Since its sold-out run last season, Allen Cole and Paul Ledoux’s The Bricklin: An Automotive Fantasy has garnered national and international attention, bringing a piece of New Brunswick’s history to the headlines, and a brassy new musical to eager Fredericton audiences. With catchy 1970’s pop and funk inspired tunes, this musical comedy took audiences on a fantastical and wild ride through the politics, business antics, controversy, and fame associated with one of the most colourful stories in our province’s history… and this summer, its producers are prepared to do it all again.
Last year’s production marked the first collaboration between co-producers The Fredericton Playhouse and Theatre New Brunswick in the ten years since their separation, and the result couldn’t have been better. For TNB Artistic Producer Caleb Marshall, the culmination of their efforts yielded what can only be deemed as both a commercial and an artistic success. “We couldn’t be happier that we have this chance to once again collaborate with The Playhouse to remount and share such a great New Brunswick work,” says Marshall. “It was such a hit last year that we knew everyone who saw it would want to see it again, and the many people who missed it deserved a chance.”
Fredericton Playhouse Executive Director Tim Yerxa agrees, and notes that audiences will not be disappointed when the production is remounted this summer. “Last year we prided ourselves on finding the right people and the right partners to bring this production to life,“ says Fredericton Playhouse Executive Director Tim Yerxa, “and this year is no different. We’ve brought back a world class production team, including some new amazing homegrown talent, and led by nationally recognized and award-winning director Alisa Palmer.”
Leading the cast this year, and starring alongside an authentic safety orange Bricklin SV-1, is Saint John native Shawn Wright as Premier Richard Hatfield. One of musical theatre’s most in-demand leading men, Wright has a large number of credits to his name, and has worked extensively in Toronto, Los Angeles, and on Broadway in such hits as Jersey Boys, The Lord of the Rings, and Mamma Mia! Local audiences will recall his recent turn as David in TNB’s world premiere production of David Adams Richards’ Hockey Dreams. Says Marshall, “Shawn Wright, after a stellar twenty-year career away from home, moved audiences with his recent portrayal in Hockey Dreams, and we are now fortunate to be able to see his tremendous musical talent in a very different role, that of Premier Hatfield. Shawn is one of our world-class talents; who better to portray one of our icons?” Joining Wright is Shaw Festival veteran Jason Chesworth as Malcolm Bricklin, having received rave reviews for his portrayal of the slick, disco-cowboy last season.
Also returning is Cameron MacDuffee who was outstanding as love-addled Bricklin mechanic Gerrard, and local favourite Tania Breen whose vocal prowess as Michelle, a small town girl with big city dreams, received rave reviews from the Telegraph Journal, who noted, “Smoky-voiced and smokin’ hot Tania Breen is simply stellar.”
While last season the producers opted for a more intimate setting for the play, using the backstage area to create a unique studio theatre experience, an increase in demand has afforded the luxury of moving the production to the main stage. “Moving to a larger space is the next logical step in the production’s development, but we’re also trying to ensure we maintain the level of intimacy a smaller cabaret space affords by making a few changes in the layout,” says Yerxa. “The production returns this year as an established and successful play on the main stage, which is very rare for a new musical in Canada, and we’re very excited to be taking it to the next level.”
The Province of New Brunswick will be supporting the endeavour through a contribution from the Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport’s Strategic Initiatives Program.
The Bricklin: An Automotive Fantasy opens Friday, July 22 and runs until Sunday, August 7. Show times will be Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are now on sale through the Fredericton Playhouse box office and the official Bricklin website www.bricklinmusical.ca.