If you’re heading to Stanley Park in Vancouver this summer to catch a Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) production, be sure to watch for Tri-City talent.
The region is usually well represented on the Malkin Bowl stage and this year is no exception, with at least a dozen actors performing in Oliver! The Musical and Hairspray for TUTS’ 75th year.
But this special anniversary season will have a number of young triple threats from the area — three of whom are in the same grade and at the same Anmore school.
Port Moody’s Nathan Piasecki, Nolan Fahey and Julia MacLean of Eagle Mountain middle are cast in Oliver!, with Piasecki starring in the coveted role of the Artful Dodger.
It’s the third TUTS show for the 13-year-old boy, having previously appeared in The Music Man and Bye Bye Birdie.
“I just keep coming back [to TUTS] because you get to work with so many amazing people and you get to rekindle all those relationships you’ve made,” he said. “It’s a really good learning experience and you get to meet and work with so many professionals. “It really puts you into that world. It really brings you in and gives you that spark to do musical theatre.”
Being cast as the Artful Dodger — a part he sought out — was a dream for the Tri-City Dance Centre student.
And he was especially pleased when his good friend Fahey was picked to play Charlie Bates, the Artful Dodger’s sidekick.
Fahey, 12, a student of Lindbjerg Academy of Performing Arts, is making his TUTS debut and is grateful to have Piasecki around to show him the ropes.
“I think it’s a good experience and it’s really nice out there,” he said of the historic Malkin Bowl.
MacLean, 13, who this year was nominated for an Ovation Award for her performance of Annie: The Musical with the Royal City Musical Theatre, said she’s excited to be acting with her friends. “It’s really awesome. I never thought I would…. It’s such a cool environment being outside and being there with my friends, it’s just the cherry on the top of the cake.”
Returning to TUTS for his sixth year will be Port Coquitlam’s Damon Calderwood. He’s taking on the characters of Bill Sykes/Mr. Bumble. Trained at UBC and the Actor’s Working Academy in Gastown, Calderwood said he — like Piasecki — specifically auditioned to play the characters. He enjoys being a TUTS regular because its two shows alternate. “It gives me time to rest my voice and get ready for the next night,” Calderwood said, “and being outdoors in the park under the stars is really enchanting, too.”
Meanwhile, also taking a lead role — but in TUTS’ other production for the summer — is Coquitlam’s Ryan Purdy, who portrays Tracy Turnblad’s father in Hairspray.
The self-trained Purdy, 35, said he was hoping to gain the part of Corny Collins rather than Wilbur Turnblad. “But I’m playing a 50-year-old dad now!” he laughed. “It’s really so fun for me.”
He’s opposite Andy Toth, who in 2011 had to quickly step into the role of Edna Turnblad in the Arts Club Theatre production of Hairspray when the actor, Jay Brazeau, suffered a minor stroke about 30 minutes into a performance.
Purdy is also a TUTS veteran, having been in the 1995 crew for Annie Get Your Gun, in the Fiddler on the Roof ensemble and, two years ago, in How to Succeed in Advertising Without Really Trying as Benjamin Burton.
Other Tri-City actors at TUTS this season are: Blake Sartin, Britney Buren, Lucas Crandall, Nicol Spinola, Tiana Jung and Lyndsey Britten.
• Theatre Under the Stars opens Friday and runs until Aug. 22 in the Malkin Bowl at Stanley Park (610 Pipeline Rd., Vancouver) at 8 p.m. For tickets at $30 to $45, call 1-877-840-0457 or visit tuts.ca.