Stage on Fire

Blue Bridge artistic director brings back his classic musical

Jacob Richmond stars as Herschel Blackwell in the Blue Bridge Theatre production of Fire

Jacob Richmond stars as Herschel Blackwell in the Blue Bridge Theatre production of Fire

It’s been 25 years since Brian Richmond first staged the classic Canadian musical Fire.

Now he’s bringing it to the Capital Region for the first time.

Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre’s presentation of Fire marks the eighth mounting of the show for Richmond, who originally produced the Paul Ledoux and David Young script in Thunder Bay in 1985.

Richmond is directing, helped by music direction from composer Bruce Ruddell.

“It’s never failed to ignite ecstatic enthusiasm from the audience,” said Richmond, producing artistic director for Blue Bridge.

“(The fact) this is the first production in Victoria (is surprising), given its 26-year history of success across the country.”

Fire draws on the relationship of 50s and 60s rock legend Jerry Lee Lewis and his real-life cousin, televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, through telling the fictional story of brothers Cale and Herchel Blackwell.

Set over three decades ending in 1980, the story follows the lives of Cale (played by Zachary Stevenson), Herschel (Jacob Richmond) and the woman they love, Molly King (Celine Stubel).

Show-goers can expect an entertaining evening of gospel classics and 50s rock music played by Al Sabourin on lead guitar, Steve Duben on bass and Malcolm Cooley on drums, in a show with deeper undercurrents.

“What concerned the playwright and myself was the tendency for certain right-wing fundamentalist groups to become involved in the political process in the United States and Canada,” Richmond said.

“We were concerned about that erosion of separation between church and state. I think (audiences) are going to enjoy it a great deal and find it relevant to our times.”

Great balls of fire

Fire, staged by the Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre, opens tomorrow (Aug. 4) at 8 p.m. and thereafter runs Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. at the McPherson Playhouse. Matinees at 2 p.m. are scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays plus Wednesday, Aug. 10.

• Tickets range from $33.25 to $42.75 and are available through the McPherson Box office at 250-386-6121 or online at

• The production runs until Aug. 14 and is part of Blue Bridge Theatre’s 2011 people’s choice season.