In a single sentence Katherine McCallum sums up North of the Sixtieth Parallel — A Zeitgeist Cabaret.
“It’s a roller coaster of everything,” she said with a laugh as she discussed the stage production set to come to the Old Fire Hall later this month.
McCallum is the artistic executive producer of Larrikin Entertainment, which is working with Atomic Vaudeville of Victoria and the Yukon Arts Centre to showcase the cabaret from April 16 to 27.
As McCallum said it features a “wonderfully diverse cast” of 13 Yukoners along with Atomic Vaudeville veterans Sarah Murphy and Grant Waters performing everything from sketch comedy to musical theatre to monologues. They showcase the Yukon’s “idiosyncrasies, foibles and ethos” along with featuring a different Yukon “celebrity” at each performance “so that every show will have its very own distinct flavour”.
It was last May that Larrikin and Atomic Vaudeville began working together, all thanks to a suggestion McCallum’s husband made.
During a vacation to Victoria, the pair went to see one of Atomic Vaudeville’s cabaret shows. She was already a fan, having enjoyed its Ride the Cyclone production. The cabaret was just as amusing, she said.
At that time, she was also working to get the rights to a play she wanted to produce. While she was trying to work on that issue during the plane ride home from their trip, her husband Andy suggested she send an email to Atomic Vaudeville asking if it wanted to work on a project with her instead.
Within just 15 minutes a reply came her way that the Victoria performance company was indeed interested in working with Larrikin.
Atomic Vaudeville had been in Whitehorse a few times to work on past projects and liked the community, the company’s artistic director Britt Small said.
“We were always interested in doing more (in Whitehorse),” she said, adding the company had previously looked at bringing its cabaret show to the territory for Canada150 but the project hadn’t come to fruition.
From there, “it all just sort of happened,” McCallum said.
It’s rare to have the opportunity to put together a professional performance with such a large cast, she said.
The Yukon Arts Centre became involved through its residency program.
As Casey Prescott, arts centre CEO, said: “The residency program is designed to support Yukon’s arts community to create, collaborate, and produce exciting new and existing works, and the Zeitgeist Cabaret promises to deliver many chaotic delights for our audience. We look forward to participating in this thrilling journey with these amazing artists.”
In September, Small and artistic director Jacob Richmond were in town for a comedy weekend where they met a group of Yukoners and talked about the territory and the unique aspects of living here.
As Small recalled, there was talk about local politics, the characters who call the Yukon home and what it’s like to live in the territory.
“We always aim to be the voice of the community (where we perform),” Small said.
Another weekend visit early in the new year followed where auditions were held and more material was gathered.
McCallum described the session as being more about what kind of team was being built than more typical auditions where actors read from a script.
For Atomic Vaudeville, “… It really feels like we’ve immersed ourselves in the community here,” Small said.
She went on to highlight a “mini-musical” that came from Claire Ness during a writer’s session about a Watson Lake resident who dreams of making it to Whitehorse to become “Yukon famous” as the Rendezvous Queen.
It’s one of many pieces that will be performed during the cabaret.
The show features a long list of Yukon credits throughout ranging from those on stage to providing musical direction to working on design and more.
“It all kind of worked,” McCallum said.
Those wondering what to expect of North of the Sixtieth Parallel — A Zeitgeist Cabaret are encouraged to “think Monty Python meets the Muppet Show.
“Think spectacular song and dance numbers.
“Think …. actually, try not to think too much at all.”
With one week down on the three weeks set for rehearsals before the performances, McCallum said “every day is hysterically funny.”
The show will premiere April 16 at 8 p.m. at the Old Fire Hall downtown with performances each night Tuesday to Saturday until April 27. Tickets are available at yukontickets.com or at the door.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at email@example.com