Scotch & Chocolate, Sept. 6-14 at Studio 16, 1555 W. 7th Ave., Vancouver. Part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival. Visit vancouverfringe.com for schedule and tickets.
Take a seat inside the Coco Club Gentleman's Lounge where every dram of scotch is served up with a side of scandal.
It's the roaring '20s and Veronica Perrin is the newest dancer to parade her pearls and feathers across the Coco Club stage. She's a promising young performer with a knack for entertaining a crowd who has managed to maintain a sweet air of innocence in spite of her career path.
"She kind of falls in love with every guy that comes along and she really hopes that someone will whisk her away and take her out of that place," explains North Vancouver resident Javia Selina, who plays Veronica in Pipedream Theatre Project's presentation of Scotch & Chocolate, premiering Sept. 6 at the 2013 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
Written and directed by Heather Fischer, the feisty one-act play transports viewers to the debauched backstage dressing room of an early 20th century gentleman's club where Veronica and her more seasoned dance partner Simone Lily (played by Jina Anika) converge post-show to discuss their complicated romantic entanglements.
"They have this really great relationship where they kind of play off of each other," Selina says of the two contrasting female leads.
Lovelorn Veronica reveals she has fallen hard for a well-to-do and influential politician.
"He tells her that he's going to come and they're going to run away together," Selina says, "but then on the day that he's coming to get her she discovers that he's not coming and he's actually sent someone to kill her, basically to shut her up," she continues, explaining the object of Veronica's affection has a wife and doesn't want the details of his sordid affair coming to light so close to an election.
Backstage, Veronica and Simone are intruded upon by a hitman seeking to silence them and an ambitious young journalist looking for a major scoop. The ensuing story broaches the themes of sex, love and politics with a comedic touch and sees Veronica shed much of her naiveté.
"She begins to turn around and find some strength as a woman as opposed to always waiting for a man to give her that power," Selina says. "By the end she's got a little more experience under her belt and she's got this undeniable strength that she didn't have before."
Her newfound empowerment is shocking given the decade in which the play is set.
"It was more black and white with women and men," Selina says of the 1920s.
The 24-year-old was born in Leeds, England, and grew up singing in cathedral choirs. She moved to Canada as a teenager and attended high school in Pemberton, B.C. where she further developed a passion for performance.
"There wasn't much of an arts scene there at all," she says of Pemberton, "so I kind of took it upon myself to start stuff there," she adds, explaining she formed singing groups and staged a production with her family.
"When I finished school I knew that I wanted to be a singer."
After high school, she enrolled in Capilano University's musical theatre diploma program and just recently earned her bachelor of performing arts degree.
She previously worked with Pipedreams Theatre Project during their 2010 production of the musical Nine, but Scotch & Chocolate marks her first foray into fringe territory. At last year's festival, Pipedreams won the Public Market Pick of the Fringe award for their presentation of CAPS LOCK: The Musical.
This year's 29th annual festival of independent theatre runs Sept. 5 to 15 on and around Granville Island and features 90 shows over the course of its 11-day run.
When Selina isn't rehearsing for her fringe debut, she works part-time at Lonsdale Quay Market and performs with her two sisters Keita and Leala in a singing group aptly named The Selinas.
While Scotch & Chocolate is not a full-scale musical, Selina does get a chance to sing and dance on the Coco Club stage, accompanied by Kerry O'Donovan's original jazzage-
inspired music. "It's almost like a musical play rather than a musical," she says.
Audiences will bear witness to the real struggles of early 20th century exotic dancers, but Selina says they can also expect to laugh out loud at the show's PG-rated humour.
"I think that they'll find it funny and I think they'll appreciate the detail of the era that we've set it in."
© Copyright 2013