A Year in Review
by Mitchell Marcus
Most people celebrate New Year’s on January 1. But in the theatre world, for most companies, June 30 marks the end of a theatre season. As such, June tends to be our “December” – a chance for reflection and resolutions.
Looking back on 2014-2015 and thinking about the upcoming 2015-2016, here’s what stands out:
- Sometimes accidents are good. A year ago, we had completely different plans for 2014-2015 that did not include The Wild Party. We were still possibly going to return to the Daniels Spectrum for another year and we had a different musical in mind which ultimately fell through. Things could not have worked out better. We were delighted to return to the Berkeley Street Theatre where we spent 6 years from 2007-2012. And The Wild Party proved to be a triumph. A lucky turn of events indeed.
- We have a wonderfully adventurous audience. Ballad of the Burning Star was a slightly scary endeavour. I was so taken with the work because of its bold theatricality and innovative use of music. But I was nervous by its history of protests due to its polarizing subject matter. However, the Toronto run proved to be a real success with thoughtful conversations happening during pre and post-show chats and robust attendance.
- We love touring! In November we took our production of Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. It was a delight to share our production with over 2500 attendees in our nation’s capital. We love showcasing Acting Up Stage beyond Toronto and we hope to receive more invitations in the future to bring our work across Canada.
- Toronto loves UnCovered. For me personally, this year’s UnCovered: Billy Joel & Elton John was our strongest edition yet of this annual signature event. I will never forget the power of Brent Carver’s “Rocket Man” or the immediate standing ovation that Jackie Richardson received for “New York State of Mind”. Of particular note, this year marked an expansion to a second performance of UnCovered and we were so delighted to sell both shows out!
- Our new musicals keep growing. By the end of this year we will have commission 6 original new musicals. We had a reading of one of them in New York this past year and have two readings this summer plus a workshop. As the momentum builds, I continue to be very excited by this new direction for Acting Up Stage Company, as we work with Canadian playwrights, composers and lyricists to bring their original works to life.
We have a very exciting 2015-2016 year planned. So far we’ve announced our November UnCovered concert as UnCovered: Simon & Garfunkel featuring the amazing catalogue of Paul Simon that he performed on his own and in collaboration with Art Garfunkel. As well, UnCovered will now be presented for three performances at the glorious Koerner Hall. What else do we have planned? We can’t reveal it yet, but here are some clues for two major events:
- What musical won three Tony Awards in the first decade of the 21st century and has never been seen in Toronto? That musical will be onstage at the Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs in February/March.
- What major Toronto arts institution would serve as an inspiration for stories for new musicals while also being an unusual, but terrific, performance space? Look for a new partnership with that institution to bring new musicals to life next Spring.
Stay tuned for all of the exciting details!