Peter Nadolny is in the director’s chair again this season at Jubilations Dinner Theatre for the latest show to come to Calgary, Best of Friends Reunion, a musical parody of the Friends TV show.
Nadolny began his career at Jubilations 17 years ago when his grandmother convinced him to audition at the Celebrations Theatre, Winnipeg’s branch of Jubilations.
“I moved back from New Brunswick, I was in a career that I just didn’t like, so I left it and came back [to Winnipeg],” said Nadolny.
“My grandma said, ‘Go to Celebrations, I think you’d like it,’ and I did, and I’ve been here since.”
In his time with the theatre, Nadolny has acted in eight productions, and for the past eight and a half years has been stationed in Winnipeg as the stage manager of Celebrations.
It was through his position as stage manager that Nadolny started directing. Best of Friends Reunion is his third show.
The production takes place 10 years after the end of their original Best of Friends show, which they put on in 2004.
There’s an all-new cast this time around, and the soundtrack is full of “contemporary” 90’s hits.
“I tried to incorporate things from [Friends] that would be entertaining to people who don’t know the TV show, but people who do know it would get it.”
“It has to make sense to everybody, but the people who know what I’m doing will get it and appreciate it,” says Nadolny.
A big part of Jubilations Dinner Theatre is improvisation and audience participation.
Nadolny recalls his first performance with Jubilations in 1997, Dreaming of the Prom, where he played Archie Andrews (from the classic Archie comics).
“I had hair back then,” he laughs.
“I dyed it red and shaved in the cross-hairs for Archie.”
The audience each night voted for which character would win Prom King and Queen.
When it comes to interacting with the audience, Nadolny says it is “mostly the strange things that stick out.”
“In 1998, maybe ’99, [Rock and Roll Incarceration] was a show that was based in a prison, and we did this shtick where all of the additional cast and the management were prison inmates.”
“So we were all wearing the orange things and we did this thing where we’d all go pretend to have a prison riot.”
“During this prison riot, this old woman, who couldn’t have been older than 65-70, grabbed a chair and held it over her head and ran up and down the aisle!”
Nadolny has also played several iconic roles such as the Fonz, Thurston Howell, Chuck Barris and Dr. House.
“I did a show called Ranchers and Rustlers which was an original piece by Randy Apostle, one of my favourite shows, I’m painted on the wall out front in my character,” says Nadolny.
“I’ve done all these jobs, and obviously I do them because I love them.”
Working at Jubilations for so long, Nadolny has had time to get used to having such an unusual work schedule.
“When your days off are Monday and Tuesday, and you work until 11 or 12 at night, you learn instead of looking at the negatives of it, you look at the positives,” said Nadolny.
“There’s never anyone in the grocery stores on Monday and Tuesday, and commuting back home at night, there’s no one ever on the roads.”
“Going to work at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, you don’t face traffic, and it’s a rare day that I have to set an alarm, because I work in the evening,” he explains.
“But with things like niece’s baptisms, family get-togethers, Thanksgivings and Easters, I just don’t get to do those things, because you have to take days off to do them.”
“You get used to it, because the pluses you find equal the minuses.”
“I get to go into a job where I can say something like, ‘Make sure that pig doesn’t fall when you throw the rubber ball at it!’ and that’s just part of a normal day for me.”
Nadolny adds that he has many moments where he’ll catch himself going, ‘Wow, what do I do for a living?’ or ‘No you can’t dress as an iguana!’
“If ever comes a day where it’s mundane, ordinary and not fun anymore, then maybe I need to second-guess doing it.
“When it comes down to it, if the audience is laughing, and I’m laughing, and the actors are having fun, then I’ve done my job right,” said Nadolny.
Best of Friends Reunion will run at Jubilations in Calgary through Feb. 16, 2014.