I have been fortunate to work with three of Kelowna’s favorite actors over the course of the past six weeks -Troy Berg, Brad Hull and Colm O’Reilly in the play BINGO!, which opens this week. The three actors play high school friends who thirty years later find themselves at their high school reunion with the two “it” girls of their dreams. It is a funny and at times an intensely bittersweet look at love, aging and friendship and whether it is possible to have the rush of teenage experiences when those years are long behind you.
As often happens in a smaller production like this, we have become great allies of each other and ironically the actors who play high school friends are now friends in real life. Here is a little bit about how they got their start and how they see theatre fitting into their lives today. Below you will find my interview and their answers in their own words. You will see you really get a sense of each of their personalities and common love of theatre.
1. Are you from Kelowna? How long have you lived here?
Troy - I am originally from Drumheller Alberta, but grew up in Armstrong and I moved southward after college and have been a Kelowna resident for the past 20 years.
Brad - I have been a resident of Kelowna for the last 15 years.
Colm - I was born in Ireland, came to Canada in 63, (which might be why I don't have too much trouble with the accent in this show). I grew up in the burbs of Toronto and moved out west about twenty-five years ago now. Four years in Banff Alberta then I settled down in the Okanagan.
2. Can you remember your first theatre experience? Recall some of the most memorable performances you have had.
Troy - My first theatre experience was playing Roo in the Grade Seven blockbuster performance of Winnie the Pooh. Despite never having been formally acknowledged for this vital contribution to the world of theatrical arts, I continue to perform to this day.
Brad - My first time on stage in Grade 3, playing Santa Clause in ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and since then I have never really left the stage.
Colm - My first theatre experience was Kiss of the Spider Woman in April 2009. Theatre audiences are different than bar audiences - I was in a band. I've never seen a theatre audience not applaud, but in a bar it’s different. If you're having a bad night the people literally ignore you, it’s a total drag. But by the same token when you’re having a night where the sound is perfect and the audience is totally into what you're all about, then you can do no wrong and the crowd lets you know it by going completely nuts and losing their voices from yelling and screaming their heads off. Those are the performances I remember the most.
3. What brings you back to the stage time and time again?
Troy - I love theatre because every new role brings a new set of challenges and opportunities to push myself beyond my own boundaries. There’s something different to be gained from each and every character. I’ve had to learn to sing. I’ve had to learn to dance. I’ve learned to find different emotions that I never knew I had. I think a little piece of every character you play stays with you, and I like that.
Brad - I have always wanted to perform.
Colm - For me the stage is a tight rope walkway outside of the box and that's a place where merely existing stops and experiencing life to the fullest begins. Everyone should taste this at least once in their lives.
4. Did you always want to perform?
Troy - Always. Sadly, I’m guilty of needing a spotlight. If it’s not on stage, it’s through writing, teaching, or through some other avenue. It keeps me inspired.
Brad - Like I said before, I have always wanted to entertain.
Colm - I was into writing songs and stories since about grade eleven, but at the time I was more drawn to the writing process than the performance aspect because I was - and still am - kind of an introvert, but I didn't like being an introvert so I forced myself to get up on the stage... what's the worst thing that could happen?
5. Do you have a "dream role" or play you would like to perform?
Troy - Too many to mention. A couple that stick out though would be Dan in Next to Normal and Huey in Memphis.
Brad - I am working on adapting script(s), to be brought to production sometime soon.
Colm - I would absolutely love to play Pontius Pilot in Jesus Christ Super Star. My next favorite role would be anything in a remake of Network.
6. How would you describe the theatre scene in Kelowna? What do you think the future holds?
Troy -The recent diversity brought by strong new theatre companies is exciting. We’re seeing a great range of fresh, developing companies all having complementary approaches that I think is serving the theatre community well. As both a performer and a theatre-goer, I say that when it comes to Okanagan stages, the more, the merrier.
Colm - I would describe the theatre scene in Kelowna and the Okanagan as very much alive and kicking and that has to do with two major reasons. The first is there is mountains of talent in this valley and secondly because there is a ton of support for the theatre. People in the Okanagan love live theatre, they get it.
Come and see Troy Berg, Brad Hull and Colm O’Reilly show off their wicked skills as The Boys in of The Class of 1980 in the play BINGO! We open tonight and tickets are almost sold out for all of our July 10-12 shows, so get them at www.selectyourtickets.com or get them at the door by showing up for our 6:45pm open time. All shows are at The Black Box Theatre.
For more information, check out www.newvintage.ca