Month: October 2012

The Inside Scoop on Tapestries

Each year, Acting Up Stage Company produces an annual concert using the music of a non-theatre artist in a presentation by some of Canada’s finest musical theatre performers. The popularity of the concert, as well as last year’s move to the beautiful Koerner Hall has definitely made this concert a major event in our season.

The concerts have grown year to year. I have only been involved since the Both Sides Now concert, and the development and growth of this event from there alone is amazing to trace. In that concert, we used two actors to string together quotes about Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen’s relationship to enhance the show. What I uncovered in my research and study of these two incredible songwriters was that they had a unique and influential relationship on one another. Insinuating their connections through quotes was easy, and I believe added to the concert by allowing the audience to deepen their relationship to the music by contextualizing the stories within the songs.

For The Long and Winding Road, the idea to make John Lennon and Paul McCartney come alive through more than just quotes was very attractive. We added an element to the dialogue that provided an exploratory look at their creative and personal relationship. This was very satisfying, and we ultimately ventured to have the actors move on stage bringing to life the essence of the famous duo. We staged their bits at a writing table, with props and costumes, enhancing the music with text that breathed Reza’s compositions.

Tapestries, unlike both The Long and Winding Road and Both Sides Now, will not feature actors on stage speaking verbatim words from Carole King and James Taylor. Instead, we’ve decided to explore what the music evokes from people’s memories and associations with the music itself. I have compiled a list of questions that I will be using to conduct interviews over the next couple of months. I will then take the recorded answers and create a landscape of people’s memories and musical associations using only their voice tracks. Reza will then assign one segment from what I’ve recorded to each of his musicians to underscore, and together we will use these to weave this year’s show together. No actors on stage, just the descriptions of people’s memories and associations, and the pure featured sound of each musician.

We are very excited for this new format and our hope, as always, is to create a magical and transformative evening in the theatre that will leave our audience wanting more and singing Carole King and James Taylor on their way out.

Rooted in Regent Park, Open to the World: Highlights of the Daniels Spectrum

Daniels Spectrum

Over the past 6 seasons, Acting Up audiences have been treated to the beautiful Berkeley Street Theatre as the primary performance space for our mainstage productions. This space has served us well, and our designers never cease to amaze us with their creativity when adapting designs to the extremely long stage.

For our 2013 production of Falsettos, however, Acting Up will embark on a totally new adventure. For the first time since 2007 our mainstage production will change venues, offering our audiences, artists, and staff a totally new experience. The Daniels Spectrum (formally the Regent Park Arts & Cultural Centre) will open its doors to us as we become one of the first productions of their inaugural season. 

Daniels Spectrum, a culmination of 4 years of work and $38 million dollars of investments (from the federal and provincial governments, private donations, and the City of Toronto – which was responsible for donating the land), opened to much fanfare on September 20th. Unlike most other theatres and community centres in the city, the Spectrum was designed specifically for Regent Park and the community’s cultural institutions. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects (The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts), Daniels Spectrum houses seven community and arts oriented tenants, a shared and private state of the art workspace, three studios dedicated to the Collective of Black Artists, one black box theatre for use by Native Earth Performing Arts and their companies in residence, as well as the Ada Slaight Hall – a 400 seat theatre with flexible seating and room dividers, which will be home to Acting Up’s production of Falsettos

As with the Berkeley Street Theatre, Daniels Spectrum will be sure to delight audiences. In place of the exposed brick of the Berkeley, Daniels offers audiences a colourful spectrum band of colour running throughout the building. The band compliments the design of the Paintbox condominiums, just above the complex. The lobby of the space is also home to the Paintbox Café, operated by the Paintbox Bistro just next door, and uses reclaimed wood from Regent Park as its design. The complex is also not shy to show off its urban flare with its eco-friendly green roof, and 4,000 square foot backyard to be used for over-flow from the theatre, public gatherings, performances, and markets. 

Also in tune with the Berkeley Street Theatre, the 400 seat Ada Slaight Hall will not be without its design challenges. This time, instead of an elongated stage from side to side, the extremely flexible space is completely bare and very deep. There is no pre-existing elevated stage, and the seating literally slides out on palates from the rear wall – allowing for any number of seating rows. 

The Daniels Spectrum is truly a collaborative accomplishment. The space was designed for the community, in consultation with the community, and truly reflects the broad spectrum of its members. The space will also redefine the way Torontonians see Regent Park as this new Arts and Cultural hub shows off its community in a new brand new light. Acting Up is thrilled to be a part of this revitalization, and we look forward to welcoming you to the Daniels Spectrum. 

Banks Vlog #2 – Movie Musicals

Today, Alexis and Andres talk all ’bout movie musicals: Pitch Perfect, Les Mis and Colombian Girls in Bikini tops. More

Bruce Dow’s Triple Threat

Bruce Dow is one of the great contemporary Canadian musical theatre performers, having performed on Broadway (most recently as Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar),  at Stratford (including his turn as Pseudolous in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) and on stages across the continent. He is a Dora and Jessie award nominated performer, cabaret artist and composer who’s star only continues to rise as he wows artists and critics alike. 

What musical will you always remember for its choreography/dancing?

Wandelust, by Morris Panych and Marek Norman, played this summer in Stratford. The choreography was by Diana Coatsworth, whom I have long known as a brilliant actor — but — I had never seen her work as a choreographer. Between Morris and Diana, they came up with some of the most inventive and creative musical staging I have ever seen. Images and movement that really told story and illustrated the intention of the scene. Breathtaking, really. More

The Year of The Child – Sleepless Nights

I am staring at the clock:
4:00 AM… 4:15 AM… 4:30 AM… 5:00 AM…

Many parents complain that they don’t sleep when they have children. That their children keep them up all night. That is not my problem.

My children wake-up once. Yes… only once! Usually between 2:30 and 3:00 AM after going to bed around 7PM (they then wake up for good by 8:30AM). I wake up, feed them both (which takes about an hour) and then get back into bed, knowing that I get 3 or 4 more glorious hours of sleep. More