Earlier this year, the Halifax Fringe Festival saw many of its shows cancelled due to Hurricane Dorian. Fast forward six months, and many of those same theatre companies are dealing with an entirely different challenge with COVID-19.
One show that saw its Fringe run cut by more than half was the Kick at the Dark Theatre Co-operative production of Giant Killer Shark: The Musical.
It seems somehow fitting now that the indie theatre company will now stream a recording filmed at the Fringe during this latest crisis.
A musical parody of Stephen Spielberg’s 1975 film Jaws, copyright prohibits the musical from ever directly mentioning the blockbuster. Going to great lengths to ensure the musical doesn’t run afoul of any potential lawsuits, it isn’t difficult to recognize the source material from the show’s logline. “When a giant killer shark unleashes chaos on a copyright-protected beach community, it’s up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down.”
Written in 2006 by Canadian Sam Sutherland, Giant Killer Shark: The Musical was first performed at the Toronto Fringe Festival that same year. In the audience during one of those shows was Kick at the Dark’s artistic producer Andrew Chandler. It left an impression. “I remember seeing it and just loving it. It’s big spoofy fun,” he says.
When the creators released the soundtrack shortly after its original run, Chandler found himself going back to listen to the musical every couple of years. “I would rediscover it and fall in love with this big silly show again,” he says.
Reaching out to the creators as last year’s Halifax Fringe Festival approached, the company received permission to perform the show. “Sam Sutherland was really generous and gave us permission to give our own spin on it.”
It is a generosity that continued when Chandler approached him to stream the play. “He’s been really accomodating because he knew the show had been cancelled at the Fringe prematurely and is eager to let us show what we created with it.”
The Kick at the Dark production of Giant Killer Shark: The Musical will be broadcast on the internet for free on April 15, but audiences must register via Ticket Halifax to receive the link. The musical will be released at 7:30 pm (Atlantic Time) on that day and will remain active for 24 hours.
“We’re not doing this to make money. We’re doing it to give people something new and fun to watch at home,” says Chandler of their decision to not charge audiences. “Folks can watch it for free, but if they are in a position where they have some money and can throw it our way, we’re happy to accept it, but we do not require that to watch the show. We just want to make people laugh.”
Part of the fun will be in being able to sing-along at home with a few of the musical numbers. “We’re adding onscreen sing-a-long lyrics for those that are so inclined,” explains Chandler.
And don’t worry if you’re not already familiar with the lyrics to such songs as Livin’ On A Copyright-Protected Island, 100% Autopsy Dance Party! or The Only Good Shark Is A Dead Shark. Chandler assures us that “by the second or third time through some of the repeating choruses, you’ll be able to join in.”
While the broadcast is not a money-making venture, like many other arts organizations, the health crisis has a genuine impact.
Originally scheduled to produce ‘Til Death Do Us Part as part of Neptune Theatre’s Open Spaces Program in May, the production has been postponed. “Because of the pandemic, everything is TBA at the moment. Once things return to normal, they will work with us to find some new dates for the show,” says Chandler.
But hurricanes and pandemics won’t be able to stop this show.
“There is nothing else like a room full of people experiencing the same story together and those moments when an entire room bursts into laughter or is moved, excited or delighted,” says Chandler. “Our work, our passion, and our calling are to create those experiences. We hope that this live stream can give a little taste of that in this time when being a room together is impossible.”
Giant Killer Shark: The Musical – A Sing-a-long Livestream will be available starting April 15, 2020, at 7:30 pm, for 24 hours only. Patrons can reserve tickets online for free at Ticket Halifax. On the day of the stream, ticket holders will receive an email with the link to stream the show on devices at home and a link to donate. Giant Killer Shark: The Musical is rated PG-13 for several instances of swearing and reference to the existence of sex.