Growing up in rural Ontario and beginning her education in a one-room schoolhouse provided plenty of comedic material for actress Beverley Elliott. She has penned an autobiographical one-woman musical based on her formative years.
“I call it childhood stories for adults,” she said. She has also described it as “Little House on the Prairie meets Lord of the Flies.”
Based in Vancouver for the past 30 years, Elliott has enjoyed a prolific career in film and television and is perhaps best known as Granny on the international hit series Once Upon a Time. She took up writing about 10 years ago and joined the Wet Ink Collective, a women’s writing group started to encourage those already working professionally in creative industries to write theatre. The process of writing and sharing her work was daunting at first.
“In the beginning it was terrifying for me,” she said. “I didn’t really have huge confidence and thought ‘who is going to want to listen to this?’” The response she got, however, was so encouraging Sink or Swim is her second critically-acclaimed stage work. The show was chosen as Pick of The Fringe at the 2016 Vancouver Fringe Festival and won Best Musical at the 2018 United Solo Theatre Festival in New York City.
The stories and vignettes are carried along by a transporting musical score, she added.
“Most of the show is underscored by Bill Costin, my piano player,” she said. “He does sound effects and plays the songs and it creates an atmosphere that is pretty magical.”
The show promises lots of laughter and some poignant, heartwarming moments, she said.
“People leave and they say their hearts are full. It just seems to strike chords of childhood and rural Canadiana.” She added, “Bring your friends and trust you’re going to have a good time because you will.”
Sink or Swim’s original Saturday, February 9 show has been postponed due to weather conditions. Another show date will be announced in May. Tickets for the original performance will be honoured or can be refunded at the Powell River Academy of Music Box office Monday thru Thursday 9:30 am to 4 pm.