I am going to clue you into a loosely kept secret around here… I am an American. I was raised by NPR listening hippies. I watched Public Television a lot and I was brought up with the voice of Garrison Keillor lulling me into a peaceful amusement about the people and crazy antics of the fictional town of Lake Wobegon via the very popular radio show A Prairie Home Companion. There was even a movie about the radio show itself starring Keillor as the romantic interest of Meryl Streep, and Lindsay Lohan who was just starting to tip over the precipice of highly successful child star to a tragic train wreck of a young adult who used to be a child star.
Now, we had a family cherished Christmas album, even though we were Pagans who celebrated Yule, and on this CD was one story. This story was Polly Anderson’s Christmas Party and it was cooed to me annually by Stuart McLean and his beloved story telling experience The Vinyl Cafe.
So, now that there is context and nostalgia we shall begin to talk about Fifty Shades of Dave the delightful and sexy show written by Happysad Theatre‘s Nico Dicecco and Kyle Carpenter and performed by Nico Dicecco.
Dicecco, sounds so amazingly accurately like Stuart McLean that I would find myself closing my eyes and pretending that I was wrapped up in a blanket, sipping hot chocolate and smelling our Christmas Tree/Yule Bush… but then our host would say phrases like, “The ice cream is a metaphor FOR EATING PUSSY” or “Put your hands up and spread your legs… Officer Morley was naked” or “I came four times that night” and I was immediately snapped out of my warm, safe, innocent childhood to my lurid and sex positive adulthood and I sat at the edge of my seat falling in love with Dave and Morely’s very amazing and heartwarming adventure into spicing up their sex life.
I really could not love this show any more than I do and I really feel so much pleasant joy and amazing gratitude to have seen it.
Please go see it, you have two more chances Sat Sept 16 at 6:25pm and Sun Sept 17 at 3:00 pm. You can purchase tickets and your membership to the Fringe here.
We also got the chance to have a few words with Nico Dicecco who plays Stuart in the play and who is also a co-writer of this gem.
LM: Can you give us the history of the project?
ND: It started as a party trick that my co-writer Kyle Carpenter and I would do years and years ago to make friends laugh, just saying the dirtiest things we could think of in Stuart McLean’s voice. Eventually, we decided it would be funny to write a full story and record it as a podcast. As we were writing that, we discovered that the whole thing worked best if we pulled back on the really dirty humour and tried as hard as possible to capture what it would actually be like if Stuart McLean revealed the intricacies of Dave and Morley’s sex life. We managed to record one story, but then we decided that the project was strong enough to work as an hour long live theatre performance. We applied for a few fringes and got into Vancouver and started writing more stories to fill out our time. By January of this year, we had a full draft. Then, in February, Stuart McLean passed away. We were heartbroken. We took a bit of time to think about whether or not we still wanted to go ahead with the show. We reread the script, and it was chock full of love and admiration for The Vinyl Cafe, so we were confident that audiences would receive it as the tribute that it is.
LM: Can you tell us more about your love of either Vinyl Cafe or Fifty Shades of Grey or both?
ND: Hearing The Vinyl Cafe on the radio is the earliest memory I have of realizing how incredible storytelling can be. I was listening in the car and when we got home I refused to let my mom turn off the radio until the story finished. I was enraptured. Since then, I’ve been a fan of Stuart McLean, usually listening to his CDs on road trips. There’s a way that The Vinyl Cafe has of weaving itself into really great family memories.
As for Fifty Shades of Grey… I really don’t know much of anything about it. I read two pages once and didn’t care for the writing. We just liked the title.
LM: How long did it take you to get Stuart McLean’s voice down?
ND: I’ve been doing a Stuart McLean impression since at least 2008, but it kind of started out as more Jimmy Stewart than anything. We first started crafting material for this show in 2013, and that’s when I got more serious about perfecting the voice and the rhythm of his storytelling.
LM: What are your plans for the show in the future?
ND: We’re booked to take it to the Montreal Fringe in May, and I’ll be applying to a ton of other festivals for the 2018 season.
LM: Do you have other projects that are in the works?
ND: I’ve had a lot of people come up to me after shows and comment that I look a fair bit like Justin Trudeau, so I’m starting to work on my impression of him, and Kyle Carpenter and I are brainstorming ideas for what kind of Trudeau show we might want to do.
LM: Have you thought about touring this to sex positivity conferences?
ND: I haven’t, but that’s a great idea! Our top priority, next to honouring the spirit of The Vinyl Cafe, was to offer a sex-positive portrait of Dave and Morley. We worked really hard to shape the stories so that they are celebrations of sexuality and human connection, even when Dave is causing calamity in the bedroom.