He’s performed everywhere from Calgary, Alberta to Osaka, Japan, but being back on home turf with Drayton Entertainment has always been on his bucket list.
Justin Bott’s role in The Last Resort brings him back to his roots, where he first learned to love theatre, in Elmira.
“I think my parents would tell you I’ve always been outgoing and putting on plays,” Bott said. “Eventually I started taking acting in school at Grand River Collegiate Institute and then I came to EDSS for Grades 11, 12, and 13 and so I studied under Gord Davis and did high school shows, did community theatre.”
Written by acclaimed Canadian playwright Norm Foster, The Last Resort, follows Bott’s character, Nick Galeazzo, a restaurant owner hiding from the mob at a resort in Saskatchewan. He’s joined by federal agent Angela Miller, poet Trent Balfour, couple Sid and Liz Barzini, resort owner Freda Heitz, twins Jessica and Julia Youngstead and Inspector Closely.
Bott has performed this show before as Trent Balfour, which is part of the reason why he wanted to be in it again – he can’t get enough.
“It’s a murder mystery comedy musical, so it has all these elements that I love,” Bott said. “You’ve got a little bit of seriousness with the murder mystery, then you’ve got the comedy element and the musical element so there’s lots of real mixed with ridiculousness. The role of Nick is really great because he’s super, super paranoid. So he’s kind of actively worrying the whole time. He is convinced right from the beginning that someone is trying to kill him.”
All of these aspects are what make the show so unique and lovable. But they’re also what make it so difficult to pull off.
“So far Mark, our director, has laid out the pitfalls of the show, which is that we can get really caught up in the comedy, keeping everything really funny,” Bott said. “But then you lose the murder mystery and you lose the fact that it’s a musical. He’s said it’s all those elements together. All three of those elements have to be present at all times.”
After rehearsing with the rest of the cast, some of whom he’s worked with before and seen in other productions, he says Drayton’s gathered a real A-list group of actors.
“It’s going to be a great way to kick off their season,” Bott said. “This and the Wizard of Oz start their season off and both are fantastic shows.”
Bott’s acting resume is extensive itself, having performed in such productions as Doug Ford in Rob Ford: The Musical at The Factory Theatre and Avram in Fiddler on the Roof at Stage West Mississauga. After completing The Last Resort he’ll be performing in Snow White with Drayton Theatre and Avenue Q at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton.
He says his most challenging role thus far was Freddy in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels because of how much singing is involved and how active the character is. Regardless, he’s always looking for more challenging parts to play to increase his versatility.
“I’d love to do any of the other summer festivals as well, Shaw, Stratford, Charlottetown,” Bott said. “Partially because they’re really prestigious festivals and they’re really world renowned, but I think Drayton is, too. Drayton does shows 12 months of the year. Not many other theatre companies do shows 12 months of the year. I’ve always said I want to work with as many people as possible to try to develop my skills and put my name out there.”
Bott studied at the Canadian College of Performing Arts after spending two years working in a factory after high school graduation. He’s been performing professionally since 2006 and is especially looking forward to The Last Resort, as his friends and family who live in Elmira will be able to come see him in his element. His mom already has her tickets.
“I can tell you it’s going to be a riot, it’s going to be hilarious. I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep a straight face on stage,” Bott said.
The Last Resort runs from March 4 to March 22 at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. Tickets are $42 for a regular performance, $34 for a preview performance, $25 for youth under 20 for any show.
For tickets and show times visit www.draytonentertainment.com.