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“Love is bigger than all of us, and it knows no distance,” Joshua Holloway of Joshua and Frankie tells The Discourse. That’s the take away from the premiere of the duo’s musical Distance, premiering May 31 at the Port Theatre as part of the 2023 Discovery Series, the theatre society’s feature presentations of emerging talent from around Vancouver Island.
The musical retells the first 500 days of Joshua and Frankie finding each other online through music, planning a collab project and falling in love all while on opposite sides of the world. The musical, based on the true story of Frankie and Joshua’s relationship, captures the first face-to-face meeting and the relief that their love in person is just as strong as online.
“Two people can fall head over heels without being in the same room, only to fall into life together when the time is right,” Joshua says, co-vocalist, musician and composer with Frankie.
Growing up in Sydney, Australia, Frankie Bouchier graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium. Classically trained on multiple instruments, Frankie signed on with Sydney-based record label Underfoot Records. Even after performing with Broadway legend Patti LuPone and premiering work at the iconic Sydney Opera House, Frankie has fallen in love with Vancouver Island’s music scene.
“I’ve loved Nanaimo ever since I touched down. Everyone here has welcomed me with open arms,” Frankie says.
Joshua Holloway has long called Vancouver Island home. A Vancouver Island University graduate, Joshua was accepted to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City for the start of the 2019 academic year.
But before Joshua could realize his dream of performing on the big stage, 2020 would have different plans. He joined the mass exodus out of New York City as COVID-19 spread and escaped back to his home Island.
When it was clear he would not be returning to New York any time soon, Joshua focused on other creative outlets, including reconnecting with old musical friends, recording his first album, completing a graduate certificate and meeting Frankie.
“Five years after I was hoping to be cast in a big musical in the Big Apple, I’ve had the extraordinary and unexpected privilege of writing my own musical with the person I love, and premiering it in front of the city that raised me. Wild.”
Distance the musical has become the cumulation of lifelong goals for both Frankie and Joshua, all while being a daily crash course in the art of musical theatre.
“I’ve had to push myself out of my comfort zone on almost every page,” Frankie says. “And it’s been an incredibly, creatively liberating experience.”
For Joshua, the support of the community has been a stabilizing factor in a whirlwind project, one born from a pandemic connection and need to remain creative. Now highlighted through a series also created from a pandemic need. The Discovery Series was a 2020 creation by executive director David Warburton, who needed to find a way to bring talent to the theatre when international talent couldn’t travel, but who had also long wanted to provide local talent a space to shine.
“Thanks to the incredible team at the Port Theatre and the Discovery Series, we’ve been able to realize a dream we’ve both shared. We both still kind of can’t believe it’s really happening.”
You can catch the premiere of Joshua and Frankie’s musical Distance at the Port Theatre May 31, 7:30 p.m. Tickets available online, by phone at 250-754-8550 and at the box office.