Cody Kearsley, a graduate of Southern Okanagan Secondary School, plays Moose in the Netflix series Riverdale. He has also started his own theatre company. Submitted photo

Riverdale actor from the South Okanagan returns to his theatre roots

Cody Kearsley, Moose on Riverdale, on his latest theatre production

An Okanagan actor is stepping out from the small screen and back on to the stage for the first production from his very own theatre company.

Cody Kearsley, a graduate of Southern Okanagan Secondary School, heads back to his theatre roots this weekend with Red Light Winter, the debut show of Vagrant Players Theatre Society, a not-for-profit theatre company he founded earlier this year.

TV Viewers know Oliver-raised Kearsley best for his current role as Moose in the Netflix original series Riverdale — a live-action and dark version of the Archie comics.

Although over the last few years the young actor has had roles in television, web series, (Spiral), and a movie (Power Rangers), Kearsley said he misses the collaborative approach of live theatre.

“I love being on the stage. I think that medium of storytelling is the one I enjoy the most. The energy is palpable in the air. You’re experiencing the story together in the same room. I love film, but theatre is my first love,” he said during a call from Vancouver.

Related: South Okanagan actor talks about his role in Riverdale

To that end, Kearsley made it his mission to create more contemporary theatre opportunities for both young professional actors and audiences.

Kearsley founded Vagrant Players Theatre Society and serves as the artistic director. The society is run by a board of directors made up of other dedicated artists in the Vancouver area.

“My whole goal with Vagrant Players is to increase the theatre scene in Vancouver. There is so much amazing theatre that people are not aware of,” he said. “So many actors are craving this type of material and there is so much support out there for it.”

The first show for the company is Red Light Winter, a 2006 Pulitzer Prize finalist written by American playwright Adam Rapp.

Kearsley both produces and acts in the play.

“There’s a lot of different hats to put on and change. Luckily I’ve known this play for five years. By the time we went into rehearsals I was pretty familiar with the material.”

The play follows two former college roommates — Matt, played by Albert Nicholas and Davis, Kearsley — to Amsterdam where they go for a guys’ trip to relive memories from their college days.

While there, they both end up sleeping with the same prostitute Christina, played by Alexandra Voicu, and a love triangle ensues.

“It’s very raw and very in your face, very funny but also very brutal at the same time. It’s always been a favourite play of mine. I thought we’d start the company of with a bang.”

Kearsley is on break from Riverdale, which is in the middle of airing its second season.

In the second episode of the season, his character Moose, was shot when trying to shield Midge from gunfire. Moose survives the gunshot, but Kearsley wouldn’t reveal any other details of the season.

“I really can’t tell you,” he said. “As far as it goes though we kind of hinted at a relationship with Moose and Kevin. They kind of hooked up in the first episode and we never really revisited that. I’m excited to explore that. It’s a great story that people can relate to and I hope we further explore that.”

In addition to Riverdale, Kearsley starred in a seven-episode web series called Spiral that went online this fall.

The series follows seven college roommates living in a co-ed house. A mysterious death draws the group together and through a recurring dream they find they’ve shared past life. They realizing the past is the key to unlocking the mystery, clearing their names and possibly staying alive. The series was filmed in Victoria.

“It was my first web series. I loved it. It was super low-budget, amazing. The whole crew and cast was always together. It was a real collaborative process. That’s why I love theatre as well, because there’s this family it creates.”

Kearsley said there are talks of the series being picked up by a network but nothing is firm.

The young actor is optimistic about the future of his career and keeping his home base in Vancouver.

“There are a lot of shows that are being filmed right now in Vancouver. A lot of exciting things going on,” he said.

Red Light Winter runs Nov. 18, 19, 24, 25, 26 at Revue Stage on Granville Island. Tickets are $20 and can be bought online at www.vagrantplayers.com.

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