March 8, 2022

The Cult of Brother 12A legendary Vancouver Island spiritualist-turned-con man meets a who’s who of mid-Island theatre talent in the new musical “The Cult of Brother 12”, opening March 25th at Nanaimo’s Western Edge Theatre.

With a high-spirited script and witty lyrics by Nanaimo playwright Bill Miner, and music by Miner and Nanaimo composer Marty Steele that will leave you humming the tunes, “The Cult of Brother 12” is a delightful theatrical romp.

Dean Chadwick plays the notorious cult leader who in the 1920s established a colony of rich and gullible followers at Cedar-by-the-Sea south of Nanaimo, later expanding his empire to Valdes and DeCourcy islands. Lauren Semple plays his equally infamous partner in chicanery, Madame Zee, while Rick Meyers, Frank Moher, Alejandro Mujica, and Haley Turnbull round out the expert cast.

British-born, Brother XII (aka Edward Wilson) told his acolytes that he channeled the “ascended masters,” supposedly mystical beings who were guiding the earth towards a spiritual awakening. One of them, he said, gave him his adopted name.

Edward Wilson, aka Brother XIIThings took a decidedly unenlightened turn, however, when he was accused of pilfering colony funds and began an affair with Zee (aka Mabel Skottowe), who helped him turn his utopian encampment into something more like a slave colony. The turmoil ended up in court in Nanaimo, where it is said Brother XII used black magic to render his accusers speechless and cause the judge to growl like a dog.

Then there were the jars of buried gold. What jars of buried gold? All will be revealed, hilariously and very tunefully, in “The Cult of Brother 12”!

Bill Miner directs, with musical direction by Marty Steele, choreography by Geneviève Caron, set design by Jennifer Thompson, lighting design by Ward Norcutt, and costume design by Lorna McLellan. Larry Walske is the Projections Supervisor, the Videographer is Arpen Jhajj, and Caron Byrne is the Assistant Costumer. Stage Manager: William Anderson.

“The Cult of Brother 12” plays for seven performances only, March 25, 26, 31 and April 1, 2 at 7:30 pm, and March 27 and April 3 at 2 pm, at the OV Arts Centre, 25 Victoria Rd., Nanaimo (see map here).

Tickets for the Thursday performance cost $26 for Adults, $22 for Seniors (65 and over), and $15 for Young Adults (29 and under) and Students. Tickets for all other performances cost $28 for Adults, $24 for Seniors, and $18 for Young Adults and Students, available online at or by phone at 250-816-6459.

The production comes with an audience advisory for some adult content.

The 2021-22 Western Edge Theatre season is generously supported by Romper Room Indoor Rock Climbing Centre, InPrint Graphic Design and Printing, Literacy Central, and the Nanaimo News-Bulletin. It is also made possible by financial support from the British Columbia Arts Council, the Province of British Columbia, and the City of Nanaimo.

Western Edge Theatre extends its gratitude to the Snuneymuxw First Nation, on whose traditional lands we live, work, and perform.