Terry Ruth and Terrance Eissfeldt perform a comedy skit during the Evening of Vaudeville at Gate House Community Theatre in Port McNeill Saturday.

Vaudeville variety a victory for arts society

Gate House Community Association debuts An Evening of Vaudeville.

PORT McNEILL—Gate House Community Association’s debut effort of An Evening of Vaudeville proved a mixed bag — in every respect. But the society at least has something to build on should it bring back the event to Gate House Theatre in the coming years.

Sure, there were warts: a couple of prospective acts bowed out in the days before Saturday night’s show; the Charlie Chaplin silent short, played on DVD to kick off the evening, suffered a regrettable freeze on screen; and the theatre’s stage proved a bit confining for the Nutcracker ballet number performed by members of Portside Dance Academy.

But those were just a few hiccups on an evening that drew about 50 people — some of whom split their time between performers and audience members — for a wide-ranging variety show featuring local entertainers.

The tone was set in the lobby, where 1920s-era music played as theatre manager Olivia Jorgenson greeted guests dressed in period costume.

Inside, there were more throwbacks to the original vaudeville era. In addition to the aborted Chaplin short, Gate House founder Terry Ruth Eissfeldt led the audience in a sing-along of tunes from the likes of Billie Holliday and Gene Autry. The North Island Community Band, which had a mishap or two of its own in the early going, finished with a flourish, drawing whoops for its interpretation of the Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody medley.

Gaby Wickstrom, resplendent in top hat and black jacket, served as master of ceremonies, and Craig Murray served as designated heckler, whether or not he was invited for that purpose.

Among the acts, Gordon Henschel proved a big hit with his set of acoustic guitar-backed songs, a mix of original and cover tunes that featured audience participation (Dr. Hook’s Cover of the Rolling Stone) and laughs (Fur Coat, Chocolate and White Lightning).

Terrance and Terry Eissfeldt performed a comedy skit featuring a long-married couple, and the evening was bracketed by dance numbers, starting with Portside Academy’s ‘Snowflakes’ and ending with a Zumba routine, featuring Katrina Jorgenson, Sequoia Coe and Kathy Walker and led by Kendra Parnham-Hall, which included a “flapper” segment to general applause.

Terry Eissfeldt reiterated the society’s aim to promote the arts and bring live theatre to the North Island. And for one night, at least, it did just that.

Next up for the theatre is a community Christmas concert this Saturday, following the 6:45 p.m. lighting of the Christmas Tree at Pioneer Mall.