A Kelowna musical is aiming to reach continental audiences, and half of its 22 cast hail from the South Okanagan.
Based on the shipwreck of an African slave vessel in 1816, the Raft of the Medusa was written as a musical that focuses on the account of 15 people, who survived among the almost 400 on board.
“The true story itself is a tragedy and its a little bit dark from that perspective,” said actor Randall Robinson, who helped compose the musical. “It’s not just a story of the shipwreck, but how it’s seen by the storyteller.”
He said the senses of humour, love and hope play a strong role, as it’s largely “a story of the human condition.”
The idea for the musical was conceived about 25 years ago, he said, but serious planning didn’t begin until four years ago – and the emotional toll was high.
“In trying to understand the pain and suffering the victims went through, the writer spiralled in; essentially went mad creating this.”
Assembling the cast are the A-list actors of the Okanagan, Robinson said, with members commuting to Kelowna from as far south as Oliver, and as far north as Vernon.
As one of the musical composers, Robinson said a progressive rock approach was taken, comparing the style to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar and Phantom of the Opera.
“It will appeal to people who like Supertramp or Pink Floyd. It’s accessible, not really heavy, but it is contemporary sounding.”
He said Raft of the Medusa will appeal to fans of Webber’s musicals as much as it does the traditional theatre audience.
The shows will be critiqued by industry professionals, and it will hopefully prove to be too big for the Okanagan.
“The journey has just begun,” Robinson said. “Our goal is to reach L.A. and New York, and eventually Las Vegas.”
But the team will first have to wow audiences in larger Canadian cities such as Toronto and Vancouver.
“If you don’t reach for the stars you’ll never get off the ground,” he said. “We’re full-time aggressively promoting this show to bigger producers in bigger centres.”
The shows take place on July 24, 25, 31, and August 1. Tickets cost $30 and can be purchased at www.selectyourtickets.com. Audiences from Penticton will have the opportunity to ride a shuttle bus to and from Kelowna for the opening night on July 24.