Scott Shpeley is an actor who loves to sing and lucky for audiences the Alberta-based artist can carry a tune. He’s performed on stages across the country including as Snoopy in ATP’s “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”, for which he won the 2012 Betty Mitchell award for outstanding performance by an actor in a musical or comedy. When Shpeley’s not performing in theatre he’s the frontman of the band The Play Plays. This month he is in Downstage’s work-in-development musical “Crime Does Not Pay“.
What do comic books and murder have to do with “Crime Does Not Pay”?
The story is inspired by the artist Bob Wood who created a hyper-violent comic book called “Crime Does Not Pay”. In real life Wood murdered a woman named Violet. I play Wood. We’re exploring morality, art transforming into life and the idea of the perfect crime. Kris Demeanor and David Rhymer created the music and lyrics. It’s a workshop performance so we’re experimenting with how we want to tell the story. We’re gonna try some things out and see if the audience understands the piece.
What does being an actor have to do with your singing?
My training and my background is acting, so I approach all of my singing as an actor. I look at the lyrics the same way I’d deal with Shakespeare. How does it breakdown, where are the thoughts. As a musician I can see what the musical phrase is doing to support those thoughts.
If you had to choose, would you rather never act again or never sing again?
If I had to I would never sing again. I’d want to be able to perform and tell stories. Singing is another way to tell stories and I love bringing that into theatre. It adds on to what I already love about acting, but I hate this question.
What inspires you musically?
Lyrics. I want to hear how the artist is putting the words together. I also love dance music. I grew up in the ’90s when House music was becoming popular. House, electronic and fast-paced rock gets me going. It makes people want to move and it builds a rhythm inside of you.
Who would win in a fight, actor Scott or musician Scott?
Musician Scott. He has way less rules about what’s acceptable on stage. Musician Scott can dress in neon and rock out on stage. Right now, as musician Scott, I’m wearing white tuxedo pants and a traditional Ukrainian shirt that I cut the sleeves off of.
What non-singing character you have played could have benefited from some music?
When I did “Romeo and Juliet” in university, Romeo could have used a cool party number to show Juliet that he’s actually a bit of rockstar.
“Crime Does Not Pay” runs September 11 to 13 as part of Downstage’s Fieldwork work-in-development series, at the Theatre Calgary Rehearsal Hall, Epcor Centre. For tickets call 403-294-9494 or visit epcorcentre.org.