One-man (or woman) shows can be awe-inspiring — and the story of country and western singer Nashville Hurricane is definitely in that category.
It's an epic tale of a singer gone wrong, with all the slurring, ranting and existential pain an alcoholic cowboy can throw at an audience.
There's a lot of pathos and a lot of comedy."The word 'epic' is quite apropos," says the show's co-creator and sole performer Chase Padgett.
"The story is kind of mapped out to (mythology writer) Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces. When I was coming up with the show I was super into the monomyth (the hero's journey) and used it to see how it worked with my own stories."
Padgett is bringing Nashville Hurricane to the Maury Young Arts Centre (MYAC) on Friday, Feb. 5. Doors open at 7 p.m., with the show starting at 8 p.m.
The Oregon-based actor is currently touring two shows, the second being 6 Guitars, which he brought to Whistler in 2015. He says switching back and forth, playing 10 characters in two plays, can sometimes be a little challenging.
"It takes rehearsals, making sure I've got my lines in my head, although I've done the shows many times now," Padgett says.
"I've probably done Nashville Hurricane about 100 times, and I've performed 6 Guitars 262 times. So switching back and forth is not a problem at all."
In Nashville Hurricane, Padgett combines country cabaret, comedy and storytelling. He plays four characters — guitar prodigy Henry Waltrip (a.k.a. Nashville Hurricane), his manager, his trailer trash mother and his blues-playing mentor.
"The initial incarnation of Nashville Hurricane showed up in the Orlando Fringe Festival in 2012. It was received pretty well, but there were certain things about it that I wanted to improve," recalls Padgett."The next summer we premiered it with different characters and a little bit of story work at the Calgary Fringe and Edmonton Fringe, and it went great. It won Best of Fest."
The theatre side and music side of Padgett are pretty much in balance, he says, but he wasn't always a country guy.
"My dad was, he was the guy who bought me my first guitar. There are pictures of me playing with a cowboy hat and boots that are man sized that are grossly adorable," Padgett recalls.
"I was drawn in much later. I was more a blues and soul person. Ray Charles is still my favourite musician of all time."But it is Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel who inspired Padgett, who used his music and playing as a template for Nashville Hurricane.
"He is a breathtaking talent, a six-string force of nature," says Padgett."I was inspired by his playing. It's moving and technically brilliant. He just tours the world playing solo acoustic guitar and you don't even realize he doesn't have a band behind him. He fills up the room with sound."
Padgett calls the show a "theatrical experience" first and foremost, with storytelling at the core. Country music's style of telling simple stories well certainly helps, he adds.
"I've even had some people tell me that it is like watching one man do a movie by himself," he says."I have only four songs in it. They are doozies, the hardest kind of playing I have in my repertoire. That kind of narrative approach might not be unique to country, but it is so well refined."
Padgett had an interesting start in showbiz.
"For a number of years, when I was living in Florida, I worked full time in Disney World. I was doing various acting roles," he says.
"Some of them were actually fun. The best day job I ever had was Turtle Chocolate Crush. I was Crush the Turtle from Finding Nemo."Duuuude, I say. That's so awesome.
"Yeah, it was. It wasn't me in a suit. I was puppeteering a live cartoon, voicing the character and interacting with the audience across the building. It was a pretty cool blend of interactive character work and awesome, revolutionary technology," he says.
Learning this about him, you can see how Padgett became a multi-level storyteller.
Tickets for Nashville Hurricane are $24 for Whistler Arts Council members, $26 for non-members. The show is 19-plus, with a cash bar. For more information and to buy tickets visit www.artswhistler.com. Tickets can also be purchase at the MYAC box office.