Arts & Culture(Archives)

Nov
21
2012
Volume
-

The Interview

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YMM Editor Krista Balsom sat down with local theatre enthusiast Michael Beamish to find out more about Keyano Theatre’s upcoming large-scale production - “Hometown… The Musical!”

Describe yourself and what you do in less than 50 words.
I am a playwright, director, and actor. I started my career at Keyano College in the VPA program and went on to get my degree at Lethbridge University. I did indie theatre in Edmonton where I wrote and directed my own shows, and I toured at various festivals across Western Canada. I moved to McMurray just over a year ago and have been involved in numerous productions including The 39 Steps, The Farnsworth Invention , Rubbish, and Legion Blues.

Can you tell Fort McMurray a little more about the upcoming KTC production of Hometown…The Musical!?
Hometown is a celebration of the community and our achievements. Filled with music, dance, humour, drama, local stories, and spectacle, it is a show that the whole family can enjoy. The central story centers around an 18-year-old girl named Kate who is moving to Montreal to follow her dream of becoming a dancer. Determined to leave and never come back, she buys a one-way ticket but due to a nasty McMurray snow storm her flight is delayed. Enlightenment ensues as Kate is introduced to a cast of local characters who help her realize that Wood Buffalo is not just a place of opportunity but a loving home.

There has been a lot of buzz around the community about the production. Why do you think it's catching on the way it has?
Because it is a local production staring local talent and figures from our community. Most of all, I think it is catching on because we are giving Fort McMurrayites a voice over the negative media that this community receives on a daily basis. Everyone who lives here knows that Wood Buffalo is a wonderful place to live and with Hometown we are celebrating that. Wood Buffalo is a place of opportunity and innovation. It has a powerful entrepreneurial spirit but most of all it is a family oriented community.

Was there a particular "YMM MOMENT" that inspired the show and brought you to want to direct something like this?
I would say it's inspired by the times. With the Big Spirit Campaign, more and more people from Wood Buffalo are standing up and saying this place is home. I've always loved Wood Buffalo and since I've moved back I'm noticed a huge shift in the community from ten years ago. There are noticeably more families here and a greater sense of pride.

Can you compare the show to any other mainstream theatre shows? If so, which ones?
This is a show like no other. I would compare it to a rock concert with a story. We are using pop songs throughout the piece with lots of dancing so come prepared to have an amazing, blow-you-out-of-your-seat experience!

Any sneak peaks into any local 'celebrities' appearing in the show?
Mayor Melissa Blake has confirmed, the lovable Russell Thomas and of course the beautiful Krista Balsom...you're in right?

What is your "YMM" story?
I moved up here in 2001 to take the VPA theatre program. I graduated in 2003 and transferred to the U of Lethbridge where I completed my degree. Upon graduating I would come back to Wood Buffalo to direct the Fort McKay children's camp and perform in the interPLAY festival. I was a starving artist in Edmonton when Claude offered me a job working for EWB as a part of the set-up crew for Winterplay. It was supposed to be a three-week gig but I was having such a great time I just ended up staying and haven't looked back. I love it here; the people are down to earth, hardworking, warm, and welcoming. This place is home and I plan on making it my home for years to come.

Who inspires you in Fort McMurray to be the director, actor, and person you are?

Claude Giroux. He is passionate about art, theatre, and life. He wants to create shows where everyone is welcomed, entertained, touched, and leaves having a great experience. Wood Buffalo and Keyano are lucky to have his experience and talent. I am very fortunate to be working with him on this project and he inspires me to work hard and give it my all.

"Big Spirit" is a phrase you  hear a lot around town, used by the RMWB and other organizations. What do you think is its meaning and is it going to be relevant to the show?
This show is an expression of what big spirit means. It's a celebration as big and beautiful as the Northern Lights.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with the community about Hometown or anything else?
I'm tired of people calling this region a boomtown. We are a success story economically, multiculturally, and politically. This is a place where hardworking, innovative people come together to make big things happen. I love this community because it's a place where big dreams can come true.

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KRISTA BALSOM

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