Thom Southwood is calling it a “haunting new work.” Southwood, along with Donna, his creative partner in life and art, is fashioning After Life a new musical for the Sooke Harbour Players.
“It centers around a young girl dying unexpectedly and her transition from her life to another place and the time in-between,” said Southwood. In 2009, Southwood, wrote Howl the Musical, a tale about werewolves and star-crossed lovers.
This story is more complicated than Howl in that the young girl meets five beings who help her travel through this realm and onto the next. It’s an imaginary world, a kind of Oz world, said Southwood. And it’s not religious. Each realm has an overlord and they are Clown, Mirth, Charm, Atlas, Warrior and Sage all led by Host. Each of the realms, or characters, are based on her personality. There’s also a Queen of Heaven who wants to hang onto souls.
This time he has a number of very experienced people helping with the production. He mentioned designer Jill Sweet, who is new to Sooke, and has worked as a technical director and show designer for IMAX and Cirque du Soleil. She will be working with co-director Donna Southwood. Donna Southwood will deal with everything visual.
Sharon Evans comes with extended experience as a choreographer, Mel Dobres is very familiar with marketing and Katherine Holmes takes the reins of social media. Sooke Harbour Player president Steve Anderson is working on the production end of things. Paul Holmes comes with an improv background and will take on an assistant director role.
“We hope to take this one step further this time,” said Southwood in regard to the marketing and production values. After Life will open on Halloween and be staged for three weekends. Southwood hopes he can tie this in to Safe Halloween.
“It’s kind of an adult theme, there will be scary stuff but it will be an all ages show,” he said.
The musical will workshop over the summer, but right now the players are seeking performers. Young kids six years of age and up who aren’t afraid of the dark and who themselves are real characters are sought.
Southwood said they are looking for anyone that is a “triple threat” — actors who can sing, act and dance and one magic person to play that young girl. She is a combination of Dorothy meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, someone between her mid-teens to 20s.
Anyone wanting to audition or help does not have to be a member of the Sooke Harbour Players. Everyone is welcome. There is need for props people, backstage, set builders, makeup artists, costumers, a seamstress, people who enjoy puppetry, a stage manager and a host of other theatre positions.
“We need a bigger backstage crew than we’ve had before. The scope is bigger than anything the Sooke Harbour Players have put on before.” Full rehearsal start in September and those interested in auditioning should know that it is a long commitment of at least eight weeks and three weekends of shows.
Anyone interested in auditioning, come to the Edward Milne community theatre on May 24 and 25 between 12 noon and 4 p.m. or on May 27 and 28 between 7 and 9 p.m. To book your audition or get more information, go to: www.afterlifethemusical.com. Reach Sooke Harbour Players at www.sookeharbourplayers.com.
“If you loved Howl, come out — start the buzz,” said Southwood.