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Wicked Memorial Variety Show kicks it off Oscar-style

L-R: Dave Sullivan, Mark O'Brien and Paul Hayward in DELTS' editing suite.


By Courtenay Alcock

This Saturday, Aug. 11, the St. John's Mile One Centre will be packed with Memorial students, staff, faculty and alumni ready to have a time. The Reunion 2012 Wicked Memorial Variety Show is poised to be the biggest off-campus celebration the university has experienced.

But long before the curtain goes up on Saturday, preparations were underway to make a splash that will rev the audience up for a night they'll never forget.

An Oscar-style opening video features Mark O'Brien, the show's MC (known for his breakout role as Des Courtney on the hit CBC series Republic of Doyle), and Memorial's own Dave Sullivan, copywriter with Marketing and Communications. Both Mark and Dave co-wrote the script, while Distance Education, Learning and Teaching Support (DELTS) produced, filmed and edited the video.

"Mark is one of the most amazing people I've ever worked with," said Dave, who apart from his role at Memorial has an extensive theatre background. "We've acted together in shows in the past, and he was as dedicated then to his craft as he is now. In this particular project we both developed the script, but Mark was heavily involved in all aspects of the video – from concept development right down to editing of the final product."

On working with DELTS he added, "It was a great collaborative effort and everyone was involved. DELTS have a lot of talented people working here, and projects like this, perhaps more than others, really give the opportunity for those talents to shine through."

The video depicts Mark preparing to host the variety show by coming to Memorial to learn about the university's history. He gets assigned to a course taught by Dr. Hansel Tchaikovsky, Dave's character, who teaches him about Memorial as they tour the St. John's campus with the other Reunion 2012 characters.

"Dr. Tchaikovsky is a little off the wall," said Dave of his character who, donning an ill-fitting wig and beard, uses unconventional teaching methods, to say the least. "I didn't have much time to plan the character before we actually shot it, but I guess my inspiration for the good doctor came from a friend of mine, Charlie. I'd say one part Charlie and three parts clown. That would be the make-up of this particular gentleman."

"Mark and Dave were an absolute delight to work with," said Lorna Yard, producer at DELTS. "Because of Mark and Dave's schedules we only had one day to shoot, which is no small feat. But they gelled really well with our production team and it was a true team effort throughout one crazy day.

"The focus of our work is generally related to teaching and learning, but this project was completely different," she added. "It was a fast paced, comedic piece which gave us room to be creative with the script and introduce a bit of zaniness into the production."

The Wicked Memorial Variety Show will feature many of Newfoundland and Labrador's top musical and performance talent, including featured performers Hey Rosetta! and The Wonderful Grand Band, with special performances by Amelia Curran, Barry Canning, Andrew James O'Brien and Jonny Harris.

Tickets are on sale at Mile One Centre box office by phone at (709) 576-7657 and through Mile One Centre's website.