It’s not every day a Vancouver theatre company gets offered the opportunity to perform a brand new musical, and with it the risks that come from producing an unknown property. But for Springboard Theatre’s upcoming production of Darling, A Musical, that risk is compounded with a script that is still a work in progress.
“The writers haven’t finalized the script so they haven’t had their own premiere,” says Springboard co-producer Michelle Bardach. “What we are performing is another workshop version of what they are still writing.”
What has complicated matters even further is that Bardach and her company are actually on the second version of the play, having been given the current script only after they had already begun pre-production and casting.
“When we read the original script it was completely different from the one we have now,” says Bardach. “It was a little safer and the one they gave us now is a little darker and deeper. It is definitely risky, but we are happy where it ended up.”
But as they say, with great risk can come great reward, and Bardach and her young team are convinced that this story, loosely based on Peter Pan, is something that Vancouver audiences are not only ready for, but have been waiting for.
“Based on what people we have talked to have told us, they are sick of seeing the same shows done over and over again,” says Bardach. “I know why theatres do those types of shows, because they will sell out, but we’re not doing it for the money. We’re doing it for the artistic endeavor.”
But don’t expect this Ryan Scott Oliver and Brett Ryback penned musical to resemble anything that Disney might serve up, because this version of the J.M. Barrie classic is darker, grittier and more provocative.
Taking place in 1929 Boston in the weeks leading up to the stock market crash, Darling, A Musical tells the story of the neglected Ursula who encounters Peter, a charming rent-boy, on the run from the police. Running away with him, she finds herself swept into a seedy underground of jazz, speakeasies, and a mysterious white powder called “Fairy Dust”. Along the way, the two meet the “lost boys” of the warehouse speakeasy, the girls of Lily’s burlesque and Jameson, the police captain’s young gay son, who finds solace in the arms of the bi-sexual Peter.
“Shows like these are not often produced in Vancouver, because they are not family friendly, and can make people feel uncomfortable,” says Bardach. “But theatre is not always about feeling happy and carefree; sometimes theatre is meant to make you feel something, and maybe change the way you think about the world.”
And while the musical may look at the serious issues of prostitution, drug use, discrimination and police brutality there are also plenty of uplifting and light-hearted moments; a combination that the team at Springboard say Vancouver audiences are ready to see.
Darling, A Musical plays the Renegade Production Studios (125 East 2nd Ave) October 8-24. Visit http://springboardtheatre.ca for tickets and information.