Jim Maher

Short and sweet

All the Great Books Abridged covers 86 of the world’s best tomes in 90 minutes

Even the best test crammers would be impressed.

Schmooze Productions presents 86 classic books in 90 minutes during their production of All the Great Books Abridged.

“It’s like the Saturday Night Live of literature – only funny,” said director and actor Dean Chadwick.

The books are selections everyone should recognize, from War and Peace – more than 1,200 pages – to Little Women.

“We do War and Peace in eight minutes,” Chadwick said.

The cast, consisting of Chadwick, Dave Graham and Jim Maher, know each other well, which is helpful with quick costume changes and rapid-fire dialogue.

“The pace is incredible – it starts at full force and, if anything, gets faster,” Chadwick said. “There are so many props and costumes in this show, you’re changing into another person every few minutes.”

The three-man cast and six support crew went through two months of rehearsal to get the timing right. With 86 of the world’s greatest books to choose from, Chadwick said it’s hard to pick a favourite moment.

“Coach explaining Little Women is a highlight for many people,” Chadwick said. “Think of your P.E. teacher explaining Little Women.”

The play opens Schmooze Productions’ 12th season, which is their first as the resident theatre company at Nanaimo Centre Stage. The company will produce two mainstage plays – Great Books, as well as The Full Monty – a play festival, plus adult and improv acting classes.

Schmooze partnered with Theatre B.C. and Bard to Broadway, in Qualicum, for its earlier shows. Most recently the company produced All Grown Up, a girl-group musical at Malaspina Theatre, and last year’s Rocky Horror Picture Show at Centre Stage.

Requests for adult acting classes and the need for rehearsal space with props, costumes and other equipment readily available led the company to set up shop in the downtown Nanaimo theatre.

“We really wanted to be in a place and call it home,” Chadwick said.

Chadwick, who is a fourth-generation Nanaimoite, said he also wanted to support downtown. Lux Accessories, on Commercial Street, is a ticket outlet and Milestone Winery is the wine supplier. Artwork by local artists is displayed in the building.

“It’s really important to get Nanaimo supporting itself,” Chadwick said.

All the Great Books Abridged runs Nov. 10-12, 17-19, 24-26 and Dec. 1-3 at 8 p.m. Tickets $18.

For tickets, please visit www.schmoozeproductions.com.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com