Now going into its 13th year, Night at the Palace at Errington War Memorial Hall comes down to all of the hard work of volunteers, says Lane Franklin.
“The show isn’t one person, it’s anywhere from 50 to 100 people that put this show on every year and it’s all volunteers,” Franklin said.
Franklin, one of the many volunteers, described the Night at the Palace volunteers as “the vaudeville family.”
“If it wasn’t for the volunteers, the group of volunteers, and the cast because they’re volunteers as well … this show wouldn’t happen. The volunteers are what makes this show,” Franklin said.
Night at the Palace is Feb. 17, 18, 24 and 25 at Errington Hall (1390 Errington Rd.) at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
The four performances are an evening of vaudeville with a touch of burlesque. Performances include music, dancing, singing and comedy, all from local talent.
When Night at the Palace started, Franklin said, the two original organizers wanted to put together an elegant burlesque show.
“It evolved into other people that came together and wanted to participate, either with their little idea of an act or to be an extra in one of the acts,” he said. “The evolution of it was just people wanting to be a part of it. The main part was volunteering for the hall, but then there was also the part where people wanted to get up on stage and have fun.”
Franklin said each year there is a range of performances.
“There are some years where it is burlesque heavy and some years where it’s comedy heavy and some years it’s a balance,” he said. “Every year, there’s an ebb and flow, so there’s anything from spoken word to comedy skits to just beautiful singing.”
In all of his years volunteering, Franklin said, there is something different every year.
“Surprisingly, it’s been going on for 13 years and every year there’s ideas coming out of the woodwork and I think maybe in the 13 years, there has only been maybe two repeat acts and they changed them enough that they weren’t the same,” Franklin said.
It’s the volunteers, Franklin said, that help to organize the 20- to 30-act show in a timely manner.
Franklin said preparation for the show starts months in advance. He said there is a meeting where people share their ideas for acts for the coming year, while some people are already working on ideas for the following year.
“There are a couple of people that almost had their idea jelled enough to do it this year, and they said, ‘No, I’m going to wait until next year because there are a few things they still want to work out,” said Franklin, adding that people talk about their ideas year-round.
As the years have gone on, Franklin said, the show and its props have evolved, including the stage. Franklin said the extension to the stage wasn’t built until after the first few years of shows.
“The steps that are in the front, we were putting it together one night, and somebody said, ‘We need some steps up to this thing.’ One of the guys left the hall and came back about 20 minutes later and he carried in these steps,” said Franklin, adding that the stairs fit perfectly.
“He goes, ‘I just cut them off the front of my porch.’”
Franklin said one of his favourite parts of Night at the Palace isn’t even the show itself.
“It’s coming through the door and into the main room and all you see if people rehearsing on stage, there’s some band members practising a few of the different parts, then you look down on the floor and people are creating props, there’s kids running around and checking out everything… You know that all of these people are volunteering for the hall,” Franklin said.
People are encouraged to dress up in costumes from the 1850s to the 1940s.
For more information about the annual Night at the Palace vaudeville show, visit www.erringtonhall.bc.ca/