Theatre 20’s 2015/2016 Season

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Standing with Jamieson Child, Matt McGrath & Michael Zahorak.

Monday June 8th was the Theatre 20 Season Launch Party, held at the snazzy Vagabondo Italian Ristorante + Lounge downtown. The event was a blast & well worth all the hard work. It was great to see a mix of theatre supporters, young & old, as well as industry members of all levels, from friends of mine just starting out to actors like T20 Founding Artist Brent Carver, who is not only a Tony winner but also the recipient of the prestigious Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for lifetime achievement; the highest honour in the performing arts.

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The place was packed!

The night consisted of a lot of fancy food, schmoozing & mingling, and of course our season announcement. There were preview performances from each of the shows we have in development, as well as some numbers by former Emerging Artists. Nora McLellan performed a beautiful piece from The End that we are presenting in November, and David Keeley sang a Leonard Cohen song as an introduction to this season’s production of Chelsea Hotel.

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Happy to see Kenton Blythe & Matt McGrath, neither of whom I’d seen in a while, and to meet Kenton’s friend, fellow producer Conor Fitzgerald!

I don’t usually do well in crowds, or meeting new people, but the party was very relaxed and, maybe because it was a room full of artists and we were there to celebrate, everyone was in high spirits and very easy to talk to. I definitely need to work on my name-memorizing skills, but it was nice to be able to do more than the usual “nice to meet you” and to actually engage with some people and hear about all the awesome projects happening in the city this summer and over the next year.

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I had met Colleen at the Musical Theatre Grant Writing workshop that JJ and I attended months back – great to hear a piece of hers. And Chris Weber (board member & YPT fundraising genius) proved to be a great way to meet people, as he basically knows everyone.

I’ll write much more about each of these as we get into them more (at the moment, I’ve basically just been working on booking spaces for workshops, rehearsals & performances, so I don’t have much to say on the artistic side of things), but for now here’s a summary of our various development projects;

Musical Works
Co-Produced with Musical Works in Concert
Rehearsal, Dramaturgy, Workshop:  August 18-23, 2015
Performances:  August 20-23, 2015 – Factory Theatre, Toronto

The celebration of new Canadian musicals in concert will run August 20-23, 2015. Stay tuned for more details.

The End
Based on the poems of Wilfred Owen and letters to his mother during the Great War
Conceived and Written by Peter Hinton
Music by Leslie Arden, Linda Catlin Smith, Allen Cole, Veda Hille, Alice Ping Yee Ho, Derek Holman, John Millard, David Sereda, Rodney Sharman, David Warrack
Co-produced with Theatres of War
Showcase Presentation:  November 11, 2015 – Tarragon Theatre, Toronto
This show centres on the letters written by Wilfred Owen to his mother during the Great War, as well as Owen’s poetry. A showcase presentation will be held at the Tarragon Theatre on Rememberance Day, 2015.

A Misfortune
Book by Kevin Michael Shea, Music by Scott Christian
Lyrics by Wade Bogert-O’Brien & Kevin Michael Shea
Co-produced with the Confederation Centre
Workshop:  July 14 – August 7, 2015
Showcase Presentation:  August 7, 2015 – Confederation Centre, Charlottetown

A married woman and a young lawyer walk through the woods. Their friendship has reached an impasse. Previously featured at the Toronto Next Stage Festival, this adaptation of an Anton Chekov story is described as “a romantic, bittersweet musical about small moments and momentous decisions.”

The Secret Life of Dr. James Miranda Barry
Based on the book by Ivan & Anne Kronenfeld
Book by Jen Shuber, Music & Lyrics by Nicky Phillips
Development:  September, 2015 – April, 2016
A musical centring around the life of Dr. James Miranda Barry, a 19th century surgeon who lived his adult life as male, but was discerned as female upon his death.
JJ hits it off with David Keeley's wife, Laura Lynne Burton

JJ hits it off with David Keeley’s wife, Laura Lynne Burton

We’ve also got one major production, Chelsea Hotel;

Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen
Directed and Conceived by Tracey Power
Musical Direction and Arrangements by Steven Charles
A Firehall Arts Centre production in association with Theatre Passe Muraille
February 3-21, 2016 – Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto
The show, which had its world premiere in 2012 at Vancouver’s Firehall Arts Centre, features the music of Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen. In it, six performers play seventeen different instruments in a tribute to the musical legend.
My Bygone buddy, Matt McGrath

My Bygone buddy, Matt McGrath

Then of course there are the training programs, the Conservatory & Composium, now both under the heading of “Academy”. Trimaine, our admin assistant, is spending the day calling & arranging audition times for the Conservatory, and I’m very happy to hear the names of a lot of talented people I know. Hopefully I’ll get to work with some of them this year.

So that’s about it! As I said, many more details, but I’ll get to those in time for the shows. For now my focus is bookings & fundraising here with T20, and then rehearsals & fundraising for Bygone; Kill Sister, Kill! is currently in the middle of auditions. Basically, I’m gonna spend the summer very broke, very tired, very busy & very fulfilled 🙂

-E.

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Keeping Busy

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Big week ahead.

We start off today with the first round of auditions for Kill Sister, Kill! It’s going to be weird to be sitting in on auditions as something other than director, I’m not sure if I’ve ever done that. We’ve got another night of them on Tuesday then callbacks next Sunday then right into rehearsals – things are chugging along. We had a long but very productive music meeting yesterday, pumping out some sounds for the overture and talking about the musical structure of the whole show. While after several hours of that and no real food besides Little Debbie Snack Cakes, we all start to get a bit giddy, but I think we made some good progress and I’m excited to see it pull together.

Tomorrow is the Theatre 20 Season Launch Party. It’s being held at Vagabondo Italian Ristorante + Lounge, which means I need to be dressed up, but since I’m also helping run the event I get to do things like carry risers & set up cords; we’ll see how well I do at that in a cocktail dress & heels. Should be a good night. We have a bunch of preview performances, tons of industry people coming and I’m expecting to see quite a few friendly familiar faces. I’ll update on the party & the season later this week.

I’m busily working on stuff for the next Bygone Theatre fundraiser, another Retro Radio Hour performance that will be used to raise money & give a sneak peak of Kill Sister, Kill! That comes up on July 4th, so I’ve gotta hustle in the next couple days to get the final things in place. Mostly I need to finish the poster design so I can start promoting it, and that’s something that I always take a while with.

Then of course there’s all the trip planning aspects of our trip to NYC. It is expensive to stay there, especially when you’re bringing a large group, so I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time looking things up and trying to find us the best deal. I want to get some of that nailed down this week so I can focus on more show-specific things. It’ll be a good time when we get there, but there’s nothing fun about the planning.

Meanwhile, I keep trying to get out in the evenings to meet new people and maintain my sanity; had a lovely time the other night and it’s always refreshing to meet someone outside of theatre who actually still has a decent understanding of it. Good drinks, good conversation, good time. Hoping to do that again soon, should I ever have another spare minute.

Back to the grind.
-E.

They All Lived Happily, Happily, Happily, Ever After…

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They all live happily, happily, happily ever after.
The couple is happily leaving the chapel eternally tied.
As the curtain descends, there is nothing but loving and laughter.
When the fairy tale ends the heroine’s always a bride.
Ella, the girl of the cinders did the wash and the walls and the winders.
But she landed a prince who was brawny and blue-eyed and blond.
Still, I honestly doubt that she could ever have done it
without that crazy lady with the wand.
Cinderella had outside help!

Sing it Winnifred.

I’m not about to go on a rant about how musicals set up an unrealistic set of expectations for a woman, but come on, Winnie said it loud and clear.

There is a prevalent idea that, as a woman, your life isn’t going to be complete if you don’t find the man of your dreams and get married.

I certainly subscribed to that.

I have a career. It’s gone from a job to a career in the past couple years, past few months especially, and I couldn’t be happier for that. I feel fulfilled at work, feel like I can see my hard work paying off, like it makes a difference, everything on that end has continued to go up and up for the past little while and it’s great.

But when you go through a big breakup, even if you’re sure (intellectually) that it’s all for the best, and even if your friends remind you, “you can do better” or “you have so many other things to be happy about”, it’s hard to kill that nagging voice in the back of your head that says,

Well now you’ve done it. How the hell do you expect to ever get married?

Which is pretty much the same as saying,

How the hell do you ever expect to be happy?

I want to get into some happily, happily ever after.
I want to walk happily out of the chapel eternally tied.
For I know that I’ll never live happily ever after ’til after I’m a bride!

I think it can be especially hard for artists. We have a terrible habit of wearing our hearts on our sleeves, and it doesn’t help that we are always encouraged to feel more than “normal” people and to express more; you can’t really call yourself an actor if you can’t show the extremes of all of life’s emotions. Plus, let’s face it, all of us that work in the arts are a little neurotic. And that’s fine. I mean, to do a job that requires way more hours, way more emotional energy and far less pay & respect than most other jobs out there, you’ve really got to be a little insane. There’s nothing noble or brave about it, just something mildly neurotic that helps to tie all of us theatre-folk together.

As a huge musical theatre buff, I find it hard to not fall for the gospel all the great shows preach; be true, try your hardest, and you’ll find your leading man who, not only is perfect for you, but who can sing & dance too. Doesn’t matter how many obnoxious traits he may seem to have at first, eventually (that is, by the end of the show) the heroine has found her green glass love; and we’re all the heroes in our own stories, right? So when is the show ending? Where’s mine?

I’ve never been one to waste any time with anything, fall off the horse, get right back up, so I’ve been making a point of getting out, meeting new people, and not letting myself mope. Not the easiest thing to start, but once it gets going it feels great.

I was surprised by something the other night, though. I guess it was my “Dorothy” moment, the whole “looking for your heart’s desire in your own backyard” sorta thing. I’ve gone on a few dates, met some interesting people, and have been looking to (albeit, slowly) get back on the same sort of track I was on before, but a message from a friend made me realize I was looking in completely the wrong direction.

None of these guys, past or present, have written to me in the morning or at lunch to see how my day’s been going.

None of them have been there to give me a pep talk about work, or life, or whatever it is that is causing undue stress.

None of them have said thank you for any of the time, or effort, or love I’ve put into things and none of them have done much of that in return.

But who has been there literally every day for the past month?

Who’s been the one to tell me to call when I’m home safe after a date?

Fuck this marriage shit. At least for now. I’ve got a career that I love and I am working with amazing people, in particular one of my best friends who I will get to spend a week in NYC with this summer. The goal for the next month, isn’t to stop dating, stop meeting new people, or stop any of the positive stuff that I’ve been working toward this month, it’s to remember that when any of it goes wrong I’ve already got the best support out there, in a friend who has been more than any of those guys have, or really, likely ever will be. And really, what’s better than doing what you love, with who you love?

Just gotta remember that.

Then I’ll be happily happy
Yes happily happy
And thoroughly satisfied!

-E.