Cindy Hirschberg-Schon, left, as Maria Merelli and Tracy Labrosse as Tatiana Racón in A Comedy of Tenors, at Metro Theatre Oct. 4-19. (photo by Sophie Gardner)
Tracy LabrosseTracy Labrosse“What could possibly be better than escaping life with a frantically funny farce? A Comedy of Tenors has slamming doors, mistaken identities, ridiculous dialects and a very suggestive tongue prop. What else do you need?” said Tracy Labrosse about the upcoming production at Metro Theatre.
Set in 1936, A Comedy of Tenors centres on Henry Saunders’ efforts to put on the greatest concert that Paris has ever seen – The Three Tenors – but he will only succeed if he “can keep an amorous Italian superstar and his hot-blooded wife from causing runaway chaos.” Written by Ken Ludwig, the Metro production, which runs Oct. 4-19, is directed by Kayt Roth.
Labrosse, who works at Vancouver Talmud Torah, plays Tatiana Racón.
“I love to be challenged in each production I’m in [and] Racón has definitely been a fun challenge for me,” Labrosse told the Independent. “I tend to get the ‘girl next door’ roles, so playing a sexy Russian opera singer has certainly allowed me to tackle a type that I don’t normally get the chance to play. She’s bold, she’s vivacious, and she’s a troublemaker.”
Jewish community member Cindy Hirschberg-Schon takes on the role of Maria Merelli, the feisty wife of tenor Tito (played by Carlos Vela-Martinez).
“I tried out for both Maria and for Racón,” said Hirschberg-Schon. “I thought I’d keep the options open. But I have a lot more in common with Maria.”
She said, “Maria is her own woman – strong and independent – but she is also very loving. Maria has a lot of me in her. She and Tito have been married for 25 years and I have been married for 27 years. From their fierce love to their fierce fighting, I can relate.”
In addition to her role, Hirschberg-Schon also helped on the costume front.
“I work in fashion as a technical designer, so I know about apparel,” she explained. “I did costumes once before but, being also an actor, it would be a lot to take on. But we needed help so I stepped in…. I measured the full cast, which for me is not a big deal. I helped out when we needed a few extra eyes to find costumes in both the Metro costume closet and also the kindness of Vagabond Players [and their] closet.”
Hirschberg-Schon studied acting before changing career directions.
“I went to college for acting in Toronto for two years,” she said, “but then decided I did not want to be a waitress the rest of my life and went to fashion school. I then concentrated on career, marriage and motherhood. After 20 years, I finally decided it was time to get back to the stage, with the support of my husband and family. So, I guess I have been acting for seven years plus a few.”
“I’ve been in love with theatre ever since I was given my first speaking role in a school play at the age of 9,” said Labrosse. “I went to theatre school after high school, and have been involved in theatre consistently ever since. It’s a lifelong love affair for me.”
Labrosse said she didn’t audition for any specific role in A Comedy of Tenors. “For me,” she said, “if the story is something I’m drawn to – something that I find intriguing – then I want to be a part of it. After that, it’s up to the director. In this case, Kayt saw me as Racón, and I’m so glad she did. It’s such a fun role to play.”
Both Labrosse and Hirschberg-Schon have been in other Metro productions.
“I’ve had the pleasure of acting, producing and directing at the Metro Theatre. A Comedy of Tenors is my 10th production there,” said Labrosse. “There are so many wonderful community theatre organizations in the Lower Mainland and I think I’ve worked with most of them over the years. Some of my favourite previous productions include The 39 Steps, Steel Magnolias, Moon Over Buffalo (also a Ken Ludwig show) and Wait Until Dark.”
Among Hirschberg-Schon’s favourite roles are Evil Stepmother in the award-winning Cinderella panto with Metro Theatre and Lady Edith in Metro’s Robin Hood and Marian panto; Penny in Vagabond Players’ You Can’t Take it With You; Olga in Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s Bedfull of Foreigners; and Yenta in a Toronto production of Fiddler on the Roof.
“Growing up,” said Hirschberg-Schon, “I watched my mother, Marion Hirschberg, on the stage. She was very involved in community theatre and is still on the stage now, at 80. She taught me so much and I am in awe to see her perform. I have theatre in my blood and stage is home to me. But the biggest thrill is to share it with an audience – because theatre does not become alive until there is an audience to share it with.”
To be a part of that audience, tickets can be purchased by leaving a message at the Metro Theatre box office, 604-266-7191, or visiting tickets.metrotheatre.com. Note that A Comedy of Tenors “contains strong language and sexual references.”