One-man show to fill the stage at the Sid
Special to The Record
Nobody knows the truth of the ancient showbiz adage The Show Must Go On better than Jeff Leard.
After spending two years in a children’s theatre company, playing countless gyms across Canada, the UVic graduate and Vancouver resident has created a one-man show with that title.
His performance March 18 at the Sid Williams Theatre will draw on experiences that, according to his bio, include “uptight teachers, condescending politicians, and a misinformed biker gang who visits them in a cheap, roadside motel.”
Asked in a phone interview to elaborate about the biker gang, he’s careful not to divulge too much because he doesn’t want to spoil the show.
He does disclose that the incident happened in Alberta, a result of “a game we used to play where we tried to find the cheapest hotel that we would be willing to stay in. I think we found our level after that.”
Leard says he decided to do a one-man show about his experiences on the road to share with audiences the parts of an entertainer’s life that don’t involve being onstage.
“Packing all the stuff into a van and hauling it across the country; staying in cheap, seedy hotels … terrible mountain roads, bizarre ferry travel.”
He approached other entertainers to add their experiences to his own, learning that, “A lot of children’s theatre performers have had similar experiences when they’ve gone out on the road.”
When fellow performers catch his show, “they always come up with some bizarre story.”
During his performance, Leard also shares tales of being onstage in front of children.
“Kids are an interesting audience. They’re much more likely to buy into your story, get really invested and really care about the characters.”
That’s the upside.
“If you don’t get their attention, if you don’t engage them, they don’t have the same sort of social cues that adults do. They will … get up, start talking to their friends. If you’re not engaging them, they will let you know.”
Theatre is literally in his blood because he performed with his father’s company. “Children’s theatre has been part of my life ever since I was born because my dad’s always been involved with it.”
Not entirely growing up yourself helps you to connect with younger audiences.
“There’s that sense of not losing that willingness to play and be silly that a child is willing to do. If you say to them, ‘OK, you’re going to be a fox right now, they’ll pretend to be a fox.’
“That’s a similar thing that an actor does, not losing that childlike wonder. That’s why actors and kids tend to get along: They’re on the same wavelength, I think.”
Jeff Leard performs The Show Must Go On March 18 at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay.
Tickets for this event are free, but must be reserved in advance. For details, visit sidwilliamstheatre.com, phone 250-338-2430 or visit 442 Cliffe Ave.