DEBERT - It started as a way to give to the community.
But after some actors formed a dinner theatre group called The Village Follies in Debert 10 years ago, the community immediately gave back and has been since.
"We've created a three-headed monster," laughed playwright Shannon Fielding. "Once we started we couldn't stop because people were asking what we were doing next year."
The group is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and is performing its latest presentation, 'Don't Believe Everything You Sea', during the next two weeks at the Debert Hospitality Centre. All six shows have sold out with the exception of their April 14, 7 p.m. performance. Tickets are $35 each and are available at the Hospitality Centre.
To still be performing after 10 years is something none of the group's initial members expected, but they keep going because of the way the community has embraced their shows.
"It's great that the community is responding the way it is," said Lisa McBurnie, the play's director. "When people from the community come up to you and say, 'I really enjoyed that' or 'we come every year' and 'we can't wait to get tickets, when are they coming on sale?' it just makes you feel a sense of accomplishment. We want to give back to the community and they're giving to us by attending."
The Follies' first performance, 'We'll Meet Again', was in November 2001 and featured a wartime theme. They made four performances before a capacity crowd of 88 people.
Now the group has increased its audience to 120 people per show, a number they never have trouble getting. Fielding, who has written the past seven performances for the group, says she thinks it's been so successful because of the experience they offer their audience by serving and interacting with them in character between acts.
"They get to be a part of what's going on," Fielding said.
Aside from the audience reaction, the fun they have while rehearsing and performing is what keeps the members coming back.
"The group is so cohesive," McBurnie said. "Everybody gets along so well. I look forward to the rehearsal process as much as I do the performances."
Fielding said that chemistry between performers translates into a better show, which has kept audiences coming and the group alive.
"I think part of the reason is because the audience sees we have so much fun doing it," she said. "We get along so well. There are no egos and I think the audience can probably see that."
The Village Follies present 'Don't Believe Everything You Sea'
When: April 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16
Where: Debert Hospitality Centre
Time: 7 p.m.
Cost: $35 each (includes meal). Tickets are available at Debert Hospitality Centre
Served: Starter salad, main course choice of chicken or salmon, dessert, beverage, tea or coffee