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New Musical Comedy Set to Debut at Providence

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The cast in rehearsals for the debut of When You're a Star.

Looking Glass Productions, in association with Providence University College, is excited to announce a side-splitting new production.

When You’re a Star is a new musical comedy written entirely by local theatre professionals Marc Moir and Laura Turner. The cast and crew include 12 current Providence students, five alumni, and a handful of professionals.

The play centres around the main character, Marion Fischer, who has dreamed of being at the helm of her church’s Christmas pageant. However, things quickly spin out of control when her stage-struck pastor invites a couple of Broadway heavyweights to turn Marion’s dream of a simple pageant into a spectacular nativity extravaganza.

Moir and Turner describe the musical as a “laugh-a-minute satire” of the relationship between the American evangelicalism and the entertainment industry with catchy tunes and memorable performances.

One Winnipeg producer called the show a “magical ride that brought me sheer joy.”

“Musical-wise, this is the biggest thing I’ve ever done,” says Moir, who lives in Grunthal and teaches theatre at Providence.

An award-winning Canadian playwright and actor best known for his hit one-man play Padre X, Moir has more than 60 theatre and film credits and has appeared in theatres across Canada. His writing has been compared by critics to such theatre luminaries as Horton Foote and Ira Levin.

“It’s been about 13 years since I’ve done a proper musical—Fiddler on the Roof, and it was the world premier in Low German—which was an experience, since I don’t even speak that language,” Moir says. “As a playwright, this is the first musical I’ve written.”

Turner is an actress and singer/songwriter who is local to Steinbach. Her recent credits include turns as Regan/Edgar in Shakespeare’s King Lear, Dr. Stockman in Ibsen’s Enemy of the People, and Mollie Ralston in Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. Her film credits include work with Hallmark and playing noted author Madeleine L’engle in the film The Science Fiction Makers.

She soon plans to release her first album, a series of songs inspired by the works of Shakespeare.

“I’ve loved musicals since I was a kid and when the opportunity to create one came up, it was a no-brainer,” says Turner. “Everything about the creation of When You’re a Star has been an absolute joy, from writing original jokes and songs with one of my best friends, to watching such wonderful actors bring the show to life. Truly a bucket list dream come true. I know audiences will be positively delighted.”

Moir and Turner are excited to workshop and premier the show at Providence before it goes on to be produced professionally.

The two creators can envision attracting a wide audience with the play’s subject matter that pokes light-hearted fun at religious organizations while also drawing attention to serious issues like the commercialism that plagues evangelicalism in North America.

“This show has something for every comedy palate,” says Moir. “There’s slapstick and dry wit. And it’s got a fast-paced script that highlights the relationship between the evangelical church and the entertainment industry, where we see entertainers want to preach and churches want to entertain, which is kind of backwards. So we’re exploring, what is the function of entertainment and what is the function of the church, which is important? But it’s all in good fun. Everybody’s going to to laugh and everybody’s going to love it.”

When Turner read Moir’s script, she quickly realized that both its message and its humour had great potential to connect with audiences. The play only had one song at the time, so she used her musical skills to add a full complement of musical numbers with lyrics and orchestration.

“The majority of the script is Marc, and the majority of the music is me, but we’ve both had a hand in both,” says Turner. “And you can tell in the script, it was written by locals for locals. There will be jokes everyone who is from southeastern Manitoba will get. It’s so communal.”

Aside from the content of the play, it’s also the community aspect of live theatre that the team has really enjoyed. Although it’s the fourth show the duo has done with Providence, When You’re a Star is the first theatre production the school has presented post-COVID.

“Live theatre’s been very slow to start up post-COVID, so as it starts to come back we want to welcome everyone into our space again,” says Turner.

Catherine Rust-Akinbolaji, dean at the University College, says, “We couldn’t be happier about hosting a theatre event again on our campus. We encourage you to invite your friends and family to come out and enjoy the event.”

With a cast of about 20 people, Moir says they’ve all been working hard to be respectul of each other’s energy and taking each rehearsal as it comes.

Turner invites everyone to come out, saying this is the perfect play to entice people back to the theatre if they haven’t gone in a while.

“People are ready to laugh,” she says. “It’s going to be a really easy one to enjoy. This is a team effort and we have such wonderful actors who have contributed so much humour just on their own to the characters and interacting with the jokes to make them work to their advantage.”

The cast is excited to perform for a live audience, which Turner calls the “final character in a show.”

“That’s how I perceive it through my years as a theatre person,” she says. “You can come to the same show and it will never be the same because the audience changes every night. You can get going and write comedy, but then it gets in front ot the audience and we realize, ‘Oh, they’re responding to this aspect, so we’ll really play up that dynamic that night.’ You’ll see how unique the experience is.”

Moir agrees. “The audience is the source of energy that changes the cast and you play off whatever vibe you’re getting from the audience,” he says. “It’s live, so it’s like a living organism and a relationship.”

When You’re a Star runs at Providence from March 15–18. Tickets are $20 and are either available at the door (cash only) or can purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com.

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