The McPherson Theatre will be transformed into a gospel church and filled with music and song this week for Fire. The rousing musical combines the world of evangelism and rock ‘n’ roll in a captivating spectacle that promises to have viewers tapping their feet.
As the last production in Blue Bridge Theatre’s successful People’s Choice Season, the Dora Award-winning musical by David Young and Paul Ledoux is based on the real-life story of Jerry Lee Lewis and his cousin, Jimmy Swaggart.
The play came out of Ontario in the late ’80s and became an instant favourite due to the powerful effect of infectious rock classics and evocative gospel hymns merging together to tell a tale of politics, sin, and relationships.
The musical follows Herchel Blackwell (Jacob Richmond), based on Swaggart, and his brother Cale (Zachary Stevenson), based on Lewis, as the two attempt to lead moral lives on completely divergent paths.
Both siblings fall in love with Molly King, their lovely and innocent childhood sweetheart, played by Celine Stubel.
As well as the cousin relationship, another family connection is present behind the scenes as Jacob Richmond, co-founder of local performance troupe Atomic Vaudeville and son of director Brian Richmond, takes on the role of Blackwell. Jacob has watched his father direct the play eight times since its 1985 debut in Thunder Bay.
Richmond’s other acting accomplishments include playing the role of Ted Kennedy in the CBS drama Jackie O: A Life and Biff Loman in the 2009 Blue Bridge production of Death of a Salesman.
The multi-layered Fire spans a period of 23 years, and the scenes jump around in time to different moments in the characters’ lives.
Love-interest Stubel compares the scene transitions to leaping between the brightly coloured pages of a story book, adding that, “it’s exciting to land in those scenes, and aim to bring in just the right colours and words to help fill that particular page of the story.”
Theatre-goers can expect a fun and lively evening of bopping rock songs such as the classic “Great Balls of Fire,” but will also leave the theatre contemplating the political message.
Stevenson describes Fire as a “deep drama about family, faith and redemption, underscored with gospel music and lit up with rock ‘n’ roll .” M
Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre
Opens Aug. 4 and runs through to Aug. 14.
Tickets: $33.25 to $42.75 online at www.rmts.bc.ca. or (250)-386-6121
By Kelly Dunning