My 2014 – Looking Back at a Crazy Theatre-Packed Year

Standard

It’s been a busy year, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing people. 2014 started off with me pumped to get more involved with new theatre groups and it certainly happened. Here’s a brief look back at my theatre-packed 2014.

Madeline Robin Known As Roxane

In February of 2014 I stage managed the Theatre Double Take production of Madeline Robin Known As Roxane. I got to work with my buddy Leete Stetson (who has been in every Bygone Theatre production so far) and his girlfriend, writer/director Grace Smith. I was reunited with Alex Simpson, an actress who I’d met through a Newborn Theatre festival a while back and got to work with Tennille Read who I had seen perform in a Soup Can Theatre show; it’s a small world, and it’s great when you see those with talent and commitment continuing to get work. The show was a new experience for me as it was in-the-round, had a bizarre set and I was running sound & lights as the SM. I learned how to work a new lighting program and got to know Anthony Neary, a great SFX artist from Ottawa. In a very short time I met a lot of people and learned a lot of new things.

1902859_817089691651527_1412917793_n

Tennille Read & Alex Simpson

261746_815908531769643_720748280_n

Tennille Read & Alex Simpson

UofT Festival of Dance

For the third year in a row, I was involved in the Festival of Dance (FOD) at Hart House Theatre. This time I was the Artistic Director and I started up the Festival of Dance Executive Council. I worked on the show and its related workshops throughout the year, and the performance in March was a huge success; great performances and sold-out shows. I made a ton of connections in the dance community, and it was fun to be directing something that wasn’t my usual theatre, plot-driven type show.

1797369_381087865363051_1340544635_nMillinery Course at Stratford Off The Wall

In July I took my second Off The Wall course. Having enjoyed the Faux Food one I took with Deb Erb in 2013, my mother & I decided to sign up for a millinery course. We learned how to make a buckram hat and I improved my sewing skills.

DSCF1636

The start of my buckram hat.

 

The millinery class with their completed buckram hats.

The millinery class with their completed buckram hats.

New York International Fringe Festival

In July I was hired as the stage manager for the Promise Productions show No Visible Scars. After a few rehearsals and a preview performance we took the show to the New York International Fringe Festival, and had the opportunity to stay in the city for nearly a month.

I won’t talk about the show itself, because frankly there was nothing positive that came from it aside from the fact that I learned it is important to get legal contracts done up in writing, and to get to know who you’re working for before you commit to living with them. However, the experience in NYC was still a great one, and I met some amazing people while there.

My ASM Astrid Atherly & technical director Craig Nelson were both a joy to work with, and tons of fun for site-seeing; the same can be said for actress Tea Nguyen.

We saw A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway and I was ecstatic to meet the cast after the show and get some great pics. I met the talented team behind His Majesty the Baby and saw one of my all-time favourite fringe shows. Got to know comedian Xavier Toby  who is brilliant onstage and off and saw the phenomenal musical King of Kong which starred Amber Ruffin (who is now making a name for herself on Late Night With Seth Myer) and Lauren Van Kurin; both ladies are extremely talented and were just a joy to talk to. Love meeting people who are both talented AND nice!

Got to know the city, a bit, and did some shopping. After only 3 weeks it felt like home. Can’t wait to go back.

Poculi Ludique Societas

In September I was hired as a Production Assistant for Poculi Ludique Societas (PLS) the Medieval & Renaissance drama group at UofT. I’ve gotten to dig through the jam-packed costume room (LOVE it) and help out with marketing as well as costuming. I still can’t believe I get paid to do this.

9748_803321019710768_343411291827305845_n

Retro Radio Hour – Suspense!

DSC_0577In October we produced our third radio show, Retro Radio Hour – Suspense! We used the cast of our mainstage show, Rope and performed the one-night fundraiser at the SoCap. It was great to see everyone looking all dolled up and playing some funny bits; a nice break from the heavy drama of Rope.

Rope

In November Bygone produced their 3rd mainstage production; Rope. I had wanted to direct the show since 2012, and the work that went into this one spanned about a year. I directed, produced, did all the marketing, the costume design, the props; pretty much everything you can think of. It was an insane amount of work but deeply gratifying, and with a brilliant cast and on-the-ball SM we pulled off a great show that not only sold out nearly every performance, but one that got great reviews as well. Even better than that, I met some folks that I know will stick around and who I can’t wait to work with again. One in particular has proven to be a great friend, and I am currently working on producing a show that he has written (details to come in the new year).

My beautiful cast. Photo by Danielle Son.

My beautiful cast. Photo by Danielle Son.

My beautiful cast. Photo by Danielle Son.

My beautiful cast. Photo by Danielle Son.

The Social Capital Theatre

In December I found myself back at the SoCap/Social Capital Theatre where we had performed Retro Radio Hour – Suspense! I am now working as their PR Manager, promoting the stand-up/improv/sketch comedy shows the bar produces weekly.

logo-socap

Another sign of how small a world it is? One of the managers, Carmine Lucarelli, was in Sundance a show that I did the costumes for back in 2012. I had learned about the gig through Matt McGrath (my fellow Bygone producer) who had acted in a show with Two Wolves producer Jesse Watts that year. Through that production I met Carmine as well as Alexis Budd (who later did the fight direction for Dial M For Murder, and who I acted alongside with in the Hart House production of Romeo and Juliet) and Geoff Kolomayz (who has been involved in our Retro Radio Hour series). It really is who you know. But it’s not about meeting the people at the top at Mirvish or Soulpepper, it’s about making great connections, friends, with the talented folks who are doing exactly what you are; starting off taking any work they can get, and pushing themselves to always do bigger & better things.

On top of all this, I graduated university, my boyfriend and I got engaged, bought a house in Brampton, bought a car, two budgies & bunny. We took a trip to Punta Cana and started planning for a wedding. Honestly, when I first sat down to write this I thought, I didn’t do that much this year, then I got scanning my calendar and thought, holy crap, how DID I do all this this year? That’s the amazing thing about working in something you love – it never feels like work. So while my calendar has been packed full the last 12 months I wouldn’t want it any other way, and I look forward to heaping even more on my plate in 2015, to spending more time with the incredible friends I’ve made this year and to making more in the year to come.

-E.

Advertisement

Lick My Sauce! Review of “King of Kong”

Standard

I’ve always hated people who say women aren’t funny, partly because I have so few examples to prove them wrong. Sure there are some classics like Lucille Ball, and my generation loves Tina Fey, but it’s always easier to list off funny men than funny women. That’s part of the reason why I am so in love with Amber Ruffin and Lauren Van Kurin’s NYC Fringe Show, King of Kong.

The subject matter is bizarre, but absolutely wonderful; Billy Mitchell has it all – hot wife, hot hair, hot sauce company. But the jewel in his crown (and he DOES own an actual crown) is his Donkey Kong high score. Steve Weibe, on the other hand, is a total loser. He has a kid who can’t wipe his own ass and a wife who is distant and uninterested. The only thing he is good at is Donkey Kong and so he sets off determined to beat Billy’s high score.

The entire show is performed by the two women who make lightning-fast quick changes and even take turns playing one of the same characters (don’t worry, the referee shirt keeps things clear).Their ability to convincingly play men is to be envied, and the ease with which they change characters reminded me of what I recently saw Jefferson Mays do in Gentleman’s Guide. Even the lighting was strong, and helped to establish settings that were created with absolutely no set and very minimal props. I can’t neglect to mention their singing either, which was quite good, though it is the writing itself that is truly the heart of the show.

Both Ruffin and Van Kurin are equally talented women, and their chemistry onstage can’t be denied. When it comes to favourite characters, however, I’ll have to go with Billy Mitchell – I hope to see him on SNL one day.

While it’s not something usually mentioned in a review, I’ve got to throw this out there; these are really, really nice ladies. We met them a week or so ago after a teaser night and they were so friendly and funny we liked them right away. I’ve met quite a few people out here in NYC and most you talk to once and that’s it, which is fine. But we’ve been lucky enough to keep running into Amber and Lauren and every time they are just as delightful. They even gave us a shout-out at the end of their performance! So if what you’ve heard about the show isn’t enough to make you want to go (you crazy) then go and support some of the nicest, most talented women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. You can still catch their last two performances; Sunday August 17 at 6:00pm and Tuesday August 19 and 9:15pm at the Players Theatre, venue 17, 115 Macdougal St.

I’ll leave you with one of my personal favourites from the show;

“Failure is just a success you failed to succeed at.”

-E.

My Fellow Fringers – My NYC Fringe Picks

Standard

We’ve been in NYC for about a week now, and we’ve already seen a ton of amazing talent. What makes the NYC Fringe different from other ones around the world is that it is a juried festival, meaning all of these plays were selected by a team of judges. As another Fringer pointed out the other night, this basically means we’ve “all already made it”. Some criticize this method as being against the “nature of the fringe”, but it does mean that all the shows here are phenomenal. We’ve been to two teaser/promo nights so far, and so while I have yet to see any of the shows I do already have an idea of what I want to see. So here are my New York International Fringe Festival, 2014 Picks:

1. King of Kong
Starring the lovely and talented Amber Ruffin and Lauren Van Kurin, this musical parody tells the story of 2 men on their quest to hold the high score on the classic Donkey Kong game. Their song, “Billy’s Sauce” is absolutely brilliant and we’ve all been watching it on repeat. Check out a version of it here. These ladies are not only funny and talented, but really nice as well. This is top of my list for shows to see.

2. We’re Very Proud And We Love You So Much
Created by the comedy troupe His Majesty, The Baby, this sketch comedy is described as the “funniest bad dream you’ve ever had”. They performed a piece of it at the busking night on Thursday and it was brilliant; a couple finds themselves in a hilarious (and at times very touching) palindromic argument, repeating the same thing over and over changing only their intentions. Very well done. Another one to see for sure.

3. Fatty Fatty No Friends
I was blown away by Jason Sofge’s vocals at the teaser night, and I am very intrigued by a show that is described as, ” A dark spoken-word musical diving into the lunchtime of life, where bullies are delicious.” They sold out their opening night, so hopefully I can find a less packed performance!

4. Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions
Saw a scene from this at the teaser the other night and it was phenomenal. Great voices, looks very funny – I don’t know a ton about it and I haven’t had the chance to chat with any of the cast, but I’m adding this one to my list nonetheless.

5. Absolutely Filthy
I got chatting to actor Curt Bonnem after the teaser night on Thursday and found him to be a very charming and funny man (and one who knows Toronto! woot!). While I don’t know much about this show either, it was one of the first that caught my eye, in part because the postcard boasts having won 3 L.A. Weekly Awards as well as Best of the Hollywood Fringe 2013. Can’t wait to check it out!

While these are at the top of my list, honestly, there wasn’t a show at the teaser night that didn’t look good, and if I had the time and money I’d see them all.If you’re checking out the NYC Fringe, be sure to look up our show, No Visible Scars.

All for now!
-E.