Rain, shine or road construction, the show will go on in Rossland as the Gold Fever Follies kicks off a two-month extravaganza of professional theatre this Saturday night.
The 26th version of summer thespian theatrics will forge ahead at the Miner’s Union Hall at 7:30 p.m., marking the maiden voyage of an 83-show run that will not be derailed by the major construction taking place along the city’s main street, Columbia Avenue.
In fact, the historical musical theatre show—based on the gold rush days of the 1890s—is mining gold out of the ore it has been given in the chaos created by road construction this year.
Rossland Mayor Greg Granstrom quelled fears in the community on Thursday that parking would be an issue and could force the cancellation of the show.
Even with the road in disrepair and vehicular lodging spaces in short supply at the Miner’s end of Columbia, people will still be able to park near the hall and not have to trek overland from Warfield.
“The Follies have been an institution in the City of Rossland for a good many years and the show must go on,” he said. “Despite the road construction and the loss of street stalls on Columbia, we have ample parking close by.”
Half a block away from the Miner’s Union Hall is the lot in question, perched on the corner of Spokane and Columbia streets, right across from the Prestige Mountain Resort.
Developed as a tourist attraction, Gold Fever Follies started with all local actors in 1987, evolving 15 years ago into a cast of now professional actors. This year’s 10-person version features Rossland’s Jill Amantea, with other members laying claim from Nelson, Edmonton, Toronto, Victoria and Vancouver.
And for the last three weeks rehearsals have taken on a feverish pace for the Saturday opening of “John Versus John,” written by Warfield’s Brian Turner and directed by Iron Mountain Theatre Company’s R. J. Peters of Rossland.
Felix LeBlanc, theatre manager and returning cast member, said the play is the story of two dueling lawmen, freely sampled and adapted from the annals of Rossland’s history.
And so, as memory has it, Big John Kirkup (LeBlanc), one of Rossland’s first police chiefs, has a falling out with the city’s first mayor, Robert Scott, and the conflict and the fun begins.
Scott turns vengeful and hires a man John Ingram, who was as noted for his corruption and horrible nature as he was for his penchant for the bottle—and was also Winnipeg and Calgary’s first police chief.
“It’s kind of like the Magnificent Seven if it ever came to Rossland,” said LeBlanc. “There are lots of showdowns and, of course, the Cancan.”
The show is embellished with local lore, old time tunes and real Cancan dancers from the Boomtown Garter Girls, said artistic director Ray Furlotte.
“While artistic license is often used, many of the characters are based on real people from Rossland’s past,” he said.
On two nights in August the cast will again present “Naughty Knickers,” an evening cabaret filled with a burlesque talent show, fueled by liquor, and “follied” by gender role reversals.
For more information on the cast, as well as the history of the show itself, check out the website at http://www.goldfeverfollies.com/.
Show times are 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Tuesday through to Saturday, from June 30 to Aug. 25. The grand opening is July 12. Tickets are available at the door for $13 for general admission, seniors are $10, while children under 12 are $8, and under five are free.