Vancouver-based playwright Dave Deveau wrote the musical about the Yaletown diner famous for the gruff treatment that patrons can expect from the staff. The play is on stage at Langara's Studio 58 until March 29.
"To anyone who’s been to the Elbow Room, it almost writes itself," said Deveau. "It just felt like there’s something hyper-theatrical in the cafe that lends itself to musical theatre."
Deveau said musical theatre made the most sense to tell the story because the songs can transport the audience to another place.
"You never quite know what’s going to happen, like at the cafe," said Deveau.
At the heart of Elbow Room Cafe: the Musical are the cafe's owners, Brian Searle and Patrick Savoie, who started the cafe 32 years ago. The pair have been together for 39 years.
Deveau says beneath the owners and the staff's rough manners and verbal assault, there's a lot of heart.
"They created this cafe and it’s really become this beacon of hope for all of the wayward people of the West End," says Deveau.
The musical follows a day in the life of the owners as well as the intersecting story lines of the play's 25 cast members, which includes a bachelorette party gone awry and two women trying to get past their recent breakup.
Persistence and "a heck of a lot of luck" lead to success
Deveau has written several plays that have toured around the world, including one that is currently in development as a feature film, Tiny Replicas. He's also written libretto for opera and has more plays that are touring or in development.
He credits his success to persistence and "a heck of a lot of luck," citing the help of local companies like Greenthumb Theatre that gave him a chance earlier in his career.
Deveau also makes regular appearances as the popular drag queen Peach Cobblah at the Cobalt Pub as well as at 1181, a nightclub on Davie Street.
Having grown up acting on film and television, Deveau says he finds playing his alter ego to be a good outlet.
"That little gay performer kid inside of me gets to be released every Tuesday night on an unsuspecting audience,” he says.
To listen to the full interview with Deveau, click on the audio labelled: Meet the playwright behind Elbow Room Cafe: the Musical