Draining the Swamp: A Musical Tweet pokes fun at the one per cent through music and comedy
Christine Beyleveldt // News Editor
Of the host of new shows that pop up all over town during the annual Vancouver Fringe Festival, Draining the Swamp: A Musical Tweet is an exhibition of pride for Capilano University. Written and directed by retired CapU faculty member Dawn Moore, in partnership with Desmond Price, Draining the Swamp is a musical comedy fused with political bamboozling by Curious Creations Theatre that pokes fun at the one per cent and the one himself. Audiences will come to know him only as The Boss.
The 70-minute performance kicks it into high gear right out of the gate with two teams racing towards the swamp, which has been promised to the first person that reaches it. The Boss hires an apprentice who knows the route and a poor driver to take them there. While The Boss has promised to build affordable housing after draining the swamp, he actually plans to erect shoddy housing to receive a tax credit and drill the land for oil. When the apprentice lets the cat out of the bag, The Boss fires the apprentice – who joins forces with his competitors – shoots his driver and gets arrested for murder.
With music composed by Kevin Michael Cripps, a CapU instructor in the Musical Theatre and Acting for Stage and Screen (ASAS) programs, Draining the Swamp offers a hilarious look at the growing political and financial gap that’s deeply dividing society. “What’s really quite different for me is that it’s a political show,” said Cripps. Although it’s injected with some much-needed humour, song and dance.
Jacques Lalonde, a renowned Vancouver actor who has been performing in Fringe shows for 32 consecutive years, portrays The Boss. He brought Donald Trump to life in the sold-out spectacle Trump the Musical last September, and brings the same zeal to his orange-complexioned character this season. Joining the colourful cast of characters are second-year ASAS students Dennis Virshilas and Marco Walker-Ng as The Boss’ Lawyer and Driver respectively.
Virshilas joined rehearsals in early August and fit right in with the rest of the cast. He actually slips in and out of a number of roles, including The Boss’ competitor and even an applicant to be his apprentice. “And there is a scene by the river where I play a person like a siren, like a water wizard,” he laughed. He participated in a few musicals during his high school years, and portrayed Danny Zuko in a production of Grease when he was in Grade 11. “Singing is something that I’m pretty comfortable with,” he said.
Cripps has previously worked on shows for the Edmonton International Fringe Festival, the oldest and largest in North America. He and Virshilas are both partaking in Vancouver Fringe as newcomers this year.
Due to Fringe’s schedule younger CapU students are discouraged from taking on any roles that might interfere with their schooling, although the festival has ample opportunities for young actors and musicians. “No other festival in Vancouver compares as far as diversity,” said Virshilas. “Not just for people involved because there are so many opportunities for people to be involved in a show and there are so many venues that are accommodating for art to be put on, but also in diversity of performances themselves.”
Audiences can expect to laugh at Draining the Swamp and revel in the subtle mockery of a system that places a wealthy few at the top, where they’re governed by an entirely different set of rules.
Draining the Swamp: A Musical Tweet runs from Sept. 8-17 at the Havana Café. For tickets and information go to Vancouverfringe.com