Nicole Busby played the wife of William Shakespeare in Western Edge Theatre’s 2006 production of Shakespeare’s Will. On May 11 she will reprise her past roles at Western Edge’s 15th Anniversary Gala. (Photo supplied)

Western Edge celebrates 15 years of theatre in Nanaimo

Anniversary gala to feature past performers reprising roles

When Nicole Busby moved to Nanaimo 25 years ago to study theatre at VIU, she said there were limited local acting options. So when Frank Moher founded Western Edge Theatre in 2003, it didn’t take long for her to get involved with the local theatre company.

“I was home with two small children and I thought, ‘I need to go do some acting work and I need to get paid for it so I can justify leaving the kiddos,’” Busby said. “And the next day or something Frank called me up and asked me if I wanted to audition for a show.”

That show was the 1999 play Boston Marriage by Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright David Mamet. Since then, Busby has acted in at least eight plays with the company and directed one as well. Executive director Moher said she’s been “a key person from the beginning.”

Busby will be revisiting one of her past roles when she takes to the Harbour City Theatre stage for the Western Edge 15th Anniversary Gala and fundraiser on May 11.

“It’ll be an evening of scenes and songs from past productions going all the way back to 2003,” Moher said. “Not every production – if we did that it would be too long – but some of the key ones and featuring, in many instances, the original performers.”

He added that the show is also an opportunity to pay tribute to Western Edge’s loyal audience members. Moher said the gala will highlight the company’s original productions, including Moher’s Supreme Dream, a one-person musical featuring songs by ’60s Motown group the Supremes, the first show ever staged by Western Edge.

”I may end up performing a bit of that myself, though I promise not to sing,” Moher said.

Moher said the 15-year anniversary is particularly meaningful to those who have been involved since the start. He said times have sometimes been “arduous,” with the company occasionally unable to stage performances due to issues like insufficient funding. But through it all Moher said Western Edge has persevered, improved its production values and “maintained programming that is both entertaining and often pushes the envelope.”

Busby said Western Edge has been a major part of her theatre career and she’s happy support a group that supported her for many years. Although it’s been five years since her last production with the company, she said she’s eager to work with them again.

“As an actor, it’s not easy to get work, especially if you’re outside a big community like Vancouver,” she said. “It is getting better because a lot more TV and film work is coming to the Island, but at that time with a young family it was very difficult to get acting work. So Western Edge was providing that as well as a sense of community between theatre artists in the area.”

WHAT’S ON … Western Edge 15th Anniversary Gala fundraiser takes place at Harbour City Theatre, 25 Victoria Rd., On Saturday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $40 from and 250-816-6459. Tax receipts available for a portion of the ticket price.

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