When the show can’t go live, the show must go online.
This year’s Oak Bay High drama class is delivering its annual stage production on YouTube on a live stream available Friday and Saturday only.
The play, Trouble in Paradise Junction, is the unraveling of the perfect little town of Paradise Junction.
It’s the kind of place where nothing ever goes wrong, everything is perfect, and everyone gets along until a television network pays a lot of money to the residents to film a reality show, explains Grade 12 drama student Maddie Patterson, who plays well-to-do business owner Heather McGillicuddy (an antagonist, but from among the townsfolk).
“The editors of the show edit our words and turn us townsfolk against each other,” Patterson said.
It’s a modern play by writer Todd Wallinger which debuted four years ago at an Ashcroft, B.C., high school, much to the delight of Wallinger, who blogged about it from his home in Arizona.
Wallinger said he based Paradise Junction on a romantic version of his boyhood town, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, but for the purposes of the Oak Bay High production it is somewhere in the U.S. south where life is good, said drama teacher and director Tim Bradshaw.
“It’s a hilarious show, very funny that’s set in an unreal time, in an unreal place with a southern U.S. drawl, and it’s really quite silly,” Bradshaw said.
In normal times, the class of 24 students would have a whole semester, 20 weeks, to choreograph the show, get the costumes ready, and learn their lines. Cut that down to five weeks and add in filming and editing and it’s been an experience unlike any year previous, said Patterson, a veteran of Oak Bay’s Christmas Carol and Holy Grail productions.
“We filmed it in pieces at different locations in the school instead of all of it being on the stage,” Patterson explained. “It is rushed because of the quarter system, super rushed, and I’m pretty proud of us.”
Patterson said the energy among the crew when filming the play is far different from being on stage.
“When you’re performing on stage, you get a feeling when you’re in front of the audience. It’s difficult, challenging, and I do miss it.”
The drama class had purchased the rights for two performances in the spring of 2020 and happily, the licensee extended the rights to 2021, Bradshaw said.
“The idea is the kids filmed it, scored it, edited it, publicized it, and are working with me to direct it. It was a lot of work for them, and a great opportunity for them to bring a production to the public,” Bradshaw added. “We’re really excited that the kids have this opportunity to bring it to reach a larger audience.”
The play is available on-demand from 5 to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday (Feb. 5 and 6), on the YouTube channel, youtube.com/channel/UCHQHaREOLtNqf1hamdL9uEg.