Ten years of Acting Up Stage productions means ten years of photos and memories. Every Friday, we invite a company member to reflect on their time at Acting Up Stage by re-introducing you to one of the photos from our archives. Do you remember seeing this production? Leave your memories in the comments below!
As we bid adieu to Elegies: A Song Cycle, we share with you a final #tbt from the cast and creative team of this amazing show. Wayne Gwillim was an integral part of most of our earlier shows, including John & Jen, the second production we ever produced. Here are his memories of his time as music director on that show.
I’m thinking this photo was taken during act two, judging by the tears on Stephanie’s face… such a heartbreaker! I fell in love with this show after seeing a production in Saskatchewan when I was a teenager. The show is a two-hander (which means there are only two actors involved), and is a vocal marathon – it’s almost entirely sung, with very little dialogue. I was always a little nervous about Steph’s final – and most difficult – song in the show (The Road Ends Here), but she always managed to knock it out of the park! I remember how she and Kyle filled the Walmer Centre Theatre with their incredible voices, and how my little fingers got a good workout at the keyboard – a challenging but immensely rewarding experience.
This weekend is the closing weekend of Elegies: A Song Cycle, and we will be so sad to see this one go. So, as one last tribute to the amazing William Finn, today’s throwback is brought to your courtesy of Sara-Jeanne Hosie, or one of the “lesbians-from-next-door” from last year’s Falsettos. Like Elegies, Falsettos elegantly straddled the comic and the heartfelt, and featured some killer performers singing some incredible music.
When I look at this photograph I am flooded with wonderful memories. The kind of memories that you hope to make in your theatre career. I see this photo of Dr. Charlotte and my wonderful love interest, Cordelia, and I am reminded firstly of what an inspiring, and safe rehearsal process we had. Robert, Reza, Tim, Mitchell and the whole Acting Up Stage Team welcomed their artists with open arms. It was a rehearsal process where we were invited to try anything, to fail, and to try something else… the BEST kind.
This photo brings back the first Skype call back I have ever experienced in my life… haha. Reza and Robert giving me direction through a computer monitor, so wonderfully bizarre and ultimately TOTALLY worth pushing my couch out of the way and hiring my friend Caitlin to play piano for:) This photo brings back the memory of playing a role that is only in the second act. This gifted me with being able to listen to act one, in awe, as my fellow cast mates threw their guts on the stage. This photo brings back the feeling that no singer ever takes a good photo when singing their heart out. Right? Yes. This photo brings back the unbelievable amount of crackers and food I consumed playing opposite a chef.
But mostly, this photo brings up the feeling that this piece, Falsettos, written by William Finn (who came to see it! side note-amazing), was and IS so important. Important to the people who have lost their loved ones to HIV. Important to the people brave enough to stand up and say who they are no matter what it costs them. Important to the children of gay parents in their journey of understanding and acceptance. And finally, important to those doctors who were there in the beginning, fighting to be heard by colleagues who didn’t care about the gay community. Those Doctors desperate to find answers and a cure for this mysterious disease. This is who I am in this picture, Dr.Charlotte, singing “Something Bad is Happening”. Truly honoured to have been given the chance to pay homage to those brave Doctors and to tell this story with such an amazing group of artists.
You know what happens tomorrow? We have our first preview for our reimagined revival of Elegies: A Song Cycle, our hit 2007 production by William Finn. And, in the spirit of good ol’ Bill, here’s Stephen Patterson on last year’s Falsettos – a show and cast that we miss dearly. Like Elegies, Falsettos was full of humour and pathos, wit and wisdom and extraordinary performances and direction. Most importantly, though, how could we ever forget Eric Morin’s short shorts?
The first emotion this picture brings up is total laughter!!! I remember the day I saw Eric in those TINY shorts and how we all enjoyed the 80’s look of them! Choreographing this scene was a bit tricky as we were set on making sure the “game” made sense. Tim French [our choreographer] was our racquetball guru! What also comes flooding back when I look at this, is how much I adored this show. Roberts vision was so beautiful and yet he was generous enough to help us discover our collective vision. To me this show will always be at the top of the list as one of the best theatre experiences I have ever had. From cast to crew, it was amazing. Thanks Acting Up Stage for taking risks and doing such important and professional work.
Sara Farb, who started our performing with Acting Up Stage in 2008’s Edges, has become a perennial favorite of ours. She has performed in practically every UnCovered concert, in which Reza Jacobs and Canadian musical theatre stars reimagine the songbook of a pop legend. Today, she takes some time to reflect on this awesome shot of herself from Tapestries.
This is easily the most intense photo that’s been taken of me singing. I am always so curious to know exactly what word and note I was singing at the time of a mid-performance photo, although I think I can guess with this one. It was taken during the Tapestries concert, which paid tribute to the music of Carole King and James Taylor. I was blessed with Carole King’s song “Beautiful,” which Reza Jacobs (the concerts’ exceptional musical director and arranger) and I decided should sort of track a mental breakdown, culminating in a really frenetic end to the song. This is an image of that last moment. You can tell because I’m girding my loins to hit my note.
Doing the tribute concerts is always one of the highlights of my year. I’ve been so lucky to have been a part of every one since Acting Up Stage started producing them. It has given me the chance to expand my musical repertoire and to collaborate with some of the most gifted performers I’ve ever met. And I am in constant awe of what Reza is capable of. He really is the heart and soul of these shows.
I’m so happy that these incredible nights of song have graduated from being fundraisers for Acting Up Stage to staples in the company’s season. Congratulations to Mitchell and all the AUS people on ten amazing years of innovative and engaging theatre.
This weekend, we bid a bond farewell to Edmonton as A Craigslist Cantatawraps up its run there. For today’s throwback, we asked Bree Greig (who is wrapping up the Edmonton run) and Dmitry Chepovetsky (who is part of the National Arts Centre’s 2013-14 company) to take a moment to reflect on this shot from last year’s incredible production at Factory Theatre.
Bree: This number appeared right before the last piece of the show. When we did the show in Vancouver, I was out in the audience for the first half of this song and got to watch Dmitry’s clown every night which was one of my favorite parts. With the staging of the TO production, I was bummed that I didn’t get to see his performance like I had in Vancouver. His clown was so awkward, silly, yet heart filled and endearing and I really liked that combination of weird, yet somehow sad. To me, that is kind of an overarching theme for the show. We all know about the oddities and weird-ness that’s out there on Craigslist, but these people are honestly putting themselves out there no matter how weird and they crave community and connection just as we all do which can make even the oddest Craigslist ad endearing and heartfelt.
Dmitry: So this was probably one of my favourite numbers of the show. The image was a conclusion to the narrative storyline of an earlier song called ‘clown on stilts’. To achieve this, in the blackout between, a nose, a hat, and specifically folded pants, which were stacked behind me on the piano, needed to be added before the lights came up in 16 counts. The challenge, when standing on the piano, was making sure the shoes that were attached to the bottom of the legs faced forward when they hit the floor, to complete the image of the stilts and also of course, hit the narrow corridor of light. It was a fun, albeit stressful game to play. The beautiful arrangement and simplicity of the layered melodies in the round, the call back of phrases of previous songs, the specificity of lighting, and the pathos and longing, made the number haunting, funny and sad. The family coming together before the last number.
BTW, this is why the factory studio stage needed to be lowered downstage.