Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens is an energetic show about a gang of glitter-booted space vixens trying to harness the power of disco to solve a series of stiletto murders in a nightclub.
It sounds exciting.
So then why is show director Martha Zimmerman so exhausted?
She laughs hard when I tell her I heard her barely suppressed yawn.
“Well there’s been a couple of late nights”, she chuckles. “At the end of our rehearsals I usually feel more energetic than ever. It’s only in the morning I’m exhausted!”
Zimmerman has good reason to be a bit tired. She and her cast and crew have been hard at work at the Tabu Nightclub below Jack’s for several weeks leading up to their opening night.
“Tabu is really coming alive: it’s now a space bar,” she chuckles.
Although Zimmerman is new to the play, her Link Theatre partner Rick Kish is a veteran of the previous 2010 London show, part of that year’s Fringe Festival.
“I have never seen it so I was really curious to find out what was so special about this show,” she explains. “So I came to understand why once you get into it, you come back to see it again and again.
A post-millennium Rocky.
“One of the show’s tag lines is that it’s like Rocky Horror for the new millennium.”
The play was created in the latter part of the last millennium, 1995 to be specific and it’s a fascinating story in its own right.
Four former University of Kent students banded together to stage a version of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide for the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh. They were thrown when they realized there was already another troupe doing the production. Pivoting quickly, they wrote Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens which went on to win a Fringe Award that year for innovation in theatre and outstanding new production.
In an interesting side-note, one of those four students was Michael Fidler, son of London, Ontario theatre legend Art Fidler.
Since then, the play has been produced many times, mainly in the UK and occasionally in this country.
Zimmerman suggests that one reason for the show’s continuing relevance has to do with the world catching up to the LGBTQ subtext of the play.
“It’s a great time to do it because it has to do with gender fluidity and sexuality. It’s just part of the world they live in.”
The cast is the energy.
As director, Zimmerman has been energized by the young cast members, most of them from Western’s music and theatre programs.
“They’re classically trained and letting their hair down a bit, doing this funky, quirky show,” she chuckles.
“Alicia D’Ariano is Jubilee Climax, the leader of the Space Vixens and she has the most theatre experience of the three of them. She was in Heathers and also Little Mermaid.”
Zimmerman notes that although Tatyana Austria as Bunny Lingus and Nicola Klein as Anna Labia have less theatre experience, ”it has been great to watch them grow.”
“And of course Jenn Marino is a rock star in this city and she plays a rock star in this too,” she laughs. “Jenn plays Chesty Prospects, a space smuggler dealing in illicit plastics.”
“I never knew why Saucy Jack was a big thing but I totally understand it now. People love it.”
And now it seems, so does Martha Zimmerman.
“I can’t wait for new audiences to come and the people who love it to come back to see it again.
To learn more about the show, cast and crew, click somewhere around here.
Feature photo by Bob Klanac