Calling all freaks and geeks… step right up for one of the most thrilling, sordid, astonishingly inconceivable shows you’ll ever see — right here at the Victoria Event Centre each Tuesday night.
Sin City the Live Improvised Soap Opera presents season two: Carnies, a completely improvised 24-episode serial exploring the lives and exploits of a roving 1930s sideshow, presented by Broad Theatrics with live direction by Ian Ferguson.
“The carnies we’re going for are different than what you’d imagine at the circus in the Big Top with the elephants,” says core cast member Kirsten Van Ritzen. After the depression hit, most circuses went broke and the sideshow with its human acts and skilled tricks took centre stage, she explains.
Each week, beginning with a preview Oct.18 and running until April 17, 2012, the cast and audience come together to find out what will happen in the lives of these curious characters that may include Ava the Snake Lady, The Mesmerizing Mentalist, The Faceless Man, the Celestial Hypnotist, dancing Cootch Girls, the Falling Wallendas and assorted barkers, rousties, stooges and marks.
“We never tell anyone who they’ll play,” says Van Ritzen, whose Ava the Snake Lady is “half viper and half vamp.”
“We all do some research and come with an idea. We don’t interact with each other until the onstage preview. We don’t want any perception of cheating, so if we develop a back story for our character, we don’t tell each other.”
With his thick stature, Morgan Cranny is a perfect fit for a strongman, but it’s a character he’s already played with Atomic Vaudeville. “I don’t like to repeat myself. I’m pretty good at a Russian accent, so I decided to go with a Dmitri, a mysterious Russian roustabout. I didn’t want to develop an act right away, and as a roustabout he has access to everything and everyone.”
The eight-person cast includes some of Victoria’s most impressive improv artists and comedians, including Cranny and Van Ritzen, as well as Wes Borg, Christina Patterson, Chris Gabel, Robert Conway, Karen Brelsford and Alan Penty, plus a slew of guest artists like Andrew Bailey, Kelly Hudson, David MacPherson, Christine Upright, Charlie de Pape and Miss Rosie Bitts.
The musical score and songs are improvised by multi-instrumentalist Grayson Walker, and the lighting and sound by Theodore Sherman. “The music is another character in the show,” says Van Ritzen. “It really embiggens the show,” Cranny says with a chuckle. “And Ian’s direction really takes the weight off the characters to drive the story, because sometimes what we say isn’t pure gold.”
“It’s like being an editor on the fly,” says Van Ritzen. “We wouldn’t want to do the show without [Ferguson], he’s a brilliant puppet-master.” M
Sin City: Carnies
Tuesdays at Victoria Event Centre (1415 Broad) Preview Oct. 18. Opens Oct. 25
Tickets are $15/$12 cash only at the door or $12/$10 in advance at Ticketrocket 250-590-6291, ticketrocket.org
A carny punch card (six admissions to share) is $60
A sideshow season pass (non-transferrable) is $180