Clint Eastwood in Fistfull of Dollars.

Clint Eastwood in Fistfull of Dollars.

Get yer chaps on Nelson

Tom Shorthouse remembers an occasion when he and his sister danced between features at the Nelson Civic Theatre.

Tom Shorthouse remembers an occasion when he and his sister Sylvia (now Sylvia Crooks), students of Madame Attree, danced between features at the Nelson Civic Theatre. The movie was the 1945 Roy Rogers film, Don’t Fence Me In.

“Sylvia and I were splendidly costumed by our grandmother in white, heavily-sequined cowboy attire fashioned from oilcloth and made to resemble leather,” says Tom. “I wore chaps with a fringe, and we both donned straw western hats also painted white. Our black shoes were disguised with oilcloth spats, cut to resemble the boots popularized by Roy Rogers. His hit-parade rendition of Don’t Fence Me In had in fact inspired our latest routine. As soon as The End flashed across the screen, we would be making our appearance, slapping our thighs in a simulated gallop.”

The Nelson Civic Theatre is getting gritty with a western-themed weekend March 21 to 23, beginning with the 1964 spaghetti western Fistful of Dollars on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. On Friday and Saturday nights the Oscar-winning release Django Unchained takes the silver screen. Note that Fistful is rated PG, while Django is rated 14A.

We’re thrilled to be able to put these films together in one weekend; Django director Quentin Tarrantino used the spaghetti western genre as inspiration for his own film. It ain’t easy to find print films these days, let alone two that relate so well, with the industry set to cease making them altogether this year. So it’s taken the wiles of our film booker in Toronto, Mark Satok, and the movie smarts of board members Jason Asbell and Darryl Santano to put it all together.

We’ve also just secured our Saturday and Sunday matinee film, Escape from Planet Earth, starring astronaut Scorch Supernova and a host of blue aliens, sure to make March break-fatigued parents and their kids happy. That’s at 1 p.m.

Meanwhile we continue to raise funds — with your help — for a digital projector and sound system. The community was challenged to match the $75,000 already raised to reach the $150,000 price tag by May 1, and I’m happy to report that we now have a little more than $90,000 in the coffers. That’s a great start. To find out how you can contribute go to or call 250-352-5833.

If that phone number is familiar, you’re right: it’s the old phone number from the Civic Theatre’s previous incarnation, now hooked up in the office — which is inhabited most days by our newly hired project management team.

Roger Ley, who has been an excellent spokesperson for the theatre from the start, is now officially in charge of fundraising and all things networky. Sue Adam, with a strong background in project management for international companies and local roots that extend from Streetfest back to the early days of Whitewater, is ensuring that we have policies, procedures and best practices firmly in place.

They’re energetic, enthusiastic, and they do everything short of tapdancing between shows. But with the new Civic Theatre, the truth is that you never quite know what surprises are in store. Better bring your chaps, just in case.


Anne DeGrace is the president of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society. Large Popcorn, Extra Butter runs every other Wednesday. If you have a memory to share please email Find out more at