An everyday family dealing with the death of loved one and their journey from bleakness to optimism is the premise behind Bill Miner’s latest musical The Digital Beyond.
“It’s about an ordinary family dealing with a tragic loss of a pivotal individual in the lives of all five of the characters and the stress that it causes to them as individuals and as a unit and how they cope with the loss eventually,” Miner said.
The Digital Beyond, at Nanaimo Centre Stage, focuses on a husband and his two teenage children and their ability to cope with the death of their mother.
“The mother had lost a battle with cancer and spent the last two to three months at home. She decided to write a series of letters to her son and daughter, just things that she wanted to say to them throughout their formative years,” Miner said. “She arranged to have them delivered to them on a special day every year.”
The cast includes Miner, Antonio Gradanti, Joshua Holloway, Phoenix Matheson and Diane Verhiel.
“I think the audience will be pleased with the cast, particularly the young teens,” Miner said. “They have worked so hard and they are doing such a great job.”
It also features original music by Miner and Gradanti.
“These songs, the melodies and the lyrics, I would put them up against anything in musical theatre,” Miner said.
The Digital Beyond is the first play or musical that Miner has written where he created scripts for teenage characters.
“They were the first characters that came alive to me and they are in the first scenes,” Miner said. “As soon as I started writing, within the first three or four exchanges of dialogue it just felt like I was coming home and the exchanges just felt so honest.”
Miner said that the teenagers’ scripts came to him naturally.
“It all just poured out honestly,” he said. “Sometimes you fabricate this great line and you feel that you have to use it but it really doesn’t fit. This flowed out naturally.”
The inspiration behind Miner’s newest work came around the time he was organizing the Terry Fox Run on Gabriola Island and had experienced a personal loss.
“I knew that I wanted to have an ordinary family and I wanted something that was going to be impacting them that was going to be testing them as people and as a family,” Miner said.
Miner hopes audience members will not only be entertained but also take away the importance of family.
“What I would love for people to take away, besides being entertained by the music and the characters themselves, is the hope underpinned by family springs eternal,” Miner said. “I think family is the vessel that we all have hopefully. It can be supportive beyond miracles. We don’t need miracles; we just need to rely on the support of ourselves and our family.”
The Digital Beyond premieres on Dec. 11-12 at the Nanaimo Centre Stage. Tickets are $15. Doors open at 7 p.m.