Jesse Grandmont and Michael VanHevel want you to expect the unexpected at their new show at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia.
The pair is in rehearsals now for The Fiddler and The Crooner, the last offering of the season at the Petrolia theatre and perhaps the show with the most interesting concept.
Grandmont and VanHevel have known each other since 2012. Both had been involved in shows at VPP, including Fiddler on the Loose and various Christmas shows. But they didn’t work together until last year when they were both in the cast of Canada Sings.
It was at that time that they got to know each other and started fiddling around with their respective talents. During a cabaret night, the pair wowed the crowd, including Artistic Director David Rogers, with their rendition of “The Crooner Went Down to Georgia” a riff on Grandmont’s signature song and fiddle classic “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
That night Rogers suggested they might have to stage The Fiddler and The Crooner. “I thought it was a joke,” says Grandmont.
But then, as the 2015 season was coming together VanHevel learned it was no joke. “The Davids (Rogers and David Hogan) called me into the office and said ‘We want to do The Fiddler and The Crooner.’”
Even that wasn’t enough for Grandmont who was floored by the idea; “I was not actually sure there would be a Fiddler and The Crooner until they made the season announcement,” he recently told The Independent.
VanHevel says being a part of this show is “huge… With how many people in this industry are struggling to get work at all; and then to be here and get our own show and to be part of the creative process a show is great.”
The pair says the show will feature some of the things you expect, fine fiddling and some of the classic crooning songs – but there will be a lot of things in between making it a true variety show.
VanHevel and Grandmont are joined on stage by Jennifer Walls, whom they say is not only an incredibly talented singer but also an “incredible” impersonator.
The Fiddler and The Crooner are still working out all the fine details of the show. With 11 days left before the show opened, VanHevel and Grandmont were in the early stages of working with the artistic directors on what song should go where in the show.
And VanHevel says that’s likely to continue right into the performances which begin Sept. 9. “Theatre is a living, breathing thing,” says VanHevel. “what we thinking works – some of that stuff might not land and we’ll have to change it.”
The pair obviously doesn’t mind and they seem to have a lot of fun doing it. “We have a certain comfort level,” says VanHevel adding the friendship between he and Grandmont makes it easy to trust each other’s instincts. “We have a lot of fun together…If someone throws a wrench into the performance, we would be able to bounce back.”
The Fiddler and The Crooner take to the stage at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia Sept. 9 to 27.