There’s one sure-fire way to be able to perform the kind of theatre you really want to do: Create your own company and stage it yourself.
Nancy von Euw knows a thing or two about that.
She’s a co-producer with DramaNatrix Productions, a new female partnership with a focus on engaging young, urban audiences with fresh, modern musical theatre. The company is staging the Canadian premiere of The It Girl, running Oct. 1 to 17 at Studio 1398 on Granville Island.
Von Euw, a Burnaby resident and veteran performer, became one of the company’s producers after being approached by her friend Stephanie Liatopoulos.
“She was kinda looking for a partner in crime,” says von Euw with a laugh. She’d worked with Liatopoulos before, so the two knew they could work together and that their strengths would complement each other.
They’re all too familiar with the challenges of finding work in theatre in Vancouver: there are only so many jobs to go around.
“We wanted to form the kind of company that we wanted to be working for,” von Euw says.
Liatopoulos had had The It Girl in mind for some time – ever since she heard one of its songs performed at Capilano University (coincidentally, by the very woman they’ve cast in the role of the It Girl – Burnaby’s own Katie Purych). When she and von Euw discovered that their production would be a Canadian first, they were sold.
“We kind of jumped on the opportunity when we realized it hadn’t been done in Canada before,” von Euw says, adding that the musical captivated her immediately. “When I read the script and heard the score, it’s magical.”
The production pays homage to the 1920s, as it’s based on the 1927 Paramount picture It, starring the original It Girl, Clara Bow. Staying true to the black-and-white film feel, all the costumes and props are in black and white, and screen projections will be used to set the stage for different New York City locations.
The company’s promotion in the lead-up to the production has also stayed true to the 1920s feel, including mini black-and-white “silent films” introducing each of the characters. (You can see the films at the company’s Facebook page – search for DramaNatrix Productions.)
With all that, however, von Euw is quick to note that the musical contains lyrics and ideas that are pertinent now, nearly a hundred years down the line.
“It’s more than just musical theatre fluff,” notes von Euw, who’s also directing the production. “It actually deals with some issues that are still relevant today.”
They’re hoping that the modern relevance of the production, combined with their unique promotion of it – including a crowd-funding campaign you can find at www.gofundme.com/TheItGirl - will encourage a new audience to turn out to check out the show.
“It’s not hard to get theatregoers into the theatre, but it’s hard to get non-theatregoers into the theatre,” von Euw says.
Von Euw and Purych are also joined by some other Burnaby talents: Stefanie Stanley as the old cranky Irish landlady and Daniel Boden as the stage manager.
The show will be onstage at Studio 1398, Granville Island., from Oct. 1 to 17 – Oct. 1 is a preview night, with official opening on Oct. 2. Tickets are $20 to $25. Buy through www.brownpapertickets.com.