REGINA - A play opening next week at the Regina Performing Arts Centre will feature the unlikely combination of a horror actor and a deadly storm.
"Swept Off Our Feet: Boris Karloff and the Regina Cyclone" tells the story of how an acting troupe called the Gene Russel Players went bankrupt a day before the tornado that hit the city in June 1912.
Karloff, who would become famous for his roles in horror movies, was a young actor in the company.
Regina playwright BD Miller says Karloff was stranded and broke, so he ended up working on cleanup crews earning 20 cents an hour.
Karloff would make a name for himself as Frankenstein in the 1930s and provided the voice of the Grinch in the original Dr. Seuss animated Christmas tale.
The Regina tornado is considered one of the deadliest Canada has ever seen — 28 people died and 2,500 residents were left homeless.
Miller says he came up with the idea after he offered to write sketches for Regina's Summer Stage festival to commemorate the tornado's centennial.
"Once I dug into the wealth of historical information, I just realized that there's much more here. There's a full-fledged, full-length play here with Karloff as the main character," Miller said.
The play is also peppered with other characters inspired by real people who were in Regina during the disaster.
"Swept Off Our Feet" runs July 10-14.