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Crazy For You set to open in New West — three years in the making

Royal City Musical Theatre's production was set to open in 2020 when COVID hit. We talk to star Todd Talbot about his long-awaited return to the stage.

There are some drawbacks to being the parents of a tween and young teen when you’re musical theatre performers — like the fact that your kids can memorize the lyrics to your songs faster than you can and that they’ll delight in pointing out when you get your lines wrong.

But it’s all in day’s work for Todd and Rabecca Talbot as the musical theatre couple gets set to star in Royal City Musical Theatre’s Crazy For You. The show plays at Massey Theatre April 27 to May 14.

Todd stars as Bobby Child, the banker with a secret wish to sing and dance, while Rabecca is his love interest, the postmistress-turned-performer Polly Baker, in the musical featuring the songs of George and Ira Gershwin.

For the couple that met while performing together in the Arts Club production of West Side Story two decades ago, there’s a particular delight in coming back to the stage together now that they’re in their 40s.

“The transformation from being parents getting a Grade 6 and a Grade 8 kid out the door for school in the morning to being a young, loving couple onstage is —” Todd starts.

“Seamless!” interjects Rabecca in the background (they’re in the car on the way to an appointment as they speak).

“We need the drive from Vancouver to New West in order to transform our energies from one to the other,” Todd finishes with a laugh.

Once they step onto the stage for rehearsal, though? They’re on.

“Not to be too dramatic about it, but I think it’s been good for our relationship, because, you know, you need to be having a certain level of fun to pull off this material,” Todd says. “And sometimes it’s hard to find that space to have fun together as a couple, and so this way, we’re mandated to do it.”

He laughs, but he’s quick to add they make a good professional partnership. He counts on Rabecca — “a shameless plug for my wife; she sings this music beautifully” — to offer feedback on his musical performance, and they can trust each other implicitly in the dance numbers.

Mind you, that doesn’t mean it’s easy work.

Both Talbots got serious in January about getting into top shape for their roles.

“This show is super demanding,” Todd says.

Bobby Child has been a bucket-list role since he saw the original West End production of the musical when he was at theatre school in London in the 1990s. To do it justice means he’s calling on all his triple-threat skills in acting, singing and dancing.

“You need to be able to handle the comedy of it, the romantic elements, and then on top of that be able to manage the technical elements of not only dancing, but you add a specialized skill of tap dancing on top of that, and then handling the beautiful music of Gershwin, and some of it’s complicated music as well,” Todd points out.

Getting a chance to finally step into the role is perhaps even sweeter because this particular show has been so long in coming.

Original RCMT production shut down by COVID in March 2020

The RCMT production of Crazy For You was just about to open back in March of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“No one could have predicted that we would have been shockingly shut down so quickly,” Todd says, noting there was a definite disappointment in having put into all that effort and then not being able to share the show.

Now, finally, that moment has come.

A good chunk of the original cast is back this time out — including New Westminster’s Kailley Roesler, who appears as Patsy. She graduated from Capilano University’s musical theatre program in 2020, during the pandemic, shortly after she should have been in Crazy For You the first time.

“It was really a devastating blow,” she recalls.

“Honestly, there was a point in time when I thought that we wouldn’t get to do it again. That was months of hard work and rehearsals that kind of felt like going down the drain for a little bit. So when I got the call that we had the chance to put it on again, I was just giddy, just giggling.”

Roesler works in set decoration in the film industry by day and also teaches at The Stage Musical Theatre Academy in New West. But performing —  especially dance, which she’s been studying since the age of two-and-a-half — will always be near and dear to her heart, she says.

She has embraced the chance to be part of the “really fantastic” Crazy For You cast once again.

“I definitely felt a little bit rusty going into it after several years off, but it’s amazing how muscle memory works,” she says. “We’re just so excited to share it with folks after so many years, and we hope everybody comes out to support some awesome Gershwin music and awesome tap dancing and storytelling.”

The performers are hoping audiences will be ready to embrace live performance again — and to experience the special connection it creates between those onstage and those watching from the seats.

 “That synergy between onstage and audience is a super unique dynamic that I miss, having stepped away for so many years to do television,” says Todd, who’ll be recognized by many as the co-host of Love It Or List It Vancouver. “You just don’t get that feedback. You know, people on the street stop you and say, ‘Hey, I like your show,’ and that’s nice, but you don’t get that immediacy.

“There’s an addictive quality to it, I think, where you get that immediate feedback, and it’s a shared experience, and it’s rare to find that.”

Roesler agrees.

“Having a large crowd like the ones that we get at Massey Theatre, there’s a certain kind of exchange, like an energy exchange, while you’re performing onstage,” she says. “So not only are you presenting outwards to them, but you’re also receiving a lot from them as well, in terms of not just applause but the laughter and the gasps and the tears sometimes. And there’s just that really beautiful exchange that, if you tune into it while performing, you can really feel it from those who are watching you. …

“It’s just a lot of beautiful give and take.”

Catch Royal City Musical Theatre’s Crazy For You at Massey Theatre

  • What: Crazy For You, presented by Royal City Musical Theatre
  • When: Thursday, April 27 to Sunday, May 14. Evening shows Thursdays through Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; weekend matinees (April 30, May 6, 7, 13 and 14) at 2 p.m.
  • Where: Massey Theatre, 735 Eighth Ave.
  • Tickets: $29/$37/$45. Book online or find more information at the Royal City Musical Theatre website.

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