Gallery 7 Theatre

"A poignant journey": Brad Felton on Trying

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A Canadian story about two people with very different perspectives "trying" to understand one another, Trying by Joanna McClelland Glass starts January 28 at the Abbotsford Arts Centre!

To learn more about the show, we asked Brad Felton about his character Francis Biddle, what the role of an understudy is, and how rehearsals have been so far.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Would Gallery 7 audiences recognize you from any past shows? 

I've been performing since I was 4 years old as a musician, actor, singer or stand-up comic. I have a Bachelor of Music from UBC and I took acting lessons for 2 years at the Peter Breck Academy. This is my 1st production with Gallery 7.

My favourite roles so far have been in Tsawwassen as Andy Graham in "The Wild Guys" and in North Vancouver as Howard Phelps in "Senior Follies". I have been in 9 plays in the last few years, everything from Pantos, Musicals, Dramas and Comedies.

Tell us a little bit about your character, Francis Biddle. 

Francis Biddle was a significant figure in US history. A highly intelligent and well-read man with a love of literature, art and the English language. He is well aware of his place in history and wants to make sure his legacy is properly documented. He is proud of his accomplishments but believes he could have done better. He doesn't show it much, but he does regret some of his actions and is deeply hurt by his upbringing, the absence of his father and the loss of his son at 7 years old.

Trying is based on real people and a historical moment in time. Does that change your process as an actor at all?

Portraying an historical figure does change my process in approaching the role. I want to be true to the actual person and his role in history, the director's vision as well as bringing my own personal truth to the role. Dates and quotes MUST be accurate as they can be fact-checked. I watched videos of Judge Biddle and tried to portray his personality and demeanor as accurately as possible. That can't be done with a fictitious character.

Some of our audience might not be familiar with understudies—what does an understudy do? 

An understudy is a personification of the adage "The show must go on". An understudy must be available and ready to perform at a moment's notice if the Principal is unable to make a performance for whatever reason. He/She must prepare as if they are on stage every night. The audience deserves a 1st class performance, no matter who is performing that night.

How has the rehearsal process been so far?

The rehearsal process has been great. The production staff is 1st rate. It has been, however, a little disjointed because of the extreme weather and Covid protocols, but we have been able to compensate and gel as a team.

Without giving anything away, what's your favourite moment in the show? 

I have favourite moments. The ones where Judge Biddle lets down his guard and allows the audience to his humour, his pain and the way he's dealing with his impending death. It allows me to reach deeper into his character and revel in the complexity of the role.

What can audiences expect to see when the lights go down?

When the lights go down, the audience can expect to be transported to Washington DC in 1967/68. They will experience the evolving relationship of 2 very different people, and how they go from opposites, to people who grow to respect and even love each other in their own way.

It's a poignant journey filled with anger, humour and pathos. It's one I know they will enjoy.


Trying runs January 28 - February 4 at the Abbotsford Arts Centre!

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