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Call it a romp-com: Arts Club returns to Surrey with bedroom-set laughs starting Oct. 11

Lauren Taylor directs the touring comedy ‘The Birds and the Bees’
Gerry Mackay and Nancy Kerr in “The Birds and the Bees,” an Arts Club Theatre Company comedy playing Surrey Arts Centre until Oct. 21. (Photo: Moonrider Productions/Arts Club)

Thankfully, after a long pandemic pause, Vancouver’s long-established Arts Club Theatre Company is back touring plays to theatres across Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan.

This week and next (Oct. 11-21), Surrey Arts Centre’s Main Stage is a tour stop for Mark Crawford’s sex farce “The Birds and the Bees,” which had audiences buzzing when it played the Arts Club’s Granville Island stage in 2019.

The show was supposed to tour the following year but, well, you can guess why those plans were cancelled.

Now, Lauren Taylor is back directing the farmhouse-set comedy, about beekeeper Gail (played by Nancy Kerr), her turkey-farmer daughter Sarah (Agnes Tong), flirty neighbour Earl (Gerry Mackay) and a nerdy grad student named Ben (Riley Hardwick).

The cast is entirely new for the 2023 production, set in adjoining bedrooms of Gail’s home. When daughter Sarah moves in after splitting with her husband, the pair of men add to the hilarity, including awkward conversations about the artificial insemination of turkeys and a “gobble, gobble” mating ritual borrowed by humans at a local dance.

“Audiences are in for a real treat because this is just such a big, lovely, joyful comedy and exactly the kind of thing that we all could do with right now, a bit of a laugh,” Taylor raved, and rightly so.

There are some guaranteed giggles in the play, which is more of a romp-com than rom-com with some naughty moments for adult eyes only.

CLICK HERE to watch a trailer for “The Birds and The Bees.”

The story moves quickly with the help of what the director calls “the most delightful group of actors, very funny people who are perfect for this sparkling sex comedy. The four characters are caught up in this hapless situation just trying to figure it out.”

It’s not all laughs, though. A thread of environmental alarm runs through Crawford’s script, which also involves a medical emergency.

With an annual Turkey Days dance planned, Gail is distracted by the reality of her bees dying and why pesticides used by corn farmer Earl might be to blame.

Ultimately, the funny moments greatly outnumber the dramatic ones.

“People end up getting caught in their underwear, and it’s huge fun,” the Australian-born director confirmed with a laugh. “There’s no nudity other than one moment where we see a very quick splash of a bare backside, a quick reveal before blackout. But there’s lots of covering up and slamming of doors.”

Show tickets are priced from $29 to $54 on Surrey Civic Theatre’s online box office,, or call 604-501-5566.

The production’s Surrey run includes a “Paint at the Play” matinee Saturday, Oct. 14 (drop off kids aged six to 11 for an art camp while adults enjoy the show), a Talkback Thursday chat with the actors Oct. 19, and a matinee with VocalEye Audio description for patrons who are blind or partially sighted, Oct. 21.

Ashlie Corcoran, the White Rock-raised artistic director of Arts Club Theatre Company, calls “The Birds and The Bees” a big-hearted, silly, modern and progressive sex farce, where the older characters get to have as much fun, or more, than their younger counterparts.

“But, this piece is also much more than frolicking fun,” she added. “It also plays with generational differences and the way those differences are revealed in issues of environmentalism, economics, sexuality, and ‘good morals’.”

Later in its 2023-24 season, ACT will send two other shows on tour including Beau Dixon’s music-filled “Beneath Springhill: The Maurice Ruddick Story” (Jan. 9-20 at Surrey Arts Centre) and Farren Timoteo’s hilarious “Made In Italy,” a coming-of-age musical about family, food and the life of Italian immigrants in rural Jasper, Alberta (Feb. 27 to March 9).

The Arts Club’s flagship Stanley stage in Vancouver will present five shows during the company’s 60th-anniversary “diamond” season, starting with “Little Shop of Horrors” (closed Oct. 8) and the holiday show “Elf: The Musical” (opens Nov. 2).

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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