Meet the Fatkins

Miranda Gathercole speaks to Walnut Grove drama teacher Kevin Fatkin and his son Cameron, as each produces his own musical

Cameron Fatkin (left) is following in his father’s footsteps, now writing and producing his own musicals.

Cameron Fatkin (left) is following in his father’s footsteps, now writing and producing his own musicals.

Cameron takes on Peter Pan

At only 23 years of age, Cameron Fatkin already has two productions that he has written and produced under his belt.

After creating a very successful burlesque version of The Wizard of Oz, his latest endeavor, The Lost Girls of Neverland puts a sultry spin on the classic Disney tale Peter Pan.

“It’s a very fun, old-school style burlesque musical comedy. I like to mix and match things. I like to take a bunch of songs and create a story around it,” the Walnut Grove Secondary graduate said.

Like his father Kevin Fatkin has done with his Walnut Grove Secondary production 6 Degrees of Broadway, Cameron Fatkin is using a mixture of his favourite songs to tell a story.

“I will just say ‘I did it first.’ I did the review thing first, he took it from me,” Fatkin joked as he pointed to his father across the room.

The Lost Girls of Neverland is a burlesque retelling of Peter Pan, set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. The main character, Wendy, arrives in New Orleans to explore life but instead is taken in by Mistress Pan and taught the art of burlesque. Wendy then struggles to choose sides between the two warring gentlemen’s clubs— Neverland and the Lost Girls, run by Mistress Pan, and the Mermaid Lagoon, run by drag queen Madame Hook.

The 14 member cast includes many familiar names from Peter Pan with appearances by Tinkerbell, Tigerlily, Smee, Hook, Wendy, and ‘The Croc’ loan shark.

“It does follow the Disney version to an extent and then it veers off into its own sort of direction,” Fatkin said.

“I call it my love letter to Disney but for adults. We have plenty of Disney references, and other Disney characters who are in it. I’ve grown up with Disney for so many years and it’s time that we make it grow up a little bit.”

The musical comedy is a 19 years and older show, hosted in a cabaret environment at the Anza Club in Vancouver.

“The show is set up cabaret style, because it takes place in a club. Audiences watch it as if they were in Neverland. You are literally going to be immersed in this world we have created. When it came to choosing between holding it in a regular theatre or something like this we thought the club would be more unique,” Fatkin said.

This production has been a year and a half in the making for Fatkin, who wrote parts of the script in Canada, Thailand and Australia.

Originally there were 30 music numbers, making the show run 3 hours and 10 minutes. He managed to cut it down to two hours with a 15 minute intermission.

“It has so much good music. Everything from modern pop to ’80s rock to Broadway. It’s literally a giant mash-up but it all works because everything follows a set story line and they all push the story forward. There were many songs that looked so amazing dance wise, but if they don’t have to be there then they get cut, which is really difficult.”

Fatkin’s father Kevin says he is very proud of his son.

“When he did the show last year, we said ‘oh dear.’ Your mother and I will be there to support you but we will have the paper bags on our heads and we will be in the back row. And then they lost their rehearsal space and they started to rehearse at Walnut Grove. I came to their rehearsal and I said ‘forget the paper bags I’m getting a T-shirt that says my son is the writer and director.’ We were so impressed with it,” Kevin Fatkin said.

The Lost Girls of Neverland runs from Feb. 22 to March 3. Tickets are $20 for students, $25 for adults and are available online at www.brownpapertickets.com.

 

Kevin bids farewell to Grove

After producing 40 high school shows during his 32-year career as a drama teacher in the Langley School District, Kevin Fatkin has made his final production a combination of all his Broadway favourites.

This year Theatre in the Grove at Walnut Grove Secondary is producing 6 Degrees of Broadway, an original musical written and directed by Fatkin, who is retiring from teaching this year.

“It’s based on the concept of six degrees of separation, or six degrees of Kevin Bacon,” Fatkin joked. “As somebody else said, it was just an excuse for me to take my favourite songs and put them all on stage.”

It has taken four months for Fatkin to weave together 24 of his most loved Broadway songs into a story that explores the interconnections between Broadway stars, directors, composers, and genres. There are 40 students involved in the play, all of whom auditioned to be in his theatre company class and are participating in the play as a course.

Musical numbers include Seasons of Love from the musical Rent, All That Jazz from Chicago, Everything’s Coming Up Roses from Gypsy and Memories from Cats.

“I’ve looked at the degrees that Broadway stars are related. For instance, we look at six major ladies who have played the role of Mama Rose in Gypsy or all the people who have played the same role in Annie Get Your Gun,” he explained.

“It also might be related by the style of musical. Looking at things such as Mama Mia which is all based on a retrospective of Abba, Moving Out as a retrospective of Billy Joel and We Will Rock You as a retrospective of Queen.”

The play is entertaining for the audience but also very education, Fatkin says. The students are not only learning theatre techniques but theatre history as well.

“A lot of the songs are supposed to be solos but what I have done with them is divided them amongst different students. For example, in Everything’s Coming Up Roses as Ethel Merman comes on her picture comes up, and the same with Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters and Patti Lupone. For all of these different people who have played her, a new girl enters and her picture comes up. It’s kind of a neat thing. It’s allowing the connections to be made there,” he said.

More than 300 costumes are also being used— all hand made by former Walnut Grove staff member Susan Wilson Murray. She has been creating them for Theatre in the Grove for more than 10 years.

“One of our running jokes is when Susan asks ‘how many people are in that number?’ I say ‘six’ and she says ‘I will make 15 costumes. I know you and you are going to change your mind.’ She sees my vision, she shares my vision,” he said with a laugh.

Fatkin has spent 11 years teaching at Walnut Grove Secondary, 11 years at D.W. Poppy and eight and a half years at Brookswood Secondary School. Prior to this he did many theatrical productions in the Vancouver area, working with Theatre Under the Stars, Metro Theatre, Dunbar Musical Theatre and the CBC. Because of his professional level of work, he expects a same level of effort from his students.

“I have a pretty high standard. We expect a lot and the kids really try hard so that is a very positive thing,” Fatkin said.

“A lot of people in the community come every year to see the shows because they expect a really well put together production.”

As a goodbye present to himself, Fatkin has specifically ended the show with a song very close to his heart.

“The show ends with the song Time Warp and then I said to my students ‘the last song you are going to sing to me is the first song of the show, Season’s of Love. So we start it and we end it with that. And for me, that’s just a special song. How do you measure the life of a person? Through relationships, through memories, through all these different things. For me that’s an important song.”

Performances run from Feb. 22 to March 3. Tickets are $10 for general seating, $18 for dessert nights. Call the Theatre in the Grove box office 604-882-0220 Local 580.