The Pirate Queen of the Kootenays

New play at Fort Steele Heritage Town opens Sunday, June 21

Trevor Crawley

It will be another drama-filled summer out at Fort Steele for all the right reasons as programs get underway in the townsite proper and the Wildhorse Theatre.

Professional actors will be out on the streets in period costumes performing little vignettes around the town, while the Wildhorse Theatre will be hosting daily productions of ‘The Pirate Queen of the Kootenays’.

The production, which was written by Fernie’s Lindsay Vallance, centres on the fictional frontier town of Gaberdine’s Landing—a stand-in for Fort Steele—and the adventures of the local citizens.

“So all sorts of nefarious things are happening in Gaberdine’s Landing and so the brave and courageous Ladies Aid Society has to step in and take the law into their own hands,” said Vallance, who also olds various other job titles such as stage manager, actor, and prop-builder.

“…We’re bringing it back to it’s vaudeville roots in a way, because we’re going to have singing and dancing in the show and we’re going to have a live piano player who will accompany the songs.”

Starting from June 21, the play will run every day at 1 p.m. in the Wildhorse Theatre until September 6.

She teases that there will be, “singing, dancing, piracy, canoes, soup and a whole bunch of other things.”

The play was written by Vallance, but is being directed by Truus Verkley, who is also in charge of the choreography.

Vallance adds that she created the fictional location of Gaberdine’s Landing in order to take a little creative license with her plot points. However, there are veiled references to Fort Steele and the frontier lifestyle of the 1890s.

“It was specifically written for Fort Steele, it really couldn’t be performed anywhere else,” Vallance said. “The play has a lot of Kootenays-based humour, I would say.

“There’s definitely some things in there for people who live in the Kootenays that probably the people who don’t live here won’t get.”

As part of the drama team out at Fort Steele, professional actors and actresses have been hired from Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

However, there is some local flavour as well, starting with Vallance, who hails from Fernie. Local drama talent Tyrel Hawke is also involved as a musical director, while Lauren Martin wrote the music and the lyrics to the musical numbers.

In addition to the daily theatrical runs of the play, there are also street scenes sprinkled throughout the town.

“We’re sort of reviving some old favourite scenes and taking the street theatre back into more of a historical theme,” said Vallance. Those scenes are being directed by Nevada Yates-Robart.

Tickets for the Pirate Queen of the Kootenays are available at the door. They’re also available as part of a Steal of a Deal package that includes entry into the fort, admission into the play, a wagon ride and a train ride.

Cranbrook Daily Townsman