Mounties: a formative part of Canada’s history, and a subject rife for punning.
“We do like our puns,” says Dana Andersen, referencing the newest show to grace the stage at Fort Edmonton Park’s Capitol Theatre: Brokeback Mountie. It’s perhaps only natural that Andersen—longtime director of Edmonton’s live improvised soap opera Die-Nasty!—would bring a similar format to the Capitol’s programming upon becoming artistic director about a year ago.
Thus began the Klondike Melodramas series, which follow a similar format to Die-Nasty!: a cast of more than a dozen performs a live, improvised show set in a particular era—in this case, turn-of-the-20th-century Edmonton. Audiences can expect many of the same faces that appear weekly at the Varscona, in both Die-Nasty! and the 11 O’Clock Number. The Klondike Melodramas run over three nights, with another set of shows scheduled for the end of July and then again in September; Andersen hopes they’ll be able to establish enough of an audience for these to become a more frequent occurrence.
“When we have a new audience, we don’t want to alienate them by having too many in-jokes,” Andersen says. “But there are a few for people who have attended all of the shows, so they have a hook and they can enjoy the fact that there is a continuing story. But it’s not essential to the enjoyment of the play itself—it’s episodic, so if you only see one episode you’re not missing out.”
The Capitol Theatre’s resources allow the Klondike Melodramas much more sound and video pizazz than is usually afforded to the Varscona shows. Of the characters traipsing across the stage, Andersen notes that there will, of course, be Mounties—including a singing Mountie—as well as other figures from the city’s history.
“We like to refer to the show as not so much historically accurate as hysterically accurate,” Andersen says with a chuckle. “In a sense it’s like The Flintstones: it takes place in a certain time but the anachronisms are modern.
“This is truly live theatre, because you can literally see the sweat on their foreheads when they start digging themselves into a hole,” he continues. “It’s something you can’t get anywhere else. Some things work, some things don’t, but it’s always fun to watch them work it out.”
Thu, May 29 – Sat, May 31 (8 pm)
Capitol Theatre at Fort Edmonton Park, $20 ($50 for all three nights)