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Crazy For You comes to New West stage — three years in the making

We spoke with star Todd Talbot and Burnaby performer Tiffany Chan about Royal City Musical Theatre's long-awaited return to the stage.

There are some drawbacks to being the parents of a tween and young teen when you’re musical theatre performers — like the fact that your kids can memorize the lyrics to your songs faster than you can and that they’ll delight in pointing out when you get your lines wrong.

But it’s all in day’s work for Todd and Rabecca Talbot as the musical theatre couple gets set to star in Royal City Musical Theatre’s Crazy For You. The show plays at Massey Theatre April 27 to May 14.

Todd stars as Bobby Child, the banker with a secret wish to sing and dance, while Rabecca is his love interest, the postmistress-turned-performer Polly Baker, in the musical featuring the songs of George and Ira Gershwin.

For the couple that met while performing together in the Arts Club production of West Side Story two decades ago, there’s a particular delight in coming back to the stage together now that they’re in their 40s.

“The transformation from being parents getting a Grade 6 and a Grade 8 kid out the door for school in the morning to being a young, loving couple onstage is —” Todd starts.

“Seamless!” interjects Rabecca in the background (they’re in the car on the way to an appointment as they speak).

“We need the drive from Vancouver to New West in order to transform our energies from one to the other,” Todd finishes with a laugh.

Once they step onto the stage for rehearsal, though? They’re on.

“Not to be too dramatic about it, but I think it’s been good for our relationship, because, you know, you need to be having a certain level of fun to pull off this material,” Todd says. “And sometimes it’s hard to find that space to have fun together as a couple, and so this way, we’re mandated to do it.”

He laughs, but he’s quick to add they make a good professional partnership. He counts on Rabecca — “a shameless plug for my wife; she sings this music beautifully” — to offer feedback on his musical performance, and they can trust each other implicitly in the dance numbers.

Mind you, that doesn’t mean it’s easy work.

Both Talbots got serious in January about getting into top shape for their roles.

“This show is super demanding,” Todd says.

Bobby Child has been a bucket-list role since he saw the original West End production of the musical when he was at theatre school in London in the 1990s. To do it justice means he’s calling on all his triple-threat skills in acting, singing and dancing.

“You need to be able to handle the comedy of it, the romantic elements, and then on top of that be able to manage the technical elements of not only dancing, but you add a specialized skill of tap dancing on top of that, and then handling the beautiful music of Gershwin, and some of it’s complicated music as well,” Todd points out.

Getting a chance to finally step into the role is perhaps even sweeter because this particular show has been so long in coming.

Original RCMT production shut down by COVID in March 2020

The RCMT production of Crazy For You was just about to open back in March of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“No one could have predicted that we would have been shockingly shut down so quickly,” Todd says, noting there was a definite disappointment in having put into all that effort and then not being able to share the show.

The performers are hoping audiences will be ready to embrace live performance again — and to experience the special connection it creates between those onstage and those watching from the seats.

 “That synergy between onstage and audience is a super unique dynamic that I miss, having stepped away for so many years to do television,” says Todd, who’ll be recognized by many as the co-host of Love It Or List It Vancouver. “You just don’t get that feedback. You know, people on the street stop you and say, ‘Hey, I like your show,’ and that’s nice, but you don’t get that immediacy.

“There’s an addictive quality to it, I think, where you get that immediate feedback, and it’s a shared experience, and it’s rare to find that.”

He’s also excited about working with the live orchestra, under the direction of James Bryson — noting that performance with a full orchestra is almost unheard-of in Metro Vancouver’s musical theatre scene.

The live orchestra is also one of the selling points for cast member Tiffany Chan, a Burnaby resident who teaches in the Coquitlam school district by day. She brings a background in musical theatre from Toronto, where she studied at Randolph College for the Performing Arts.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve had a live orchestra for a show, which I’m really excited for,” Chan says. “One of my favourite rehearsals is when we get to sing for the first time with the orchestra, and that’s coming up. … There’s just something very exciting and magical about singing with a live orchestra.”

Chan is new to the Crazy For You cast this time out and says she’s enjoying the chance to work with the RCMT ensemble.

“The cast is amazing. They’re so friendly and very welcoming,” she says. “There are very experienced performers and there are some newer to the scene, which is really lovely. I think it just brings that sense of community that it doesn’t matter what stage you are at in your career or how old you are — there’s a place for everyone.”

She admits the production isn’t an easy one, with intense demands on the dance front.

But she was lured to the show by her love of Gershwin music — and by the sheer joy she gets from singing and dancing in front of a live audience.

“That’s part of what makes live theatre magical and so unique,” she says, “is that every day, every show is different because anything can happen, and no two shows are the same.”

Catch Royal City Musical Theatre’s Crazy For You at Massey Theatre

  • What: Crazy For You, presented by Royal City Musical Theatre
  • When: Thursday, April 27 to Sunday, May 14. Evening shows Thursdays through Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; weekend matinees (April 30, May 6, 7, 13 and 14) at 2 p.m.
  • Where: Massey Theatre, 735 Eighth Ave.
  • Tickets: $29/$37/$45. Book online or find more information at the Royal City Musical Theatre website.

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