Barrie native, David Ball, returns to his hometown to play the lead in the Talk is Free Theatre (TIFT) season opener, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
He’s played a woman before but Hedwig is a character like no other and the story itself resonates with the actor, singer and dancer, just as it will with audience members who have gone through their own trials and tribulations.
“It’s a really fun, really great show that’s about the tenacity of the human spirit,” said Ball. ‘It’s about how who we can turn some of the worst life experiences into expression.”
It’s a show he’s been wanting to do for a long time. Hedwig is a gender-crossed glam rocker who is determined to become a superstar. Ball plays opposite Gabi Epstein, a female actor playing a male character who is Hedwig’s right-hand man. The Angry Inch is the name of Hedwig’s band.
“It’s like a cabaret where you learn about her life through these songs and her conversations with the audience,” said Ball. “She talks about her life, why she’s performing there that night, why she wrote the songs and what her life is like.”
Musical theatre is Ball’s favourite because it encompasses singing, dance and acting. The challenge of juggling all three on stage is his idea of fun.
Ball’s interest in performing began in elementary school. He’s been doing shows from the age of 12, a mix of community theatre and, later, moving into the professional ranks locally and further afield. He’s spent the past six years working at Shaw Festival, choreographing shows, dancing and performing.
It was a Grade 5/6 school production that led him to audition for the Strolling Youth Players (SYP). It was one of the first triple-threat programs for kids in Barrie and it encompassed dance, singing and acting.
“I was very lucky to find make my way into SYP,” said Ball. “The great thing about that was it was all three (acting, singing, and dancing) together. Each has its own challenge (but) it was musicals and theatre and performing as a whole that really got me into it.”
While dance came naturally to him, he learned a variety of styles when he was studying in the music theatre performance program at Sheridan College. Today, tap remains his favourite form of dance.
This show marks his first lead role for TIFT but not his first production. He choreographed last year’s Candide. He has done drag in the past but never in a musical.
“The thing about this show, the character, it’s a show I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” he said.
A former St. Peter’s Secondary School grad, Ball won the Emerging Artist award at the 2010 Barrie’s Arts Awards.
The show unfolds Nov. 22 to Dec. 2 at the Five Points Theatre. For tickets call 705-739-4228
Photo: David Ball stars in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Nov. 22 to Dec. 2, at Barrie.