Life as a Musical at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

Life as a Musical

Telus Phone Museum (10437 – 83 avenue) August 13, 16, 17 – 19, 21
More information: grindstonetheatre.ca


The 11 O'Clock Number. Photo credit: Brianne Jang with BB Collective

The 11 O’Clock Number. Photo credit: Brianne Jang with BB Collective

An interview with Mark Vetsch.

Describe your show in five words. 

Completely improvised musical about YOU!

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?

Ever wonder what your life would be like if it were a musical? Performers interview one lucky audience member, find out their family, friends, and anything else, and create a musical in front of your eyes. We guarantee improvised songs, harmonies, and tons of laughs. With zany dance numbers, intriguing plot twists, and hilarious harmonies right on the spot, this is an improv show you won’t want to miss!
You run The 11 O’Clock Number regularly during the theatre season – what, if anything, is different about Life as a Musical during your Fringe run?

During our regular season, our show is two 45 minute acts with an intermission.  During Fringe we only get 60 minutes to complete our show. It’s a great challenge and change of pace for us because we’re so used to really delving into characters and sometimes having scenes that are more about character development than driving the plot forward. Fringe really forces us to cut the fat and stick to what’s important.

You mention in your press release that you’re excited to show Edmonton how much you’ve grown in the past year. How have you grown and what will audience members notice that’s stayed the same?

About a month before last year’s Fringe we took 11 new performers into the company. We’ve spent the past year growing, rehearsing and performing together and have integrated a lot of outside perspective and new styles into our performances.

We’ve been working on music too.  Thinking about the different kinds of songs that one sees when they go to a musical and we’ve been working on finding different forms and feelings of songs to really spice things up.  One style in particular that a few of our members absolutely shine in is rap! Oh my, everyone better watch out!

On top of having new faces around, Grindstone has also been travelling.  In October, four company members travelled to New York to perform in the New York Improvised Musical Festival to showcase our talents.  As well, Edmonton Fringe marks stop 5 of 6 of an international fringe tour (Orlando, Regina, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria).

What hasn’t changed is the structure of our show and the way that we work together with the audience, using the audience members life as our sole inspiration and story that we will be telling.  One thing that we’ve been seeing a lot in the reviews of our show is that we acknowledge our mistakes on stage and that the charm and honesty of our performers makes our show stand out.  So audience members can expect the same “sense of humor” of the show.

Each show of Life as a Musical is based on an interview with an audience member at the beginning of the show. How long does that interview take and what are you trying to find out during it? 

The interview takes no longer than 5 minutes. We want to find out about their life in order to incorporate as many details as possible.  Last year, we always asked the question “What’s the biggest thing that happened to you this year?” and we take it from there.  The answer that catches our ear such as “I proposed to my girlfriend of 5 years in Vegas” or “I went roller-skating for the first time and I’m 54” is likely going to be the one we choose.

The more details we find out, the better.  If we only asked two questions and only knew the person’s name and occupation, it would be cheating around the challenge we set out for ourselves.  We want to find out the person’s full name, occupation, childhood goals, parent’s and qualities about them, who their best friend is, if there was ever “one that got away”, their favorite food….anything and everything is fair game and the more we get out of that interview, the more fun we all have.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

Think about the best thing that’s happened to you this year and yell it loudly at the show!  We love to hear what you have to say!

The 34th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 13 – 23. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca starting today, August 4!

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