Many of the original members of the improvisational troupe, Mid-Winter Review Crew are still in Tumbler Ridge and occasionally dust off the costumes to take center stage. The basis of the improv group was created out of a hilarious sketch comedy variety show and predominantly used to raise money for groups in the community. Their first show took stage in 1994 and its reputation has preceded it ever since.
On the list of organizations that received the proceeds from Review Crew shows were Arts Council, C.O.P.S., TR Figure Skating Club, Victim Services, House Fire Victims, Medical Assistance Funds, Emergency Social Services, TR Cares and many more.
The plan to have a reunion to coincide with the silver anniversary of Tumbler Ridge was unfortunately held off and coordinator Rose Colledge is hopeful it will still take place in the not so distant future. Teamed with husband Ron Colledge, her daughter Amanda Battenfelder, Mel and Charmaine Shirley and several other regulars in town, it is evident they love to do the shows. Colledge?s quick wit and small stature make for a charming persona named Aunt Lizzy, whom she admits is shaped after her late foster mother. Lizzy is fairly famous in these parts, as was evident when she was asked to speak at the BC Winter Games in 2005. On its impressive list of appearances, the Review Crew has appeared at Grizfest, Liwanis Performing arts centre (KPAC) in dawson Creek, Grizzly Valley Days Variety Show, Children?s Christmas Concert and most notable, the Gideon Song Festival, a fundraiser done annually in Tumbler Ridge for the Gideon Bible folks.
The creation of the Mid-Winter Review Crew was the brainchild of the Colledges, fashioned after a Cape Bretton Island variety troupe called the Summertime Revue Crew (not the change in the spelling of review and revue). They have convinced many people over the years to join them on stage. Both with comedy skits and music, there were
RCMP, pastors, councilors, business people and medical staff alike. A memorable performance by town physician Dr. Charles Helm and head ER Nurse Barb Schuerkamp as they switched roles with Helm in drag as Nurse Scumrat and Schuerkamp doctored up as Dr. Helmet.
While the parents sought stardom and celebrity, daughter Amanda prefers the background, working behind stage as manager and her attention to detail is commendable. When asked if she wants to ever get into the spotlight, she smiles broadly and shakes her head no. ?Never.? she states simply without further deliberation.
While Aunt Lizzy and a few select guests did a short stint at the RCMP Musical Ride reception on the evening of July 28th, Rose Colledge, who is also a town councilor, hopes to see a few more shows in the years to come. Her love of this little lady character was clearly evident when during the fire evacuation in early July, she took a rendering of Aunt Lizzy sketched by local artist Darcy Jackson off her living room wall and had it ready in case she should have to leave Tumbler Ridge behind. She also keeps the Lizzy costume lovingly packed in a special suitcase, opened for special occasions.
The Review Crew has a reputation in town as being explicit and while most find it side-splittingingly funny, they acknowledge they have had some nay sayers over the years. But those few aside, the actors, musicians and audience members have great times.
Of their accomplishments, Colledge says she is proudest of the acquisition of a portable stage system that Review Crew and the Harrison Fund (arts council initiative) helped purchase along with Counter Attack (a high school anti-substance organization). The stage has been of great use for the high school as well as for countless events in the community.
And so how did this group of talented, funny people get to where they are? Colledge answers immediately, through promotion from a few former residents who have experienced Review Crew first hand. They have moved on to other areas of the Peace and when they need a good belly laugh from a colourful cast, they call on the Mid-Winter Review Crew.