Category: Flashback Fridays

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!

Throwback Thursdays – Alana Hibbert on Caroline, or Change

Who could forget our 2012, multi-Dora award winning production of Caroline, or Change? With an all-star cast, Caroline, or Change, wowed audiences and critics with its superb blend of semi-operatic musical composition courtesy of Jeanine Tesori, Tony Kushner’s cleverly constructed book and inspired direction from Robert McQueen. As we enter the final weekend of Once On This Island, we sat down with our current Goddess of Love, Alana Hibbert, to reflect on playing the radio along with our Ti Moune (Jewelle Blackman) and Neema Bickersteth


Alana_Hibbert_039“What shall be?  What lies in store in 1963…or four…” we (The Radio) sang in hushed unison while slowly closing in around Caroline Thibodeaux; the moment captured in the above picture during the 2012 production of Caroline or Change

It was a fascinating challenge to inhabit a character that is also an inanimate object—especially when that object is a Radio and personified by a trio of Motown-style songstresses!  Jewelle Blackman, Neema Bickersteth and I took this on together working as a type of “Greek Chorus” that would openly comment and frequently weigh in on the events that unfolded throughout the play.  We spent plenty of time in rehearsal working to establish a cohesive “Radio chemistry.” The first time we sat down to sing the opening sequence I remember grinning from ear to ear.  Both Neema and Jewelle are fantastic musicians and right off the bat we had a great sense of each other.  The music is complex but rooted in a soulful 60s girl-group sound and we had a lot of fun experimenting with the amazing harmonies, finding our right blend.  We had just as much fun on our feet tottering around in four-inch fuchsia stilettos drilling our choreography until we moved as a singular unit.  Layering in the task of telling the story and actively engaging with Caroline, into such specific song and dance routines, made the process of bringing the Radio to life rich, complex and compelling.

Throwback Thursdays – Selina Martin and Daren A. Herbert on A Craigslist Cantata

It’s getting busy in our offices, with both  Once On This Island and the tour of A Craigslist Cantata opening tomorrow night! For today’s throwback, we asked Selina Martin (who is currently in Calgary getting ready for the next step in the amazing online-classified musical journey) and Daren A. Herbert (who has traded in his dead deer for Papa Ge’s headdress) to take a moment to reflect on this shot from last year’s incredible production at Factory Theatre. 

Dmitry Chepovetsky, Bree Greig, Selina Martin and Daren A. Herbert in Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata (2013)
Photography by Joanna Akyol

Daren webDaren: You can barely see her, off to the left in the photo, but that show was my introduction to the genius of Veda Hille. Veda, along with Bill Richardson and director Ami Gladstone, created this freaky homage to the power of anonymity and the frailty of many of us users on the “interweb.” I came into it with some idea of all the laughs we’d probably get, but I was not prepared for the heartache that I recognized in some of the material. Veda’s music distilled and magnified it all. Awe inspiring. 

Selina MartinSelina: The pole! That darn pole. That’s what I think about when I see this photo. There were many chunks of rehearsal time taken up by trying to figure out how to keep the pole straight as well as trying to keep the pole out of the way of the lights. Keeping it straight was definitely difficult. We had to physically remember how straight or bent our arms were and what angle they were at, at the same time as hitting our marks and delivering the song with energy and intention. There were always slight discrepancies in the pole level. Ami had to stop run-through’s repeatedly to work on it.

It looks like we almost got it right here. Almost.

This photo also makes me miss the rest of the cast.

We had a lot of fun together working on this show.


Throwback Thursdays – Kaya Joubert Johnson on Caroline, or Change

Who could forget our 2012, multi-Dora award winning production of Caroline, or Change? With an all-star cast, Caroline, or Change, wowed audiences and critics with its superb blend of semi-operatic musical composition courtesy of Jeanine Tesori, Tony Kushner’s cleverly constructed book and inspired direction from Robert McQueen. In her debut musical theatre role playing Caroline’s youngest son (!) was the very versatile Kaya Joubert Johnson. Currently donning Little Ti Moune’s dress in Once On This Island, Kaya found a few minutes to talk to us about this formative experience

Caroline, or Change (2012): Michael Levinson, Sabryn Rock, Derrick Roberts, Arlene Duncan, Kaya Joubert Johnson (Photographer: Joanna Akyol)


Kaya webThis picture is a refreshment of all the great times I had with the wonderful cast of “Caroline, or Change”. It reminds me of all the hard work everyone put into the production of this amazing musical, the set, hair, wardrobe, music, choreography e.t.c Furthermore, the musical was a great success and was a fantastic experience. Being that, I was nine during rehearsals and ten during the show, the youngest cast member and a girl in the role of a boy! 
The opportunity to work on this production was a once in a lifetime opportunity that opened many doors for other musicals. This musical made me realize how you have to always bring your “A” Game no matter how tired you are. That each audience is different therefore the energy in the theater will be different. Through this experience I gained the appreciation for theater and understand the that all the work put into the end result is SO worth it. This cast became my extended family!

Flashback Fridays – Sarah Jane Pelzer on Ride The Cyclone

A HUGE hit at Summerworks 2010, we were so lucky to bring Ride The Cyclone back in the Fall of 2011(in association with Theatre Passe Muraille) for more Toronto audiences to experience. With its signature blend of macabre humour, dazzling staging and innovative musical pastiche, this little show that could took indie theatre on a loop-de-loop many of us will never forget. Today, we’ve got Sarah Jane Pelzer sharing her memories of the show; you’ll remember her as Jane Doe, that creepy beheaded girl with the curly blond wig and black contact lenses.  

Ride The Cyclone (2011): Rielle Braid, Sarah Jane Pelzer
SarahPictureSmall-300x199Funny, but the first thing I notice is that this is from a version of the show where I didn’t wear a wig. I curled my own hair back then and it took me close to a couple hours every day. 
The hallmark of this piece for me has always been that the creators aren’t afraid to make changes and grow. So far there have been about seven versions of the show in total, ranging from 90 min- 3 hours long, from a cast of eight, to six, to a touring company of 14, from helping to make our own costumes to a budget of half a million bucks. Even when we felt like what we had was perfect, they weren’t afraid to re-do it and try for something bigger and better.
This picture reminds me that the people involved in the show will always be like family. We worked together on this project for over four years! Maybe the most inspiring thing is that we still work together. Many of us find ourselves in Toronto now and we sing together all the time.


Throwback Thursdays – Juan Chioran on A New Brain

Jump back with us to 2009’s A New Brain, William Finn’s autobiographical end of the century musical about a songwriter with creative block who suddenly experiences an attack from an arteriovenous malformation, landing him in hospital and threatening his life. As he proceeds on the journey to wellness through surgery, we are transported through Gordon’t hallucinations, inviting us simultaneously into Finn’s head when he too was hospitalized for the same thing. Juan Chioran played Mr. Bungee, and got to wear the most exciting costume to ever appear in an Acting Up Stage production.  More