The fabulous Colleen Wheeler, in her 12th season at Bard this summer, is thrilling audiences in her colossal role: Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth Rex. We caught up with Colleen to hear about her experience at Bard and what she likes to do in her time off.

Tell us something about you people don’t know.

I like to go to the Vancouver Airport and watch airplanes land.  There is a place you can go and park, get out and watch commercial jetliners land. There is something inspiring about the power of a jet engine – it makes me feel invincible like anything can happen.  I am also obsessed with shows about airplane crashes.

Colleen celebrating her new look for Elizabeth Rex (Photo Credit: Emily Cooper)What is unique about working at Bard?

Well I have worked here for quite some time and it is like a second family to me.  I know everyone and everyone knows me.  That is a great gift as an actor.  Most times actors flit about, working with a new group of people each time and don’t really get a chance to put down “roots” in a theatre company. Bard has given me opportunity to grow and  mature as an actor of classic work and I have honed my skills here for sure. Christopher Gaze is a good friend and mentor and I will always be thankful for that.

What’s it like backstage at Bard?

Well, it can be quite colourful.  As you know we have amazing musicians in the shows this year so there are many impromptu musical jams backstage before and after the show.  Ben Elliot improvises on the piano and Bonnie will join in with her horn as well as Chris Cochrane, Anton Lipovetsky and others – it’s amazing and very entertaining.  Bernard Cuffling is usually giving out chocolate treats at the half hour, David Mackay is making people laugh heartily, Lois Anderson is usually yelling about something or other and Haig Sutherland is playing a spirited game of chess with someone.  It’s a pretty entertaining place to be.

What do you love about working in the theatre?

I love the tradition of the theatre – putting on makeup, hearing stage management call the half hour, the fifteen, the five, places.  It’s all very exciting and a true gift to be able to do.  I feel very lucky.

What is your favourite thing to do when you have time off.

I love to hang out with my family – we live in Lynn Valley and we have so many fun trails and things near our house.  I just got a trail-a-bike for my daughter Lily and we love to go out on that. Colleen with Andrew Wheeler and the cast of Elizabeth Rex (Photo Credit: David Blue)

Elizabeth Rex is almost sold out! If you’re not able to grab a ticket, catch Colleen in Measure For Measure until September 13.

[Header image by Emily Cooper]