British Columbia

Barkerville theatre troupe to visit B.C. communities heavily impacted by wildfires

On Friday, a threatre troupe from Barkerville, B.C., kicks off its new tour. It will visit communities in the province's Interior that were hit hardest by floods and wildfires over the last two years. 

Tour proceeds will go to help with recovery efforts in Cariboo communities

The Phoenix Tour will feature the one-hour 'Mrs. McGinley's Gold Rush Variety Show,' which will give audiences a taste of the Gold Rush days. (Theatre Royal Barkerville Facebook)

On Friday, a threatre troupe from Barkerville, B.C., kicks off its new tour. It will visit communities in the province's Interior that were hit hardest by floods and wildfires over the last two years.

Barkerville's Theatre Royal recently received a $5,000 grant from the New Pathways to Gold Society—a non-profit organization to help support the nine-show tour dedicated to finding solutions to challenges facing communities along the historic Gold Rush/Spirit Trails in the Cariboo region.

Proceeds of the theatre's Phoenix Tour will go to help with recovery efforts in each community. 

Richard Wright, the director of the theatre company, says in the Gold Rush days Theatre Royal often did benefits for people who were falling on hard times. He says the current theatre group is continuing that tradition. 

"The idea was we would get out and inspire people, thank the Cariboo for their support and show that the Cariboo has a really strong attitude," Wright told Shelley Joyce, host of Daybreak Kamloops

Rehearsal for the Phoenix Tour at the Sunset Theatre in Wells, B.C. (Richard Wright / Theatre Royal Facebook)

A taste of the Gold Rush

Barkerville, located 80 kilometres east of Quesnel, was the main town of the Cariboo Gold Rush in B.C. in the 1860s. The Phoenix Tour will feature the one-hour 'Mrs. McGinley's Gold Rush Variety Show,' which will give audiences a taste of the Gold Rush days.

"They'll see a show very much like they might have seen in the 1860s ... "They'll see lots of dancing, singing, comedy … just a wide variety of material," Wright said.

The Phoenix Tour story line is set in 1869 as the Theatre Royal is celebrating its 150th anniversary. The original theatre burned down in 1868 after a fire destroyed much of Barkerville. 

Wright says Barkerville and the theatre continue to be affected by wildfires. In the summer of 2017, Theatre Royal saw a 70 per cent drop in admissions, and in 2018, it saw a 52 per cent drop due to wildfire effects in the community. 

"It was a huge impact for us."

The Phoenix Tour runs May 3-12, and will stop at Wells, 100 Mile House, Burns Lake, Ashcroft, Valemont, Williams Lake, Prince George, Vanderhoof and Fraser Lake.

With files by Daybreak Kamloops

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