Total Pageviews

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!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Finding Out How It All Works...

I'm a bit tired this morning.  I drove to Calgary Saturday afternoon and drove back late last night.  I was there for my second Theatre Alberta Board meeting.  The first meeting was immediately following the AGM this past summer and it was a wee introduction, but this longer meeting was a much better introduction and orientation to what I will be doing on the Board.  I am now Chair of the Governance Committee and I think that will be a good fit for me.  This is the committee that checks in on how we are doing with our very comprehensive 3 Year Plan.  The foresight and scope of the Board and Organization as a whole was very impressive to me.  I have been a fan and member of Theatre Alberta for a long time, but seeing behind the scenes made me more fully realize why the programs and services are so good. The Quality was linked to the amount of work put in to make it that good.

I enjoyed meeting and talking with the rest of the Board Members.  Everyone seems very invested in Theatre and both passionate and sensible.  There were lots of great ideas and sharings going on around the table.  I think this is going to be a great experience for me and I hope that I will be able to contribute in a valuable way!

After the meeting I squeezed in a quick bite to eat with my friend Wanda.  Always good to see and visit with but too short.  I wish I got to Calgary more often so I could see her more.  It was a quick and dirty share about kids and life and all that.  I am hoping that we get a longer visit in November and that we can share some wine (we didn't last night as we both had some driving to do!).

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Poof! There is is!

A few years ago I was lucky enough to be in a 20th Street Production (Fort Edmonton Park) called On the Wire.  It was directed by Amanda Bergen and written by Nick Green and I had a blast working on it.  Last night, I returned to the Park for Nick and Amanda's production of Poof! The Musical.  It was my first time in Capitol Theatre which was only a plan when I performed in the Park.  The Theatre is lovely - a nice vintage inspired space that looks perfect in it's location and which also really suited the production.  There are some special features to the space that were used very well - I loved how they created a complete world using the projections and when the seats literally shook I was giddy with glee!  I often get worried about the reliance on projections in productions, but T. Erin Gruber's design worked delightfully so much so that you often forget those weren't real walls and paintings behind the action.

The show itself was a fun, spooky, campy piece which was performed and sung excellently by the three actors onstage. Green's script is tight and sassy.  The script merged well with the actors onstage, and Bergen's direction creates some wonderful moments including a side-busting chase sequence. Garrett Ross as Awanda Brumschtic (complete with 3 inch heels and mini-skirt) attacked his role with such finesse that it almost felt like he was improvising, but the banter was so sharp I am pretty sure it is exactly what was on the page.  Eric Wigston and Madelaine Knight hold their own in the comedy and singing department and it was an excellently balanced show - no weak links!  It's a very silly play, but filled with fun, clever jokes, biting sarcasm and well-sung, well-written songs.  It's got a nice spooky element (the 'ladies' are witches after all) for this time of year.  It's not really for kids, but I would say that it would have been perfect for my 11 year old.  He would have been howling. 

I also wanted to note that it was really great to see an original musical on an Edmonton stage.  I love all the Broadway shows that people do, but there is something cool about seeing something brand new and to see a company take a risk like that.  To also have it tuneful, well-written and well-performed is a testament to our local talent. As well, this company has worked hard to make the show affordable, with tickets starting at $20.00 for students/seniors to $28.00 for adults.  A pretty sweet deal for a great gut-busting night of entertainment!

*#46 in my Theatre Goal for the Year.  BBoyism was #45 and A Few Good Men was #44.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Happy Birthday Me!

It's my birthday today.  I got to sleep in a little bit... Now I will be heading off to a Production Meeting for The Weir.  This afternoon I have plans to go to Hotel Transylvania with the boys and then I am angling for a nice steak supper (yes, in spite of the beef recall... I want steak).  First World Birthdays are kind of silly.  I don't need anything and most things I want I tend to get myself.  I would like an iPad, but might just save up for that in a few months.  I love birthdays now that FB is in the world as I woke up to many, many, many greetings and it feels good to read all the wishes from my friends.  I have never been one to hide a birthday. I like to celebrate them!

My birthday wish for you all is that I hope you have a lovely day and maybe get some cake!  Have a good one!

Friday, October 05, 2012

Booking Tickets... Giving Some Away... Filling Up the Calendar...

As some of you know, I won a FABULOUS ticket prize this summer from Vue Weekly that meant that I would get to see a lot of great shows this year.  However, I was also unable to use all of them, because of conflicts and being away. I spent a bit of time figuring out the Fall and yesterday gave away 3 pairs of tickets for various events (gotta love FB).  I love that everyone asked if they could pay me, and I loved even more to say "Free for me - Free for you!". It was a nice way to share the prize.  I am sure that in the new year there will be more that I will be giving away, but I only figured out my tickets up to the end of November.

I do get to use some of them myself.  I am looking forward to seeing Poof! The Musical at Capitol Theatre in Fort Edmonton Park and Typhoon Judy at Theatre Network.  I'll also be seeing The Weir at Walterdale Theatre this month. If I can squeeze it in, I will also be going to Ragtime at La Cite - it's going to be a tight fit!  I'm away for two weekends and in rehearsal and working a casino so fitting these events in has actually taken some juggling. I also really, really, really want to go to the Susan Gilmour Cabaret at The Citadel (I Dreamed a Dream), but I am worried I won't be able to get to it.  Too many wonderful things to see, not enough days in the month!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Done for now... Approaching Birthday Weekend!

This weekend is my birthday.  Gibson just had his.  It is also Thanksgiving.  I am not sure what will happen.  I don't know what I want (other than an iPad) or what I'd like to do (a movie - I haven't seen one in a long time that wasn't rated G).  I want to feel celebrated and thought of.   The next few weeks are jam-packed so I would love a little rest before I hit them.  I wish it were as easy to please me as it is Gibson.  All he needed was Lego and a DS game... oh, and cake. I don't even need the cake.

Today I finished the paint job on the set... well, I finished all I can do until I see it under the lights.  I am only worried about one wall (whether I need to do more breakdown on it) so I feel pretty relaxed right now.  I was touched to receive a phone call this morning from Joan Hawkins, who I consider my painting mentor.  She had been out of town until this week and had popped in for some other theatre business and peeked at the set.  She called me just to tell me how great it looked!  This is kind of what Walterdale can be about.  People will take the time to give you a pat on the back when you do good stuff! The only thing she 'mentioned' to me was the wall I had come in that morning to finish.  I will regard myself as a good student in that her checklist was the same as mine.  I am feeling pleased that she approved - she'd tell me if there were issues that I missed. When they do the Media Photos I will link any pictures that give you a good look at the set.  I tend to have a bad colour balance when I try to take a picture in the space.