What do you do when you’ve done it all? If you’re triple threat Jeff Hyslop you look for projects that excite you, like Metro Theatre’s upcoming production of Victor/Victoria. And if you’re director Mark Carter, you realize size sometimes does matter.
“It’s all about the script and this is a quality script. I didn’t hesitate,” explained Hyslop (pictured right with director Mark Carter). “It was perfect timing too as I was moving back to Vancouver and it wasn’t a starring role so the weight of show wasn’t going to rest on my shoulders.”
Hyslop, whose career includes everything from a role in Norman Jewison’s groundbreaking film Jesus Christ Superstar to the title role in Phantom of the Opera, was originally tapped to play in a production of The Wizard of Oz with long-time collaborator and director Mark Carter. However, those plans were scuttled when two other local groups decided to mount their own productions of Oz last year. A rushed decision had Carter land on Victor/Victoria and along with it the role of gay cabaret singer Toddy for Hyslop.
A Vancouver premiere, Carter says Victor/Victoria has yet to be staged locally because of its sheer magnitude, but being an apparent size-queen doesn’t seem to have him all that concerned.
“It’s huge,” laughed Carter. “We have scaled it down somewhat from the original 20 piece orchestra and cast of 23 but it is still a huge show and certainly up there in size for me. It is a real challenge, but luckily I have some fantastic designers to help me solve the problems.”
With the show opening just a day after the 30th anniversary release of the Julie Andrews film on which it is based, Carter is not worried about the show being dated in any way.
“First of all it is a period piece that takes place in the 30s, plus it also has themes about love and acceptance that people can relate to,” said Carter.
Viewing Victor/Victoria in the same vein as La Cage Aux Folles, another musical that came onto the scene around the same time, Hyslop agrees and sees no problem with an audience today being able to relate.
“There is a lightness to the show that is generally about who you are. It isn’t political in anyway, it isn’t rallying anything; it is about life and relationships,” said Hyslop.
A woman playing a man playing a woman, Carter says the central deceit of Victor/Victoria provides a unique opportunity to see relationships a bit differently.
“This is essentially a gay male’s perspective seen through the eyes of a woman,” said Carter. “This has never really been done before. “
Hyslop agrees and even takes it one step further pointing to the positive relationship that is portrayed between King and Victor: “King questions his own sexuality, asking himself if he is really in love with this man. I think the fact that the two of them kiss before the big reveal is such a neat statement”.
“Although this isn’t a heavy handed piece it still makes people think too,” concluded Carter. “The gay community was very closeted at that time, but we’re showing a side where these characters get to open up, where it is okay to be themselves. That is a pretty good message: why do we get hung up on labels, why is it such a big deal?”
On stage at Metro Theatre March 17 through April 7, 2012. Visit http://www.metrotheatrevancouver.com for tickets and information.