When I ask the stars of Hart House’s upcoming production of High Fidelity how their preparations for the show are going, they’re all smiles.

“It’s going really well! It’s really been picking up fast the last little while,” says David Light, who plays the main character, Rob. “Everyone’s really excited,” adds Jamie Arfin, who is taking on the role of Rob’s recent ex, Laura.

High Fidelity: The Musical is based on the Nick Hornby novel and cult film starring John Cusack. The story is of a man—“a bit of an ass-bag,” as Light lovingly describes him—suffering rather pathetically from an existential crisis. He’s coming to hate his job, as well as his apartment, and his girlfriend, Laura, has recently left him. It’s only with the help of his co-workers and his favourite tunes that Rob can manage to pull himself out of his downward spiral.

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Hart House Theatre’s production, which opens on Friday, marks the Canadian premiere of the show. The theatre has landed many shows new to the country in recent years, including Reefer Madness in 2006 and the wildly popular Jerry Springer: the Opera, which ran twice in 2009.

Both Light and Arfin note that the musical is full of energy and tons of fun—both for the audience and for the actors.

“It’s the kind of show you want to be a part of, and I’m really happy to be in it,” says Arpin. “Working on High Fidelity at Hart House has been great. […]There’s lots of comic relief.”

But although the show tends towards the upbeat in its examinations of love and music, it’s not all sunshine and lollipops.

“There are some real punch-in-the-stomach scenes,” says Light, whose stomach I imagine is on the receiving end of most of those punches.

High Fidelity has sometimes been deemed a “jukebox musical” in the vein of Jersey Boys or We Will Rock You. Whether or not this is the case, the show boasts an astounding range of music that could easily fill anybody’s jukebox (or, more likely, mp3 player). Songwriters Tom Kitts (a Tony Award winner in 2009) and Amanda Green have put together a collage of popular music, from R&B to rock n’ roll, featuring songs in the styles of many different artists. Whether you’re a fan of Aretha, Springsteen, Guns N’ Roses, the Beastie Boys, or the Indigo Girls, you’ll recognize a song or two during the play. (You can especially look forward to Arpin covering Pat Benatar in a fantasy scene of Rob’s.)

Was it hard for the cast to cover generations of popular music? After a moment of brief consideration, they agree it was more fun than arduous. Light excitedly names all of the genres he covers, before adding with a grin, “And I get to do a gangsta rap song!”

In charge of coordinating the music is Lily Ling, currently entering her sixth year as musical director at Hart House Theatre. Light and Arfin couldn’t praise Ling enough, calling her at turns “great,” “amazing,” and “insanely talented.” Working closely with Ling is director Mark Selby, a Toronto-based freelance producer and musician. He mentored at the theatre under Richard Ouzounian, director of Jerry Springer. Hopefully, his eye for musical flair will move seamlessly from the sleazy set of a TV talk show to only slightly-less-sleazy environs of Rob’s record shop.

High Fidelity opens on Friday and runs through Jan. 30. Tickets are $15 for students, and $10 on Wednesdays. For more information visit harthousetheatre.ca.