Today was the first day of rehearsals for Ruby Slippers upcoming production of Life Savers and it was off like a shot from word “go.” Life Savers is an English translation of a work by Quebecois playwright Serge Boucher (Les Bonbons Qui Sauvent la Vie) set in 2000/2001 – the era of Karla Homolka’s prison party and the 9/11 tragedy. And in our case, this story of a disfunctional family working out its kinks after a murder sentence is handed out is being brought to vivid, touching, hilarious life by some of Vancouver’s best actors.
The rehearsal day started with design presentations in true 21st century style – projected images of set renderings and photos, followed by a demonstration of “hidden camera” surveillance imaging. This was followed by a more traditional-form (but equally exciting) presentation of costume design sketches inspired by the celebrities of that era and drawing on Life Savers candies as a colour palette! And finally, a discussion on foley-based sound à la Requiem for a Dream.
Following the design show-and-tell, we dove right in to a first read that was exciting, gut wrenching, and very, very funny. Two generations of sisters (played by Patti Allan and Deborah Williams, and Colleen Wheeler and Naomi Wright) along with their husbands (Kevin McNulty and Mike Wasko) and the family’s grandmother (Wendy Morrow Donaldson) try to continue the family’s functioning disfunction despite its crumbling foundations. They can get by when a prison official (Maria Oldeen) comes to supervise, but what happens when they are left completely alone?
The discussion that followed the first read just proved how rich this script is and how easily we can identify with this family, even having never been in these circumstances.
With such a well-assembled cast, director Diane Brown is in for an exciting ride preparing to bring this script to life for Ruby Slippers audiences. Stay tuned…!
*All actors are appearing courtesy of the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association