Two shows, one company and a group of young actors who just can’t wait to give some audience the song and dance about show biz.
Returning for a second summer to stage outstanding material even the actors are willing to call risky and challenging, Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival is gearing up to launch its second act this Thursday with Private Eyes, a comedy relationship thriller about making theatrical art.
“It’s a beautiful evening in the Rotary Centre common and you really have to be ready to laugh,” said Xavier de Salaberry who plays Jeff Bowen in the musical [title of show] and Frank in Private Eyes.
Kelowna Summer Theatre is a relatively new creation from the now defunct Viva Musica Society, which offers two plays (a play and a musical) for a month-long run, alternating the nights for each show in what’s called repertoire theatre.
There are five actors, one handles stage management on one show, and they each play key roles in the musical and the play—hence the repertoire.
As one might have caught from the name [title of show], this year’s musical is about the theatre business and so is the play, Private Eyes.
Staggered to launch Thursday, so the cast could get the kinks worked out of the musical before heading into the second production, Private Eyes is also about show biz, specifically a couple rehearsing for a show.
“When I read [title of show] I knew I had the musical, but I read scripts all the way through to December before finding Private Eyes,” said Neal Facey, retired Kelowna Secondary School drama teacher and the artistic director for the young company.
Private Eyes is a particularly challenging work Facey believes audiences who love twists and turns will be thrilled to see in a community where safe and traditional have been the normal theatrical palette.
Playing to the fourth wall, an acting term for the audience point of view, it poses a tricky challenge as the audience tries to sort reality from story, fact from fiction among some pretty untrustworthy characters.
To say the least, it’s not work for amateurs and the five young actors who’ve come to the city to stage these shows have the sorts of impressive training that needs this kind of base to build out resumés and secure big jobs down the line.
Madeleine Suddaby and de Salaberry graduated from Capilano University’s theatre program together; Stephanie Moroz is a Vancouver actor and graduate of Studio 58; Nabil Ayoub was trained at the College of Performing Arts in Victoria and Graham Miles in the University of Victoria’s department of theatre.
There are challenges here for each of them. Moroz, for example, hasn’t worked on a straight play in some time as she’s a musical theatre specialist.
“Not being able to hide behind a song and dance is quite the challenge,” she quipped. “But I like it.”
Unfortunately, just a week into their season, audiences are sparse.
Without attendance, jazz singer Anna Jacyszyn has had to pull the evening of live music that was to run Mondays when the thespians take a night off. And while the shows will go on for the others, the lack of attendance does not help the upstart company or the young actors.
“It would be nice to have some more people out,” said Miles, a 23-year-old who has just landed a spot in a coveted New York master’s degree program.”I think they are adventurous choices. I think Neal was really trying to keep something smart and interesting in this program. He wasn’t playing it safe.”
See the city’s latest cutting edge theatre, with the fresh young faces who just might fill the seats on Broadway within a few years, at the Rotary Arts Centre front stage. Shows at 8 p.m. through to August 12. Tickets start at $25.