Saturday, May 28, 2011

Big Winners at the BRAVO! Awards 2010!

I have to give a biiiiiiig congrats to a couple of my friends who have been honoured by nominations and awards for their outstanding work in the Brampton arts community - recognized every year by the BRAVO! Awards, hosted by the Brampton Arts Council!  The BRAVO! Awards are part of a development and recognition program to support the arts in Brampton, supported and sponsored by the Brampton Arts Council.  Theatre and music productions are professionally adjudicated every year, resulting in this years' nominations and winners.  Congrats to my friends for the following honours!

Outstanding Technical Achievement in Set and/or Props
"For a sharp attention to detail, making an unremarkable place remarkable and fun, Rose Brown and Klaas Westerhof for set design on Peel Panto Player's production of Whose Wives Are They Anyway?"  Excellent work!  I had a chance to work with both Klaas and Rose in set production work in Brampton Live Theatre's And Then There Were None ..., working as a set designer and dresser.  Looks like I worked with the best!  Congrats to you both!

Visual Art Students at Synergy!

I had my very first chance today to interact with the kids at Synergy - in the motivational sense!  The visual arts students were making their end-of-term presentations today and are supposed to bring in a piece of art to talk about.  I must stress that they're supposed to be bringing in their art, but you and I were kids once, too, so we can see where this is going.  Sonia was running a bit behind with a busy night ahead of her (she has an event to attend to promote the Academy in downtown Toronto) and had asked me to get the Grand Ballroom - our dance studio - prepared for the presentations.  Easel set, mic and speaker set, chairs all lined up, and kids start trickling in.  Some with artwork, some without - as expected, but no panic.  We set up the art table, drawing paper and pencil crayons and I had them draw for me their favourite place.  "It could be a real place, or it could be imaginary.  It could be in outer space or your own backyard.  Draw your favourite place, and we'll talk about it with the rest of the kids."  The kids that brought in their artwork sat down and wrote about what they would say, occasionally conferring with each other about their own speeches.  They were so well behaved and so polite, and so excited, too! 

We managed to squeeze in two runs each student for them to practice their presentations, which started to turn into an "question and answer" period.  Sonia and I had started to ask questions about their artwork to draw some of them out of their shell, and the rest of the kids started to ask really intelligent questions about each others artwork.  I could feel a great sense of support in each other with these kids, and I was happy to encourage their curiosity and questions.  Sonia and I thought it was a great idea to include the interaction, but stuck to just me asking the questions to the presenter.  These kids had great questions for each other, and I used some of them during the actual presentation, giving credit to the student who originally asked it.  They did so well and their parents must have been so proud!  Sonia presented each student with a badge for their work with something they should always remember: Art Matters!

The great thing about kids talking about art is that there are no "wrong answers".  These kids' imaginations are quite spectacular, and their artwork is quite impressive.  It was a joy to hear them talk about how they express themselves through art, why they chose certain colours, symbols and mediums and their favourite techniques.  These kids could teach me a thing or two about painting!  I had also told them that their skills are an important part of the theatre world, helping to create the universe in which the actors live, and welcomed them to the theatre arts camp I'll be teaching in the summer if they'd like.  I do hope I get a chance to work with some of these little creative bundles of joy, it would be absolutely fun!

Congrats to these future Picassoes, and we are looking forward to another year of Synergy Renaissance!

Friday, May 27, 2011

SHOUT! Performance Photos by Linden Photography

The performance pictures are up from our dress rehearsal for Shout! The Mod Musical - and boy, do we look great!!  Lindsay Dewar of Linden Photography is one talented - and busy! - lady.  She's just offered her services for dance photography, and she's done quite a fantastic job showcasing us in these photographs!  Thank you so much, Lindsay, for all of your work.

Have a look-see for yourself here in slideshow format on her site just how groovy this show is!

"I Regret To Inform You That My Wedding To Captain Von Trapp Has Been Cancelled."

A great piece I had found whilst strolling through the web written by Melinda Taub, and potentially a great comedic audition monologue!  If you like The Sound of Music, or even if you don't and you're familiar with the plot, it's awfully smart.  Oh, this poor woman.  Read and enjoy!

Dear Friends, Family and Austrian nobility, 

Captain Von Trapp and I are very sorry to inform you that we no longer plan to wed. We offer our deepest apologies to those of you who have already made plans to travel to Salzburg this summer. 

Those of you on the Captain's side of the guest list are probably aware of the reason for the change of plans. I'm sure you have already received that charming "Save the date!" card in the shape of a mountain goat from the Captain and his new fiancée, Maria. 

I must confess to being rather blindsided by the end of our relationship. It seems Captain Von Trapp and I misunderstood each other. I assumed he was looking for a wife of taste and sophistication, who was a dead ringer for Tippi Hedren; instead he wanted to marry a curtain-wearing religious fanatic who shouts every word she says. 

But I don't want you to be angry at him. We are all adults here. "But Baroness," so many of my friends have said, "you must be devastated. You yourself are fabulously wealthy, so you cannot have wanted the Captain for his money—you must have truly loved him." It's true. But so, I am sure, does his new fiancée, his children's nanny. Her wardrobe is made of curtains. She's definitely not a gold digger or anything. 

I'm sorry. That was crude of me. She seems like a lovely person, and she and the children have a great deal in common. 

A great, great, great deal. 

Since I will no longer be a part of their lives, I do hope you will all keep an eye on the Captain's children. I am not terribly maternal but I was very fond of them in my own way and I must admit I am worried what will become of them now that I have gone. I had planned to send them to boarding school, since their education at the moment seems to consist mostly of marching around Salzburg singing scales. I think it would have been particularly helpful for the eldest daughter, who seems intent on losing her virginity to the mailman. 

Please, friends, don't worry about me. While I was a bit startled to be thrown aside for someone who flunked out of nun school, I assure you that I will be fine, and my main pursuits in life shall continue to be martinis, bon mots, and looking fabulous. You'll also be glad to know I have retained custody of the Captain's hard-drinking gay friend, Max. Anyone who gets tired of sing-a-longs should feel free to look us up. 

Again, my deepest apologies for this disruption to your plans. I am currently sorting through the wedding gifts we've already received and I will send them back as soon as possible. The Captain would help, but he is busy learning to play a song about cuckoo clocks on his guitar. 


Baroness Elsa Schraeder 

Snicker!  Let me know if you use it - and how it went!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"You'll never believe what got me my dream job ..."

I never tell people where I've applied for a job for two reasons.  First, I don't want to jinx it.  Second, I don't want competition.  Other than the heads-up phone call to my references, I don't really reveal what's what until I'm sure.  Well, this one's for sure, and it's amazing!

I had a surprise guest in the audience for our preview performance on Thursday night of Shout! - Victor and Sonia Isidoro from Synergy Performing Arts Academy, where I had applied for a theatre arts teacher position.  I had a couple of interviews with them at that point, and invited them to the show to "see me in action" and get a sense of my performance dynamic.  I knew they had a busy schedule ahead of them with student recitals on the same weekend as our show, so it was something I didn't really concern myself with.  What a surprise when Sonia had called me on Friday morning asking if I had seen her and Victor in the audience the night before - geeeeeeez, I'm glad I didn't see them!  They were so impressed by our performance and they loved everyone - and gave me the job!!!!!!!!  I'll be starting as a day camp instructor for theatre arts, moving to classes in September for a 30-week program.  In the meantime, they'd like to offer me receptionist hours to help supplement the income.  I am being groomed to potentially become Director of Theatre Arts for the academy. Wheeeeeeeee!  I've been working with a couple of lovely ladies at the administrative reception desk for the past week, meeting all these energetic kids full of imagination.  And - I just received my first paycheque today!

I was very glad to find out the day after, I didn't want to take away from Sam's moment on Thursday night being surprised by her mum, who flew in from England to see the show.  We've all have had some rather wonderful moments come of Shout!, and we've been so privileged to be able to share them together.  It was really hard to keep quiet on the ride up to the theatre for our opening night, and I was excited to tell my friends my good news, what they had helped me achieve.  I'll be doing a lot of reading from my own collection of texts and plays and delving into my personal theatre history and recalling favourite memories that will help me pass along my love of the art to these kids.  I'm also taking this opportunity to refine my own 'formula' for my acting technique, research some of the great theatre minds of our time and commentary of social events and how they can influence the craft - along with the fun stuff that keeps it weird!  I'll be posting all of that right here - and I've got a tattered notebook right beside me choked full of stuff to share. 

Thank you to a great big support circle of family and friends who have "kept me afloat" during my search for artistic fulfillment.  Through these past few months mentally looking in a mirror, I've learned I need to swallow my pride a bit more and take the help of the people that truly care.  The whole pride thing comes from a suffering mentality, that if I can't do it myself I shouldn't accept it.  There are times when I can't do it alone, and I shouldn't.  These people - and they know who they are - helped me see the best in myself and kept me positive.  I couldn't have done it without them, and without you. 

Well, stay tuned!  I got a lot of books to go through, and possibly a lot of questions ... I may need some help!

Friday, May 20, 2011

SHOUT! Captured by Linden Photography

Kudos and many thanks to Lindsay Dewar and associates from Linden Photography for their excellent work on these photos!  We were very lucky to have them capture us as these memorable characters we've grown to love, as well as our production team photo and shots of our excellent band.  There were photos taken of our dress rehearsal that I'm looking forward to seeing - maybe that's why she's called this the "sneak peek"?  Thank you so much, Lindsay, for your kind words and excellent energy - you've really helped us keep memories of a show that has changed our lives.  Stay tuned to Linden Photography's blog for more excellent work!

Inside Production Work: Props & Set Dressing for BMT's RENT

Being part of the production team for Brampton Music Theatre's RENT was a great chance to flex some designing skills.  I was very excited to be part of the team that helped build the gritty, urban New York City atmosphere these characters call 'home'.  Everything the actors interact with, from the set to the props, delve deeper into a suspension of disbelief for the audience.  We want them to feel as if they're looking into a fishbowl, a natural yet carefully staged world they could easily fall into themselves.  The beautiful part about the 'suspension of disbelief' in theatre is the many possibilities the set is constructed itself; it can be realistic and detail-orientated to recreate familiar settings seen in everyday life, or can be a blank canvas of black boxes, used in many Fringe festivals.  The most original - and potentially most difficult - set to design is a 'stationary set', like the one we used in RENT.  I can't take a single iota of credit in regards to design for the set itself, but it was rather masterful for a community theatre production.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

BMT's RENT Production Team Picture

May I introduce you to the award-winning team - cast, crew and musicians - of Brampton Music Theatre's RENT!  You'll find me on the upper left-hand corner in the plaid shirt, standing next to partner-in-crime propsmaster Alice Dyment to the right in white, and Daniel Kim, our 'Benny', to my left in the black coat. 

A few other special mentions from SHOUT! - Abi Adekoya, our Yellow Girl, on the stairs in the red jacket, you'll see Alison Port and Dale Lundy, our director and producer, a few steps below Abi on the stairs, Josh Priess, music director for both SHOUT! and RENT, is sitting on the table in the RENT shirt with James Faulkner, ditto guitarist for both shows, too.  I think that's about it ...

Well, I can easily tell you that almost two-thirds of these people I've worked with in some artistic endeavour at one point or another.  Some of them for more than a decade (hello, Marg - far right hand side on the stage, that adorable woman!  Family friend for ages!), and some I had just met, but I've made many friends for life.

See what a small but glorious world community theatre can be?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

SHOUT! in Snap Dufferin!

Check it out - the zany 'shopping cart picture' has hit the press!  We're in this month's issue of Snap Dufferin for our barbecue fundraiser at Zehr's in Orangeville.  Many thanks to Tammy for the visit!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Glowing Review from the Orangeville Citizen!

I hadn't realized how much time had flown by when suddenly - tech week hits!  Our dress rehearsal's Thursday, and that snuck up on me!  Time flies when you're having fun, don't it?

Again and again, the Orangeville Citizen delivers on spreading the word of Shout!  Dan Pelton, our biggest fan it seems, won't be able to see the actual production, but managed to stop by a rehearsal and watch a run of the show.  He loved it!

My favourite quote from the article is what he had to say about my castmate, Abi Adekoya:  "It is said silk has the same tensile strength as steel. From a musical standpoint, Ms. Adekoya proves the point with poignant, yet powerful, vocals that must be heard."

Oh, he called my character a 'manslayer', too.  It is very accurate ... the character, I mean.  Either way, you must read this review and call the number on the bottom to reserve tickets - we've only got a one-weekend run!

Blogger's note:  I would like to kindly correct that the role of The Red Girl is played by Justine Christie, and the role of The Blue Girl is played by Samantha Russell.  Everything else is dandy!

Monday, May 2, 2011

SHOUT! Fundraiser Barbecue at Zehrs - With a Stop at Blightys!

We had a blast doing something rather unique in a community theatre experience - a meet n' greet in costume!  We were treated - again - to perfect London rain, making those Union Jack minis the least favourite costume thus far.  At least those sky-high go go boots and big-hair wigs kept us partially warm!  Alison works as a cake baker and decorator at Zehrs Grocery in Orangeville, and they were rather wonderful hosts to us as we pranced around, talking to shoppers and kidnapping their children to get their faces painted by Liz ... er, Ms. Orange, if you please, for a meager donation to our leggy cause.  Liz even had some of her Barefoot Sandals for sale with proceeds going to the production.  (They're really cute - check 'em out on Etsy!)  Burgers and hot dogs were grilled with sauteed onions, a chance to win some awesome prizes, we even had Sarah, a good friend of Alison, come by with her Austin Mini - with Austin inside!  After a few hours of jaunting in heels, we visited our friends at Blightys Tuck Shop for a quick hello before we headed home.  We did have rehearsal the next day - we had to go home and take care of our feet!

Unfortunately, my camera's batteries were not prepped, because I'm that guy, yet again.  With a little help from our friends, I've managed to procure some pictures of our visit to Blightys to show.  We had a some photo ops with some generous patrons with donations, and Tammy from Snap Dufferin came by to give us a little press love.  (The shopping cart was her idea - genius!  Thank you, Tammy!)  You'll see it in May's issue of Snap Dufferin, which I'll promptly post here.

In the meantime, gander on the gams that strolled through 'Corrie Street' in Orangeville's Blightys Tuck Shop!  And thanks to all for your support at the barbecue!  Let's hope the tally racks in some big bucks!

Stay tuned for the Snap Dufferin article!
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