By Judy Roche
Thunder Bay is a city that loves its theatre – especially musical theatre. This is a fact Lawrence and Candi Badanai know very well. The husband and wife team behind Badanai Theatre Company (formerly Lawrence Badanai Presents) have been regular contributors to Thunder Bay’s cultural scene for many years. This summer, for the company’s first show under their new moniker, they will mount a production of the musical Greased.
Greased, written by Randy Apostle (artistic director of Celebrations and Jubilations dinner theatres in Winnipeg, Calgary, and Edmonton) has flipped the genders of the classic characters at Rydell High—we have the confident Danielle Zippo, the leader of the T-Birdies, and new boy on the block, goodie-two-shoes Sandy Olsen. While they try to relive their summer romance, the rest of their friends sing and dance their way through a variety of 50s era music classics.
With Greased, Badanai Theatre is proud to announce its arrangement with Apostle, whose scripts are comedic musical shows that have a unique spin to them, and are often based on popular movies or television shows. “We’ve been talking with Randy Apostle for 10 plus years,” says Lawrence. “It’s been a long journey. We’ve had his blessing to produce one of his scripts for years, it’s just that the timing was never right until now. And here we are having a blast in the rehearsal hall. It’s so funny that we break down laughing in rehearsals as we add new layers of physical comedy and reactions to this musical comedy twist.”
The Badanais love the idea of summer theatre, “because it’s a great time to do audience pleasing-comedies” shares Lawrence. “In many parts of Ontario, theatre only runs in the summer months. Historically, the first ‘professional’ theatre company of our city was Moonlight Melodrama that opened before Magnus and they were a summer repertory melodrama company. Our roots in summer theatre in Thunder Bay go way back and we’d love to help keep that tradition alive!”
And if anyone knows how to do that, it’s the Badanais. “Currently, we have under a dozen people involved on this summer’s production but once we get Greased mounted we’ll be doing open public auditions for future shows to get more people involved,” says Lawrence. “[It’s] one step at a time.”
Greased hits the stage at the Paramount Theatre, August 15-17 and 22-24. For more information visit badanaitheatre.com