Musical brings real Craigslist drama to life

Do you want what I have got? A new musical coming to the Yukon Arts Centre asks the eternal question of people and stuff trying to find each other.

Do you want what I have got? A new musical coming to the Yukon Arts Centre asks the eternal question of people and stuff trying to find each other.

“It’s a real kind of phenomenon, because it explores that whole world where people are using Craigslist and other kinds of social media to buy and sell,” said Eric Epstein, the arts centre’s artistic director.

“And there’s an overall theme in the show that talks about, really, the yearning, an underlying yearning for stuff, or for things, or for emotional connection, attachment.”

Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company brings Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata to the Yukon for a special run this week.

The musical sold out dozens of times at the PuSh festival in Vancouver earlier this year.

The Whitehorse shows will be a sort of homecoming for Veda Hille, who co-wrote the musical with CBC personality Bill Richardson, and also performs in the piece.

Hille is an acclaimed independent musician based in Vancouver, but she has a long history in the Yukon.

She first visited in 1994 for the Frostbite Music Festival, said Epstein.

In 2000, she participated in the Yukon Journey, in which she travelled the territory for three weeks with a dozen performing artists.

That led the arts centre to commission Yukon Suite, a series of songs based on the journey, including titles like Tuktoyaktuk Hymn and Song of the Little Wind.

She was the Yukon Arts Centre’s artist in residence for a time in 2002, when she wrote music and lyrics for and directed a performance of The Death of the Finance Minister’s Mother.

It was her first foray into the world of musical theatre, said Epstein.

Now, the Craigslist Cantata will present 80 minutes of songs by Hille, based largely on verbatim posts from the website.

It was Richardson’s idea to use buy-and-sell ads as inspiration for a musical.

While Craigslist hasn’t taken a firm hold of the classifieds market here in the territory, Yukoners are likely familiar with the raw drama offered by CKRW’s Trader Time, or postings on Artsnet, Facebook or Kijiji.

One fixture of the Craigslist community is the “missed connections” page, where people who met someone by chance, felt a connection, but failed to secure contact information hope against hope that the person they’re looking for is seeking them out as well.

Lyrics from the musical bring to life the details people hold onto when reaching out to strangers over the Internet.

“I was the one who said your hat was hokey. You were the one who sucked at karaoke. I was the one who ordered lamb and Jell-O. You were the one with the pimped out cello.”

“What’s the chance that you’ll read this? If you do you’ll only shrug and say, ‘Who needs this?’”

The Whitehorse performance dates were tacked onto a tour of Vancouver and surrounding communities thanks to some persistence on the part of Epstein.

He first caught the show during the PuSh festival, and immediately entered negotiations to bring it to the Yukon.

“I just loved it, it was so beautifully done. Veda’s work is just … she’s lovely because she takes risks, because her music is not the easiest but at the same time there’s parts of it that are just so compelling and easy to listen to.”

The company wanted to come to the Yukon a week earlier, but the space was booked for the Blue Feather Music Festival.

The negotiations were dropped until Epstein ran into Hille at the Vancouver Folk Festival this summer, and she offered hope that a later booking might work out. In the end, it did.

Hille is excited for her Yukon homecoming as well.

“At last I return to Whitehorse,” she wrote on her blog in September.

Hille hasn’t performed in the territory since the Canada Winter Games in 2007, said Epstein.

The preview night for A Craigslist Cantata was Tuesday.

The show runs Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with an additional matinee at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets are $32 for adults, $22 for seniors 60 and older and children 12 and younger, $15 for college students and $5 for teens. They can be purchased at the Yukon Arts Centre box office or online at

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at