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Colosseum captivates capacity crowd

From south and north Peace region shout outs, to hot music and acting, and industrial use of the F-word, Colosseum production a full evening of drama.
Left, actor Kelsey Dawley lends a musical note to Catherine Johnson and Taylor Thomas on Boom Boom.
Left, actor Kelsey Dawley lends a musical note to Catherine Johnson and Taylor Thomas on Boom Boom.

It was a sold out show Valentine’s Day as a jammed Pomeroy Hotel was transformed into the 3,500 sq. ft. Colosseum.  The Stage North show benefitted from a huge word of mouth about the show and performers delivered a performance heavy, blues dripping, and 360-degree experience for audiences Tuesday night.

“We’ve been gearing up for this,” said director Matt Preprost before last dress rehearsal on Monday.

Even the show’s intermission was dance party USA.

“What an incredible show! From the amazing music to the great actors and the yummy food, it was a great experience,” said Stage North stalwart Les Anderson Tuesday night.

“Thank you for bringing this to Fort St. John. Next weekend are the final two shows. If you enjoy theatre or good music get your tickets.”

Others echoed Anderson’s sentiment.

“If you haven’t got your tickets I recommend you do,” said Travis Lussier who caught the Monday run with a handful of invited guests.

It is strange; the group may have opened with their largest show. As quickly as it started, it was over. Audiences will be left gripped, wondering what was left to see in this story, and what they missed.

“It is FANTASTIC! The music is excellent, atmosphere is amazing, and the show is a wonderful fit for the experience,” said Jean Paul Wood after the performance.

“The hole you dig gets deeper, gotta stop and climb out,” shouts the soundtrack at one point.

Mentioning highlights would be a futile after the amount of coverage. The Internet brought the audience into the living room of this show months ago and enabled a huge amount of information and media exchanged. One thing that wasn’t translated in the promotion was the amount of “industrial” language and adult dialogue spoken in the play.

The team’s work on audio, visual and audio is impeccable; the framing of each scene has a photographer’s eye. It should come has no surprise there are quite literally a handful of award winning writers and photographers involved in the production. If this were a DVD, you would demand a multi-angle option.

The script even had local shout outs to Patricia Martin at the Rolla Pub and other Peace Region mainstays.

“’This is why we need LNG!’ was actually yelled twice in the script in the beginning. My name was mentioned by Lou Largo in the half time dinner break and a cast member yelled "LNG",” said Alan Yu after the slam-bang opening night.

On the music, familiar tunes of Clapton, Temptations, and Springsteen got new coats of paint in the live environment. Even Canada’s treasured poet Leonard Cohen even got some stage time. The audience is a mix of veteran theatregoers, and those brand new, sold either on the experience or the marketing.

Colosseum owner Lou Largo is well past his prime and the game is too fast. He wants a quiet night, but he also sets forth a plan to revenge a fallen friend.

Watch how a band, a food critic, Largo’s restaurant staff, and even the audience may play accomplice.

Lead Rob Brown’s off the cuff delivery of Largo is jarring until you realize this may be a character playing a character perhaps on his last night in the Colosseum. Lead waitress Beckie Lussier plays an overworked artist who can’t catch a break or customers. Her desperation is well-played. Paige Ryder, last seen in Stage North’s 12 Angry Jurors, pops up as the first line of defense to the Colosseum as Isla the Maître D, who proves to be smarter than her half-witted shtick.

Meanwhile, in what is really a spliced together two-hander, Sean the Bartender and Peter Franks (Kelsey Dawley and Chase Koop), sabre-rattle around innuendo and trade trivia, crib notes, conch chowder talk, and a flirtation concerning the next morning’s breakfast.  Spaghetti and Meatball  (Aaron Eady and the silent but menacing Andrew Yee), play the piece’s serious heavies, but also comic relief. Both walk a fine line, perhaps more than any other performer in the play.

Kyle Behrens plays the character that actually ties the restaurant and audience together, and moves around almost as the POV of the audience. The acting, music and entire production certainly have that BMW polish on it. The play is sexy and electric, and the work snaps crackles and pops throughout the giant set.

Wood had more accolades for the show.

“This is just opening night, there might still be time. Get your tickets! Worth every penny! Dinner theater is a much bigger hit than I had hoped. With any luck this will become an annual thing, or at least a little more often.”

Yu agreed.

“Thanks for making this night memorable.”

The production reloads with two more performances in the chamber next week on Feb 24 and 25. It was announced during the opening night that a sequel, Forbidden City is already in the works for this fall.