The Director

Since 2000, Christopher Key has directed the following productions:

 

Poster for Dracula at Blaine Community Theatre, directed by Christopher Key.

 

Dracula

Blaine Community Theatre (2003).  Christopher took Crane Johnson’s adaptation of the Bram Stoker original and further adapted it to set it in the New York corporate headquarters of MenTalCo.  Dr. Seward became a corporate clone trying to keep Renfield from eating fries (not flies).  Dracula became a Donald Trump clone and Van Helsing became a woman.  This production resulted the first-ever sellouts at BCT.

THE STORY (provided by Dramatists Play Service): “Everyone is familiar with the dark tale of Dr. Seward, his fiancée, Lucy, and their mysterious neighbor, Count Dracula, but here the events take on intensified effect through the heightened action and simplified staging of this fast-moving new version. Lucy is suffering from a strange malady, much to the concern of her aunt, Mrs. Harker, and her intended, the scholarly Dr. Seward, and matters are hardly helped by the disconcerting presence of Renfield, whose bizarre behavior … is being observed by the doctor for scientific purposes. Sensing that Lucy’s illness may also be rooted in some undefined and perhaps unnatural phenomena, Dr. Seward has summoned the renowned metaphysician Dr. Van Helsing (here portrayed as a female character) to join them. Under her astute questioning the very odd facts of Lucy’s case begin to emerge, and when their neighbor from Carfax Hall, Count Dracula, pays a call, Van Helsing begins to suspect the horrible truth. Thereafter it is a desperate race to save Lucy, and the others, from Dracula’s evil clutches—and, once and for all, to find and destroy the vampire in his secret hiding place.”

 

 

Salmon Chanted Evening, Blaine Community Theatre, Christopher Key. Free Key Productions

 

Salmon Chanted Evening

Blaine Community Theatre (2004).  Christopher wrote this old-fashioned mellerdrammer specifically for his dear friend Kerry Walker, who played the proprietor of Gillnetter Gertie’s Chum ‘N Chips.  It was performed both at the Blaine Old-Fashioned Fourth of July celebration and at BCT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poster for Black Widow at Blaine Community Theatre Free Key Productions

 

 

Black Widow

Blaine Community Theatre (2005).  Continuing his series of spooky fall productions, Christopher brought in many of his theatrical friends to enliven Paul Thain’s play about murder and class distinctions in Edwardian Britain.  More sellouts resulted.

THE STORY (provided by Samuel French):   “Lord Arlington is dead, poisoned by a corned beef sandwich. His daughter Emily, who is obsessed by Hamlet, becomes convinced that her mother and a family friend are responsible. She sets out to exact a terrible revenge. Madness, murder, passion, ghosts and retribution are all themes in this complex …”

 

 

 

 

 

Dearly Departedt, Bellingham Theatre Guild, Asst. Director Christopher Key Free Key Productions

 

Dearly Departed

Bellingham Theatre Guild (2008).  Christopher served as Assistant Director to Nick McDonald and dialogue coach for this loony bit of social commentary about burial customs in the Deep South.

THE STORY (provided by Dramatists Play Service):  “Not since STEEL MAGNOLIAS has a more colorful and dysfunctional group of Southern eccentrics gathered below the Mason-Dixon line. When the patriarch of the Turpin family keels over dead in the first scene, the struggle to get him buried involves the whole clan, including the not-so-grieving widow who wants to put “Mean and Surly” on the tombstone. “If you were amused by the kind of bucolic mayhem of…GREATER TUNA, this more ambitious trip down a rustic main street could be just your dish of cola.” —NY Post. “Dearly Departed is drop dead funny.”” —NY Daily News.

 

 

Poster for Vampire Dreams at Blaine Community Theatre Free Key Productions

 

Vampire Dreams

Blaine Community Theatre (2008).  In yet another exploration of vampire mythology, Christopher both directed and starred in the Suzy McKee Charnas script about “the vampire next door.”  This production performed both in Blaine and at The Firehouse Performing Arts Center in Fairhaven.

THE STORY (provided by stageplays.com):  “The device for the play is that of a modern and successful psychoanalyst who finds herself strangely attracted to her patient, a renowned anthropology professor who claims to be a vampire. The doctor of course, knows there are no such things as vampires but his sophisticated and erudite manner becomes an obsessive fascination… Charnas’ dialogue is stylish and witty—a contemporary comedy with an unsettling mixture of romance, mysticism, fantasy and sophistication…the play is mesmerizing.” A J Esta, Dramalogue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poster for Mark Twain in Fairhaven at the Lynden Pioneer Museum - Free Key Productions

 

 

Mark Twain in Fairhaven

Lynden Pioneer Museum (2009).  Troy Luginbill, Executive Director of the Lynden Pioneer Museum, approached Christopher to produce a show involving Mark Twain.  Having performed in the original cast of Mark Twain in Fairhaven, written by his friend Joseph Lenz, he suggested this show.  It was a very successful revival thanks to the evocative setting in the museum.

THE STORY: The citizens of Fairhaven, struggling through an economic slump, are all a-twitter about the visit of famed author Mark Twain in 1895.  They are earnestly rehearsing a show to impress him when he walks into the Capital Sample Room incognito.  Twain himself is embarked on a world-wide lecture tour in order to pay off debts incurred from some ill-considered investments.  Instead of solving their problems for them, he inspires them to come up with their own solutions.  Some of the greatest songs ever written and truly Twainian humor highlight this production.

 

 

 

Poster for The Boys From Syracuse at the Bellingham Theatre Guild Free Key Productions

 

 

The Boys from Syracuse

Bellingham Theatre Guild (2009).  After having witnessed far too many of the same musicals produced over and over again, Christopher challenged the BTG to stage this rarely-produced, but delightful show.  His directorial debut at the BTG was a resounding success.

THE STORY:  Based upon William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, this Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical introduces a set of twins in ancient Greece, separated at birth, who find themselves involved in a case of mistaken identity.  Confusion, mayhem and comedy ensue in this delightful and well-written musical.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Damn Yankees,Bellingham Theatre Guild, directed by Christopher Key. Free Key Productions

 

 

Damn Yankees

Bellingham Theatre Guild (Bentley Award) (2011).  The BTG had to invent a special Bentley Award after Christopher achieved new heights in audience engagement.  He incorporated the classic Abbott and Costello routine “Who’s on First?” and had the cast selling peanuts and crackerjacks to the audience in another rarely-produced musical.

THE STORY (provided by Music Theatre International):  “Middle-aged baseball fanatic Joe Boyd trades his soul to the Devil, also known as Mr. Applegate, for a chance to lead his favorite team to victory in the pennant race against the New York Yankees. As young baseball sensation Joe Hardy, he transforms the hapless Washington Senators into a winning team, only to realize the true worth of the life he’s left behind. Joe ultimately outsmarts Applegate, returns to his former self, and shepherds the Senators to the World Series.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evermore, a science fiction rock musical written by Mike Rostron - Free Key Productions

Evermore – Short

Free Key Productions (2012).   Written by local playwright and musician Mike Rostron, this was an abbreviated version of the script performed at the Bellinghamster One Act Theatre Festival.  It gave Christopher a chance to workshop the script for an upcoming production of the full monty.

THE STORY: More than a thousand years in the future small bands of people live and trade in the ruins of a lost and nearly forgotten civilization, while a semi-mythical city from that ancient time orbits above.  Two of these clans, Little Belaire and Dr. Boot’s List, survive partly by bartering very special products that only they can supply.

Rush That Speaks, a young man of Little Belaire, falls in love with a girl of Dr. Boot’s List, but the call of clan identity is stronger than love for Once A Day and she leaves Little Belaire to return to her own people.  After searching for and finding her again Rush is initiated into the strange ritual which binds Dr. Boot’s List together, but he learns that even this is not enough to keep her love.  Overcome with sadness Rush returns to his home, but on the way he meets a messenger from The City In The Sky who offers him a compelling gift – the chance to live forever with them in their city circling high above the world.

The story of Rush That Speaks and his strange destiny is told in dialog, song, and dance with a large cast of characters and the backing of a full rock ensemble.

Mark Twain in Fairhaven, Firehouse Performing Arts Center Free Key Productions

 

Mark Twain in Fairhaven

Fairhaven Association (2012).  Chuck Robinson of Village Books saw Christopher’s staging of Mark Twain in Fairhaven at the Lynden Pioneer Museum and asked the logical question, “Why hasn’t this been done in Fairhaven?”  Chuck marshalled the forces of the Fairhaven Association and the production was staged at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center.  The goal was to produce it every year as a continuing tourist attraction similar to Leavenworth Summer Theatre.  It was successful enough that it will be produced again in line with that  goal.

THE STORY: The citizens of Fairhaven, struggling through an economic slump, are all a-twitter about the visit of famed author Mark Twain in 1895.  They are earnestly rehearsing a show to impress him when he walks into the Capital Sample Room incognito.  Twain himself is embarked on a world-wide lecture tour in order to pay off debts incurred from some ill-considered investments.  Instead of solving their problems for them, he inspires them to come up with their own solutions.  Some of the greatest songs ever written and truly Twainian humor highlight this production.

 

 

 

Love Letters, Firehouse Performiong Arts Center Free Key Productions

 

Love Letters

Free Key Productions (2012).  After appearing with Karen Edland in the rather intense Vampire Dreams, Christopher realized that they have a rather magical stage chemistry.  Karen, after four years away from theatre,  agreed to perform in this emotionally-demanding script and received rave reviews.  This was the first production under the Free Key banner, and the two are exploring future opportunities to work together.

THE STORY (provided by Dramatists Play Service):  “A unique and imaginative theatre piece which, in the words of the author, “needs no theatre, no lengthy rehearsal, no special set, no memorization of lines, and no commitment from its two actors beyond the night of performance.” The piece is comprised of letters exchanged over a lifetime between two people who grew up together, went their separate ways, but continued to share confidences. As the actors read the letters aloud, what is created is an evocative, touching, frequently funny but always telling pair of character studies in which what is implied is as revealing and meaningful as what is actually written down.”

 

 

 

 

 

Evermore the Rock Musical directed by Christopher Key

 

Evermore – Feature Production

Free Key Productions (2013).   Written by local playwright and musician Mike Rostron, this was the full staged version of the script.

THE STORY: More than a thousand years in the future small bands of people live and trade in the ruins of a lost and nearly forgotten civilization, while a semi-mythical city from that ancient time orbits above.  Two of these clans, Little Belaire and Dr. Boot’s List, survive partly by bartering very special products that only they can supply.

Rush That Speaks, a young man of Little Belaire, falls in love with a girl of Dr. Boot’s List, but the call of clan identity is stronger than love for Once A Day and she leaves Little Belaire to return to her own people.  After searching for and finding her again Rush is initiated into the strange ritual which binds Dr. Boot’s List together, but he learns that even this is not enough to keep her love.  Overcome with sadness Rush returns to his home, but on the way he meets a messenger from The City In The Sky who offers him a compelling gift – the chance to live forever with them in their city circling high above the world.

 

Dracula site

 

Dracula

Free Key Productions (2013).  Christopher returned to a favorite genre by producing this adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel by a couple of Brit playwrights.  His stock company delivered an unforgettable rendition of this classic with both Van Helsing and Renfield cast as women.  Music Director John French arranged an a capella quartet for “Abide With Me” that raised goose bumps.

THE STORY: True to Stoker’s original novel, Dracula is a fast-moving multi-layered masterpiece of fear. As a sudden and mysterious storm whips the coast of England, a young woman sleepwalks along the edge of a cliff. In the teeth of the gale, a ship crashes through the harbour entrance, abandoned except for an immense dog and fifty boxes of grave dust. The Transylvanian Count Dracula has arrived in England. Immortal only as long as he is able to drink the blood of the living, he pursues his victims with brutally devastating effect. From the remote wilderness of Yorkshire to a vast ruined castle near to London whose windows omit no light, the race to end Dracula’s lustful power is underway, if only there is still time . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeds3-1 site

Free Key Productions (2016).  In Christopher’s final production before moving to Canada, he directed a two-act comedy by Spokane playwright Craig Rickett.   He enlisted the help of Bellingham’s many pot shops to help promote a show that starred some cannabis plants, along with a brilliant cast of FKP favorites.

THE STORY: Joy, Faith and Chastity (“We have no Hope”) are three spinster sisters raised in the Church of the Nazarene.  They run a soup kitchen for the poor that is in danger of being shut down due to health code violations and have no money to make repairs.  Joy, the eldest sister, is an avid gardener who belongs to a seed exchange.  When she gets an unlabeled packet of seeds from Idaho, she plants them and guess what comes up?  With the help of a retired cop, an ex-con who cooks for the soup kitchen and a naive boy scout, they market their cash crop.  The soup kitchen is repaired, Faith finds love and everyone lives highly ever after.

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