Local theatre lovers can finally catch Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire’s 1989 off-Broadway musical revue Closer Than Ever right here in Winnipeg.
The premiere ‘Peg performance is presented by Dry Cold Productions, a company that’s been staging musicals since it started in 2000.
“It’s a show I’ve known of since it came out years ago,” Reid Harrison, Dry Cold’s co-founder, says. “Since we’re doing two shows this season (Dry Cold presents A Man of No Importance in May) we were looking for one that would highlight a smaller group of actors and one that hadn’t been done here before.”
Closer Than Ever also marks local actor Kimberley Rampersad’s directorial debut.
“The easiest part is just being a witness to everybody’s gifts,” Rampersad says. “I just stand back and watch these brilliant actors, designers, stage managers and administrators make the magic happen.
The hardest part is second-guessing my instincts, especially because this is my first time.”
Peter Huck, Aaron Hutton, Jennifer Lyon and Debbie Maslowsky are the actors who play the four nameless characters that are simply referred by number.
“It’s a wonderful showcase for the actors, not only in terms of the journey their characters take, but also in terms of the material, which is very challenging,” Rampersad says. “They do everything from 11 o’clock numbers (big show-stopping songs) to physical comedy.”
Closer Than Ever is considered to be a musical revue and contains 26 songs that cover a variety of themes.
“It’s about choice, mistakes, joy, relationships and forgiveness,” says Rampersad.
“We represent every man and every woman,” Lyon, who plays Woman Number One, adds. “Each of our characters is on a journey and it’s about life in many ways, about how everybody has a different story, everybody has a different path and somehow we’re all in it together.
“Even if your story is very different, sometimes we kind of meet in the middle and what you think was an individual experience ends up being a collective experience.”
The crew says they’ve tried to stay as close to the original script as possible.
“That’s actually been a bit challenging,” Rampersad admits. “Even though it was progressive for the time, you’ll notice that all the relationships are male/ female, things like that. When you talk about families, procreation, I feel like it isn’t where we are right now, but at the same time I love that it forces the audience to engage in that discussion and ask questions.”
“The other wonderful thing is that like with many musicals the music is timeless,” Lyon adds. “A great song is a great song and it doesn’t matter how old it is.”
Lyon says her favourite song in Closer Than Ever is “Fathers of Fathers”.
“I love the music,” Lyon says. “I love the fact that the men are singing together and I love that they’re being very vulnerable and honest.”