BY RYAN WELLICOME
Local stage company The Homegrown Theatre Production Company is a new player in the City stage performance game and is looking to burst onto the scene this season.
This year will be the company’s inaugural season and will feature its first production, The Phil Buster Variety Show.
The production will be in the style of a 1950s variety show, hearkening back to the efforts of Sid Caesar with programs such as Your Show of Shows and Caesar’s Hour and then of course one of the most popular variety shows to ever air in North America, The Ed Sullivan Show.
“We are going to have live music playing, we’ve got a live band, we’ve got live dancing throughout the show. We will also have products that we are going to do mock commercials for and then of course the four skits so it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said writer and director of the production and Vice President of the Homegrown Theatre Production Company Shalee Healing.
Healing said she thinks the show will bring out a solid crowd and could be very successful. “I think the community would really enjoy it so I think we are going to have a great turnout,” she said. “This is a family-friendly show too, so it is open to anyone.”
The production company is the brain child of Healing and Grant Harder who came together in April.
“It was an amalgamation of Grant Harder and myself wanting to get something going here in town because there really wasn’t anything for the community. There is a homeschool theatre group, there’s drama in the high school and there is one professional theatre group but there was nothing the community as a whole can access,” said Healing. “That was something that we wanted the community to be able to do.”
Harder is the creator of The Chip Daly Show, a 1940s style live radio show – staged in 2009 – in which Healing was a cast member. The show achieved popularity within the community.
“When we did The Chip Daly Show we sold out the show,” said Healing.
Following their work on The Chip Daly Show, Healing and Harder decided they wanted to explore another era.
“We wanted to do a different show from The Chip Daly Show – a 1950s style show – and we decided to go with television this time around so it was kind of the next step from The Chip Daily Show,” said Healing.
According to Healing, the script was written in three weeks following the company’s formation in April and cast members have been rehearsing weekly.
Healing explained the 1950s were chosen because of, in part, it’s nostalgic quality and because of it’s fun nature.
“The 50s is such a fun era. It’s all about good manners and great music and a simpler time so we wanted to bring back all of those memories with that classic rock n’ roll sound. We thought it would be a really fun era to bring to stage,” she said. “We are doing four different skits throughout the show and it brings back memories for me from the time when they would have these great little comedy skits with physical acting and great comedy. It was just good, down-to-earth, home style humour.”
Healing has a background in amateur theatre over a number of years and has experience in stage production as well.
“I first got back into theatre with City on a Hill Theatre Company – they are no longer in town anymore – in 2007 where we did Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I played Willy Wonka in that one and it’s what really inspired me to keep going and continue with theatre. It has been a kind of progression. I went from acting in that to writing and directing and acting in The Chip Daly Show to doing the same with this show,” said Healing.
“I also produce the Lacombe’s Got Talent shows so I’m quite versed in running stage productions and shows of a large calibre within the community.”
She said that scheduling and collaborating amongst large groups is an aspect of stage production that is a particular challenge. “Scheduling a lot of people is definitely the hard part. Trying to get everyone in the same room has been challenging,” she said. “Everyone has lives and that’s the thing with<span class="Apple-converted-s