By Christine Leonard
CALGARY — The sonic brainchild of multi-talented performer Chase Padgett and writer/director Jay Hopkins, 6 Guitars is a one-man-jam that puts the drama back into music history. Invented in 2010, the Fringe-tested script exposed the inner worlds of six diverse and captivating characters all portrayed by the multitalented actor and musician Chase Padgett. Tracing the lives of six unique entertainers who each represent a different musical style; 6 Guitars navigates the labyrinth of emotion and memory with the ease of a well-rehearsed house band.
“To date I have done this show nearly 300 times,” says Padgett. “In fact, I will cross the 300 threshold while doing this run at the High Performance Rodeo. I have a co-creator named Jay Hopkins who helped me with the initial incarnation of it, but it has significantly evolved since then. If you do something several hundred times over the course of six years, you can’t help but embrace the evolutions that are naturally going to happen.”
Adapting to situation at hand is old hat to the stage-seasoned Padgett, who cut his teeth performing for the vacation-stressed masses in theme parks. His musical education and passion for comedic inventiveness have coalesced in an exhibition that combines visual and auditory stimulation with physical transformation.
“It manifests in the show as a 50/50 balance,” he explains. “About half music and half comedic storytelling. For me as an artist, having a 50/50 ratio is important. I perform as an improvisor all of the time when I’m in Portland, but I also have a rich background in music including a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Central Florida. I really want to believe I hold equal footing in each world.”
A veritable chameleon of the craft, the young maestro, Padgett, morphs himself into an octogenarian blues player and an adolescent rocker as he invites the viewer to examine stereotypes from new and acute angles. Touching on the distinctiveness of jazz, classical, country and folk music guitar playing, he draws the listener into the heart of the monologue with expert timing.
“The real X-factor of the piece, so to speak, is the audience members that I’m interacting with on a show-to-show basis. The music and the genre really just becomes the medium to celebrate the individual who is experiencing the show at that time. And I do think that audience interaction is a huge part of it, because it’s one of those few times where live performance will always hold sway and advantage over any pre-recorded medium.”
Prepare for the riff-riding personalities behind 6 Guitars to set up residence in the Mom’s basement of your mind; Padgett’s ability to evoke the essence of a half-dozen authentic souls acting in-concert leaves a lasting impression.
“It’s the result of a combination of observational skills and a genuine reverence for the inspirational figures who are at the core of each character,” he says. “They are all anchored in people that I have encountered; they really pay homage to genuine human beings and their traits. A big part of the central thesis of the show is that genre is transparent. I would even argue that it’s an illusion. It’s very similar to the metaphor that the show holds between music and humanity. That we are all one species. We are all one people. We may sound different, but we’re all saying the same thing.”
Catch 6 Guitars during the final full week of High Performance Rodeo Jan. 23-28 at Lunchbox Theatre.6 Guitars, AB, Alberta, Chase Padgett, High Performance Rodeo, High Performance Rodeo 2017, Lunchbox Theatre