ESCape to the ESCapades of the Electro Social Club...

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
September 6th, 2012

Get set to dance the night away and escape to the Electro Social Club (ESC), where musical theatre meets electrical nightclub. Iron Mountain Theatre (IMT) is at their innovative best with this completely unique production by Nadine Tremblay and Rupert Keiller at Trail’s Arlington Pub on Sept. 13 and Rossland’s Drift Izakaya on Sept. 14.

DJ Incorrigible will pump bass and get you moving, starting at 9 p.m. Dancing on the floor “is the only place to be,” Tremblay said, but get prepared for a reality check when Tremblay and Keiller take the stage at 10 p.m.

“Scenes break out,” Tremblay said. Nine actors will be in on the action, dancing with the crowd before busting into short scenes, 30 second clips that capture the story of a stereotype you know so well: the pick-up artist, the couple, the bouncer, the drinker, the exhibitionist, the dance fluffer, …

“The characters are people you would find in nightclubs or the bar. They’re realistic, you’ll recognize them from a dodgy bar on a Friday night,” Tremblay said. “It’s nothing we haven’t seen at the Crown Point before.”

She also admitted to type-casting some of the actors, a few of whom have no acting experience at all, but will just “be themselves.” Maybe you know them already: Emma Moran, Ebony Crocker, Vanessa Senecal, Dylan Strelioff, Sarah Taylor, Gareth Cryer, Mark Walton, Adam Sander, and Jason Whitley.

But will you know it’s not real? The action could be right next to you, or across the room, coming out of nowhere. Maybe you’ll be part of the scene or dragged into the improv—only about half of the lines are fixed, mostly as cues to kick Tremblay and Keiller into their next song.

You might not know it’s drama without a glance up to the big screen where the scene will play out on camera. Oh yeah, and Tremblay said the tongue-in-cheek humour will be “really, really over the top.”

When the scenes break out, Tremblay and Keiller will dig into songs about the characters, many with a strong 1980s or 1990s flavour to it, although they hit the range from breakbeat to opera.

“In fact,” Tremblay said, “if people want to dress up, 80s-90s club wear is encouraged, but dress however you want. There’s a lot of modern stuff too—hip hop, dubstep.”

She emphasized, “Don’t come expecting to sit. This isn’t your traditional Iron Mountain Theatre production. It’s really important that people dance.” She laughed, “If you don’t know what dubstep is, you should probably find out before you come.”

Wait, have you seen anything like this before? Broadway? Festivals?

Tremblay paused. “Nope, have you?” She paused again. “I have a vision, but I don’t know if it’s realistic. We’ll see.”

“All of this is new to me, I’ve never seen it. It wasn’t even part of the [CKCA] grant,” she said, referring to a Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance grant for which they got half of the amount they requested to put together an album.

“Originally Rupert and I wanted to write an album together that combined Rupert’s background in electronic music, and my musical theater background,” she said. Keiller’s musical past includes the award-winning Australian group Sonic Animation. Tremblay’s repertoire with IMT is well known to local patrons of the arts—Ski Bum: The Musical, White Star Lady, Mennonite Mafia, and Company Jump.

“In the end, we did twice as much work as it got way broader, with actors and whatnot. The idea of a theme came up, to make it about night club characters. Then we thought it would be so much better to do it with audience interaction and improv.”

It makes sense to Tremblay now, looking back at the progression. “Conventional music, especially dance music, could use the elements of musical theatre—like plot, and acting—to make it a little bit more polished. I guess I’m bringing what I know to it,” she said. “It’s experimental, it’s seriously fun, and we just have to put it on and see what happens.”

She’s got hopes. If the shows take off here in Trail and Rossland, they’ll make it a festival show and tour it around. Tremblay worked from 1999 to 2000 in Australia and Vancouver as a festival production assistant—or “professional lackey,” as she calls it—doing “you name it” from visas and per diems to accommodating artists and interviews. “If I were a festival director and got this as promotional material, I would say, ‘yeah!’ It speaks to a demographic.”

When you get home from ESC, foot-sore and heart-happy, you can relive the experience again and again: the album of original tunes will be available as a free download for every ticket holder.

The venues are small and sure to sell out. Get your tickets soon, $10 at the Arlington Pub in Trail or Café Books in Rossland. All tickets include an album download.

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