While she was growing up, White Rock’s Maxine Chadburn was noted mainly as a dancer.
She competed with great success as a member of the Spiral Dance company – winning titles and travelling to many North American cities to train and perform.
And in 2009, at the age of 18, the former Earl Marriott Secondary student’s dance talents landed her second place overall in the PNE talent contest, winning a $2,000 prize.
But – not being part of her high school’s theatre program – she tended to fly under the radar in her home community for much of her early work in her other favourite discipline, acting.
“I’ve been pursuing acting work since I was 12 years old, but mostly I’ve been doing film and TV,” she said.
Indeed, aside from a brief sojourn with Surrey Youth Theatre Company in 1999-2001, her widest public acting exposure has been in national and North America-wide commercials for Mazda and Sylvan Learning Centre.
That’s changing, however.
Chadburn, now 21, is making her professional theatre debut in Ramifications of a Particular Crash, running until Saturday (June 15) at Vancouver’s GO Studios, 112 E. 3rd Ave (tickets, $25, at brownpapertickets.com).
She’s also continuing to build dance credits, including work in Vancouver with the Modus Operandi contemporary education initiative, and performances for such choreographers as Daina Ashbee (Unrelated, at ‘The Cultch’ and in Toronto) and Ashley Whitehead (Walking Contradiction, for the Bloom festival, at Mascall Dance). And she’s progressed to principal and lead roles in Lifetime TV movies and a principal role in Midnight Sun, a pilot for NBC/Universal.
But Chadburn admitted she’s revelling in her current assignment, the role of confused adolescent Jodi in Ramifications of a Particular Crash – a black-as-pitch comedy directed by Martin Kinch.
Inspired by the all-too-common cultural phenomenon of the celebrity meltdown, playwright Kris Elgstrand has narrowed his satirical focus to the story of mythical young star Aimee Scott (Lara Gilchrist) who killed a young girl in car crash.
Five years after the tragedy, Aimee pays a visit to the dysfunctional family of the dead girl, traumatizing parents Joyce and Paul (Lori Triolo, Brad Dryborough) and providing a catalyst for the victim’s rebellious younger sister (Chadburn).
Ramifications of a Particular Crash has also provided a roller-coaster ride both onstage and off for Chadburn, who has already received good notices for what one critic has termed ‘the standout performance’ in the play.
She’s particularly thrilled to have the chance to work with her own acting mentor, Triolo, who plays her mother in the show.
“Opening night was a blast – it was my first real opening night in a professional theatre production, which was great,” she said.
It’s also been a real baptism of fire in terms of memorization (“60 pages of dialogue”) and sustained live acting, she said. It’s a very physical role, too, she noted, in a show in which emotions are anything but soft-pedalled.
“There’s a little bit of fighting and pushing-around, so I’m happy I know how to guard myself.”
In fact, she agreed, dance training has been invaluable in preparing her for the physicality of the blocking.
“It’s muscle-memory,” she said. “Being able to go with it – trusting your body.”
It’s Elgstrand’s sense of irony that hits hardest in the the play, however.
Chadburn said while Aimee “comes into to the family hoping to get closure and make amends,” she reckons without “what everybody else wants from her in return.”
“The thing about the way Kris Elgstrand has written this is that it’s sad, but it’s also hilarious.”
While shining a light on a serious subject, she added, Elgstrand is exposing a self-involvement with grief that is all too much a part of human nature.
For young Jodi, meeting Aimee becomes more real than fading memories of her sister.
“She’s very starstruck and excited about the fact that a movie star has come to her home,” she said.
“The family has been trapped in the wreckage of the car crash – it has hit them pretty hard, both physically and emotionally, and they’ve been spiralling downward for years. Jodi would like to escape and she’s excited about the opportunity this offers her.”
Chadburn said she is also enjoying working with Gilchrist and watching the way she portrays Aimee.
“She’s done a great job of building Aimee’s sense of reality, which is acting, no matter what she feels; of feeling something deeply and not being able to communicate it in a real way.”
While she plans to continue dancing, it’s a fair bet we’ll see more of Chadburn as an actor in the future.
‘I’d love to do more theatre,” she said. “This has made me really appreciate the work. I’ve learned a lot about myself – both as an actor and in other aspects.”