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The 20 Minute Musicals were my inspiration to investigate the PuSh festival in the first place. This week there were two performances of Veda Hille’s offering which included lyrics written by Bill Richardson and all taken from real Craigslist postings. These include lines like, “I have a backhoe that needs minor fixing," “sluts for lease,” and “I have a willing PC.”
Other folks have exciting gravel to give away or very specific instructions about when and how to pick up a free sponge. The musical begins with a list of some of the crazier items and situations and then evolves into a series of short exchanges, such as that between the adulterous man who needs a dead deer to prove he’s been hunting and another man who offers the body of a moose who died of natural causes on his property. Veda played the piano and sang - the rest of the cast included a few members of her band other musician friends. The whole performance was musically charming and the vignettes were poignant and funny. The audience really loved this one.
What better subject for a great Canadian musical than Steve Fonyo, the other Canadian teen cancer-survivor who set out to run across Canada and did finish the journey. Later in life, Fonyo has been troubled by substance abuse and tangles with the law. Geoff Berner uses Fonyo's status as a failed hero to examine Canadian culture and history. Lines like "We are all Steve Fonyo - it's the way that we all blow it," capture Berner's take on a nation that isn't number one.
The main character is actually Douglas Copeland (pictured above), who is painted as a pathetic aging hipster who never lived up to predictions that he would be the voice of his generation. Copeland decides he should have written about Fonyo instead of squeaky clean hero Terry Fox and tracks Fonyo down in a basement apartment in New Westminster (don't know if there's any truth to that). They then head out to dig up Fox's bones but Terry's ghost appears and points out that he'd rather be alive than a hero. Besides, he says, most of our great heroes had dark sides which have been all but erased from history. Copeland and Fonyo are both left searching for "the bitter heart of the Canadian dream."
This musical included witty dialogue as well as musical numbers and it was scathing funny and a big audience favourite. Both musicals are great accomplishments and I hope they'll be performed again or made available on cd.