By Susan Siniawsky
It’s hard enough being a small business owner without your competition setting up shop outside your door. Filmed in mockumentary style, Yoga Town is the story of Willow (Lori Triolo), struggling to keep her yoga studio going. Due to her failing business, Willow’s demeanor is contrary to the mellow peace, love and understanding normally associated with yoga. Willow is stressed not only by the lack of students, but also by her angsty teenaged daughter, Amber (Ingrid Nilson). Add to the mix Chas (Vincent Tong), teacher at the studio and general gofer, who just happens to be smitten with Willow and never passes up an opportunity to let her know.
Enter Elijah (Jay Brazeau), owner of Go Yoga, the mobile yoga studio. Elijah sets up shop on Yoga Town’s doorstep – literally. Apparently the town has no restrictions on businesses setting up on sidewalks. In no time at all Elijah has a flock of acolytes. Even Amber feels drawn to this seeming pied piper. At her wits end, Willow hires ‘Life Coach for Businesses’ Neela (Veena Sood). With her on again/off again Indian accent, Neela’s solution is to ‘Indianize’ Yoga Town’s décor. The more students Elijah attracts, the more Neela and Willow try to steal some of tactics to build Yoga Town’s business. But Elijah may not truly be the kindly guru he seems. The series ends with a cliffhanger as an exasperated Willow turns down an offer from Elijah. Yep, Karma sure is tough.
Ms. Triolo holds her own playing (mostly) straight against the others in the cast. Ms. Sood is wonderful with her 9-5 and 5-9 accents and her wild ranting when Neela and Willow think Amber has been kidnapped by Elijah. Ms. Nilson hits all the right emo notes as Amber, complete with off key guitar playing. With a devilish twinkle in his eyes, Mr. Brazeau is marvelous as the kindly, but somewhat smarmy Elijah. In a role that could easily have been overplayed, Mr. Tong plays love struck Chas with just the right amount of haplessness and ardor. And by the way, the stars are actually doing yoga! No stunt players here. If you watch closely, you will catch guest stars singer Sarah McLachlin and celebrity chef, Vikram Vij.
Yoga Town’s 12 episodes are each a mere 2½ minutes long, including credits, but in this short amount of time writer Jill Hope Johnson and director Tracey D. Smith manage to convey all you need to know about the characters and storyline. The show is also available to watch in a 23 minute ‘movie’ version. With this talented cast and crew, it’s no wonder Yoga Town shows up on the lists of so many web fests.