• James Parry

Travel Around the World in 80 Days at Hudson Village Theatre this summer


All set for their hilarious race against time around the world in Hudson are (left to right) director Mike Payette, and actors Mike Hughes, Danielle Desormeaux, and Chimwemwe Miller.

Who hasn't heard of Around the World in 80 Days? That madcap classic adventure first penned by Jules Verne in novel form in 1873, since relived in the 1956 blockbuster movie of the same name starring David Niven and now - reimagined yet again - coming to Hudson Village Theatre, 28 Wharf Road, August 9 to 27 in the third production of their summer series.

Pure family entertainment and with only three actors portraying a panoply of international characters, the Monty Python-esque send-up is a co-production with Theatre Lac-Brome in association with Geordie Productions with Danielle Desormeaux, Mike Hughes, and Chimwemwe Miller, bringing the unpredictable journey to vivid life under the direction of Mike Payette in his HVT debut.

For those who have been living on another planet all these years, or may just have forgotten, here's the plot. In a race against time, fearless Phileas Fogg and his faithful valet, Passepartout, attempt to win a £20,000 bet by circumnavigating the globe in just 80 days.

Suspecting Fogg of bank robbery, Detective Fix of Scotland Yard is in hot pursuit as the odd couple traverse the planet by train, steamer, and a few less conventional modes of travel, encountering a parade of characters from exotic princesses to shady operators along the way.

Playwright Toby Hulse has moulded Verne’s novel into a family-friendly jaunt using a contemporary lens to squeeze high-camp hilarity out of Victorian colonial attitudes. It’s a thrilling ride right up to the last-second coup-de-théâtre ending.

“The magic of theatre is at the core of this fun and fast-paced show packed with a comedic mix of danger, romance, and a celebration of humanity's perseverance against all odds," says Payette. “It’s incredibly rewarding to have a script that invites us to interpret a story, renowned for decades, with a fresh contemporary lens.

“The cast is excellent, contributing their multi-faceted expertise to the heart of the production, transforming people, time and space before our eyes, illustrating that anything imagined can be believable. I look forward to sharing this new telling of an iconic story for audiences to experience first-hand the power of theatre, imagination, and possibility."

Desormeaux, last seen in HVT’s 2010 production of Wake of the Bones, plays Passepartout, as well as a roster of fellow travellers. Hughes, who was in the 2015 Theatre Lac-Brome/HVT co-production of The 39 Steps, once again makes phenomenal use of his Le Coq clown training as Detective Fix, among others roles. And Montreal musician and actor, Chimwemwe Miller, comes to HVT for the first time as the well-groomed and always proper Phileas Fogg.

Both Sabrina Miller (set and costumes) and Sarah Osmond (props) recreate the Victorian age of mechanized industrialization with imaginative whimsy and flare. Sound designer, Rob Denton, bolsters the illusion through music and sound effects reminiscent of the ornate music boxes and modern time-keeping devices of the era. While lighting designer, Michel Charbonneau, illuminates the Far East, dockside dives, gentleman’s clubs, and countless other destinations along Fogg’s whirlwind escapade.

Having sat in on a rehearsal recently, I can only imagine what it will be like on opening night. For sure, a fun roller-coaster ride for adults and youngsters alike!

For reservations, call the Box Office at (450) 458-5361 or go to www.villagetheatre.ca.

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