When I first saw [Title of Show] years ago during the Victoria Fringe Festival, I was hooked on a feeling. Urban Arts Productions is a wonderful collective of talents, and while they seemingly have disappeared from previous year’s schedules, that’s only because this celebration selects its shows through lottery. Not every company is lucky to be able to perform every year and apparently, they took a break because those days jobs were really paying the bills. True to this story, to be a full time actor-director-playwright is tough. To see this group regroup and to perform again (with recognizable talents on board) only reveals how they have has grown and to stay a fixture in this city’s arts scene.
I like to see them perform independently from the Fringe, and they can certainly bring the house down. This musical was one great show to end the 2016 Victoria Fringe Festival with, and according to Pat Rundell, the founder of this collective, they are back and are developing new shows.
Singing sensation Tara Britt (My Fair Lady, Singing in the Rain) plays Heidi in this production. Sadie Evans (The Rocky Horror Show, Annie) is Sarah – the Veronica to Tara’s Betty (ala the comic strip Archie). They really shine together in the musical number, “Secondary Characters,” and their solo numbers, “Die, Vampire, Die!” (Susan) and “A Way Back to Then” (Heidi & Company) are very memorable.
Rundell (Amadeus, Into the Woods, The Hobbit) plays a very optimistic Hunter, and Liam McDonald (Spamalot) plays a by-the-numbers realist, Jeff. The line-up from the show many years ago have changed, and this performance is a lot more powerful when compared to what I can recall. The harmonies are infinitely better and everyone was on their A game; their enthusiasm certainly shows. Evans and Rundell were particularly cute on stage.
It’s hard not to make comparisons since I’ve seen this show by the same group nearly half a decade apart. Back then, the pianist was Larry; this year Nancy Curry is worked into the play into a more satisfying pace. I really enjoyed how the engagement got amped up a notch. I guess the company must have seen my B Channel News review from years ago (reprinted on next page). Part of my opinion has changed since then, and I really like to see [Title of Show] again, perhaps in a bigger venue, so more fans of musical theatre can come see it.
I was hooked onto this genre from an early age, and this show is certainly a love letter to the style (following themes like from Irving Berlin’s There’s No Business Like Show Business to Jonathan Larson’s Rent). As much as I like to see a proper Broadway show in New York or travel to touring productions in Vancouver or Seattle, there’s a charm from local groups that I adore. When there’s self-referential bits, like a plug for the upcoming Monty Python’s Spamalot at the McPherson Playhouse this coming week, I had to laugh myself silly and will have to buy my tickets at the door (if not soon!
5 Blokes out of 5