Print Edition: May 27, 2011
Coming to the Fraser Valley: a deadly tangle of dark sci-fi forces, a snarl of corruption, and ancient, dreadful presence threatens to ensnare a sleepy Midwestern town not unlike Abbotsford! A young student – no different that any of UFV’s own young gentlemen – bravely faces cruel, mysterious powers dividing him from his only love! Horror, humour, romance, and riveting adventure is performed at a breathtaking pace on stage, as Fraser Valley artists command the audience’s attention with their new musical, Misty Hill Automaton!
Misty Hill Automaton! The Musical! is a cutting-edge creation of two Fraser Valley artists, Steve Martens and Ray de Kroon. Work on Misty Hill began back in 2004, as Martens a former UFV student and singer-songwriter began writing music for the play. de Kroon, a slam poet, freelance writer, and recent UFV graduate, began writing the script for Misty Hill a few years later after connecting with Martens through UFV’s English department head, John Carroll.
“The general idea for Misty Hill was conceived around 2004, before I was involved,” de Kroon says. “In 2008, Steve and I met… Steve was in a band called Lo-Fi Love, and had this vision for a musical involving an automaton. He wrote and recorded around twenty brilliant songs for it, but struggled with the script and was never satisfied with what he had.”
In 2008, de Kroon continues, Martens approached John Carroll, looking for a writer. Carroll suggested de Kroon.
“After meeting with Steve and listening to the music, I decided it would be an exciting challenge, quite unlike anything I had ever written in the past, so I joined up with him and wrote a new script.” And then there was Misty Hill!
de Kroon calls it “an explosive stage production quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before!” Set in the US town of Misty Hill in the 1950s, Misty Hill Automaton! intertwines romance, deception, comedy, breathtaking adventures – with space age technology – and fifteen enthralling musical numbers. The plot involves intricate love triangles, some intense science fiction action, a single mother and her bridge club chums, a gang of high school bullies, a rigged election, and a devious mayor, in a lacklustre Midwestern town.
de Kroon explains that “Misty Hill is a fresh, original, modern take on our world. It is as much about the Fraser Valley and current world politics as it is about ‘Coalvale Valley’ and the quiet town of Misty Hill where it is set. Still, the work is heavily influenced by all of those larger than life creations from our past, both real, as in Apollo 11 and the atomic bomb, and fictional, as in King Kong and Godzilla.”
“It’s fresh and funny and a little over the top, but its themes are timeless, and besides, what can compare to live theatre?” de Kroon adds.
The lead, played by Kyle Shick, is Edwin, a brilliant student hidden beneath a bumbling exterior. Edwin’s one true love is the elusive Sadie, played by Jacklyn Kirsch. Some UFV notables include Dana Boogerd, recently graduated from UFV with a BA, who re-ignited her passion for acting when she took an advanced playwriting course and acted in a showcase of works produced by the class. Boogerd plays the mysterious Janine. Also, Brandon Mindel, currently enrolled in the theatre diploma program, plays both the characters Lo-fi and Larry. Finally, set design and construction benefited from the expertise of UFV student Evan Hutchinson.
Directed by Steve Martens, who also does the music, Misty Hill Automaton! features impressive choreography by the highly accomplished Kaela Large, a live band, and a cast of eighteen. Actors and actresses hail primarily from the Fraser Valley, and are largely students.
Misty Hill promises to be alive with tongue-in-cheek humour and countless twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat all night. What does one do when, in a small, monotonous sort of town, one is confronted by wild and dangerous forces that threaten to intervene with you and your hot date? How does one challenge evil and get the girl? Can Edwin overcome his shy bashfulness and charm Sadie in to dinner and a movie? Could you?
Misty Hill Automaton! is showing at GW Graham Theatre, 45955 Thomas Road in Chilliwack. It plays May 25 to 28 at 7:00 p.m., with a matinee on May 29 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $15, and are being sold at both PriceSmart Foods and Save-On-Foods in Chilliwack. Tickets are also available online at www.mistyhill.ca. Tickets will only be available at the door if seating remains!
de Kroon tells us to get out there, to “support your local Fraser Valley artists and find out how the residents of Misty Hill become entangled in a web of deception and blackmail, where freedom and innocence are ruthlessly held captive by an ancient corruption!”
It’ll be brilliantly imaginative, bloody original, it’ll be comedy gold – spookily unearthly – and damned romantic to boot! It’ll send shivers down your spine. So grab your significant other and prepare yourself to be utterly gripped by unpredictable courage shown by the citizens of Misty Hill in their valiant struggle for freedom!