‘Mac’ Blackburn.

“The music of the French marching band that we hear in Act 1 is taken from an E.P. of an actual French military band that Geoff and I watched, in France, in 1969 or so,” King added. “We couldn’t believe their performance, so we bought the recording. We’ll leave the audience to decide what they think or it!”

For more show info and tickets, visit rctheatreco.com/a-bedfull-of-foreigners. For Surrey dates, call 604-501-5566. Ticket prices start at $10 for select seats, with regular tickets going for $28. Group and “Family Pack” tickets are also available.

Surrey Arts Centre is located at 13750 88th Ave., at Bear Creek Park.

Play rehearsals have been held at Royal Canadian’s studio space at 10660 City Parkway, a former auto shop in Whalley.

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