July 19, 2024

Bequia Theater on The Beach – Repeating Islands


David H. Lyman (Caribbean Compass) writes about theater on the beach… in Bequia, and the 5th Bequia International Theater Festival.

Theater is coming to a beach near you—well, a beach in Bequia anyway.

Bequia residents John and Chrissy Burstein are holding the fifth Bequia International Theater Festival during the first two weeks in February. Five different productions, including comedy, drama, and musicals, each lasting two nights, will bring award-winning performers from the US, UK and Canada to the stage on the island.

The home of the festival is DeReef, a restaurant on Lower Bay (LoBay) at the southeast corner of Admiralty Bay. There’s plenty of room to anchor off the Lower Bay Beach, and if the surf is down, you can run your dinghy right up on the beach.

The Bursteins, who retired to the island a decade ago, have turned one end of the restaurant into a stage, adding theatrical lighting and a sound system to compete with the sound of the surf. There are dressing rooms, a curtain, a proscenium, and plenty of seating — it’s Bequia’s version of a dinner-theater.

John Burstein has had a successful 40-year career as a stage and television actor, playwright, director, and producer. He created the children’s television character Slim Goodbody, a character that continues today in books, television shows, and live on-stage productions. Chrissy has produced many of John’s numerous offerings, and both have taken up permanent residency on Bequia. But retirement has not stopped the Bursteins from living their lives in theater.

In 2018, they co-produced Darrow, a one-man theatrical show on Bequia. The next year (2019), they staged three shows with actors from Maine and Florida performing Gutenberg and Outside Mullingar and one other drama. The second season’s festival in 2020 featured David Troup, Hannah, Jen, and Paul Hodgson in The Big Bang and Love Letters. In 2021 and 2022, John performed in the one-man reading of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, then added Taptastic, with four tap dancers from the UK, along with a dramatic Weisenthal: Nazi Hunter.

This year’s schedule of performances begins on February 1 and 2, with Sweet Dreams: The Music of Patsy Cline, a musical created by Leisa Way, winner of the Toronto Musician of the Year Award in 2021–22 and featured on the cover of International Musician magazine in 2023.

Next, February 5 and 6, Same Time Next Year, a comedy by Bernard Slade, follows the story of Doris and George, who meet once a year for a romantic weekend at the same inn — despite being married to other people! Their relationship spans over two decades, and audiences witness the ups and downs of their love story. Jane Spence and Jeffrey Wetsch, both seasoned actors from Canada, star.

On February 7 and 8, John Burstein will bring back Darrow, his one-man presentation of David Rintel’s thought-provoking depiction of the famous trial lawyer, Clarence Darrow. The show explores the life and career of one of America’s most iconic legal minds.

February 9 and 10, it’s the comedy And the Winner Is! Written by John Burstein, it tells the story of Marv Corbett, a gentleman locked into a dead-end job dreaming of hitting it big. He comes up with the idea of producing a TV bingo game show. This old-fashioned burlesque show includes singing, dancing cows, acting, goof-ball dialogue, and prizes.

The festival winds up on February 12 and 13, with The Hunt for Milo Gatto, a catch-me-if-you-can comedy-thriller. Detectives Lila Bockhorn and Harrison Locke discover the lifeless body of Countess Daphne Cabot, embark on the tail of the perpetrator, and enlist the audience to help the investigation by solving a variety of word games and puzzles. [. . .]

For full article, see https://caribbeancompass.com/bequia-theater-on-the-beach/

[Photo by David H. Lyman.]

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