Forte Mu­si­cal The­atre Guild adds a few new songs to hol­i­day favourite

Calgary Herald - - YOU - LOUIS B. HOB­SON

Even if she wanted, Madeleine Sud­daby sim­ply doesn’t have the time or en­ergy to be naughty. She’s spend­ing all her wak­ing hours learn­ing songs and rou­tines for Forte Mu­si­cal The­atre’s fifth edi­tion of its pop­u­lar mu­si­cal Naughty but Nice, this year dubbed The Big V. First-timers Sud­daby and Te­naj Wil­liams join Naughty/Nice vet­er­ans Scott Olynek and Jus­tine Westby for what has be­come a hol­i­day tra­di­tion.

Joe Slabe, Forte’s artis­tic di­rec­tor who mas­ter­minded this some­times sen­ti­men­tal, some­times cheeky, song cy­cle, says last year’s en­try “broke all at­ten­dance records so we’re ex­cited that peo­ple con­tinue to en­joy the show year after year.” He prom­ises this edi­tion will fea­ture many of past favourites as well as a few new songs he wrote for Sto­ry­Book The­atre’s Twas the Night Be­fore Christ­mas.

To cre­ate Naughty but Nice five years ago, Slabe reached out to com­poser friends across Canada, the United States and Eng­land, ask­ing them to write some new hol­i­day tunes. Cal­gary’s own Dan Per­rott wrote some in­stant favourites, in­clud­ing Bren­dan the Brown-Nosed Rein­deer and The Best Christ­mas Movie Ever. Be­fore she au­di­tioned for Slabe and the show’s di­rec­tor, JP Thi­bodeau, Van­cou­ver na­tive Sud­daby had never seen a pro­duc­tion of Naughty but Nice.

“I’d cer­tainly heard about it. Peo­ple were al­ways talk­ing about Bai­ley’s for Break­fast as if it was a hol­i­day an­them,” says Sud­daby, who had worked for Slabe and Thi­bodeau in their 2017 The­atre Cal­gary re­vival of Touch Me: Songs for a (dis) Con­nected Age. That’s also where she met her Naughty/ Nice co-star Wil­liams.

“This show has a five-year his­tory. Peo­ple who’ve been in it love it as much as au­di­ence mem­bers who keep com­ing back,” said Sud­daby. “It’s ex­cit­ing to be a part of this Cal­gary hol­i­day tra­di­tion, but it’s also stress­ful be­cause the re­hearsal sched­ule is so short. There is so much ma­te­rial to learn and so many rou­tines.”

Sud­daby will be in­tro­duc­ing Slabe’s new song I Hate Christ­mas to the Naughty/Nice can­non.

She had been per­form­ing in Van­cou­ver for sev­eral years when, in 2011, she de­cided to move to Cal­gary. She was cast im­me­di­ately in The Univer­sity of Cal­gary Operetta Com­pany’s pro­duc­tion of Guys and Dolls. The fol­low­ing year, she

starred in Sto­ry­Book’s adult pup­pet show Av­enue Q, win­ning a Cal­gary The­atre Crit­ics Award for best ac­tress in a mu­si­cal. Since then, she “has been do­ing my best to build a non-stop ca­reer.”

In 2015, Sud­daby was ne­go­ti­at­ing with com­pa­nies in Cal­gary and Ed­mon­ton when her agent called and said she needed to fly to Toronto to au­di­tion for Kinky Boots. She re­ceived a year’s con­tract to be­come one of the pro­duc­tion’s swing ac­tors, which means she was an un­der­study for five of the fe­male roles in the show.

“It meant sit­ting in the green room wait­ing for a call from the stage man­ager. It’s quite a thrill, be­cause you never know when you will have to go on or for whom.”

Once she got a call at in­ter­mis­sion to re­place an ac­tress. She thought the stage man­ager meant for the next day’s per­for­mance but he meant in 20 min­utes, be­cause the singer had ex­pe­ri­enced voice prob­lems in the first act.

In the seven years since she made her move to Cal­gary, Sud­daby has been work­ing in the­atres from Toronto to Van­cou­ver but ad­mits “there’s still more of the coun­try left to ex­plore. I’d re­ally like to per­form in the Mar­itimes and in Vic­to­ria.

“I’ve moved back to Van­cou­ver to be with my boyfriend and nearer my par­ents, but I’ll fly any­where, at any time, if the role is good.”

Naughty but Nice! The Big V runs at Lunch­box The­atre from Dec. 11 to 22.

“Be­cause we are shar­ing the Lunch­box The­atre space with It’s A Won­der­ful Life: The Ra­dio Play, it means we will be re­turn­ing to the WBFR ra­dio sta­tion to take over the air­waves as we did in 2016,” says Thi­bodeau, who has to al­ter his stag­ing of the songs de­pend­ing on what show Lunch­box The­atre is pre­sent­ing over the hol­i­days.

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