Improvisers take on late night dining in new web series

The show has all the hallmarks of a good soap – power, drama, even shoulder pads.

Michelle’s, a Canadian soap opera about the high stakes world of late night dining, based in Hope, B.C., is co-created by Angela Galanopoulos and writer/director Andrew Barber from Tsawwassen. The web-based series premieres on Jan. 31 with six episodes.

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The show centres on ambitious restaurant owner and head diva Michelle Gidard played by Galanopoulos. Business is booming, but you don’t become the queen of late night dining without making a few enemies. When a mysterious man from her past, Hank Deveraux, pays her a visit, it becomes clear he will stop at nothing in order to destroy Michelle’s empire.

Galanopoulos and Barber are both improvisers at Vancouver TheatreSports and have brought together a talented cast of dramatic and comedic actors and actresses, including Tsawwassen’s Cameron Bancroft (Beverly Hills 90210, 24), who plays Deveraux, and Canadian comedy legend Colin Mochrie, who delights in his role as Jerry, the accountant.

“This actually started a couple of years ago. One day we came up with the idea of this woman who owns this intense restaurant in a small town and we thought we would make a commercial about it, so the show originated from this commercial sketch,” said Galanopoulos.

“We did that first and created a world where this woman’s restaurant was meant to be modern day, but really dated with things like Chicken à la King and Salisbury steak on the menu and had a lot of fun with this fake commercial with this fake restaurant. We had some producer friends who loved this and thought it could be made into a longer show.”

She said given their backgrounds they were inspired to create this comedic soap and put in a grant, receiving the funds to create and shoot a pilot episode.

“With writing, pre-production, shooting and post-production this has been almost a year-long process to get to this point,” said Barber. “Everyone has had a really fun time. This is a comedy that asks to be committed as actors and I’ve asked a lot of them. The acting is not a parody, so we sought out a lot of good actors even to play the comedic roles. The drama has to be committed to as well because it certainly resonates throughout the show.”

Galanopoulos said she is thrilled with the final product.

“We created this from something so small and we had so much fun writing this,” she said. “As improvisers our writing process is very much ending each others’ ideas and this grew into something that neither of us could have anticipated. In addition to assembling this incredible cast, we worked full-time on this and all that work came to blossom at our media screening.

“It was wild. It was wild to have our family, cast and crew and industry insiders there to see it with us. At the end it was crazy. We had a standing ovation. I’m thrilled with the work and we are just so ready to release this to the world and share it.”

Michelle’s season one was made possible through funding from Telus Storyhive and CreativeBC. It was produced by Brain Bird Productions.

The show will be released on Jan. 31 at: https://www.youtube.com/user/barbarbinx.

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