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Stage: Smalltown: A Pickup Musical

Theatre SKAM stages the world premiere of a new musical on the back of a vintage pickup.
Theatre SKAM Truck Play 1
Set designer Ian Rye and Theatre SKAM artistic producer Matthew Payne on the set of Smalltown: A Pickup Musical, playing in the Vic High field Aug. 13-25


What do you get when you pack 10 actors and musicians into the back of a vintage pickup truck? The world premiere of Theatre SKAM’s production of Smalltown: A Pickup Musical, written by Amiel Gladstone and Lucas Myers.

Smalltown tells the story of a little burb in B.C. whose inhabitants are attracted to an offer from some big city barons. The cast of 10 performers rotate through a variety of instruments, singing catchy songs and telling a story on and around the flat deck of a gleaming white vintage pickup.

Just how do you stage a play on the back of a truck? Set designer Ian Rye (Of Mice and Men, Mary’s Wedding) says it presents more opportunities than challenges.

“There are no challenges, only opportunities,” says Rye. “Unlike designing for the opera or a typical theatre stage, we’re dealing with very small forces that can be packed into the back of a pickup truck. We have the opportunity to say something big with small objects. You can represent the big city with a cellphone and a briefcase.”

The king cab, three-quarter ton truck with seating for five will have its box converted into a flat deck. The cab will represent the big city corporation and the flat deck will represent the small town, complete with a three piece band, paddles, canoes and some Hudson Bay Co. blankets.

Rye is the director of artistic administration for Pacific Opera Victoria, where he’s worked for the last seven years. But his training is in set design. “I’ve been a designer for 16 years,” says Rye, who trained at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

Smalltown was originally previewed during the 2010 Victoria Fringe Festival. The world premiere will take place in the “small town” of Fernwood and SKAM is currently looking for touring presenters as its aim is to take Smalltown to as many large and small towns in B.C. as possible, given that the set and performers can be packed into the back of the stage.

The cast includes Rachel Aberle, Wes Borg, Sarah Carle, Jason Clift, Mark Hellman, Ryan Scramstad and Kirsen Van Ritzen. Smalltown is directed by SKAM’s artistic producer Matthew Payne, with musical direction by Brad L’Ecuyer, choreography by Jessica Hickman and costume design by Erin Macklem.

Smalltown: A Pickup Musical opens Aug. 13 and runs until Aug. 25 in the field at Victoria high school (accessed via the Belfry Theatre lobby). Shows are at 7pm nightly (no shows Mondays). Advance tickets are $18/15 at or 250-590-6291. Tickets at the door will be $23/20.


Stage briefs:


God is a Scottish Drag Queen

Monday columnist Mike Delamont brings his critically-acclaimed show to the Metro Studio Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. Winner of Best Solo Show at the Victoria Fringe, Pick of the Fringe at Vancouver Fringe, Patron’s Pick and Critic’s Choice at the Orlando Fringe and nominated for a Just for Laughs Best Comedy Award. Tickets are available at or by phone at 250-590-6291.

Shakespeare by the Sea

Victoria Shakespeare by the Sea is back for a second season with two shows: Romeo and Juliet (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday). Nightly shows at 7 p.m. Matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Aug. 13 - Sept. 1 at Clover Point (1300 block of Dallas). $25/20 at 250-213-8088. Go to for more information.

Fables, Fools and Fantasy

Story Theatre Company presents a street theatre-style performance at Uptown’s Town Plaza. A series of folktales and fables are performed with audience input. 11 a.m. And 1 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 17.