COLUMN: The babysitter and the big screen

Sarah Allen will be in Nelson to open a special screening of the Bruce MacDonald film 'The Husband' on March 19, in which she stars.

There was the time Sarah Allen (teenager) didn’t show up for a babysitting gig in Nelson.

And then there was the time Sarah Allen (Canadian actress) did show up for a film intro and Q&A at the Nelson Civic Theatre in her hometown.

The scenes are a couple of decades apart, of course. The first wouldn’t be memorable to me at all if it weren’t for the second.

We all look around us at the talented kid, the math whiz, the high scorer and think: I wonder if I’ll be saying: “I knew her when….” It’s so much fun when it actually comes true.

Sarah Allen’s career in film and television has been well covered in local news media, so I won’t recap here. You’ll know she left Nelson to attend the prestigious National Theatre School and from there galloped into a career in film and television.

And you’ll know she’ll be back in her hometown to open a special screening of the Bruce MacDonald film The Husband on March 19, in which she stars.

Celebrating Sarah (I can’t call her Allen because she was, after all, my kids’ babysitter — at least when she remembered) comes naturally to Nelson and area folks, because we love to celebrate our own. And we have so many!

Nelson’s Wikipedia article — entertaining reading if you haven’t gone there before — lists some of Nelson and area’s notables, including hockey stars Danny Gare and Mike Laughton, soprano Nancy Argenta, mountain bikers Robbie Bourdon and Kurt Sorge, poets Patrick Lane and Fred Wah, musician Tim Hus, and composers Adam Shaikh and Robert Neufeld, who last year were up for an Emmy Award for music and sound (another screen connection).

The list is shorter than it might be, and I don’t know who compiled it. Safe to say that we have a wealth of writers and actors and musicians and filmmakers and more who are making it on the national and even world stage, or who are poised to — and we’ll be saying, if we aren’t already: “I knew him or her when….”

It’s a great community where your babysitter can become your Wednesday night entertainment on the big screen. And it’s a great community where we can get together to celebrate our own.

Could we do this at a corporate-owned multi-plex? Not very likely. But at a community-owned theatre — your theatre? You bet. It will be great to see Nelson’s own Sarah Allen on the stage of the Civic Theatre, larger than life and nobody’s babysitter.

I’m a big fan of films by Bruce MacDonald. In addition to The Husband showing tonight, an earlier film, Highway 61 starring Don McKellar, will be our free Member Movie Monday on March 31—another great Civic Theatre membership perk. McKellar isn’t from Nelson, but he did come here for a week in 2000. I can say knew him when…he was here. Briefly.

There’s maybe one thing that trumps “I knew her when” moments, and that’s “I was there when” moments, and the Civic Theatre is full of them. We’ve had such stars as James Bond and Frank N. Furter on our stage, after all, or at least some enthusiastic facsimiles, and everyone had a great time enjoying one another — which is what it’s really all about. Stars are where you find them.

There are a lot of successes to celebrate, from our whiz-kids to our we-can-do-it community, and that makes us all stars.


Anne DeGrace is the past president of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society, which is working to develop a multi-venue community space for movies, live performance, and more. Want to join the NCTS community? To find out more or make a donation go to