ROSSLAND – It’s less than 30 seconds into the opening song and I’m tearing up!
Beautiful harmonies can string up my heart and cause an embarrassing flood of emotion on any given day but really, John Han, the musical director (amongst just about everything else) for the Gold Fever Follies 2014 production “Off the Rails!” has created something truly transcendent.
I wonder, too, if my tears have something to do with being in the presence of such a treasury of talent. And believe me when I tell you, this year’s cast and crew of the Gold Fever Follies is a goldmine of talent.
As Ingrid Moore, who plays a spitfire of a suffragette, dancehall girl says, “It’s a rainbow of characters in the play this year.”
Moore has just come from performing in “Spring Awakening” a much more somber play to this year’s production of “Off the Rails!” which is anything but somber.
“Yeah,” says Moore with a warm enthusiasm. “We’re pulling out all the stops this year.”
With all the melodramatic traditions in place – saucy dance numbers, the ubiquitous black dress for the evil underbelly in all of us, the triumph of the virtuous hero, political satire in an historical context – RJ Peters, fourth time director of the summer production, has had some fun with what came to him as a spaghetti of characters and themes around the inception of a union and the eight-hour work day.
“I’m trying to draw young people into the past in a fun and entertaining way. You know, just trying to make it relevant for the audience,” Peters says when asked about the contemporary threads that pop up throughout the hour-long performance.
“It’s been a challenge to load so many things into a one-hour musical,” says Han, the musical director, piano player, stage manager, lighting crew, and actor in “Off the Rails!” Han hails from Seoul, Korea via Halifax.
“It’s such an opportunity to finesse my skills with this community of actors,” Han who grew up playing the cello and trombone, sang in seven choirs around Halifax and has studied in the Canadian College of Performing Arts with five of the other cast members and Peters.
From local choreographer, Jill Amantea’s swishy dance moves, to the warm apple triumph of Ian Crowe’s voice, Amy King’s seductive schoolgirl smile, Vaughn Naylor’s soaring vocals to Corey Snidal’s diabolical exits and entrances (his Vincent Price Eeeevil sneer) and his hilarious sidekick, Sally, performed, tyrannically, by Sharmila Miller is “Off the Rails!” this year.
So get on the tracks and find out what happens when Lou Gagnon is tucked away for too long in his own shack, and Wally Johnson has a bro-mance with the cuddly Percy Puskus, played by Ty Wright.
Will Swain succeed in his evil plan? Will Opal charm Wally? Will Alberta get better tips? These questions and more are awaiting you, the audience, to discover the answers.