A unique theatre adaptation of French author Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under Sea will play The Grand Theatre this month, marking the return of Canadian writer/director/actor/musician/educator Rick Miller. Miller wears many hats but theatre-goers in London will likely remember first his multimedia stage show Boom, which was produced at The Grand last season. This time around, Miller and co-creator/director/producer Craig Francis have turned their attention and their talents to a classic piece of sci-fi literature that seems to mesh nicely with the creative media-heavy theatre Miller and his contemporaries are known for. Using a unique mix of video, projection and even some puppetry, Miller and Francis have created what lead actor Andrew Shaver describes as a very modern (and socially conscious) adaptation of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Verne’s famous novel from 1870. Played by Shaver, the stage adaptation features Verne as a multimedia artist who journeys back in time into his own version of Twenty Thousand Leagues, encounters the story’s hero — Captain Nemo (Richard Clarkin) — and embarks on an extraordinary journey. One of the reasons Verne’s 19th century novel stands the test of time, his eerily accurate portrayal of submarine exploration, is something Shaver said Miller and Francis have taken full advantage of. The creators of the show have chosen a steam punk aesthetic for their adaptation and also included poignant messages about the fragility of marine ecosystems. “The Nautilus (Nemo’s submarine) was a precursor, so I think that kind of story … demands this kind of treatment in this kind of way, or asks for it at least,” said Shaver, the founding artistic director of SideMart Theatrical Grocery and a Stratford Festival alum. “It’s very modern, it’s at times very funny, but also it flips to the other pole as well (and) speaks to something very serious in our world right now, which is our collapsing ecosystems, specifically with our oceans.” Joining Shaver and Clarkin on stage is Marie-Eve Perron as Claire Aronnax and Eric Leblanc as Ned Land. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea was originally commissioned by PANAMANIA, the arts and culture festival of the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games last summer. “It’s been fine-tuned and tweaked,” Shaver said, including both the script and the show’s technical aspects. “Technology that we had two years ago is not the same technology that we have now. In those ways, certain elements have been further advanced. I can say without a doubt this is the strongest it’s been.” © 2016 Londoner. All rights reserved. A member of Sun Media Community Newspapers part of Postmedia Network. Source.