“I needed a Prince Charming,” said director Jen Jensen, “if I was going to even cast this show.” A handsome prince wasn’t the only challenge facing Jensen as she contemplated auditions for the SOAP Players in August. “I just needed men in general, lots of talented men.” Young men, funny men, men who could do accents, men willing to wear silly hats and plaid mini skirts. Her worries turned out to be for naught: “Men came out in droves! I had more men than parts for them. And the talent – both men and women – just blows me away!”
Jensen directs SOAP’s upcoming production, Twisted Tales, a set of four short comedies by screenwriter Bruce Kane. Each comedy is based on classic stories, fairy tales, nursery rhymes and Shakespeare plays but given a decidedly modern, adult twist. It’s the theatrical equivalent of a pop song “mash-up”. Each scenario takes well-known characters like Macbeth or Cinderella, places them together in a new context, and adds the one-liners, sight gags, and slapstick of a TV sitcom. Playwright Bruce Kane is no slouch in the sitcom department, having made a name for himself in the 70s on such TV classics as The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Two longer one-act plays feature a recurring main character, Justin Thyme, played by SOAP newcomer Nathan Linders (above right). Justin Thyme is a hard-boiled private eye with a public eye for the ladies, modelled after such film-noir detectives as Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spade. Thyme belongs to the FBI – the Fictional Bureau of Investigations. “That’s right,” he mutters through gritted teeth, “I’m a … fictional … detective, handling the toughest, dirtiest cases in English literature.”
Nothing can deter Thyme from solving such “classic” mysteries as what magic prevents a sleeping beauty from waking in a Grimm case of murder called “The Big Snooze”. A strong-jawed Prince (Carlin McRae, middle above) eventually arrives to turn on the charm, but the “happily ever after” has some unexpected twists. Next, the tough-talking fictional detective gets burned by an old flame named Lady MacBeth (Christine Rothwell), when he’s hired to find out who bumped off the King of Scotland in “The Case of a Tale Told by an Idiot”. Along the way Thyme encounters witches, a Keystone Kop, men in kilts, wolfish villains, and voluptuous vamps. But Thyme depends most on gum-snapping Effie, his “overdeveloped secretary with underdeveloped typing skills”, played by Leslee Hatherly.
Rounding out the production is an opening monologue by a neurotic stage manager (“Instructions to an Audience”), and the vignette, “Cindy and Julie”, in which two fictional heroines commiserate about romantic love, happily ever after and what went wrong with their marriages.
In the large cast are a mixture of newcomers and experienced troupers from both Oliver and Osoyoos: Nathan Linders, Leslee Hatherly, David Badger, Carrie Lyle, Michael Ryan, Christine Rothwell, Patrick Turner, Craig Bjornson, Robin Stille, Lisa Gludovatz, Carlin McRae, Joel Stodola, Diane Gludovatz, Chelsea Cameron-Horner, and Jen Jensen in a small role.
Twisted Tales opens October 25 and 26 at OSS Theatre in Osoyoos, and continues the following week on November 1 and 2 at the Oliver Senior Centre. Performances start at 8 p.m. Tickets will be available beginning October 1 at Sundance Video (Oliver) and Your Dollar Store With More (Osoyoos) for $18 adult and $15 senior or student.
Photos from a rehearsal of “The Big Snooze, a Justin Thyme Mystery”:
1. David Badger (Keystone Kop) and Nathan Linders (Justin Thyme) push open the heavy doors to a mysterious castle in “The Big Snooze”.
2. Rapunzel (Carrie Lyle, left) and B.B. Wolfe (Patrick Turner, right) give their prospective son-in-law Prince Charming (Carlin McRae, centre) the once over before
3. allowing him to awaken their daughter Bambi (Lisa Gludovatz) from her enchanted slumber.
Photos by Penelope Johnson