SURREY — Stephen King’s classic thriller about an injured novelist and his biggest fan is set to play Surrey Arts Centre.
The Arts Club Theatre Company’s version of Misery stars Andrew McNee as stranded romance writer Paul Sheldon, who is rescued from a car crash and nursed back to health by avid reader Annie Wilkes, played by Lucia Frangione.
Wilkes’ motives are, well, suspect, and Sheldon realizes he isn’t so much a guest in her home, but captive.
The play is directed by Rachel Ditor, who as a teen was thrilled by King’s popular horror stories.
“There was something delicious to my friends and I about being too scared to turn the page and too thrilled to put the book down,” she notes in the Misery show program.
“And being able to tell a good scary story live? Well, that was the best. Delivering the goriest parts like a punch line to a joke was an enviable skill. Misery provides that same good sport of knowing something icky is going to happen and looking forward to it anyway. On top of that, the play version of the story also gives us the good sport of compelling live performances.”
The touring production opens in West Van and hits stages in New West and North Van before playing Surrey Arts Centre from Jan. 10 to 20, as part of the venue’s Surrey Spectacular season of shows. The tour continues through Coquitlam, Vernon, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Mission and Maple Ridge before the play ends up on the Arts Club’s Granville Island Stage for a month, starting April 5.
The stage adaptation of King’s story is written by two-time Academy Award winner William Goldman, who penned the 1990 screen version of the book.
“Misery is a show we’ve all been looking forward to for some time,” says Bill Millerd, who in 2018 will retire from his job as the Arts Club’s longtime artistic managing director.
“Staging a thriller by the master of the genre, Stephen King, is a rare opportunity and we’re excited to bring you something quite different. (Ditor) has given our longtime props master Michael Gall and his team the chance to really show off their talent for special effects. Hold your neighbour’s hand if you need to, as we aim to have you jumping out of your seats!”
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Ditor calls McNee “a magnetic performer” for his “funny, honest and inventive,” work, and considers Frangione “one of the most fearless artists I know, willing to risk everything to tell a great story.”
The play also features Munish Sharma as Buster, the town sheriff.
All three of the actors in Misery have worked in previous Arts Club productions, and the stage lights shine brightest on Frangione and McNee this time around.
“Casting such warm and fearless performers as Lucia Frangione and Andrew McNee adds some humanity to this classic thriller,” Ditor adds. “In them we have people to root for and identify with in a way that makes the most of experiencing this story live.”
Other members of the play’s creative team include Lauchlin Johnston (set design), Stephanie Kong (costume design), Andrew Pye (lighting design), Murray Price (original music and sound design), Rick Rinder (stage manager) and Shelby Bushell (apprentice stage manager).
At Surrey Arts Centre, the opening-night date (Wednesday, Jan. 10) is a chance for patrons to “relax, socialize, and enjoy complimentary appetizers” from 6:30 p.m. Other special events during the run of the play include First Friday (“enjoy dessert and coffee after the show—with a chance to meet the actors!” on Jan. 12), a Paint at the Play Art Camp (for kids, while adults enjoy the Jan. 13 matinee), a Talkback Thursday (“stay in the theatre after the show for a chat with the actors,” on Jan. 18), and a VocalEye staging (live audio description for patrons with visual impairment, on Jan. 20, 4 p.m.).
Tickets for Misery range from $29 to $49 at the venue box office. Call 604-501-5566 for details, or visit tickets.surrey.ca.
The show comes with an audience advisory for mature themes, strong language and some violence.