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Kevin Michael Shea explains the story of the musical

A Misfortune follows Ivan, a young lawyer (Connor Lucas) and Sofya, a married woman (Kelsey Falconer), in pre-revolutionary Russia on a walk through the woods; their friendship has reached an impasse (photo: Louise Vessey)Childhood friends at an impasse and secrets revealed over a dinner party make up some of the themes in A Misfortune, opening September 7 at The Mack as the final production of The 2017 Charlottetown Festival.

To give a better understanding of the depth of this complex story, script and additional lyrics creator, Kevin Michael Shea, provides a peek behind the curtain into his creative team’s process of taking a Chekhov short story and expanding it into a musical production.

“The story spoke to me on a very personal level,” says Shea. “Despite being written over a hundred years ago, it seemed like it was about me, about things I was experiencing and still experience to some extent. Most of all, I just loved how funny and heartbreaking it was all at once.”

Shea and company took the lean Chekhov short story and expanded it to add characters and storylines that are in conversation with the original. Set at a dinner party among friends, Shea says, it allowed for a few different stories to be told at once and when adding excessive vodka drinking, it made for great opportunities to push characters to their emotional limits. He provides the example, “When an argument you’re having with your wife or husband is public, like it is at a dinner party, it adds this extra layer of tension that makes the jokes funnier.”

Shea developed the adaptation as if it could happen today, as he believes the themes that Chekov explored are indeed timeless. “I hope the audience recognizes themselves and their loved ones in these characters,” says Shea, “and that familiarity provides some laughter and comfort. It doesn’t matter what culture you’re from, we’ve all felt the desire to do something more with our lives, and had to balance that desire with the commitments we have already made. We’ve also all loved the wrong people, or not loved the right people enough.”

A Misfortune makes its world premiere at The Charlottetown Festival with nine performances in a short run from September 7 to 22 at the Centre’s cabaret theatre, The Mack, in Charlottetown.

A Misfortune is directed by Eliza-Jane Scott with music by Scott Christian and lyrics by Wade Bogert-O’Brien.

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