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Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back/Looking Forward

Last post of the year...

A good year.  Sometimes I was busier than I would have liked and sometimes I was less busy than I would have liked.  It all evens out in the end.  I leave 2012 excited for what is on the horizon in 2013 and knowing that with my two major projects that the first five months will be very busy.  I am working hard this week to schedule, schedule, schedule so that Spelling Bee and From Cradle to Stage are organized ahead of time and not on the fly. 

After those are done, I am not sure.  Finally Sauces is investigating BYOVs for Fringe, but if we don't get those then we will move to Plan B.  Just have to figure out what Plan B is... I have some ideas. The other Fringe project definitely has a Plan B that we just need to decide on details for. So, you see... busy.

The country is in a weird place right now.  Idle No More has replaced Occupy as the latest rallying movement.  It seems to be more organized and have more focus, but like Occupy, I still have trouble connecting with it.  It's hard to have 6-10% of the country's population telling you that they want to dictate what is best. Isn't that why we have elections? I still don't understand if this bill (C-45) and others violate the agreements in place, why there is not a legal way to prevent it.  And I do not personally connect to round dances and hunger strikes and train stoppages. Part of it is a cultural disconnection (I'm not even big on my own cultural rituals so imagine how someone else's won't grab me) and part of it is my respect for following the rules.  I'm a rule follower and I know I'd've been so ticked off to have been on that train. The cynical me always thinks it's really all about money - not the environment - but I always think that economics are always the fuel behind any push.  I'll keep reading.  It's hard to sort through the rhetoric.  It's better than Occupy was for information dissemination, but still hard.  It's also hard to respect some of those pushing Idle No More when they use words like Evil, Douchebag and Racist to describe anyone who does not agree with them. For a movement that preaches that it is open to all it has some very vocal supporters who seem very antagonistic and closed off. Sigh. Anyhow, I will welcome links that help explain the situation better, but please stay away from rhetoric.  I'm a facts and figures person.

Anyhow, I felt more grown-up this year than ever before.  Actually this was the first year in my life where I actually felt OLD.  I am 45, how come it took so long to hit? I don't know.  But I felt it.  I felt a real shift in how I felt about myself and other things.  There were many times when I lost patience with childishness and incompetence. I felt like an old man... I hope this passes... I think it's part of me still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up and realizing that I have to figure it out fast if I want to get it done. Maybe this year...

Goals for the Year:
1) Submit a play to APC and cross my fingers
2) Submit scripts to at least 10 competitions
3) Finish first draft of Pitchfork
4) Finish second draft of The Easy Road
5) Finish Fourth draft of Little Monsters
6) Go to or be involved in at least 50 Theatrical Events

Dream Goals for the Year:
1) Take the boys to Disneyland/Disneyworld
2) Visit Toronto
3) Visit Havasu

Let's see what happens.

Friday, December 28, 2012

In Retrospect... What I loved this year onstage...

So I took a little walk through my blog this morning to reflect on what I saw and what really stuck with me.  I saw a lot so it's hard to narrow down, but that's a good thing.  It's a testament to what we have onstage in Edmonton. So, in no particular order but with a little classification, here were some of my favorite moments from the year:

My children's theatre favorites:

The Gooble Portrait  produced at the Fringe by Surreal SoReal Theatre. I wished I had brought my kids to this one but I went on the Me-Day.  The concept, script, acting and direction was outstanding.  No skimping on the elements and a really high quality production.  It also found a way to say something in a subtle and engaging way (not the usual 'hit them over the head with a hammer' way).

Robin Hood  at The Snow Globe Festival.  A real great piece created with low-tech magic and a three stooges approach to story-telling.  It grabbed my kids and was so fun to watch.

Mary Poppins at The Jubilee as part of Broadway Across Canada.  A beautifully done piece of theatre.  I loved the colour-blind casting, the music and the magic of it and so did Gibson.

Personal Involvement favorites:

Directing The Playmates by Bevin Dooley at New Works.  I really enjoyed helping to bring this new piece of theatre to the stage and working with the brilliant cast I had was so rewarding.

Acting as Stage Mom to Gibson in Titanic (Two One-Way Tickets to Broadway) at The Winspear. I was so pleased with how serious he took his 'job'.

Directing Nine at Walterdale Theatre.  Few experiences are so completely rewarding as this one was for me as a director.  A committed and uber-talented cast and team made this such a blessed journey.  The final product was thrilling for me to see. For me it was proof you can do great work without a huge budget if people are talented enough and care enough.

Painting The Weir and Misanthrope at Walterdale.  I learned so much through doing this year and I might even be making some connections to do this work for other theatre companies.  I also made some fabulous friendships on both these projects.  The Misanthrope nightly warm-up routine was one of the best I have ever experienced!

Fringe Favorites:

Hard to narrow down, but in thinking back the two shows that stood out for me were Mojo Mikeybo and Gruesome Playground Injuries

Great Performances:

Nicole English and Corben Kushneryk in Avenue Q (Two One-Way Tickets to Broadway).  You'd think those two had been playing with puppets all their lives. They were amazing!

Cody Porter in The Weir (Walterdale Theatre).  I enjoyed this whole show, but Cody was a stand-out. This is the best I have ever seen him and he's always so good.

Garrett Ross in Jack Goes Boating (Shadow Theatre - The Varscona).  Such a wonderful internal performance.  I was so impressed by the subtlety.

Both James Hamilton and Paul Welch in the side-splitting With Bells On (Guys in Disguise - Roxy Theatre). The script deserves a nod too - so well written!

Robert Markus and Sarah Farb in Next to Normal (The Citadel).  This whole production/show blew me away (I had to go twice I loved it so much) but Markus and Farb were major stand-outs. 

All the other Favorites:

The Mechanicals of A Midsummer Night's Dream at The Citadel. The play within a play that the mechanicals perform at the end of the play was so well done.  Oliver laughed so hard and talked about it for weeks.  If I want to make him laugh I can still reference Chris Bullough's silent scream and it sends him into fits of giggles.

I loved the conceptual design of The Mikado (Edmonton Opera) and Boeing-Boeing (Mayfield).  Both shows upped the ante in design and incorporated it into acting choices in a way that made the shows feel like a complete world. 

I loved Red at the Citadel.  They brought this challenging intellectual script to life. What could have been dry and disconnected was engaging and fascinating.

The duo of Nathan Cuckow and Frank Zotter in In On It (Theatre Network - The Roxy) reconfirmed for me what a brilliant gift we have in Canadian Theatre in Daniel MacIvor. 

There were many other great moments and performances but these are the ones that stuck with me. I hope you all managed to see some great stuff this year. 

I'd be curious to know what your favorites were...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Food! Glorious Food! And that was just my Christmas...

Well, I am stuffed! As for most people the last few days have been about culinary indulgence.  Christmas Eve I do okay because our family's tradition of Oyster Stew is not one I over indulge in (I eat my bowlful - it is not Christmas without the taste of it).  I did do some damage to many a cookie, however.  On Christmas Day I am the meal preparer and we have whoever is in town over for the big turkey dinner.  Mark asked me about making 'extra' stuffing - to which I replied - "It doesn't matter how much you make, there is never any 'extra' stuffing".  And I was right.  I made a tonne of it and it was all gone. So I told him I would make him more a few days afterwards to compensate - the bread is currently drying right now. We had a group of 11 this year.  Gibson had probably the best time this year.  He had so much fun with all the cousins and before they came on Tuesday, he kept asking "When are the people coming?!?!" The meal turned out very well - although I clearly do not know how to thaw a turkey.  Mark had to do some cold water baths until the wee hours of the morning to make sure we had a nice thawed but still cold bird in the morning!

I skipped any real action on Boxing Day.  I always look at the piles of stuff under the tree and think "what more could I want?"  I tend to have a hard time when people ask me what I want because I don't really need anything.  So the idea of boxing day seems like over-kill.  Plus, I don't like crowds. As a parent I am finding it a bit hard to cope with this season of excess.  It's hard to make your kids appreciate what they have when there is simply so much of it. The starving kids in Africa story only goes so far. It's also hard to explain why we think an 11 year old doesn't need an iPod Touch when his younger cousin gets an iPad. In his eyes, he feels either deprived or punished.  The latter is sad, because he has been a really good kid this year and that is not why we aren't getting it. The former is sad because we have so much stuff.  Sigh, again. I'm not going to give too much more thought to it.  I am not caving and getting the iPod, and have no problem stating why, but it's a challenge.

I did check out Oliver! at Festival Place with Gibson last night.  It was great to see my friends onstage. I did the show many (read: about 20) years ago in Fort McMurray and although I am not sure how good the show was, it was one of my most favorite theatrical experiences. It's where I met Wanda and where Wanda and AM and I really bonded. The grown-ups in the show have a lot of time backstage together and boy-o-boy we were silly.  So, it was nice to see the show from the other side.  I realized that when doing the show myself I hadn't paid much attention to the play as a whole.  Gibson commented that he thought there were a lot of horrible people in Oliver's London.  He enjoyed it, but it was a bit long for him so he spent some time at the end of the show snuggled up to me snoozing. I thought that Nadine Veroba, as Nancy, was phenomenal.  Yes, I know her. She was Claudia in Nine and is the only person to ever make me cry during an audition and she is lovely to work with, but I make this assessment of her from an objective stand point.  There is something about her that is electric and her singing - wowsers! There were many other nice things about this production.  I was glad to have caught it.

Oliver! marked my 60th show this year that I either saw or was involved in.  It would be more if I counted each Fringe show I went to, but I count the days I went to Fringe instead. I had a goal of 40 so I am very pleased with the number.  That's an average of 5 shows per month.  Pretty good! I will make a new goal for 2013 and it will be closer to the 60 number. I may not win another fabulous ticket prize though, so I am not sure I will be able to match it. We shall see.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What if The Three Stooges told the story of Robin Hood?

Well, that's basically what I saw today at The Snow Globe Festival.  The four person cast of Evan Hall, Caley Suliak, Paul Sutherland and Brendan Thompson In Robin Hood deliver a fast paced, physical and very, very silly rendition of the classic story of the archery expert who stole from the rich to give to the poor in the England of Prince John and the absent King Richard the Lion-Hearted.  The boys loved it.  They are suckers for slapstick and extreme silliness. The ensemble is tight and the action fast paced.  They incorporate audience participation and Oliver even got to go up on stage to compete in the archery contest (he hammed it up his own way).  Highlights included a very funny chase sequence to Gibson's favorite Yakety Sax and I would tell you who both boys' favorite character was, but then there would be a major spoiler, so I can't.  For those who have seen the show, it was the character with the most hair... I loved Caley Suliak as the somewhat Jewish Friar Tuck and Paul Sutherland's Prince John was priceless!  One more show tonight at 7:00 p.m.

Getting in the Spirit of the Season With Bells and Snow Globes and a couple of School Concerts!

You would think I would take a rest after a 2 week run, but no, not me.  I had a brief pause on Monday night (which I used to start some baking) and then dived into two nights of School Concerts (my kids are three years apart so I always get to go twice), then I caught With Bells On at The Roxy (Guys in Disguise) and last night I took the boys to Babes in Toyland at C103 (formerly The Catalyst Theatre) as part of The Snow Globe Festival.

I wrote about Snow Globe last year when Impresario Extraordinaire Ellen Chorley created it. I took the boys last year and once the commitments of the season wrapped up we headed off to see what was happening onstage this year. We bundled up and headed out to catch Babes in Toyland and had a great time.  The boys are the target audience so I will translate their responses.  My kids are 8 and 11 so that can give you an idea of the source.  From the first moment the lights when down Gibson (8) was mesmerized and sitting on the edge of his seat.  He is fascinated by anything musical so once the 3 piece band started playing he was hooked in.  Oliver (11) is a little more laid back - he's an almost teenager, and it's killing me - but he was delighted to actually get a cup of water when Jack and Jill entered selling it. I heard many a laugh from both of them throughout the show and they particularly enjoyed the 3 villains - Barnaby (Devin Bruce), Rodrigo (Rebecca Merkley) and Gonzago (Corben Kushneryk) - who were ridiculously silly/stupid.  The best moment was when Merkley did something particularly silly, Gibson pointed at the stage and yelled to me under the applause, "I LIKE that Girl!  She's funny!" (He also kept saying 'Alan' all the way home). As Oliver declared on the ride home, "It is always better when the villains are dumb!". When I asked for particulars about the show, the two boys declared everything "Really good!". Mission Accomplished!  We return this afternoon for another show (Robin Hood) and there is a third show (Birdie on the Wrong Bus). I encourage you to check them out if you can.


Thursday Night I took a friend to With Bells On at The Roxy.  It was fabulous!  A drag show that was more about conquering loneliness and finding friendship in an usual place and person and while that sounds kind of mushy, it was also HILARIOUS!  I had so many big belly laughs.  I was impressed with both actors (Paul Welch and James Hamilton) as they each brought so much depth to what easily could be stereo-typical roles. They also both have great comic timing.  Darrin Hagen's script is sharp and witty and although there are the prerequisite sparkles, tinsel and 6 inch heels needed for every drag show, it also had a lot of substance behind the flash.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Next!

Well, we wrapped up the show this weekend.  It was a great experience overall, with some crunchy bits on the production side.  That came through at the Post Mortem and I am trying to put that crappy night behind me. It's too bad that it had to play out like that. It made me think a lot about my commitment to Walterdale (which is sad) but it is hard to work so hard and feel unappreciated and (worse) resented for the work that you do. I luckily have a little video of a snippet of the show to watch to cheer me up and make me remember what I loved so much about the experience of doing this show.  I made some great connections and have plans to work with some of the cast and team again in the future. I am chairing the From Cradle to Stage One Act Festival, but I am more tentative about it now.

And now, onto the next adventure!  This week is jam packed with Christmas fun!  Two times two Christmas concerts at the boy's school (2 dress rehearsals and 2 evening performances), With Bells On at Theatre Network and the cleaning of my house will take over my life this week.  I have to go shopping in there sometime too. It's a good thing the kids are still in school so I can theoretically get some of this done.

I am also diving headfirst into Spelling Bee.  I hope to reread the script at least 5-10 times before auditions. The audition sign-ups are amazing and I am excited to get to those auditions so I can can this thing.  It's such a terrifically silly and fun show with fabulous music and just looking at the audition sheet makes me giddy.  Such great singer/actors on that page! I am looking forward to asking them to be ridiculous!

At this point I have seen or been involved in 56 Theatrical Events this year, and With Bells On will make it 57.  I also have plans to see some shows at The Snow Globe Festival and Oliver! at Festival Place, so I think I will hit 60. This surpasses my goal of 40 shows, so I am very, very pleased with myself.  I will have to re-evaluate for next year!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Misanthope Makes Me a Philanthrope!

Reflections on The Misanthrope Experience. 

I have had such a wonderful time working with this cast and crew.  I have met so many wonderful people and been inspired by their dedication to do good work on the stage and with each other.  I regained a sense of silliness and joy with them that I haven't had in a while (at least as an actor).  The newer actors in the cast made me revisit my early days on the stage.  The one who bailed us out when we lost a cast member made me appreciate the spirit of the show must go on and there are no small roles. Working with Afton made me realize how lazy I can be and because of her phenomenal hard work I pushed myself to be more present. It is hard to express how much I value that. It can be too easy to go through the motions and thanks to her example, I never felt like I was. It was also so lovely to share the stage with some fabulous emerging artists like Zachary, Brennan and Amanda and I hope to see them in lots more stuff and (cross fingers) work with them again.  The main thing is, I got to work with some great people onstage and from our joy-filled ridiculous warm-up every night, to our creative sign-in sheet, to getting laced up every night up to bows and the Act afterwards, this has been great. I also enjoyed being a part of Janine's first directing gig at Walterdale.  I am glad she got to work with this group and tackle this challenge (because it wasn't an easy script).

Anyhow, I leave The Misanthrope a Pilanthrope, and that feels good.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Couple of Nice Reviews of the Show... First week recap...

The first five shows (plus two previews) are done and tonight we head into the final stretch.  We had a nice opening week and I am excited to get back onstage this evening.  When you spend so much time with people you like you really miss them on the dark day.  But it was a much needed dark day as there was a lot of laundry to do!

Opening Night was tonnes of fun with an audience who seemed primed to laugh. It's always interesting to see how different audiences react - some are laughers and some are listeners.  This is a play that requires heavy duty listening skills, but it's worth it.  Best night for me was Saturday night because my sister was in town all the way from Toronto and she and a friend came and saw it.  It has been a long time since she has seen me onstage so I was very happy that she made it out for this one. Plus, she is sharp and a loud laugher so she got a lot of the funny stuff and we were rewarded.

There have been a few reviews so far, and all are (yay!) positive. Here are some links.

From Sound and Noise.
"If you’re able to keep up with the rapid-fire dialogue, this play will have you laughing and leave you thinking."

From St. Albert Gazette.
"...director Janine Waddell Hodder has created a solid production that provides stimulating discussion."

A Personal Blog.
"I thought the play was very funny, and it probably would have been funnier for someone with a more intimate knowledge of the source text.  For one thing, the dialogue (some of it possibly a different Molière translation than I’d read, and some of it completely modern) was in the same kind of rhyme and metre used in the source text.  The actors – especially Brennan MacGregor who played Alceste – did a great job phrasing the long speeches for sense rather than emphasising the metre."

I hope that people can make it out.  This has been a wonderful challenge for me and I would love it if people saw it.  Learning the dialogue felt like it does when you are doing Shakespeare and I am very proud of what it is. There are only five shows left and then it's gone...

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Misanthrope Loves Everyone Who Came to the Show Last Night!

See what I did there?

Anyhow, we had a fabulous Opening Night for The Misanthrope at Walterdale Theatre last night.  We had enjoyed Previews, but the audience last night was HOT! It was thrilling to hear all the laughter and feel such gratitude to the generous audience.  I always say that a show is nothing until there is an audience to perform for so it is nice to be finally open and sharing this new twist on an old classic with people.  I love the character I get to play and the people I get to play with.  We celebrated the opening with a lovely after show reception (mmmm, lobster tarts...) and Tonight is 2 for 1 Night so hopefully we get a nice sized audience from that to continue with the journey!



Monday, December 03, 2012

Citadel Theatre's A Christmas Carol - A Storybook Brought to Life

This was another jam-packed weekend for me.  Filled with basketball, a dress rehearsal and theatre clean, and two tries at seeing A Christmas Carol at The Citadel Theatre (one successful!).  I had never seen the production before and this was greeted with astonishment by most people I told that to, but the show itself actually replaced a different Christmas tradition of our family so when it first started I wasn't really into it.  I have seen or been in 5 different productions of the story so didn't figure I needed to see it.  I always heard from people 'Oh! You must go! It's really something wonderful!' - and it was.

You may note I said two attempts to see the show.  I had tickets for the Saturday night performance and an unfortunate power outage took out the lighting board and I have to get my tickets re booked for Sunday.  The Citadel was outstanding in dealing with the re-booking.  I did notice that they have also added another matinee to deal with the demand for tickets as this is a big selling show for the house. On Saturday, Kristin (my date for the evening) and I coped with the lack of show by having a fabulous visit and I was happy that she was able to rejoin me the next evening to see the show.

It was a wonderful night and every note is perfect pitch, a true storybook brought to life onstage.  You can tell that everyone in the cast is dedicated to telling this age old classic story with both reverence and joy. It's warmth and sharing of the Spirit of Christmas (and what that means) feels truly authentic.  I may go again and take my boys to it.  I think they would both appreciate the magic of the show, because the clockwork precision of the scene changes feels truly magical, and I think they are old enough to deal with it.  There were a number of children who were really too young for the show but most of them were far away from me so they didn't spoil my night. There are a few potentially scary elements but really, you shouldn't be taking a child under 4 or 5 to any show longer than an hour... they do not have the focus for it. That's not fair to the rest of the audience. That's my rant.  I like that people are taking kids to theatre, but know the appropriate age... that's all I am saying...

Anyhow, if you haven't see it, I now join the group of converts heavily endorsing it. Go, it's a wonderful way to get in the Christmas mood!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Totally not Typecast... and I have the pictures to prove it... Media Call for The Misanthrope...

Just take a look.  These pictures tell a story.  They also tell you that I am gifted in the art of facial expressions... no really, they do... Can you guess what my character is like?

Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up..
Making a move (see my hand?)...
No over-acting here...
I think this is my favorite 'face'...

Stirring up trouble!

* all photos by Douglas Dollars Stewart.  For the full set check out this link.

Media Call Tonight...

Media Call tonight!  Yikes! It's not even noon and I have already started on the hair and make-up... I hope it survives the afternoon.

Since I am in a show, I get hard pressed to make it to everything so I wanted to comment on some shows that I have been hearing about that I wish I could get to.  I haven't seen them and unfortunately I am unlikely to be able to because I shall be on stage myself for the next 3 weeks, but I wish I could:

MacEwan University Theatre Arts - Nov 28-Dec 2

U of A Studio Theatre - Nov 29-Dec 9

FTA (Theatre Yes and Theatre of the New Heart) - Nov 29-Dec 9

There is also A Christmas Carol at The Citadel starting in previews on November 30th and running to December 23rd, but I will be able to get to that.  I am hoping to catch one of the above on my dark day, but I might need my sleep so we shall see.

Have a great few weeks.  Hopefully you can get to some of these and, of course, The Misanthrope at Walterdale Theatre (we open December 5th!).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fringe ReBoot/Felt Like a Show Tonight

So this week has been mixed.

I went to the Fringe Lottery last night and had a fun time live tweeting it and listening for our name to be called, but alas, the call came rather late.  Finally Sauces was called at #26 and Round Barn at #31 on the waiting list.  Those are pretty far down on the wait list.  If we were under #20 I might hold out hope, but now we are looking at alternatives.  I don't really want to go the BYOV route, but I also don't want wait too much longer before I get these scripts on a deck.  So.... stay tuned.  When I know better I'll let you know. We are disappointed, but that is the way of the lottery. It's how it works.  To those who were drawn I saw - please be excellent!

Today I feel good about a lot of things.  I finished the very last of the painting - Yay!  Now I can just think about acting and being in the world of the play. Tonight we had a run that felt really good for me.  It felt like we had a SHOW.  That was nice.  I am only in two of the five acts so hopefully everyone else felt the same.  I only know where I am at and what I felt. I am anxious for an audience, but will have to wait for Monday for that. Tomorrow is media call and I am called for that. It has been awhile since I have been an 'actor' at the media call so I expect a few nerves, but I also hope it will be fun!

And now, to bed.  It is late and I got stuff to do tomorrow...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Commencing Tech Week! The Misanthrope at Walterdale!

We are entering the last week before opening for The Misanthrope.  This week tends to have it's ups and downs.  It is exciting to add all the bells and whistles, lights, sounds and costumes and real props, but each new addition can also mean adjustment and take you out of the world of the play.  One of the ways that we are spoiled at Walterdale is that we get a whole week to adjust and settle into the finished world. Today we have costume parade before a tech run. I love my costumes! I cannot share a picture of my final costume as it is to be a surprise, but we have the best costume designers and builders at Walterdale and I certainly feel spoiled every time I do a show there!  So nice to have a costume built especially for me!

I have a couple touch ups to do on the paint this week, but not a lot. Probably only a couple of hours.  It is nice to feel like that job is done so I can focus on the world of my character in the play. This is my week to gather show gifts.  I am a big proponent of show gifts and I like to make them appropriate to the show and character.  I have some great ideas and can't wait to go out and do that shopping trip!

Here is the 'pretty much done set' with rehearsal food (we don't really have Tim Bits in the show...).  Designed by Travis Metzger, built by Pierre Valois and painted by moi! Bear in mind, some of the furniture is just rehearsal pieces... we have the real stuff coming in this week.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kristen hits a Wall... and Bounces... This Too Shall Pass...

Yesterday I hit a wall.  Suffice it to say I have taken on too much, and then overreacted because all my filters shut off due to system collapse.  I am a little embarrassed in retrospect, but I cannot do anything but apologise, so there you go.  I think it's all good. I hope so.

How did this happen?  Well, I think there is a reason why Walterdale frowns on people doing more than one big job on a show.  It can stretch you too thin and in combination with my other life jobs (mother, store-owner, and all the rest...) I simply stretched too far. There are other factors stressing me out - some challenging dynamics on the team, coming off another show so quickly, planning for the next two (which overlap), anxious about Fringe - so it was really a perfect storm situation.  I should have known.  On the way to the theatre to paint in the morning I was on the verge of tears the whole way and didn't know why.  I was yelling at the radio, other drivers, my gloves... I was clearly not in good shape. Today I am taking a rest day.  I have nothing but laundry and grocery shopping on the agenda today and I might even squeeze in a nap.

Anyhow, the set is coming along nicely.  I have posted my most recent picture, but I have actually done more since I took that picture.  Tomorrow I should be done and I will take another and post that. We are waiting on the 'real' furniture so it will continue to change when all that comes in. The show is also moving along.  We got some wonderful work done on my big scene last night and I finally feel I have my feet under me in it. I get to work with some wonderful, generous actors in this show and I am so grateful for that. I will be glad when I can just think about the acting... soon...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Heap and Pebble... Magic on Ice...

I caught Northern Light Theatre's 6.0 How Heap and Pebble Took on the World and Won last night at the Westbury Theatre.  I always like it when I can catch a NLT show because you never know what you are going to get.  There is nothing truly predictable and this show was no exception.  It's hard to describe, but it is a lot of sequined fun with two excellent performers (indeed, I cannot think of any two others in Edmonton than Jesse Gervais and Amber Borotsik to pull this off) and a serious undertone. It's well directed, surprising, athletic and artistic - really, everything a good original ice dance routine should be - and a good theatre adventure. I am still trying to figure out exactly what it means.  The show tackles a few different things - global warming, pursuing a dream, achieving excellence, moving on when your world changes - but it gives no easy answers.  For some this show would be totally about the environmental implications.  For me, it was more about the death of a dream and surviving and rebuilding.  Don't get me wrong, even though I came out thinking deeply, it was a laugh filled show with some phenomenal movement!

I was also excited to read up about the rest of the Northern Light season.  I have season's tickets this year so I will be seeing them all.  It looks like I will be in for some more surprising and unpredictable shows throughout the year. I can't wait!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dinner and a Show - Packrat Louie and Jack Goes Boating at Shadow Theatre

Went for dinner with AM tonight saw Jack Goes Boating at Shadow Theatre (Varscona). We started with our wonderful meal at Packrat Louie where we shared wine and talked of many things. We ended the meal with yummy desserts (we don't always have dessert, but it seemed impossible to resist). I had the Lime and Lemon Meringue and AM had the Chocolate Pistachio Tart.  So, so, so good.










After supper we walked down to the Varscona and settled in for Jack Goes Boating.  It was a quirky little comedy which we both quite liked.  I really, really enjoyed Garrett Ross as Jack.  I have seen him onstage three times in the last few months in three very different roles and I am very impressed with his ability to create complete and convincing characters.  There is something that he does internally that really makes you believe that he is these different people.  He has a subtlety to his work that I have quite enjoyed. The whole cast (Shawna Burnett, Frank Zotter, and Mabelle Carvajal) works as a tight ensemble.  It's not a 'big ideas' play, but the four of them commit so well to creating and belonging in the world of the play, that you really care about what happens. The ending, in particular, is oh so satisfying.  The simple set is used well and the transitions from scene to scene maintain a sense of character and follow-through that was very elegant.  The script itself is written in a very cinematic style (realistic dialogue, short scenes, moments like snapshots) and they did a great job making it work on a stage. Anyhow, we liked it. It runs until November 25th, so you have a week to catch it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

First Day of Painting - The Misanthrope at Walterdale

So I started painting The Misanthrope today.  It was primer day and the walls are high.  When I got to the theatre, the set looked like this:




A few hours (read: 5 hours) passed and a lot of painting was done with two fabulous helpers and when I left the set looked like this:

I have a lot to do.  More wall treatment on Thursday and Friday and hopefully I start the floors by the weekend.  There is also furniture.  I am recording the progress so that I can see all the steps involved!

It is going to mean a lot of hours at the theatre for me - since I am in the show, too - but it's home!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Looking for a Few Good Plays - Stage Struck! 2013

CALL FOR ENTRANTS
Stage Struck! 2013
Edmonton’s winter drama festival

What: A regional adult one-act play festival
When: February 22 & 23, 2013
Where: Walterdale Playhouse

Is there a one-act play you always wanted to produce? Need an outlet for your own new play? Would you like a first run of your Fringe show? We’ll provide the venue, the audience and the adjudication, you provide the talent!

Winning play goes to the provincials in High River May 17,18,19, 2013.

* Entrants must be based in the City of Edmonton.
* Any scripted play, previously published or new, between 10 to 60 minutes in length, is eligible for production.
* Entry fee $50

For more information or to request a registration package,
contact Mary-Ellen Perley at 780-481-3716 or email at mperley@shaw.ca .

Entries being accepted now. Only 9 spaces available!

Submission deadline is December 17, 2012

Friday, November 09, 2012

A Broadway Weekend at Home!

Since the snow came, I have taken the chicken's approach to the world and have stayed inside.  I figured out exactly when I HAD to leave the house and it doesn't happen until today at 2:45 p.m. when I go get the boys from school and take Gibson to swimming. It has been a good week for laundry and it is a good thing that Tuesday was Cheap Tuesday at Safeway so I didn't need to go out for anything. Please don't hate me...

Anyhow, tonight I venture out for the first of my two Broadway shows! I am revisiting Next to Normal at The Citadel tonight with a bunch of friends.  After seeing it two weeks ago it has haunted me.  I downloaded the soundtrack from iTunes and listened a lot to it.  I am looking forward to seeing it live again and sharing it with my friends.

Tomorrow night I will be seeing the Broadway Across Canada show Rock of Ages at the Jubilee Auditorium.  I am expecting a fun rock based show with many recognizable tunes and a lot of big eighties hair. I didn't see the movie, so this will be totally new for me in terms of story. It looks like it will be a noisy, rock concert of a show! I also get to see the friends that we go with (we buy the season's tickets and it makes for 3-4 nights out in the season with a couple we like to hang with!).

Anyhow, tonight kicks off a weekend full of musical theatre and great company - can't beat that!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

AUDITION! I'm Directing for ELOPE - The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

AUDITION NOTICE - ELOPE
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Music and Lyrics by William Finn; Book by Rachel Sheinkin
Conceived by Rebecca Feldman
Production* dates: May 12 – June 1, 2013

Director: Kristen M. Finlay
Music Director: Sally Hunt;
Choreographer: Jake Hastey

Auditions:
Sunday, January 6th – 1 to 6 p.m.
Wed, January 9th – 7 – 10 p.m.

Callbacks:
Sunday, January 13th – 1 – 6 p.m.

Location: La Cite Francophonel; Suzanne Lamy Thibaudeau Room; 8627 - 91 Street

Description of the Show: The show centers on a fictional spelling bee set in a geographically ambiguous Putnam Valley Middle School. Six quirky adolescents compete in the Bee, run by three equally-quirky grown-ups.

Casting Requirements: Please note: because adults play the kids in this show, no ages are posted because it just doesn’t matter! All characters are played by adults (16+).

Chip Tolentino - C3 - B4 (Tenor).Former champion, going through puberty.
Logainne Schwartandgrubenniere - C4 - D5 (Soprano).Youngest, awkward.
Leaf Coneybear - A2 - G4 (Baritenor).A second alternate, ADD, happy to be there!
William Barfee - Eb3 - Bb4 (Tenor). Health issues, combative, spells with his foot.
Marcy Park - B3 - E5 (Soprano/Mezzo). Over-Achiever, talks to God.
Olive Ostrovsky - Vocal Range: B3 - F#5(Soprano). Shy and lovely, misses her parents.
Rona Lisa Perretti - C#4 - Ab5 (Soprano). Spelling bee hostess, former champion.
Vice Principal Douglas Panch - Stuck in his life, obsessed with Rona.
Mitch Mahoney – E3 - A4 (B4) (Tenor). Looks like a bouncer, Comfort Counselor.

Ensemble/Cameos:
Schwarzy’s Dads – Carl Dad and Dan Dad; Leaf’s Mom, Dad and Siblings; Olive’s Mom - C#4 - Ab5 (Soprano), Olive’s Dad, Jesus

Audition Requirements:
• Vocal – 20 - 40 bars of a musical theatre piece. Please select a comic piece which shows off your voice and demonstrates your ability to show character and tell a story while singing. You will be asked to indicate what song you will be singing prior to audition. Please bring sheet music with piano accompaniment OR Karaoke (without vocal) track on a CD. We will have a skilled accompanist there to play for you. NO ACCAPELLA.
Acting - Reading from the Script/Improvisation exercise
Dance - Movement will be handled at Callbacks.
Performers will be booked in groups of 4-5 to accommodate acting requirements

To book an audition time, please email Kristen M. Finlay at smeep22003@yahoo.ca
or phone 780-406-1256. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Elope is a Community (Amateur) Theatre Company

Monday, November 05, 2012

Fabulous Weekend in Jasper - Christmas in November at the JPL to celebrate AM's Significant Birthday!

This was a legendary weekend! I spent it in beautiful Jasper at the Jasper Park Lodge during Christmas in November.  I was there with 7 other wonderful women and we were all there to celebrate a significant birthday of my friend AM. I am still in recovery.  So much good food and drink, dancing, cooking and baking tips, mixology and make-up, shopping, silliness and great conversation.  Here are some highlights:

First, the women I was with were great people to be around! Here is a picture of some of them and one of the bears we had a lot of fun with.  I am going to scan our fancy photo with Santa, but I don't have it yet.
















Second, the food was amazing!
















Third, great sessions! My favorite was mixology with Micah Dew as he was very entertaining and we got samples of all the drinks he made and I found a few new favorites!


Fourth, JASPER - the Lodge itself is all about luxury, and the views are spectacular.  There is something in the air that revives you even after a late night of eating, drinking and dancing!

Fifth, Gangnam Style - our theme song of the weekend.  We were captured on film and it was tweeted by presenter Julie Van Rosendaal who was great fun and hung out with us following the dance at the after party.


This is a weekend of luxury and it isn't something that I can afford to do all the time, but if you have a special occasion, or want to have a fun weekend with some of your friends and want to enjoy the food and environment of the Jasper Park Lodge, I recommend.  You feel special all the time and if anything, you have to tell yourself to restrain yourself.  The Lodge does Christmas in November every year and there are three packages of varying length and it is so worth it!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Endings and Beginnings and Judy! Just another weekend...

Another jam packed weekend for me and I didn't even get to a Halloween Party!  On Friday, I took Janine to see Typhoon Judy at Theatre Network.  It was a Guys in Disguise production and a ton of fun.  I learned how to sing by listening and singing along to Judy Garland as a child. I also read several of her biographies and next to Marilyn Monroe, she is celebrity I know the most about due to some strange fan fixations I had in my teens so it was great fun to take the ride through Judy's life in this show.  The script is not complex but it is certainly delivered with a great sense of tribute and homage to Judy!  I was impressed with the vocals (live) and the quality, particularly in the big belt notes where you could hear the work that Christopher Peterson had put in to create the sound of the icon. The only thing I wished was that we were sitting at little round tables with candles in red glass holders and a nice glass of wine.  It seemed to be far more suitable a show for a cabaret setting than a theatre.  But, we had a great time and it was a super way to end the week.

On Saturday The Weir closed.  I worked as FOH Manager and was pleased to see a nice big house show up.  There was something really cool about sitting in the lobby listening to the laughter and the applause from the house. After the show we struck the set, which took awhile since we were a small cast and team and the set was pretty extensive, and then we enjoyed a wee closing party.  It was low key but nice.  This was a great show to be a part of.  I felt challenged by my work and was pleased with the result.  That's the best.

On Sunday (today) The Misanthrope moved into Walterdale.  Just call it a revolving door for me!  Production Meeting, Building Tour and then rehearsal today.  I feel good about a few things in terms of my work in the show, but if anything, today showed me how much more work I have to do!  Good thing we have over a month.  I know I will be fine, I am just a bit of a perfectionist and I am sooooo far from perfect right now. It will come and it is so great to be in the space.  It's always nice when we move into the theatre and get a sense of exactly how big the set actually is.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Next to Normal at The Citadel: More Extraordinary Than Normal

Last night, after a lot of anticipation, I went to Next to Normal at The Citadel.  It was their final night of previews (they open tonight - Thursday, October 25) and it was all I hoped it would be and maybe a bit more.  I am going to avoid giving too many details about the actual plot because I do not want to give away spoilers.  I think the show is good even if you know about it, but I imagine it is even more spectacular when you don't know all the details.

This is a ground-breaking Pulitzer Prize winning musical.  It is in no way traditional, being that it is about 95-99% sung and the music itself is rock influenced and incredibly challenging.  All six performers onstage handle the challenge of the vocals well.  None of them have an easy job, but they all seem to make it look that way. Robert Markus as the son, Gabe, is a stand-out vocally hitting unbelievable high note after high note with an ease that suggests he finds singing as easy as breathing. Kathryn Akin is also brilliant as the bi-polar mother, Diana, as she balances the vocals with an intense emotional journey filled with manic highs and darkest lows. If I had one issue with the music, it is only that on occasion the band is a little too loud and with the rapid fire lyrics that most of the audience is unfamiliar with, you have to really work hard to catch every word.  However, it was the last preview and they are likely still working on get that balance perfect.

The show is ground-breaking in other ways as it's topics of grief and mental-illness are not your typical fare for a musical.  However, once you see it, the linking makes perfect sense.  How better to demonstrate the challenges of having or living with someone with a mental illness than by using the heightened emotionality of music to support those roller-coaster emotions.  This cast is totally committed in both song and emotion.  Director Ron Jenkins has carefully balanced the character arcs with fast pacing and shifts in colour and light and position so that we ride the roller coaster with each of them.  Despite being warned to bring tissues, I was caught off-guard when I found myself crying during  Maybe (Next to Normal) sung beautifully and heart-breakingly by Diana and daughter Natalie (Sarah Farb).  The tears returned in a waterfall when this was followed by the reprise of I Am The One sung by dad Dan (Réjean Cournoyer) and Gabe. I don't often cry at musicals, but these moments were so emotionally connected and real that I couldn't help it.

This is the kind of show that The Citadel should be doing more of.  I understand the need for traditional shows that everyone can sing along to, but this kind of piece - the kind that challenges audiences both emotionally and artistically - is definitely the kind of risk the theatre should be taking. I am so glad they did and that they rose so brilliantly to the challenge. It's not easy, but if it was, it wouldn't be worth doing. This is the show to see in Edmonton this season.  I have already bought tickets to see it again in two weeks.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Relaxed... for now...

This weekend was wonderful!  Mom and I drove down to Calgary, picked up Annemarie at the airport, and then headed to Banff for our Spa Weekend to celebrate Mom's 70th Birthday!  While in Calgary, Mom called Steven and it turned out Sara was down for family week or something and since it was on the way, we swung by his apartment for a quick visit.  Then on to Banff!

It's nice to have a weekend with very little on the agenda.  The Banff Springs Hotel is wonderful and we explored a little bit that first night and had a yummy bite to eat.  Saturday was the big spa day and we all had a relaxation massage, a facial and a manicure and pedicure.  I feel so good right now. I had never had a massage before and I can tell you they are now my favorite thing in the whole world! That evening we went for dinner, went in search of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce for the birthday girl and then did a little shopping. It was a great night of eating and drinking and talking with two of my favorite people in the whole world. The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast (2 hours - a lot of talking!) and then hit the road for Calgary and home. On Friday night and Saturday it had snowed so it looked gorgeous!

The relaxation was great.  The location sublime.  The company ideal.  It was wonderful!

I now progress into a very busy couple of weeks - out every night and sometimes two events each night.  I am glad I got this relaxation vibe going...

Friday, October 19, 2012

An Evening of Atmosphere - The Weir

Opening Night for The Weir was a wonderful success.  The house was very full, especially for such a small cast show, but perhaps the play helped as it seemed to be the perfect piece for this time of year.  It's a little spooky but cozy as well and by the end of the play you really get to know the five characters on stage.  My mother commented on how wonderfully defined each of them was and how they seemed to move around the space so naturally, as though they really were in their favorite pub. The weather in Edmonton this week seems to echo the weather in the play and it really felt like we were all gathered in the comforting space of this neighborhood pub, keeping warm from the biting wind outside.

I was very impressed with the performances onstage.  Cody Porter, always a favorite, was at his tip-top best.  He's the kind of actor who can convey so much with a single raise of his eye brow or expression.  He doesn't need to talk but when he does, like in his final story, he can mesmerize the audience.  It was captivating how real all five of the actors were onstage.  Kieran O'Callaghan was delightful and I imagine him driving home to his 'mammy' after the show and Justin Deveau pulled off the awkward single barman so well I wanted to give him a hug and pat his head. I also enjoyed the energies of newcomers to Walterdale, Gavin O'Toole and Gwyneth Kellii.  Gavin embraced the confidence and swagger of the well-to-do Finbar and Gwyneth's Valerie had an undertone of vulnerability that was heart-breaking. All in all, five strong performances combining to create a real world onstage.  I was also surprised to discover how much I was laughing.  When I saw it in rehearsal a week and a half earlier I wasn't focused on the show - more checking to make sure the paint looked right, but on Opening Night I was really struck by the layered humour of the piece.

Speaking of stage, I was so thrilled to receive numerous compliments on the set.  A labour of love and a test of my skills - so it was nice to hear that it all worked. To me it felt warm and inviting and that was what I was going for.

* Photo Credit: Douglas Dollars Stewart
* The Weir marks #47 in my 2011 Theatre Goal

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another Opening! The Weir at Walterdale

I am off tonight to see The Weir at Walterdale.  It is my first official show of the season in terms on ones I have worked on.  I am quite pleased with how it looks and it feels worth all the time I put into it.  You can get a good look at it in the photo in this Gateway Preview Article and you catch a few nice glimpses in the media photos. I caught a rehearsal (Q2Q) but I am really looking forward to seeing the completed show tonight.  I love the atmosphere of Opening Nights.  I am taking Mom along and I think we shall have a lovely time! 

Last night I worked a casino for my sons' school so I am a bit tired. I tried to sleep in but a half dozen phone calls really interfered with the quality of that sleep. The Weir, though, is pretty engaging and only 100 minutes long so I think I will be fine tonight! I look forward to raising a glass with everyone after the show!