Marcia Strang and Erica Bearss are cooking up chili and plenty more in Metro Theatre’s season-opening comedy production 5 Alarm.
The Tsawwassen actors are thrilled to be on stage again as Metro moves ahead with its 2020/21 season amid plenty of COVID-19 safety measures, including a capacity of just 50 in the 300-plus seat Marine Drive venue.
“Conversations began back in August and auditions were held with social distancing in place. It was different, but at the same time we were elated to still be able to do it,” said Bearss, who first worked with Strang six years ago on a Sidekick Players production. “Talking among our bubble group, we’re just all so happy to be doing this. There was a level of sadness from a lack of a creative outlet (with the theater closures).”
Written by Canadian playwright Kristen Da Silva, 5 Alarm unfolds in the small B.C. town of Lumby, which is home to the annual Wayne Rose Memorial Chili Cook-off where local residents fight tooth and nail for the title and cash prize of Chili Champion.
The most determined is Ava Rose (Strang), who has pursued the title unsuccessfully for 16 years, to commemorate the memory of her father and former chili expert. This year with the help of her new and quirky assistant (Bearss), Ava returns for a 17th time to battle her former childhood friend and rival, Connie, who has bested her five years in a row. If Ava can piece together her late father’s missing Five Alarm Chili recipe she might just have a chance at piecing together the mysteries of her past and finally bring home the trophy.
“It’s a lot of fun and a super funny show. It’s everything to me. It’s my lifeblood, my father’s legacy this competition and I have never won. My arch enemy has been winning for years and I am determined,” said Strang. “Interplay between all the characters is the best part of it. There’s ups and downs, highs and lows. Lots of action too.”
In preparation for her role, Bearss’ visited Lumby during a recent family vacation and even fed animals at Emma Lea Farms on Westham Island.
“Ava gets an advertisement out of a newspaper that said I have food prep experience but actually I worked at a petting zoo,” added Bearss. “There is some character development and there are relationship components too so it’s not just a full on slapstick comedy type thing.”
5 Alarmopens Oct. 29 with 8 p.m. shows four times a week (Wednesday, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays) along with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. It runs until Nov. 21 and tickets must be purchased online by visiting www.metrotheatre.com.