The Cranbrook and Kimberley theatrical community is sustaining a big loss, with the departure of one of its most active and prolific members.
Tanya Laing Gahr has accepted a position with the City of Vernon as its Communications Director. Laing Gahr is currently in preparations for "Visiting Mr. Green," a play she is directing at the Studio Stage Door, which opens Nov. 29. Though Laing Gahr will be on the job by then, she will be back for the play's opening night.
Laing Gahr admits it was a difficult decision to pull up stakes and leave Cranbrook, which has been her home for longer than 15 years.
"Cranbrook has always embraced and supported me," she said. "It's very hard to leave. And theatre was definitely my in into Cranbrook culture."
Laing Gahr first started appearing in plays produced by Ken and Christie Miller, who no longer reside here.
"Annie" was her first production. "I played Lily St. Regis, and I was seven months pregnant," she recalls. "So they decorated me with flounces, boas and big feathery things."
That was in 1998. Since then, she's appeared in innumerable plays by locally renowned directors like Paul Kershaw ("Westside Story"), Byron Olson ("Playboy of the Western World"), David Stock ("Habeus Corpus"),and Terry Miller ("Toyer"). She has directed several professional and community productions including "Babe Ruth Comes to Pickle River" for Fort Steele Heritage Town and Cranbrook Community Theatre; "Self Help" and "Lend Me a Tenor" for Kimberley Summer Theatre; and "Murder at the Howard Johnson's," "The Actor's Nightmare," "Sylvia," and "Spirit of the Bayonet", all with Cranbrook Community Theatre.
Laing Gahr has produced, directed and acted in numerous murder mysteries with her company, Stab In the Dark Productions, and has directed two productions of "Vagina Monologues" with Drama Queen Productions.
Other roles include the character Belinda in "Noises Off," the titular character in "Mrs. Sorken," and the leads in "The Constant Wife," "A Time To Kill," and "Oleanna."
Tanya is also an alumnus of Fort Steele Follies and Fort Steele Heritage Town's Living History.
Laing Gahr has also served on the board of Cranbrook Community Theatre.
"Cranbrook has always let me do my thing," she said. "When I first got here, and said I wanted to be an actor, Cranbrook let me be an actor. I wanted to be a paid actor, Cranbrook let me be a paid actor (working at Fort Steele Heritage Town, and with her own company Stab in the Dark Productions, doing improvs and murder mystery dinner theatres)."
Laing Gahr said that while the theatre community was her "in" into Cranbrook culture, there was a lot more to it than that.
"This building (the Studio Stage Door) has been my second home, and the people here (Cranbrook Community Theatre) have been my second family she said.
"I think the best part of being part of the theatre community, is that you really get to see people rise, and develop. You get to see people bring something out, and it's been hugely rewarding to witness that process."
"Visiting Mr. Green," Laing Gahr's latest dramatic opus, opens Nov. 29 at the Studio Stage Door. See more on the play next week in the Cranbrook Daily Townsman.