It’s been a long time since Lucas Myers and Phil Sarsons co-starred in a play together.
Twelve years ago, just after the Western world was shaken by the events of 9/11, they were in a Nelson production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. This weekend they’re back on stage together with another classic Victorian comedy — The Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw.
Myers spent the last dozen years here in Nelson developing his solo career as an actor-playwright with hits like Hello Baby and the Cromoli Brothers saga. He can count on his thumbs the times he’s been in shows with other people during that time.
Meanwhile Sarsons was based in Calgary but often living out of a suitcase, as a touring character actor he had no trouble finding roles with some of the country’s top theatre companies. That is, until he “quit” theatre and moved to Nelson.
So how did this solo performer and recovering nomad end up cast in a local play together? For both of them it was a matter of getting back to their roots.
“I miss the feeling of sharing the success of a good performance with other people,” Myers said. “Being in a hall and rehearsing with other actors, it’s like coming home … It’s what I did early in my career and something I want to get back into.”
Myers said he’s continually amazed by the size and incredible talent in Nelson’s theatre community. In the past year there were two major productions — Jesus Christ Super Star and Cabaret — with virtually no overlap in the cast.
Living among all this activity, it’s easy to see how Sarsons would be lured back to the stage.
“It’s nice to live in a place where you can do theatre ‘on the side’ and still be able work a regular job without having to be on the road all the time,” Sarsons said. “It’s a hard thing to quit completely.”
In Arms and The Man, the pair play duelling veterans from opposite sides of the Serno-Bulgarian war. Sarsons’ character falls secretly in love with the fiancée of Myers’ characters who, adding to the irony of the situation, is himself in love with somebody else entirely. At its core, the play is about the romantic notions of war and love, and how people’s idealistic image of both often differ from reality.
Originally produced in 1894, Arms and The Man was one of Shaw’s first commercial successes.
Other local actors appearing in the play include Carley Brandel, Avia Moore, Bessie Wapp, Richard Rowbery and Martin Carver. Geoff Burns is the director and also makes a cameo appearance on stage.
Arms and The Man is produced by the TNT Playhouse and opens Thursday, October 31 and continues to Sunday, November 3 at 8 p.m. nightly. Tickets are $21 for adults or $16 for students, available at the Capitol Theatre box office or online at capitoltheatre.bc.ca.