This year’s Gold Fever Follies’ production is a whimsical take on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that pokes fun at the classic tragedy, and incorporates some local history. Written by Trail-born and Rossland-schooled Brian Turner, Summer Is Coming pits Rossland and Trail against each other in a feud the Montagues and Capulets would be proud of.
The dispute begins when Mabel (Kirsti Hack) from Rossland bites her thumb at Isabella Mezzonotti (Lauren Halász) from Trail. Things escalate as Isabella’s uncle, Alderman Flute (Nick Heffelfinger), and Rossland’s fire chief, Donald Guthrie (Ty Wright), enter the brawl. The two towns square o in a series of mêlées, including a dance-off, rap battle, and finally a ping-pong tournament that ends with betrayal and tragedy.
In the midst of this musical warfare, two young lovers meet. At first Julian (Aaron James) and Romola (Alexandra Willet) try to conceal their relationship because he’s from Rossland and she’s from Trail. But their secret quickly spreads, culminating in the famous poison scene. Only in this case, the poison is whiskey. Near deadly to a couple of lightweights.
More seasoned audience members familiar with Shakespeare’s tragedy will be delighted by the way Turner gently pokes fun at young love run amok. From Julian’s pining over Rosaline to his too-early marriage proposal to Romola, Turner deconstructs the original to highlight Romeo and Juliet’s foolishness.
But the crux of the play is really the rivalry between Guthrie and Flute. Wright and Heffelfinger play off each other brilliantly, bringing the Rossland/Trail conflict to life. Of course Hack pours fuel on the fire with her performance as the charmingly aggressive Mabel, who along with partner in crime Gertrude (Jessica Rowat), pushes along the plot, and keeps the laughs coming.
The whole cast delivers an energetic performance of song and dance, with plenty of witty references to popular culture thrown in. (The title itself is a reference to Game of Thrones, and the show’s theme song has a tiny cameo.) Of particular note is Halász musical performance as Isabella, Romola’s sister. Halás is currently studying classical voice at the University of Western Ontario, and it shows in her operatic performance.
The Gold Fever Follies deliver a fun-packed, family-friendly play that you should be sure to see. It runs through August 22 at the Miners’Hall, with daily performances at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.