The anti-Valentine's Day Valentine's Day show 

Heather Feeney's racy Still Smokin' tackles relationships using musical theatre

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - SMOKE SHOW Singer and actress Heather Feeney has created a Valentine's Day show for the Brackendale Art Gallery that aims to challenge the notions of traditional musical theatre.
  • Photo submitted
  • SMOKE SHOW Singer and actress Heather Feeney has created a Valentine's Day show for the Brackendale Art Gallery that aims to challenge the notions of traditional musical theatre.

I may or may not have an orgasm onstage."

A few beats pass. I imagine the singer shifting her eyes nervously around the room before beginning again.

"My gosh, I say all this and my dad's just decided to come out and see the show," says Heather Feeney, star of the upcoming Valentine's Day musical theatre show, Still Smokin'.

"OK dad, let's just remember that, you know, this is art."

Running at the Brackendale Art Gallery on Feb. 14 and 15, Still Smokin': A Musical Tribute to Smokin' (& Broken) Relationships isn't, in case you haven't already gathered, the traditional kind of show you might find on Broadway. Nor is it the typical made-for-TV, rose petal-strewn storybook romance, and that's just the way Feeney likes it.

"I would say it's the antithesis of the regular, sappy love story. I don't have any sappy Valentines-y songs," she says.

In fact, Feeney has handpicked a collection of 21 mostly upbeat, comedic songs from contemporary musicals that create a distinct narrative and are sure to elicit a few surprised reactions from the audience.

"I wanted to pick the funniest (songs), I wanted to pick the most brilliantly written songs and I wanted to do the most musically challenging songs, as well," she explains. "People can expect to be embarrassed; people can expect to be moved in any form of emotion possible," she explains.

Accompanied by Jessie Award-nominated pianist Scott Knight, Feeney wants to squash the notion that musical theatre only appeals to a certain type of audience.

"There's stuff in all of my music that every kind of person is going to be able to relate to, whether they're male or female, whether they're gay or straight, whether they are Jewish or Christian, they're going to get something out of the show that is going to hopefully make them laugh at their own experiences," she says. "I wanted it to appeal to everybody, and I really wanted to have the men come and enjoy it, too."

A veteran of Vancouver's theatre, film and TV industries, Feeney has appeared in several major projects, including Dead Like Me, Supernatural and Da Vinci's Inquest, and has been creating the Valentine's Day show in Squamish since 2012. Unlike a cabaret show, Feeney says she limits her interaction with the crowd in between songs to keep the audience lost in the moment — just like a late-night binge-watching session of a favourite TV show.

"When you're at home watching television, you can bawl your face off and get involved and nobody cares because you're the only one there. I want that to be the same feeling in my show," says Feeney. "The songs that really move people, I want to see the tissues coming out and I want to see people laughing their heads off because — 'Oh my gosh!' — they've had the same experience in their life."

Married for 12 years, Feeney admits she's not a huge fan of the commercialism of Valentine's Day, but that doesn't mean she's adverse to romance. In fact, she believes the universality of our most powerful emotion is what makes her show so appealing.

"Subjectively, everyone thinks they experience love in a different way, however, when you look at the grand scheme of things, I think we all experience it in the same ways, whether it be a breakup or the beginning part of a new relationship when it's on fire and you feel like you've never met anybody like this in your entire life," she says.

A few more beats pass. "Oh God, now this is a therapy session," Feeney laughs.

Still Smokin' starts on Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20, available at Xocolatl and the Brackendale Art Gallery.

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