Canadian musicals are a tough act to come by. Most of the big musicals that enter Toronto are imported from Broadway and leave little room for any Canadian work to standout -- until now. One Night Only's The Greatest Musical Never Written is both a musical and an ingenious idea. Add some music, six actors, three audience-picked concepts, and nothing but improvisation, and you have yourself an original musical.
Come prepared for the unexpected, because every night is a different musical. On Jan. 28, the cast of notable Second City alumni conceived what became Stampede! The Musical, a romantic comedy set in present day Calgary. The audience is asked from the beginning to create three subplots; of them were infidelity, the deep blue ocean, and Calgary. What then developed was a love affair between a mime named Tom (Ron Pederson) and his imaginary girlfriend, Denise. Tom gets hired by two conservative women, Barb (Carly Heffernan) and Brenda (Jan Caruana) to perform for the Calgary Stampede. Tom's performance work eventually pulls him away from his wife Jane (Ashley Botting), a pork rind vendor competing with the market since the NDP took reign.
In the meantime, two oil workers from Fort McMurray (Reid Janisse and Alex Tindal) plot their big move to Calgary with a tank of crude oil. Using a drove of wild horses due to an empty gas tank, they race into Calgary and hookup with Barb and Brenda. Jane finds the Comfort Inn where Tom is staying during his Stampede gig, only to discover he is running off with Denise. Jane and Barb later plan to ruin Tom when they discover he is a 'Winnipegonian' from "the ass crack of Canada." Tom comes to his senses and realizes he cannot go on any longer, ending the Stampede with Mayor Nenshi (Reid Janisse) and a tribute to Burton Cummings.
With recognizable performers such as Ron Pederson from MadTV and Carly Heffernan from This Hour Has 22 Minutes, the entire cast is brilliant and downright funny. The cast also features Canadian Comedy Award winner and Mean Girls actress Jan Caruana alongside Second City alumna, Ashley Botting. Among other Second City alumni are writer and performer Reid Janisse and Canadian Comedy Award winner, Alex Tindal. The production also includes ensemble performances from Second City's Kevin Vidal and Randolph graduate, Miriam Drysdale.
Improv isn't for everybody, but these actors make it all too easy. Created by Alan Kliffer, the show is divided into different scenes accompanied by a musical number following each plot development. Everything from the lines to the music is improvised in this deviously attracting engagement that leaves you laughing long after the show has closed. The opportunities are endless -- there is no knowing just what this ensemble can devise right before your eyes. Seeing as the production is created entirely on the spot, the costumes and sets are minimal but effective for this farcical foray.
Although Stampede! The Musical will never return to the stage in its full glory, this hit improv show will continue to bring more smiles and endless laughter to the Factory stage. Catch it before it's gone.
The Greatest Musical Never Written is presented by One Night Only and plays on Factory Theatre's Mainstage until Feb. 14. For tickets, please visit www.factorytheatre.ca. Save with the MORE NIGHTS PASS and get three shows for only $99.