“It’s sure different with just the four guys on stage,” says actor Tom Szalay, commenting on the first South Okanagan Amateur Player’s production to feature an all-male cast. Szalay is referring to The Wild Guys, a Canadian comedy by Andrew Wreggit and Rebecca Shaw. It opens the weekend of November 25 and 26 at OSS Minitheatre in Osoyoos, and continues on December 2 and 3 at the Oliver Seniors Centre. “We guys definitely need more beer events after rehearsals to better develop our manly characters, ” he says, grinning, and with tongue firmly in cheek.
The four male co-stars are Craig Bjornson, David Badger, Patrick Turner, and Szalay. They play a new age hippie, a high powered lawyer, a grocer and a sales executive who all venture into the Alberta bush on a men’s sensitivity weekend. What begins as a simple hike to a cabin for some steaks, fishing, and heart-to- heart talk becomes a hilarious survival weekend when the foursome lose their way and discover supplies have disappeared. Bjornson enjoys the home-grown feel of the script: “I like that it is a Canadian play with references and locations that an audience will recognize.”
Each character has his own mid-life crisis, facing issues of career advancement, romance and marriage, aging, and mortality. Szalay describes his character as “a geeky know-it-all who only thinks he has it all together!” Turner’s grocer is “stuck in a rut at the Lone Pine Co-op and would like some advancement. But he’s really just a small town boy.” Badger, playing an abrasive lawyer with all the perks of his lifestyle, eventually confides his insecurities. Bjornson says his tree-hugging character is “a soul of the earth kind of guy but he spends way too much time trying to change the world”, only to discover what needs to change is himself. Huddling around a campfire, the men eventually pour out their secrets, some poignant, some wry, some funny.
The revelations may bring a tear or two to the audience, but the laughs follow right behind. Physical comedy, sight gags, pop culture references, and poking fun at male stereotypes will all guarantee lots of chuckles.
While the men break manly stereotypes onstage in The Wild Guys, ladies working behind the scenes break stereotypes of their own in key jobs as producer, stage manager, lead hand (set), sound and lighting. Director Ted Osborne enjoys the challenge of balancing the testosterone onstage and the estrogen backstage: “Yep – it’s that age old story where guys on stage just want to bluster ahead and “get the job done” and the female crew backstage want to organize and adjust. Now, keeping that working in harmony can be a challenge alright!”
Tickets for The Wild Guys are $15 adults and $12 seniors / students and are available at Sundance Video (Oliver), Your Dollar Store with More (Osoyoos), and at the door.
SOAP’s spring production may reverse gender worlds. The troupe plans to produce the all-female, hit Broadway play Love, Loss, and What I Wore by Nora and Delia Ephron. Females wishing to audition, and guys wishing to work backstage are invited contact SOAP at SOAP@telus.net or 250-498-3597.