A comedy and musical chalk full of romance, relationships, mistaken sexual orientations, and turbulent family bonds is set to come to the stage of the Williams Lake Studio Theatre Jan. 17.
Anything That Moves is the latest production being presented by the WLST. The play is written by Ann-Marie MacDonald, a Canadian playwright and novelist known for Fall on Your Knees.
Director Mary-Jo Hilyer first saw the play with her daughter at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria.
“I fell in love with the characters, the songs, the way they dealt with relationships and that love can happen between anybody.”
With a cast of characters of different sexual orientations and different relationship philosophies, there’s something relatable in everyone in the play.
Joel is a “hapless romantic” played by Daniel Patterson, who encounters Jinny, a “scientist and serial monogamist who has taken a vow of celibacy,” played by Kirsten Sandberg. The two meet thanks to Tyrone, Joe’s gay best friend, played by Matt Granlund, for whom “all is fair in love and war and business and sex.” Hilarity ensues as a series of mistaken sexual identities and hidden agendas take over the scene and further complications unfold as Jinny’s mother, Fleur, played by Sharon Hoffman, and Joel’s long-lost father Arthur, played by Harry Jennings, and lesbian undertaker Alberta, played by Stacey Poirier, enter the action.
“I think the honesty in the characters drew me to them,” says Hilyer.
“I know the lying that goes on, but as the play progresses, the characters come to life and the honesty about themselves comes to light.”
Finding the script for the play was no small feat. Hilyer searched for several years before she was able to locate it, finally accessing it through the Lorraine Wells and Company talent agency, who deals with the rights.
“I think what happened is they compiled this musical and did it with professional actors and professional musicians and then sort of adapted it as they went,” says Hilyer. “I don’t think they thought about other companies doing it.”
As a result, musicians Juliana Lam and John Christoffersen, as well as musical director Jay Goddard, needed to adapt the music go alongside the singers, writing new music as there was no piano music or drum lines written for them. The group worked off a melody line as well as CDs.
“The joy of seeing all the pieces come together, I think that’s been the most exciting part,” says Hilyer. “You have a vision as a director — that’s what I want the set to look like, what I want the costumes to be, that’s what I want. But to try and get those pieces to come together, that’s been the exciting part, that’s been the joy.”
Hilyer’s own experience of coming out in 1999 also attracted her to the play.
“I think what drew me is my own personal experience about love, and that love can can happen to anybody, anytime and it doesn’t have to be male or female,” she says.
“I would like audiences to come with an open mind. I’d like them to come and put their ideas of what love is on the back burner when they walk through the door,” she says.
“Just realize love can happen anywhere, at anytime and sometimes when you least expect it.”
The play opens on Jan. 17 and will run Wednesday to Friday at the Williams Lake Studio Theatre until Jan. 27.
On Jan. 31 the play will move to the Point restaurant for dinner theatre, and will run until Feb. 3.
Tickets for Jan. 17-18 are $15. For the rest of the regular run, general admission is $20 and seniors and students it is $18.
Tickets are available at the Open Book, Kit and Kaboodle and online at www.wlstudiotheatre.com.
Dinner theatre tickets cost $65 and are available at the Open Book.