The eight-member cast of the Gold Fever Follies, now appearing at the Rossland Miners Hall in The Great Invention, ranges in age from 17 to 24 and features three returning players.
Rhythm Storm, who stepped in at the last minute to fill the leading role of Willamina (Billie) Esling, is a recent Mount Sentinel Secondary graduate, back for her second summer. Konrad Lasocki, who plays Butch Manly and recently completed his musical theatre diploma at Capilano University, was also in the 2019 show.
But the veteran is Kevin Wasilenkoff (Roger Clemons), back for a fourth year, not counting last year’s cancelled show. Wasilenkoff doubles as musical director, triples as piano accompanist, and also wrote some of the songs and revised others.
He joined the Follies in 2017, during his first year in the music program at Selkirk College, after spotting a poster for a casting call.
“It was intense,” he says. “I had never done anything like it. But it was also a huge opportunity for personal growth. It solidified things I was learning at school and helped me be more prepared for going back the next fall.”
Wasilenkoff also gained acting experience, which proved more valuable than he initially thought. He says every year he’s learned something new about his craft and credits community support — whether grants, donations, or just coming out to watch — for making the show happen.
Last year’s cancellation due to COVID-19, although no shock, was still a disappointment, “because it’s something I love doing. It was like there was almost no light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t know when we’d able to get back at it.”
While open to creating an online version of the Follies, he was used to rehearsing in person and the usual Follies flow, so he was pleased when the live show got the go ahead.
“I prefer live theatre to film in general just because the energy of the audience and the experience is more gratifying. So it was really nice to know that would be the case again this year.”
Although there’s usually a sold-out crowd on opening night followed by crowds dropping off until the end of the season, Wasilenkoff says in the early going, audiences have actually been more consistent, with about half to two-thirds of available seats filled.
The show’s opening night was delayed by a week when one cast member was forced to drop out at the last minute. Wasilenkoff says it’s not the first time they have had to make do in an emergency, but adaptability is all part of being an actor.
“Especially in live theatre, things happen. That’s the chaos and the joy of it. Because for as many times as you need to correct something on the fly or make an emergency plan, just as many if not more beautiful moments emerge.”
The Follies appear Tuesday through Saturday until Aug. 28, with two shows daily at 3 and 7:30 p.m.
You can reserve tickets at least one day in advance by going to https://www.goldfeverfollies.com/online-tickets and paying by e-transfer. Seating is limited to 48 people per show.