Surrey Now – 2010

Healthy case of ‘Hiccups’

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Because she had such a blast the first time around, Laura Soltis really wants to get Hiccups again.

The new CTV comedy, that is.

“I’m really hopeful it’ll get picked up for a second season, because it was so much fun working on the first,” Soltis told the Now.

The Surrey-based actor gets plenty of screen time as publishing company boss Joyce Haddison on the half-hour sitcom, about “socially unpredictable” book author Millie Upton (played by Nancy Robertson, whose real-life hubby, Brent Butt, co-stars as dim-witted life coach Stan Dirko).

Hiccups debuted Monday, March 1 and, thanks to a massive and well-timed promo push by the Winter Olympics host network, attracted a healthy number of viewers right out of the gate.

Soltis and a couple of the other actors on the show, including Emily Perkins of North Delta, watched the pilot episode on TV during a private party they held at the Boathouse restaurant at English Bay.

“I don’t normally tune in to a show I’ve done,” Soltis explained, “because I find it hard to watch. It’s just hard for a lot of actors to watch themselves work. But I also want to be supportive of everyone, because we had such a great time doing the show, so I just had to watch it…. I also set my PVR for all the sows, and I’ll watch them at some point.”

Hiccups was originally set to launch in the fall, but CTV opted to have filming in Vancouver continue until December and then begin airing the 13-episode series once the Games were done.

Soltis, who lives near the Northview golf course, put her part-time job as a realtor on hold during the intense filming schedule. Each episode was filmed in four days, two simultaneously.

“Basically,” Soltis recalled, “my weekends were spent learning my lines for the following week’s shoot, because it was a lot to learn.”

But she couldn’t have wished for a better experience working with Butt and Robertson.

“They are so gifted, insightful and spontaneous,” Soltis said. “I had the nerves going into that first day, you know, with them having had such a great hit with Corner Gas for so many years — like a first day of going to school. But they made you feel right at home, like family, right away. I can’t speak highly enough about them.”

Soltis also raves about Perkins, who plays slacker receptionist Crystal Braywood.

Perkins, a mother of three, was raised in North Delta and continues to live in the area, near Watershed Park.

For her, it’s a pleasure playing in a lighthearted comedy such as Hiccups. Perkins’ credits include The X-Files and Stephen King’s horror movie, It.

“Even the roles I got in TV mini-series, it was really macabre stuff — the screaming murder victim, blood all over my face,” Perkins explained. “It’s fabulous playing in a comedy. Now that I have a family, I don’t like doing horror and dark kind of roles because I bring it home with me, inevitably, and it’s not very nice for my family to have me moping around.”

While family-related commitments make acting a part-time job for the UBC-educated Perkins, acting veteran Soltis got her real estate licence a couple of years ago during a lull in the local filming business. While living in Vancouver, she sold homes at a development in the Morgan Heights area.

“I was driving four days a week to the (South Surrey) area and I thought, ‘I wonder what it’s like to live out in this area?’ I was going to be much closer to work, and then, of course, I got a series (Hiccups) and I had to commute for that, but only to Burnaby, so that wasn’t too difficult, not bad at all.”

Originally from Chicago, Soltis moved to Vancouver after touring here with the big-money musical Ragtime, circa 1998. She became a Canadian citizen a few years later.

“It’s been a great move for me up here,” she related. “I came up from living in Los Angeles, and everybody here is trying to go down there and work in Hollywood. But many more doors and opportunities opened for me here. I’ve been really, really fortunate.”

Perkins, who has never been a receptionist in real life, gets a kick out of playing a spoiled rich kid whose daddy got her a job at a publishing company.

“There are no egos on the show, and everyone is really positive,” she said. “You couldn’t ask to work with better people, honestly…. No matter what happens with Hiccups moving forward, with a second season, I feel really blessed having worked on it for the time I have.”

By Tom Zillich

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Surrey Now

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