The Elbow Room Cafe's interior is plastered with pictures. Photo by Dustin Godfrey
The Elbow Room Cafe’s interior is plastered with pictures. Photo by Dustin Godfrey

The Elbow Room Café on Davie Street is the subject of Studio 58’s next musical, and the actors and café’s owners are excited for its debut.

The new musical, of the same name, was commissioned by Zee Zee Theatre, whose managing artistic director, Cameron Mackenzie, and playwright in residence, Dave Deveau, are both Langara College graduates.

Not enough that lauds vancouver

The play came naturally, according to Mackenzie, who noted a hint of inspiration from Schwartz’s: The Musical, about Montreal’s famous deli.

Cameron Mackenzie, the play's director, is a Studio 58 graduate. Photo by Dustin Godfrey
Cameron Mackenzie, the play’s director, is a Studio 58 graduate. Photo by Dustin Godfrey

“There’s not enough in Vancouver that lauds and celebrates Vancouver” like Schwartz’s does for Montreal, Mackenzie said.

The Elbow Room Cafe came readily to mind, said Mackenzie, with its characteristically sassy atmosphere – the servers are famous for dishing abuse, all in good fun.

Brian Searle and Patrick Savoie are co-founders of the Elbow Room Cafe and supporters of Zee Zee Theatre, and are the play’s main focus.

“A gay couple who have been together for nearly 40 years – one’s English, and one’s … French? The story writes itself,” Mackenzie said.

Excitement for the play

Savoie said they are excited for the play, and commended Deveau’s talent for writing plays.

Having seen a small preview, Savoie and said the music was “very different” from your average musical, noting one song in particular about the frustrations of some in relationships.

“It was a funny song,” he said. “[Relationships] drive you up the wall. That you would just like sometimes to put a knife in their back and get rid of them.”

Some actors have also expressed excitement for the play.

“The music is boppy, it’s exciting, it’s totally reflective of the Elbow Room,” Gregory Radzimowski, Studio 58 student and actor, said. “Every time we come in here, I remember the atmosphere of the place.”

As some of the students visit the restaurant to gain perspective on the atmosphere, there have been reports of the staff’s characteristically cheeky attitude.

“Most of the time, [students are] getting hit on, or being made fun of for their lack of fashion,” said Adelleh Furseth, a Studio 58 student actor, also noting the interactions between Savoie and Searle.

“They are such an adorable couple and so sassy to each other,” Furseth said. “It’s loving banter.”