BY BRIAN VOSSEN
Red Deer Express
Come for the singing.
If you aren’t planning on seeing ZAP! Theatre’s production of Jitterbug Juliet, then you should, but you shouldn’t come because the show is great, even though it is. Don’t come for talented acting or the impressive costumes and set either.
Come for the singing, because it is spectacular.
Debbie Zepick, who co-directs the play with her husband Dean, said the music is always the driving force behind her selecting a play and this one is no exception.
“I won’t do anything but a musical,” said Debbie. “Music speaks to all ages.”
Zepick added that her actors have the talent to make that policy worthwhile.
“We have a great group of singers.”
Great doesn’t begin to describe it. From the first song, delivered with the energy and enthusiasm of a professional cast, these actors will have the undivided attention of the audience.
Zepick also said that another reason she chose Jitterbug Juliet for ZAP! Theatre’s second major production was because she and the cast both enjoy 1940s style music and swing dancing, both of which are integral to the plot of Jitterbug Juliet.
Jitterbug Juliet is something of a spoof of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy and as such is, well, much less tragic.
Mr. Capulet is directing a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Mr. Montague is organizing a jitterbug dancing competition.
Both events are in support of the veterans, recently returned home after the Second World War, but when a scheduling mishap at the groups’ preferred venue brings Capulet and Montague into conflict, they refuse to let their common goal get in the way of their long-standing feud.
However, in the midst of the commotion, Montague’s son, Ron, falls head over heels for Capulet’s daughter, Juliet.
Driven by love, the couple is determined to be together despite what their fathers might say.
Besides, the two old men used to be the best of friends and there is something fishy about how they came to despise each other in the first place.
While Shakespeare’s version of the Capulet – Montague family feud ends in tragedy, Jitterbug Juliet is very much a comedy with plenty of laughs throughout the performance. Debbie said that the goal of ZAP! Theatre’s production is to spread joy and laughter and is a great way to do that.
“I like to laugh and I like to be silly and most of the people I work with are equally silly,” she said. “People have so many burdens . . . we just like to give them an evening where they can laugh and laugh without feeling guilty.”
While the cast is fairly small, having only 17 members, and many of them play more than one role, this does little to diminish the realism of the play.
Half the time, the audience does not even notice as they slip seamlessly from one role to another.
ZAP! Theatre’s cast has an air of professionalism about it as well.
Whether it is singing, dancing, cracking jokes or just spouting dialogue, all of the players seem more than comfortable doing it. It is difficult to believe that all of them are amateurs.
“Combined in the cast, there are probably hundreds of shows of experience,” said Daniel Allers, who stars in the show as Ron Montague and also acts as general manager for ZAP! Theatre.
In fact, Allers said that one of the reason’s ZAP! Theatre got started in the first place was so that this group of actors, all of whom have much experience working with Debbie Zepick, could continue to participate in plays and have her direct them.
“They wouldn’t go away!” said Debbie with a laugh. “Not that I wanted them to go away.”
Jitterbug Juliet plays tomorrow, May 17 at 7 p.m., Saturday, May 18 at 1:30 and 7 p.m., Friday May 24 at 7 p.m. and Saturday May 25 at 7 p.m.
Performances are at Asker Lutheran Church east of Ponoka on Hwy 12 and north on Range Road 232.
For more information email Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Admission is by a free will offering. Proceeds of the production will be used to support the Christian Life Orphanage in Mwanza, Tanzania.