Meet Michael McIntyre, aka Bellomy in The Fantasticks
Written by Ken Hildebrandt   
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 10:32

Mike_McintyreThose of you who saw The Importance of Being Earnest earlier this season will no doubt remember Michael McIntyre, who played Algernon with gusto. He's back on the G7 stage in our latest production of The Fantasticks, playing the role of Bellomy, one of the fathers. Enjoy this brief back-grounder on Michael as he shares how he got his start in theatre, what he likes about this play and what he hopes you'll get out of the show.


G7: Tell us about your acting background – how did you get involved in theatre in the first place? What makes you continue with it?


I got started in theater when I was in high school and fell in love with it. I was very socially awkward as a kid and performing on stage provided an outlet, a way to express myself. After high school I didn't want to go to college right away, so I looked around for some alternative experiences and was lucky enough to get an internship with a small professional theater in Florida.


I then pursued a degree in Acting at The University of Montana, spent a few years in Seattle and then moved back to my hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska where in the last five years I was involved in over twenty productions. I moved to Abbotsford this past fall and discovered Gallery 7 where before being cast for this production, I just finished performing in The Importance of Being Earnest.


My journey in theater has been a very personal one. I said I was socially awkward as a child and theater really helped me examine social interaction on a very deep and intimate level and as my skill in acting progressed, so did my social skills to the point where I am confident in both, though I never stop trying to improve them.


But my need for theater has grown beyond the purely personal. I think why I continue to do theater is because I make a difference. A good performance affects people emotionally, makes them think or sometimes helps them appreciate life more. And there is nothing like the feeling that you have made a difference in someone else's life, no matter how small.


G7: What drew you to this play?


I was drawn to this play because I had seen it several times in the past and it always entertained. It is both shallow and deep. It is silly and cheesy and ridiculous and yet examines some profound truths. It's a classic. ....and I haven't done a musical for a couple of years.



G7: Is it important to you to be involved with a faith-based theatre? If so, why?


It's not really important to me to be involved in a faith-based theater company, I simply love good theater no matter who is doing it. And so far my experience with Gallery 7 has been nothing but positive.


G7: How does musical theatre differ from non-musical theatre for you? Is there a different process that you go through in preparation? How does the music inform your character?


The musical aspect really does make a difference. I actually find it harder in some ways and easier in others. It's more difficult from a technical perspective because you really have to be precise with the singing and the dancing so more effort in drilling those sections is required and a mistake is more problematic. I definitely find it a bit more frustrating in the beginning part of rehearsal, but because the music informs so much about the character and you usually spend so much more time singing, I find it is usually a bit easier to find where I need to be emotionally.


G7: What do you hope audiences will take away from this play?


I hope they will leave a new ability to appreciate the good things they have in their life. And maybe even learn to cherish the painful parts as well, because they too help define who we are.

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Some notes from Fantasticks director, Charlene Crawford
Written by Ken Hildebrandt   
Thursday, 07 June 2012 12:04

fantasticks_publicity-3115_smWith the opening of The Fanasticks just over 24 hours away, we thought you'd appreciate some insights to the play from our fearless director, Charlene Crawford...


I remember the first time I saw The Fantasticks almost two decades ago. It was in a tiny high-school theatre room. The actors were practically in the audience's lap. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I can honestly say it was worth every crazy second. From the beginning I was drawn into this beautiful story about a boy and a girl: their desires, dreams, and relationships. I was so in love with what I had seen that I sang the music for week. As this was a time before Itunes and YouTube – yes this time did exist – I had nothing but my memories to go on for years.


When I was prepping to direct this show, I was reminded of all those things I felt when I first watched that high school production all those years ago. And as I dug deeper into the script I was reminded of other "love" stories that were familiar to me: The Prodigal Son and Romeo & Juliet. But in the end it wasn't a love story that I found in this show, but rather the words copied down in the Gospel of Matthew: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. So I ask: What are the things in life we want most? What are the things we treasure? What would we do to get these things and to protect them?


So here you are. The show is about to go up and you have no idea what you are about to get yourself into. I will tell you. You are about to watch a girl and a boy very similar to you. They have dreams, hopes, loves, family and a story to tell. Don't be surprised if you find yourself dancing in your seat, asking if you should be laughing or just plain frustrated with the character's decisions.


So I invite you to step out of yourself and join this funny little family who brings you the story of The Fantasticks.



charlene_crawford_-_smAbout Charlene Crawford...


Charlene is no stranger to Gallery 7, having stage managed for the company for the past two years. She has also appeared on the Gallery 7 stage in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Chickens. Charlene hopes you enjoy this little show that came from the Off-Broadway circuit. Not a stranger to directing, this is Charlene's first time directing for Gallery 7 Theatre. She hopes you find some time to "remember" exactly what is important to you!

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Meet Shelley Picard...aka Henry in The Fanasticks
Written by Ken Hildebrandt   
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 10:05

shelley_picard-2739smContinuing on with our blog series showcasing the cast of The Fantasticks...many of you G7 regulars will recognize Shelley Picard. She's been around the theatre for quite some time, serving the theatre in numerous capacities as House Manager and a member of our Board of Directors. She also directed our production of The Boys Next Door a few years back. I think she enjoys being on stage the most, and today, she shares a little about her journey as a theatre artist and what she likes about musical theatre.


For Shelley, performing was the stepping stone from a shy and uncertain teenager to a confident & creative adult. It has been a journey of discovery as with each character she has played over the years, she has learned little truths about her life. This play has been around theatres for as long as Shelley and she feels a real connection to its roots and foundation. Coming from the world of community theatre to the Gallery 7 stage has been refreshing. You will often hear her in the lobby at intermission talking about the importance of focus and knowing where the passion and gifting comes from. Here at G7 - she says- it is about giving back - giving up and giving of ourselves for a common goal. It is about the show and not about satisfying ego.


Musical Theatre is one more level of fun. It is an "other -worldly" kind of experiences. Let's face it - how many people do you know that break out into song when their heart is breaking. But it takes both the performer and the observer to another place, where the harshest of situations are softened by the lilt of musicality . . . and where the truth and heartbreak mingles with the hope of the lyric. The preparation and energy of performing in a musical are much heightened over a non-musical show because it is the performer's energy that carries the audience through and holds them free of disbelief.


Musicals so beautifully convey the human condition. Our complex and hopeful nature is seen and heard and grasped. Shelley is hoping that audiences for The Fantasticks will come away refreshed . . . encouraged and fresh from an "Ahhhh" moment. It is that kind of play. She hopes that you will all laugh out loud.


The Fantasticks opens June 8th, and runs June 9th, 14 - 16, 21 - 23, 2012 at 7:30 PM with discount matinees on June 9th & 23, 2012 @ 2:00 PM at the MEI Theatre, 4081 Clearbrook Road, Abbotsford. Tickets available at House of James, 2743 Emerson Street, or call 604-852-3701.

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2012 FUNdraiser: Dessert Recipes
Written by Ken Hildebrandt   
Thursday, 31 May 2012 13:53

You asked. We delivered. Here are the recipes for some of those delicious desserts we enjoyed at this year's 2012 FUNdraiser. Thanks to all the fine cooks for providing the desserts, and for sharing their recipes with us...


Cyndy's Chewy Chocolate Cookies

1 ¼ c. butter

2 c. sugar

2 eggs

2 t vanilla

2 c flour

¾ c cocoa

1 t. baking soda

½ t. salt

2 c. chocolate chips (I also sometimes use peanut butter chips—family loves those!)


Cream butter & sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda & salt. Blend into creamed mixture. Stir in chips. Drop onto un-greased sheet.

Bake at 350 for 8 – 9 minutes.




-Amy Dueckman



2 c. flour

½ c. icing sugar

1 c. butter or margarine



4 large eggs

2 c. sugar

1/3 plus 2 T. Lemon juice

¼ c. flour

½ t. baking powder


Crust: lightly grease 13" x 9" pan. Sift together flour and sugar. Cut in butter until mixture clings together. Press into pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 min.


Filling: beat together eggs, sugar and lemon juice (can add lemon rind for extra flavour). Stir together flour and baking powder. Stir into egg mixture. This will be fairly runny. Pour over partially baked crust and continue baking for 20-25 min. Cool slightly and sprinkle with additional icing sugar.




-Amy Dueckman


Heat to boiling: 1 c. cold water

4 heaping T. cocoa

½ c. oil

1 stick margarine

Stir in to mixture:

2 c. flour

2 c. sugar



½ buttermilk or sour milk

1 t. soda

1 t. cinnamon

2 eggs


Spread onto a cookie sheet with sides. Bake 18 minute at 400 degrees F.


While cake is baking, prepare icing:


½ c. butter or margarine

4 T. cocoa

6 T. milk

2 c. icing sugar (approx.)

½ c. walnuts or pecans


Melt together sugar, cocoa and milk. Add remaining ingredients. Spread on cake as soon as it comes out of oven.


Note: This makes a large amount of icing. I used about half the amount. Also you will have to judge the amount of icing sugar according to looks and your preference for thickening. It will melt some as you spread it on the warm cake. If you are dealing with nut allergies, of course those can be omitted, but it won't be as good!



Starbucks Oat Fudge Bars (

-Lara Sas


1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup butter

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups oats

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

2 cups chocolate chips

1/2 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla



  • Cream butter, sugar and eggs.
  • Mix flour, soda and oats and add slowly to creamed mixture.
  • Spread 3/4 of this into 9x13 pan.
  • Melt remaining ingredients in a saucepan and pour over dough in pan.
  • Blob the remaining oat mixture on top.
  • Bake at 350° for 25 minutes.



Deluxe Chocolate Marshmallow Bars (

- Marcia Janzen


3/4 cup butter, softened

1-1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons baking cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

4 cups miniature marshmallows



1-1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup peanut butter

3 tablespoons butter

2 cups crisp rice cereal



  • In a small bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  • Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in nuts if desired. Spread in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan.
  • Bake at 350° for 15-18 minutes or until set. Sprinkle with marshmallows; bake 2-3 minutes longer or until melted. Place pan on a wire rack. Using a knife dipped in water, spread marshmallows evenly over the top. Cool completely.
  • For topping, combine the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a small saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until blended. Remove from the heat; stir in cereal. Spread over bars immediately. Chill. Yield: about 3 dozen.



Blonde Brownies

-Roxanne Penner


1 cup butter

2 1/4 cups brown sugar

4 eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 - 12oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate morsels


Melt butter in large saucepan. Add brown sugar, blend well. Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Add vanilla and fold in chocolate chips and walnuts and mix. Spread in greased pan (15 x 10) and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.


From: Kitchen Treasures

PrairieView Press

Box 160

Rosenort, Manitoba

R0G 1W0

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Meet Eldon Letkeman...AKA Hucklebee in The Fantasticks
Written by Ken Hildebrandt   
Monday, 28 May 2012 11:14

eldon_letkeman-4684_-_smEldon Letkeman is no stranger to the Gallery 7 Theatre family. A theatre renaissance man, he's directed a few shows for us (remember Crossing Delancey, Around the World in 80 Days and Peter Pan?), produces those wonderful video previews you see for each production, has done a couple of sound designs and has served on our Board of Directors. This time around, he's acting on our stage...and we're excited for him.


Enjoy some insights from the man himself as he shares about how he got started in theatre, what he thinks of musicals and what he hopes you'll get out of The Fantasticks...


G7: Tell us about your acting background – how did you get involved in theatre in the first place? What makes you continue with it?


I started acting when I was twelve years old, more than twenty years ago. My school held auditions for their annual play, so I thought it would be fun. At the time I never knew what a thrill it would be to immerse myself in the new worlds and experiences that theatre had to offer. That's what keeps me intrigued to this day; the idea that I can be a part of crafting a new and exciting experience for people to enjoy. I love the magic that it adds to my life.


G7: What drew you to this play?


The Fantasticks felt like the next chanter in my theatre life. I've never really performed in musical theatre until now. I have acted, directed and designed for the stage but I've never licked my singing chops for the stage. So this show seemed like a natural progression for me.


G7: Is it important to you to be involved with a faith-based theatre? If so, why?


I've been involved with Gallery 7 Theatre since it first came to the MEI Theatre with The Hobbit. I had the wonderful fortune of playing the great Bilbo Baggins, a truly remarkable experience for me. As most people have come to understand, Gallery 7 is a faith-based theatre company. However, this has never influenced my decision to be involved. I go where I see the talent and passion. Gallery 7 is a truly remarkable company that houses some of the finest talent in this community and its surrounding area. It's decision to build its foundation as a Christian company doesn't determine my opinion. It's drive for excellence and it's commitment to good theatre earns it my respect and continued involvement.


G7: How does musical theatre differ from non-musical theatre for you? Is there a different process that you go through in preparation? How does the music inform your character?


Being in this show has changed how I prepare for a role. Rehearsing the music is an obvious difference, but presenting a character that sings and dances is incredibly challenging. Musicals are an exaggeration of real life. I have to be bigger, more pronounced, more extreme in some respects. But that presents a fun experience as an actor, to be able to go over the top in my character development.


G7: What do you hope audiences will take away from this play?


I hope that in the end the audience will see the message in this play, the need to embrace life to the fullest and to allow ourselves to be the people we're meant to be, regardless of where that road takes us.

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