News / Halifax

Lights of Broadway shining inside Halifax’s Neptune Theatre

Haligonians are in for a slice of musical New York magic on Argyle Street this week as Broadway lights will shine inside the Neptune Theatre.

Jeremy Webb, playing the aging actor Jack Tanner, performs during a media preview of Broadway on Argyle at Neptune Theatre on Wednesday afternoon. The play features about 40 famous and underrated gems from the legendary Great White Way, and runs until August 23.

Zane Woodford/Metro

Jeremy Webb, playing the aging actor Jack Tanner, performs during a media preview of Broadway on Argyle at Neptune Theatre on Wednesday afternoon. The play features about 40 famous and underrated gems from the legendary Great White Way, and runs until August 23.

Shadows flicker across Jeremy Webb’s body as he fills Neptune Theatre with the sound of his grandiose voice.

He punctures the air with his arms as three others make their way onto the stage, singing in unison in a style that was born in New York City.

Broadway may be nearly 1,400 kilometres away, but a taste of the legendary theatre district has been brought to Halifax.

Broadway on Argyle Street, which runs from Aug. 12 to 23 at Neptune, is a playful sampling of some of the Great White Way’s most beloved musicals, said Webb.

“It’s fun. It’s unabashed, unadulterated entertainment,” said Webb, who acts in the play but also wrote and produced it.

“It’s not a heavy night of highbrow theatre. It’s got some poignant moments, it’s got some funny moments, and it’s got some great blockbuster songs.”

Webb said months ago, he and Martha Irving, who also acts in the musical, were looking for an opportunity to work together.

But what started as an idea for simple cabaret-style show quickly morphed into a full scale musical with hired actors, musicians and crew on Neptune’s main stage, said Webb.

“It grew very quickly,” said Webb sitting in the lobby of Neptune’s main stage theatre just after a recent rehearsal. ”The title actually came before the show, and then I wrote the show.”

Broadway on Argyle Street sees an elderly couple reunite on the stage of a Broadway theatre that’s about to be demolished.

“They lived on this stage for 40 years. We see their lives. Their first meeting and their love and their fights,” said Webb.

Dayna Tietzen, who sings roughly 19 songs, said show-goers will hear tunes from a plethora of Broadway favourites, including Wicked, Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera.

“One song finishes and you’re so quickly into the next one. It takes you on a real ride,” said Tietzen.

Dayna Tietzen belts out Defying Gravity from the popular musical Wicked during a media preview at Neptune Theatre on Wednesday before opening night of Broadway on Argyle. The show runs until August 23.

Zane Woodford/Metro

Dayna Tietzen belts out Defying Gravity from the popular musical Wicked during a media preview at Neptune Theatre on Wednesday before opening night of Broadway on Argyle. The show runs until August 23.

Webb has been working under his companies WillPower Theatre and Off The Leash Creative to bring the show to life for months, but the actors have only been rehearsing for just over a week.

“It’s a really short rehearsal period,” said Webb, adding that normally about three weeks is set aside for rehearsals.

The theatres at Neptune are usual dark during the summer months as the company prepares for its upcoming season.

Webb said he saw the show as an opportunity to inject some theatre into the off season.

“I thought, there’s a gap there,” said Webb. “There are thousands upon thousands of tourists hopefully looking for something to do.”

Range of Broadway play 'the dream' for Toronto actor

For Jordan Bell, stepping onto the Neptune stage this week brings a one-of-a-kind experience. Bell, who plays the young version of Jeremy Webb’s character Jack Tanner, said Wednesday he’s excited to make his Halifax debut in a unique show that allows the actors to play a huge variety of roles.

“To do some character songs that are really funny … but then five minutes later to be the romantic leading man, and to be able to show a range like that in one evening - I mean that’s the dream,” said the Toronto actor.

“It is a big challenge and it is a big responsibility, and it’s great.” Martha Irving, a regular to the Neptune stage, performed recently in Rexy! And Mary Poppins and said Wednesday part of the appeal of the Broadway show was doing songs “you wouldn’t normally get a chance to do."

“And show different sides of your voice,” Irving said after the media preview where she performed a powerful version of The Winner Takes it All from Mamma Mia!

“I don’t get to belt very often, so it’s kind of fun that I get a couple of songs in this that I get to try that,” she said.

Broadway on Argyle Street runs from Aug. 12 to 23 at Neptune Theatre. Shows are Tuesday to Sunday Evening at 7:30 p.m, with a Saturday and Sunday matinee at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $35 and $25 for seniors and students. - with files from Haley Ryan.

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