It doesn’t take a genius to realize a ski hill is worshipped by eccentrics committed to “mountain culture,” a lifestyle that has adapted into a language of its own.
But when a ski-clueless cultural anthropologist is devoted to taking a closer look at the trials and tribulations faced by mountain lovers, an audience is left with a greater understanding of the life of a ski bum in a musical comedy created for Rossland and other ski communities alike.
The cast of “Ski Bum: The Musical” stops in Trail this weekend after its debut during Rossland Winter Carnival. It’s an exciting time for the crew, who also just launched their own company, Iron Mountain Theatre.
Written by locals Tyler Bradley and Mark Pollard, “Ski Bum: The Musical” pokes at musical theatre, delivering smart humour and plenty of innuendo.
The quirky tale is the backdrop to a love story between Jeff Snowden, a confident man — in his own mind, a legend — and a former flame who kept his last name. When Liz Snowden sparks a renewed interest, Jeff goes on his own journey at Big Snow Peaks – realizing he can have two loves in his life.
“He’s the quintessential ski bum,” said actor RJ Peters, who masters the cocky character. “People keep coming up to me and saying, ‘I see so much of myself in Jeff.’”
Lunging in a retro one-piece ski suit and boasting about an almost “pseudo religion,” is an interesting role for a guy who didn’t cash in on his first ski pass until recently settling in Rossland.
On the contrary, Pollard has been a long-time ski bum but portrays Richard Poseur, a geeky poser who is studying mountain life.
Acting as the “vehicle of communication,” the audience is brought along Poseur’s journey as he strives to comprehend ski culture lingo far beyond his textbook knowledge.
“I say some really big words, really close together,” said Pollard, who unlike the rest of the Iron Mountain Theatre troupe has no professional training. But with a master’s degree in linguistics, he has found his place in the company.
His character doesn’t know what to make of ski patroller Sunny Summers, who is on her own power trip while trying to convince her friend Liz that Jeff is a “real dirtbag,” says actress Jane Gaudet.
“With a name like that, you’d think she’d have a real sunny disposition, but she’s kind of the opposite,” she said.
Bringing the entire story together, sweet Liz Snowden is played by Nadine Tremblay, who also wrote the show’s punchy music and lyrics.
Though her ex has done her harm in the past – selling her skis when she broke her leg so he could make it to a ski competition for one – Liz believes Jeff has the ability to change.
The ski scene is brought to life on stage with the characters sporting “heelys,” wheels under their shoes, which make them look as though they’re really skiing.
Directed by Vancouver’s Shane Shaw, the story was written for the community and made possible with help from local sponsors and understanding employers. It was designed for the ski bums out there, but appeals to a larger audience.
Though the story was long in the making, the cast only spent three weeks rehearsing before making their debut.
Ski Bum keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, whether it’s laughing uncontrollably at the ladies seducing the inexperienced anthropologist in song and dance or the unexpected appearance of a lonely snowplow driver who is overruled by his out-spoken companion, Mr. Wooly.
The show comes to Charles Bailey Theatre in Trail on Saturday before heading to Fernie in March.
Tickets are $17 for adults and $14 for seniors and students, and can be purchased at the Charles Bailey Theatre box office.
For more information, check out ironmountaintheatre.ca