This is the first week of Spring and the new season of shows are busting out all over… (I know, that’s supposed to be June, but I couldn’t resist), and every year, there seem to be more and more and MORE shows going on that one needs to try to get to see.
This spring is no different.
Last week, I managed to snag a ticket to the completely sold out run of The Addams Family produced by LYTE at The Palace Theatre. I love that show. I saw it on Broadway with Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane and I thought it was tremendous good fun then, and I’ve now seen it performed by two delightful younger casts and enjoyed it both times. It’s a fun, silly, campy romp that doesn’t ask you to think much, but still delivers with some clever quips and great melodies. The set was FANTASTIC and the costumes were great, but the enthusiasm of the young people on that stage was what made it feel like spring was on the way for me. In particular the performances of Gomez, Morticia and Wednesday Addams – I found them all delightful, but these characters have the best lines in my opinion and these talented youngsters delivered!
This week, a truly wonderful play, (with music) opens at Original Kids. I really wanted to be involved in this production – and I mean really – you can imagine after seeing it twice on Broadway and twice at the Shaw Festival that I must have a special place in my heart for this show, so you can bet I’ll be picking up my ticket in short order for their production of Peter and the Starcatcher, a prequel of sorts to Peter Pan with many theatrical twists, surprises and ridiculous humour to keep you laughing as you read the script, let alone when energetic youth get to perform it! You’ve probably not heard of this little gem very much, but I guarantee, if you make the effort to head out to the market this week, you won’t be sorry – the script its that good.
After these two vastly different productions, even more delightful fare is on the way – there’s never any shortage of shows in this town – but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the delicious little production of Anne & Gilbert – the Musical, that I’m working on for OKTC. Again, you’ve probably never heard of the show, but you will recognize the characters, their story and the feel of the music! This Canadian tale takes over from the end of the Green Gables story everyone (should) knows so well and follows Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe on their further education and romantic entanglements. It is going to be running in rep with the original musical during April. This is a new thing for OKTC. They’ve worked in repertory type situations in the past with their Playfest, but not with musicals and not with two shows so closely related. I can tell you, without the staff and facilities of the Shaw or Stratford Festivals at our disposal, we are working quite diligently to make the shows technically blend well into one space – for almost a month. Be sure to get tickets to each show, so you can get your fill of Anne and let us know how well we succeed!
Ever since Facebook started offering a look-back on memories from each day, I’ve been checking the postings and, in general, they’ve all been really fun and up-lifting. Posts of my recently departed kitty-cat do cause some pangs, but I still love looking at pictures of him, so that outweighs the sadness.
The biggest thing I start to realize with all these memory posts are the patterns in my theatrical creations and how they coincide with certain times of the year. Not just my work in theatre, but also my friends and I love when our memories coincide.
I haven’t done a March Break show in quite a while, mostly because I really need the break at that point of the year, but I’ve done a few May shows for OKTC in the past year and THIS year, I’m working on a show for April for them, (Anne and Gilbert) and ANOTHER show for June for my school (Xanadu).
Fingers Crossed… I don’t need to cross my fingers, I know they are going to be great. But I also know that NEXT year, my memories will fall at a different point and still be ever so poignant.
Inspired by my friend and fellow blogger/podcaster, Kerry Hishon – I’m going to try my hand at a review of my year. Here’s the link to her exceptional review: http://kerryhishon.com/2015/12/31/2015-the-year-in-review/
The year began slowly as I was recovering from my production of Henry V at my high school. I was also suffering from four months of vertigo symptoms with no idea of the cause or the cure. January is always busy at school since it is the end of the semester and exams and final projects take up a great deal of time and effort. A special social event was attending Art Fidler’s official retirement party from Original Kids. It was a great evening to celebrate a really great guy.
January is also where Kiss a Ginger Day lives…. I recall that no one kissed me that day. Goal established for 2016!
This month really took off with activities. Brock was already busy with the combat for a friends production of Macbeth and I began rehearsals for Freckleface Strawberry with Original Kids. By the end of the month we’d already closed Macbeth – it was a great show!!!! I also experienced an Escape room with some of the other teachers from my school and Brock and I were invited to join the OKTC trip to NYC for March Break!
Brock and I created the violence for a pretty cool production of Miracle Worker – essentially an extended food fight scene – very, very cool. And then we were off to NYC! It’s always a great trip and this was the first time for Brock to join with OKTC. We saw tons, had a nice relaxing time and managed to average our ticket prices at $50/show.
Come April we were waiting for spring to arrive, Brock was helping with a production of West Side Story and yet another Peter Pan! We managed to go together to stage the final battle for Peter Pan – it is always a big deal, but we almost have it down to a science. We can stage it in about 90 minutes with a cooperative and attentive crew of actors! At the end of the month, I rejoined my buddy Kerry to work on another production called The Big Bad Musical – even though my production of Strawberry was still in rehearsal. Gotta love it when things overlap!
May saw us renewing our Pyrotechnician licences, Freckleface Strawberry hit the boards – and was a HUGE hit, especially since it was a story that people had not heard of before our production and our support of Peter Pan and West Side Story was completed. May is a busy month for shows, that’s for sure. I also had my first production meeting for She Loves Me – a show I’m currently choreographing that will see the audience in February of 2016.
June FLEW by with the OKTC grad night, a trip to the SHAW Festival with my Mum, the London Fringe Festival and the end of school with exams and projects. All the while, I was writing a script for a show we’d be rehearsing and performing in New York in July! not to mention finding the costumes and props we’d need for the show.
July was INCREDIBLE! We flew to New York, stayed in a very convenient and comfortable hotel, saw the hilarious production of Drunk Shakespeare and began rehearsals for our Doctor Who themed combat show with Art of Combat. It’s an intense week of rehearsals and classes that ends in two performances by the end of the week. I was pretty proud of the script I created to make a show out of the workshop scenes and also proud that I managed to memorize my part!
We flew home Sunday evening and by Tuesday afternoon I was traveling again! This time with my Mum to Great Britain! We had the most amazing trip seeing relatives and checking out all the places Mum used to go to when she lived there. We even took a quick day trip to London to see TWO shows. One glorious musical and a Shakespeare at The Globe! Bucket list items!
After returning from Britain, I had a week at home, to sleep and do laundry before I was on the road again. This time, I was headed to Connecticut to attend the Puppeteers of America Festival. This is a week long festival of workshops, performances and celebrating the art of puppetry. 2015 was my second time attending the Festival and at first I felt a little disappointed that it wasn’t the same as my first Festival, but before I made it half-way through the week, I couldn’t possibly imagine not attending the next one in 2017.
The end of the summer wrapped up with relaxation, yard work, meet ups with teacher friends and a production meeting for The Trials of Robin Hood! Oh, and I finally had laser surgery to correct my vision. Should have done it ten years ago!
By comparison, September was a pretty quiet month. Sure, school started up again, but the only other projects on the go at the time were auditions for She Loves Me and The Trials of Robin Hood. Both of these were incredibly fun although extremely different. At the time, I had no idea what was to come with these two great shows. Who knew?
October was a month of work. Rehearsals, rehearsals and more rehearsals. Also a few eye check ups to ensure that everything was progressing as it should. Which it was.
We also presented a workshop at the Annual CODE Conference – a special weekend for teachers of Drama and Dance. We raced in, did our workshop, said hi to a few friends, and then raced home. So we’d be back for rehearsals. Whew.
November was pretty similar to October with a bunch of rehearsals and promotions for the shows. We participated in the Santa Claus Parade with a bunch of Merry Men and Women – that was a great time! And Brock was pretty busy getting different props ready for a variety of shows. By the end of the month we were into our tech weekend for Robin Hood. It surprised us in the sense of how quickly it arrived, but we were ready for it. Many of the cast were doubtful going in to the weekend, but I could tell that we were right on track. All they needed was the audience.
And it arrived! The Trials of Robin Hood opened on December 4th and was a big hit. It received four glowing reviews during the run (deservedly so, if I do say so myself) and it consumed the month for me. It ran for three weekends which is a longer run for our local theatre scene, but part of me wishes we were still doing it.
We became a really tight crew during the process and even went to play Archery Tag together a couple of times. There were many hugs and even tears when folks were saying goodbye on the final night. I’m very proud of the feelings that were generated by this show, for the audience AND for the cast and crew.
Tonight, I’m celebrating my wedding anniversary by shooting arrows at my husband. We are returning to Archery Tag for an unusual NYE celebration.
This is going to be an adventure – hopefully a fun and interesting one, for the actors involved as well as the artistic team. This is, after all, a youth production of a full scale show created on 8 hours of rehearsal per week in a mere 9 weeks.
Working with Original Kids is always an adventure. It’s is always an excercize in flexibility and creativity and Disney’s Peter Pan Jr. will be no exception.
For this project I am the choreographer for approx. 30 wonderful kids between the ages of 7 and 14. This week they came into that first rehearsal with excitement and energy and enthusiasm. They performed their audition pieces with all the professionalism they could muster and they’ve been cast – as fairies, indians, lost boys and pirates and we are off together on our adventure to create this show.
They are going to learn so much from this experience, but it always amazes me just how much I learn from them while going through this process. I suppose that’s part of the draw of theatre, each show and each team of people have something to offer and it is always different. Even if the team is the same, or the show is one you’ve explored before – it is ever changing.
Working in Theatre, in any form, is so rewarding. But often people who don’t do theatre will ask exactly why I will put in so many hours on something that is, generally, volunteer. They don’t see that a 2 hour performance with some applause or tears is worth all the effort. And they are quite correct. It is far more than that. The hours of effort along the way are, in fact, the real reward.
As we are heading into “award season”, the metaphorical end of our entertainment year, I happen to be starting two productions and be in development for another. I’m not sure these events have lined up exactly this way before now. It is interesting to think about the beginning and the end simultaneously. Whilst in auditions for OKTC’s Little Mermaid and LCP’s Sullivan and Gilbert, I’m thinking about how much I like this stage. All the promise and potential. All the new discoveries just waiting around the corner. I’m anticipating all the questions we’ll have and the answers we will struggle to find. I’m anticipating the laughter and yes, probably even a few tears – mostly of joy, (we hope).
Next week are the Beat DISH Awards and one week later the Brickenden’s – London’s official end to the theatrical season. And while it’s great to look back and celebrate, I find I’m excited to ask folks – “So, what’s your next project?”