Party like it’s 1955

Dig out your poodle skirt and put on your saddle shoes. The Open Pit Theatre is hosting a 1950s Sock Hop Film Night in Whitehorse on Saturday.

The evening features five films with an on-the-spot, improvised soundtrack by live actors and musicians.

“The movies are the main entertainment,” says Geneviève Doyon, co-artistic director of Open Pit Theatre. “But there will also be a photo booth, a bar serving ‘50s classic cocktails, and prizes that were donated by local businesses and organizations. There is lots of variety and diversity.”

Only four to 10 minute excerpts will be shown from each film. The audio will be turned off, replaced with the live, made-up dialogue by the actors, and the soundtrack provided by the musicians.

Brian Fidler and Erica Bigland will be on the hook to come up with the voice overs, and Victoria composer Brooke Maxwell, co-creator of the acclaimed musical Ride the Cyclone, has been confirmed as the keyboard player. A drummer will also be added to the mix.

The format for this improvisation is that the live actors and the musicians get to see the clips once, but no one is allowed to practice.

“The calibre of artists and musicians is high. You need talented people to show up and just wing it,” says Doyon. “It’s a free for all. Some moments will be more music, some more dialogue. It will depend on the scene.”

The movies will cover a wide variety of genres:  thriller, glamour, sci-fi, lady wrestlers and badass attitude.

“We selected movies that would be fun, but we also wanted a variety of styles to show that the fifties were more than just bubble gum and sodas – they were also glamourous and dark too.”

The clips will be divided up into three sessions so there will be plenty of time for other events during the breaks.

But don’t think you can just go home after the movies are over. The musicians are prepared to keep playing, turning film night at the fire hall into a sock hop.

Free swing and jive lessons will be offered by professional dancer Jessica Hickman, who is also an artistic director of Open Pit Theatre.

Doyon promises The Old Fire Hall will look very different once it’s decorated to look like a 1950s dance hall. The public is also encouraged to come dressed up in the style of the time.

“It’s a fun era,” says Doyon.

The concept for the fundraiser, says Doyon, is multi-disciplined. She feels that by mixing the mediums of film, music and dance, it will add fun elements to the evening. And offering improv is the icing on the cake.

“We want to make the evening an experience,” she says.

The Open Pit Theatre’s 1950s Sock Hop Film Night is a fundraiser for the theatre’s next production, called Words of the Yukon, coming out in the 2016-17 season.

The 1950s Sock Hop Film Night takes place on Saturday, Nov. 7 at the Old Fire Hall. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

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