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Sarnia hosts star-studded premiere for ‘The Trades’

‘The Trades’ creator and Sarnia native Ryan Lindsay screens his new Crave series and invites some big Canadian stars along for the ride.

When your night starts off by the ‘Trailer Park Boys’ and ‘The Trades’ star Robb Wells asking the crowd ‘’what the **** is going on Sarnia’ you know it’s going to be a good one.

Sarnia showed up when ‘The Trades’ creator Ryan Lindsay hosted a screening of the first two episodes of his new show at the Imperial Theatre Saturday night.

In attendance, just a couple hundred of Lindsay’s friends, family and local tradespeople all looking for a good laugh and to celebrate Lindsay’s success.

“I’m glad we are doing it here in Sarnia. It makes so much sense to do it in Sarnia,” Ryan told the Journal. 

And it does make sense. ‘The Trades’ is a love letter to Sarnia’s blue-collar workers. There’s a saying, that local jokes get local work, and the jokes at the centre of ‘The Trades’ definitely got the locals in attendance laughing.

A packed crowd at the Imperial Theatre for a special screening of 'The Trades.'. Melissa Roushorne photo.

Each time a Sarnia reference revealed itself — like the shout-out to the Imperial Theatre — the crowd in attendance went wild. So it’s no surprise that Lindsay told us that feedback from the show’s March 22nd premiere on Crave has been very positive.

Lindsay, who addressed boisterous and cheering crowd, said it was an emotional night for him.

“It’s been a long six years of developing and packaging this project. A lot of writing, a lot of research, a lot of work went into this,” Lindsay said. “I know almost everybody who is going to be here. It’s just super surreal. I really don’t know what to think but I’m thankful, I’m grateful for all the community support, family and friends, my wife Allie, my brothers, everyone has been really really supportive.”

And while the show has just premiered, we couldn’t help but ask him about the possibility of season two. Nothing has been signed off on just yet – but according to Lindsay, the show’s writers, “have enough content from our research to write ten seasons. So here’s hoping.”

Wells also revealed that he and Lindsay have already been secretly working together in Sarnia in an unofficial writers room for season two.

‘The Trades’ features a ‘who’s who’ of Canadian comedic talent; at the centre of the show is pipe-fitter Todd Stool, played by Robb Wells, who also saw the emotional significance of having a special screening of the show in Lindsay’s hometown.

“It’s very special to me… and especially for Ryan, you only get one first premiere and that’s why I’m here, for him,” Wells explained.

Embracing on stage, it’s clear Lindsay and Wells have a very special relationship and care about the outcome of the new show.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how people receive it. ‘Cause the feedback from those people is the real feedback. I hope it goes well,” Wells told The Journal.

Star Jesse Camacho, who plays Todd’s co-worker Homer, couldn’t agree more.

“This was absolutely, from the get go, Ryan’s love letter to Sarnia… I really think he captured that. So there is no where else we would have rather have done it than here with the people the show is meant for…we had so much fun embodying that world,” he said.

Another familiar face in the show is ‘Red Green’s’ Patrick McKenna who plays Todd’s father.

McKenna said while the Canadian industry can make things tough to get made, it’s great when you can celebrate with a crowd like the one in Sarnia. 

“Finally getting something done that you can celebrate — it’s fantastic. ‘Cause pushing that snowball up the hill is exhausting and unpredictable and likely not going to happen, and melt halfway up the hill,”he laughed. “So it’s been incredible that this has happened. The writing is so great, this cast is great, the directing is tight, it’s such a good project to be involved in and it’s really exciting.”

Ryan Lindsay (left), with fellow Sarnian, actor/comedican Andrew McMichael, and actor Tom Green. . Submitted photo

So, who would the cast love to see guest star in a hypothetical second season? According to Wells, he would love to see his doppleganger Danny McBride appear on the show. While his co-star Raoul Bhaneja said the possibilities are endless and would be best left to the bosses to decide.

As for Dan Petronijevic, who plays Backwoods, well, he’s going with some of his former ‘19-2’ co-stars. 

“Jared Keeso, Tyler Hines, Adrian Holmes….there’s a lot of people in Canada to pull from. Maybe even my cousin Harry,” Petronijevic chuckled.

While Petronijevic’s cousin Harry was not in attendance at the special screening. A couple hundred local tradespeople and guests were. And the crowd couldn’t contain their excitement — they were loving what Lindsay and crew were throwing down.

Brett Stonehouse, a local carpenter, thought it was a legitimate representation of what it is like to work in the trades — referencing one scene in particular that stood out to him in the pilot episode.

“I’ve defiinely seen the ice bucket” Brett chuckles. 

While Allysin Weese, who is married to a trades worker, said ‘The Trades’ is great in its storytelling. 

“I’m enjoying it, and from what I hear from my husband the comedy that is in there is pretty accurate to the comedy he tells me that goes on.”

When Lindsay was pitching the show, he used local Sarnia actors and tradespeople to shoot a demo, which would eventually go on to become ‘The Trades’ series that we see today.

Kip McMillan was in the original demo and said the show is bang-on to what tradespeople experience. 

“It’s incredible to see what they’ve done with it and still kept the heart. That original heart we had was a source of pride for us from the threatre here. The heart is there, it’s amazing,” McMillan said.

Dave Evans, who appeared alongside McMillan in the demo, agreed wholeheartedly. 

“All the heart, all the jokes, all the ideas of that blue collar stuff is all right there in this,” Dave revealed. 

The show definitely has a lot of heart from the tradespeople who helped shape it — no one more so than Lindsay’s brother, Tyson Lindsay, who was instrumental in his brother’s research, regaling him with stories and anecdotes of life in the plants.

Tyson Lindsay does admit he might be a little biased in his review of the show. He quote “loves it,” but did add this: “I think people will look at it originally and think it’s just going to be a quick comedy; no heart. But this show actually has heart and it has a lot of really good moments. And it shows that union work is not just rough people —  it’s human beings that have lives.”