Local businesses are all struggling to keep afloat during the current pandemic, and while restaurants and shops find their operations limited, Mission’s community theatre group, Opening Nite Theatre Society, has found itself completely shut down.
ONTS is a volunteer-run organization which has been providing live theatre to the community for over 30 years, and for the last 15 years has had their own small theatre space in downtown Mission.
Relying on ticket and concession sales as well as municipal and provincial grants to fund day-to-day operations, ONTS had to get creative once the pandemic hit. From online play reading competitions to a fully filmed Christmas Pantomime, the group has managed to keep things going. But with no end in sight, they’ve hit upon a new way to bring theatre to Mission.
Camille Atebe, longtime ONTS member and writer of the annual Panto, has written a 12-episode season of a webseries called Bev’s Diner.
The show is set in a small diner, much like Rocko’s, which is open 24 hrs and has a revolving cast of regulars and drop-ins.
The challenge was to write a show that could involve as many people as possible without ever having a crowded set. The solution was to have short, 10 minute episodes with two actors on screen at any point.
Tammy Chrest plays Mel, the waitress who works the graveyard shift and anchors the show. Each episode is a small study in character; some funny, some touching, some bizarre. There is action, pathos and lots of laughs.
The characters are relatable, the plots simple but compelling, and from a budget of zero the group has managed to make a high-quality show.
Atebe, who works in film and television, and can be seen as Cherry Sherry in season two of the Netflix series Snowpiercer, directs some of the episodes, while Norma Rushton, winner of the Best Director Award at the 2019 FV Zone Theatre Festival, directs the rest.
A number of cast members have had experience in film and TV, and the show is filmed and edited by Joe Samorodin. Local award-winning musician Tony Ivan O’Hara wrote and performed the theme song, and graphic designer Jory Bice donated his time to create the show’s branding.
New episodes of Bev’s Diner are released on the 1st, 10th and 20th of each month. ONTS is selling a subscription for $25, which can be bought anytime and gives the subscriber access to all the past episodes and the new ones as they come out.
Viewers can also rent single episodes for $2.99. It’s all available at www.openingnitetheatre.com.