The 10-year-old Vancouver nonprofit moves into music, murder and drama
photos by anni becker [nggallery id=20]
Magenta Theater was founded by Vancouver transplant Jaynie Roberts in 2002 when she was homeschooling her children. Formerly from England, where she studied theater before completing her university degree in California, Roberts had begun writing plays around this time, and she wanted a place to produce them while spending time with her children.
It started very simply, Magenta’s artistic director and president said: “I wanted to put on a play and have my kids involved.”
The theater took off fairly quickly, but for the first few years Roberts was writing all the plays. Then ticket sales created enough income to put on a few well-known productions, focusing mostly on family-oriented plays and musicals.
In November 2008, after years of renting stages and spaces at local churches, Magenta leased its own space at 606 Main St. in downtown Vancouver. Originally, they thought they would be renting out the theater to other groups for events and productions, but the schedule quickly filled.
Magenta has an eclectic repertoire, and the group is always trying something new. Its offerings include an improv troupe, which was performing regularly on First Fridays; Magenta and Friends, a full rock band that is featured in the Best of Rock and Roll, a music revue that also invokes the spirits of musicians such as Janis Joplin and Elvis; and dinner theater at Main Street’s Rosemary Café.
And while the theater has generally been known for its family friendly musicals and other productions, now annually, it puts on a murder mystery.
“At first, we were a little bit leery about doing a more edgy show because we have been known for more family friendly stuff, but it’s once a year and we love it,” said Roberts.
In the spring, Magenta will be headed again into new territory with a dramatic piece, Shadowlands, the story of C.S. Lewis and his relationship with Joy Gresham.
Ending the summer will be a dramatic reading of Doubt in the Magenta After Hours series. The first reading was The Laramie Project, which was very well received. Each reading is followed by a “talk back” session, where questions can be asked of the director, actors and producer, as well as other professionals.
The After Hours series is a project of the theater’s educational arm, Magenta Theater Academy. The readings “are an opportunity for people who don’t want to take on a large project, but [would like to] direct or act in an After Hours project,” said Roberts.
The theater is a nonprofit, taking in money through ticket sales, small fundraisers and the theater academy. The group has received one grant in the past and is actively seeking grants today. The cast and crew are all volunteers and anyone is welcome to audition, although a core group performs in many of the plays.
“Recently, we have had some amazing new actors that we are hopeful will come back and do more shows with us,” said Roberts. “We do really like to use fresh faces.”
MAGENTA THEATER COMPANY
606 Main St., Vancouver
For a complete listing of the season’s events, check the website. All tickets available online.
Dinner theater at Rosemary Café
Talent for Murder
You Can’t Take it With You