Month: March 2013

Banks Vlog #9 – Life is a cabaret

For those of you who missed Andres and Alexis in their Banks Prize Showcase, here is a some behind the scenes footage of Canada’s Next Top Token (including a killer Beyonce riff-off)!

Finn Fridays – William Finn, Singing Pediatrician

As we get into high gear for our upcoming production of Falsettos, take a trip with us through William Finn’s Songbook every Friday. Also, next week, we’ll be sending our roving reporter and Falsettos director Robert McQueen to interview William Finn with you questions – and he wants to know what you want to know! Leave your questions for Finn in the comments below, or email them to, and we’ll make sure to get them answered. 

A Short interview with William Finn, in which the delightfully self-deprecating Finn discusses the need to write, the infrequent fulfillment which comes of it and why he sometimes wishes he had been adept enough to pass science class. 


Stephen Patterson’s Triple Threat

Stephen Patterson, last seen at Stratford playing that lovable mutt Snoopy in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, has had a long and illustrious career on the international musical theatre stage. He has played Marius in Les Miserables on Broadway, Laurie in the international tour of Little Women and many roles in Toronto and Stratford, including Bobby in the Canadian Premiere of Urinetown. Stephen stars as Marvin, the confused husband, father and lover at the forefront of our upcoming production of Falsettos

What musical will you always remember for its music?

I was fortunate enough to play Marius [in Les Miserables] on Broadway and on the road for a few years. That score still moves me today as it did then. Even with all the buzz with the new movie ( good and bad) it doesn’t get old. One of the greatest in my opinion.

You’re on a desert island and you can only bring on cast recording. What is it and why?

Urinetown. This was one of those shows that brings back all the reasons I wanted to be in this business. If I was alone on an island I’m sure the Toronto cast would find a way to get there!! It’s funny, every so often a cast member will post something on Facebook and within seconds someone is chiming in with fond memories of our time with that show. It was an important time in my career so I guess I would want to keep those memories with me……on the island……Is there a cd player or an mp3 player on this island? [Eds note: Sure Stephen, in the hypothetical scenario wherein the foremost of your Island worries is what cast recording you’d be listening to there can be a CD player] More

The Year of The Child – NYC, What is it about you?

I did something that I hadn’t done for 8.5 months – I spent an overnight away from the kids (3 in fact). I went to New York this past weekend and didn’t see the kids from Thursday night when I put them to bed until Monday morning.

It was – to my surprise – kind of nice! Don’t get me wrong, I cried when I put them to bed on Thursday thinking of how much I’d miss them. But once I was in New York, I quickly reverted back to my “pre-kids” self and enjoyed a little bit of solo time.

Here are the 5 things I most enjoyed of traveling without my kids: More

Out There – Razzle Dazzle Marketing

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about marketing and packaging of a musical. How much of a show’s success is based on its artistic merit, and how much is simply about how producers pique an audience’s desire to actually buy tickets? We just closed Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata, which received more pre-press than any show Acting Up Stage has produced, and nearly stellar reviews across the board. But here’s a little secret: we weren’t selling out the house every night.

I still remember learning in third grade to not judge a book by its cover; but even then, this didn’t entirely make sense to me. After all, there’s always a blurb on the back cover which, to nine year old me, seemed the key to deciding whether I wanted to read it or not. Also, didn’t the artwork on the front capture the spirit of, say Treasure Island, thereby informing me that I was distinctly not interested in reading a story about pirates and shipwreck? (Guess what? I didn’t judge that book by its cover, and I still remember reading 50 pages or so and throwing it back in the library bin.) So what nine year old me learnt (and still continues to believe) is that oftentimes the way something appears can inform – but not dictate – whether its worth further investigation.

On my most recent trip to New York, I saw The Mystery of Edwin Drood (which I’ve already blogged about) which just couldn’t live up to my expectations. However, what I did gain was the value of a clever marketing campaign. The poster outside of Studio 54 declared the show the one thing all audience members and critics alike could agree it was: “FUN!” (Unfortunately, I can’t find an image of this ad campaign online, but suffice it to say that the poster probably declaimed the show “FUN” about 15 times through use of various reviewer’s quotes.) For a show which the critics had found mildly unsatisfactory, this kind of aggressive plugging of a promise of entertainment seemed particularly appropriate, allowing Roundabout to hype a show without the ability to call it, for instance, the “best revival of the season.”

And then there’s Kinky Boots. I never heard about Kinky Boots, I never saw Kinky Boots, I didn’t give a fuck about Kinky Boots. (I don’t even particularly like John Waters’ films.) But then I saw the Broadway poster splattered on top of Times Square. Suddenly, the inner queen in me wanted nothing more than to see this show of which – to this date – all I know about it is that there is a promise of sparkle, sex and a pair of killer legs. So I fell for the ad campaign, and I can guarantee that on my next trip down, I will be visiting the Al Hirschfield without any foreknowledge of the plot. Talk about spreading advance word of mouth!

So how much of a show’s financial success is actually about how successful a marketing campaign is? I don’t believe it can be fully based on strategic and engaging ad placement, but these do seem to play a huge part in making even the worst flops sell. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on what propels you to buy a ticket to a musical. Can a killer ad campaign and good word of mouth alone get you to open your wallet?