Gritty crime story unfolds over legendary strip club
Sounds of the city provide natural backdrop during performances
When Vancouverites think of The Penthouse, it’s probably not as a hotbed of theatre. That may change with Seven Tyrants Theatre’s production of A Steady Rain. The company is staging the play in a room above the downtown nightclub’s show lounge.
We talked to Seven Tyrants’ co-artistic producer/actor David Newham about the play, the unusual theatre space, and filling Hugh Jackman’s shoes.
Q: So, were you just in the upstairs rooms of The Penthouse one night and thought, ‘Hey, this would be a great place for a play?’
A: That’s about the nut of it. It kind of happened over a span of a few years. We rehearsed A Beggar’s Opera upstairs at The Penthouse in 2014. It’s a very interesting part of Vancouver history, to say the least, in terms of the people who came there. Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis
Jr., Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday would come and hang out.
Flash forward to us planning our seventh season. We wanted to do another two-hander. It had been a long time since Dan (Deorksen, who co-stars in A Steady Rain) and I had performed together. We trained together in theatre school, and formed this company together.
How did you come across A Steady Rain?
In 2009-10, when Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig were performing it on Broadway, it was in the media quite a bit.
It’s such an amazing piece of writing. Most readers would know Keith Huff (the playwright) as one of the writers from Mad Men and House of Cards. The writing is just sublime. It almost reads like a CSI or Law & Order episode.
How large is the space?
There’s seating for about 40 audience members. We’ve basically built a new studio theatre.
Part of what’s interesting about seeing the show is checking out the space. These rooms are rarely opened, except sometimes for tourists.
The striptease that’s normally on show downstairs doesn’t start until after the performance.
Any interesting comings-and-goings during rehearsal?
Sometimes we rehearse late at night and we have music and things to contend with. I think it’s good practice for our concentration. What’s cool is, we’re in the penthouse of The Penthouse, right downtown. The sound of the city pervades. During performances, audience members will experience the sounds of traffic, of sirens. It’s a natural backdrop to this story.
What’s it been like doing a twohander with your Seven Tyrants co-founder?
It’s been nine or 10 years since we were onstage together. We’re good friends, so we have a bond already, and I think that comes through in the play. It’s been a lot of fun to play around together and run the lines together.
There’s a lot of humour in the piece, even though it’s very dark. It’s fun to have that repartee with someone you know so well. We’re able to anticipate one another.
The energy leads to some exciting and interesting things in terms of the comedy and drama of the story.
Olds friends Daniel Deorksen and David Newham reunite to play a pair of Chicago cops in the crime story, A Steady Rain.