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SUM Theatre’s The Reel Whirled is Delightful Fun, 90s Nostalgic Musical Extravaganza


By Ezekiel McAdams


May 18 2024

Jenna Berenbaum, Rebecca Spilchak, John Reaney (l-r) TITP 2024 Britainy Zapshalla.jpeg
Ed Mendez, Jesse Fulcher Gagnon, Megan Zong (l-r) TITP 2024 Britainy Zapshalla.jpeg

  Spilchak is enthusiastic and plucky as Gladly and shows vulnerability, warmth and is relatable as someone who would do anything to meet her hero while never forgetting about the importance of friendship along the way.


  Berenbaum conveys boatloads of charm and endless energy as MeowMeow. They make their character’s love of lasagna enduring.


  Reaney carries a rambunctious altitude as his character BIM, sings, dances and yearns to be the next fashion influencer. Reaney radiates a confidence that is truly memorable.

Katie Moore (2) TITP 2024 Britainy Zapshalla.jpeg

  Moore’s turn as influencer Gigi 5G, is captivating, grandstanding and resonates a magnetic force much like her character.

Chef Buddy Spachula Ed Mendez.jpeg

  Mendez plays various characters but the one that truly shines is the one of Chef Buddy Spachula. Mendez gives a star turn in a musical number that is both charming, hilarious and unforgettable.

Magenta Megan Zong.jpg

  Zong also plays multiple roles but it is her character of the fashion influencer, Magenta, that steals the show momentarily. Zong exudes charisma and puts all the focus on her in an unforgettable music number that could easily be mistaken for this summer’s latest jam.


  Finally, Fulcher-Gagnon is able to convincingly fit into any of the various characters but it is both one of the gang members of The Young Whippersnappers and Big Mood Bear that are truly striking, only hampered and more noticeable by the play’s runtime as each character has limited character development.

  The Co-direction by Dawson and Grummett, moves at a very fast, zippy pace that is perfect for the venue, ambience and ascetic that the production is striving to hit and succeeds flawlessly.


  The script by Alvarez is peppered with 90s references, crazy characters, it’s fun and delightful vibe’s only downside is the forty five min runtime catered to children and families.

  The music written and composed by Oli Guselle is really a character of its own, with the soundtrack being the foundation of the production. Each song borrows from the 90s genre catalog from grunge that is reminiscent to Nirvana, to dance, pop, power ballads and rap numbers that could easily be mistaken as long lost cousins of 2 Unlimited, Salt N Pepa, Snow, Ace of Base, LL Cool J, Aqua and The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff.  There is a lost opportunity that a soundtrack was not available digitally along with some of the merch that SUM Theatre had for sale.


  The set design and puppet wrangling from designers Amberlin Hsu, Kei Tanaka and Rowan Pantel were vibrant, effervescent and a vibe all on its own. The sets were bright and colorful evoking neon and dayglo nostalgia saturated with the pixelated art prominently in the background. From the characters giant masks like Gigi 5G and Buddy Spachula were all deliberately heightened.

  The rest of the crew consists of Sam Fairweather and Avery Fehr as stage manager and assistant stage manager, Hannah Fehr as production assistant and Kevin Niessen as audio technician as well as Paige Francoeur as artistic associate and Ricardo Alvarado as artistic producer keep the production tight and on schedule.

  This is the perfect play as a starter kit for young children and families that may not be well versed, overwhelmed or unaware of Saskatoon’s bustling theatre scene. That being said, this is an appealing event for everyone, kids, adults, families alike. It is unapologetically delightful jam packed with a soundtrack filled with nostalgic earworms. The cast radiates positivity and good vibes with an important message sandwiched within.


  The Reel Whirled is a free experience for everyone playing across Saskatoon parks from May 16-June 28 2024. Dates for Regina and across Saskatchewan are yet to be announced. Dates and park locations can be found at SUM Theatre’s site.

  Sum Theatre’s annual theatre in the park production, The Reel Whirled, is a delightful, 90’s nostalgia baked musical that explores social media and the digital age in an adventure for the whole family.


  The production stars Rebecca Spilchak, John Reaney, Jenna Berenbaum, Jesse Fulcher-Gagnon, Ed Mendez, Katie Moore and Megan Zong. It is written by playwright, Kris Alvarez and co-directed by SUM Theatre’s artistic director, Mackenzie Dawson and S.E. Grummett.

  The play can be watched throughout Saskatoon in a different park each performance from May sixteen to June twenty eighth 2024. Dates for Regina and across Saskatchewan are yet to be announced.

  The premise features three friends, Gladly (Spilchak), MeowMeow (Berenbaum) and BIM (Reaney) who are searching for an influencer, Gigi 5G (Moore) across The Reel Whirled app.  

  Throughout the journey both MeowMeow and BIM meet their heroes, Chef Buddy Spachula (Mendez), a restaurant owner who makes MeowMeow’s favourite lasagna and Magenta (Zong), a fashion icon whom BIM idolizes.  The trio has to traverse dangerous gangs like The Young Whippersnappers and sinkholes to find answers.

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