Holy, Moses! It’s quite a production
One producer-director, three performers and a cast of thousands. What it all adds up to is four performances of one play that is sure to thrill everyone, as Imagine That! productions presents the frenetic Canadian comedy Holy Mo and Spew Boy this month in Langley.
“I saw the production in Vancouver back in the early ’90s when (playwright) Lucia Frangione first did it. I was struck by how great it was,” said Faith Toronchuk, producer and director of the play, which will be staged at The Venue on Glover Road from Jan. 17 to 19.
“It was funny and endearing— something anyone can relate to,” said Toronchuk.
Holy Mo and Spew Boy is described on its Facebook page as “a romp through the Old Testament, from creation to King Solomon (as) three fools endeavor to shake the dust off of ancient tales and bring a cast of thousands to life.”
Follie — played by Chellé Tanner — tries to keep the stories going — what she can remember of them — while Guff (Yukari Komatsu) throws dinosaurs into Genesis and Bufoona (Alison Johnston) demands to play a princess instead of King David.
Although Frangione’s play is based on stories from the Bible and the theatre space is rented from the Friends of Langley Vineyard church, Toronchuk is confident that the production will appeal to broad audience.
“You don’t need to have a particular set of beliefs (to enjoy it),” she said.
And since the script works on a number of levels, it will play equally well to all ages, she added, noting that children who have sat in on rehearsals have been enthralled by the action unfolding on stage.
Holy Mo and Spew Boy is an ambitious production, which finds each actor playing a seemingly endless list of characters.
With the quick addition or removal of a costume piece or simply by moving around a curtain, the trio of actors suddenly become different characters with a different voices, Toronchuk explained.
“We’ve been having just a blast doing it. It’s very demanding,” she said.
“It’s unique and wonderful.”
Johnston was handpicked by Toronchuk to join the production, while both Tanner and Komatsu are professional actors, who have been on board with the director since the idea first came up. They had planned to mount the show five years ago but, for a variety of reasons, it didn’t work out.
“It’s been on the back burner,” Toronchuk said. Then, last year Tanner and Komatsu approached Toronchuk and told her, if she was still considering doing Holy Mo, “now would be the time.”
With her actors in place, Toronchuk is enjoying watching how each woman approaches her role — but taking a somewhat hands-off approach herself.
“It’s fun to release a lot of the creative direction to the cast,” she said.
“I think it’s my job to see what an actor can bring to a role and work with that,” she said. “It’s not my job to mould the actors.”
Toronchuk, who has been directing live theatre for 30 years, got her start in Grande Prairie, in northwestern Alberta, where residents embraced their small amateur theatre company.
“It’s a semi-isolated place. Community theatre is alive and thriving because it’s so far away from the big cities,” she said.
She’s confident the same will hold true in Langley, where there are more opportunities for audiences to attend live theatre both at the local, amateur level or travel into Vancouver to see bigger professional shows.
Although The Venue, at 5708 Glover Rd., can seat more than 300 — which Toronchuk expects will be the case when a production of The Hobbit is staged in February — Holy Mo and Spew Boy, will play four times over three days to more intimate audiences of between 80 and 90 seats.
Ample free parking available behind the theatre in a lot which can be accessed by a lane off Logan Avenue. The theatre is also wheelchair accessible.
Tickets for the Jan. 17 to 19 performances are $15 and are available through the ImagineThatPlace.com website or from cast members.