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 – Arlene Duncan 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. The centre of all the delightful, insightful action was of course superstar Arlene Duncan, who won the Dora award for her performance as Caroline. As she gets ready for the beginning of Once On This Island rehearsals, she takes a few moments to reminisce. 

Caroline, or Change (2012): Michael Levinson, Arlene Duncan (Photographer: Joanna Akyol)

Arlene DuncanThe production of  Caroline or Change was my first time working with the Acting Up Stage Company and I look back on the experience very fondly.  I was a little nervous about doing theatre as I had been lucky enough to have spent the past 8-10 years working in film and television but was eager to get back on the boards. This role musically & dramatically was a huge gift.

I treasure the generosity of musical director Reza Jacobs & the passion of director Robert McQueen and the fun of working with the delightfully talented cast of singer/actors: Neema Bickersteth, Mary Pitt, Nicholas Rice, Derrick Roberts, Cameron MacDuffee, Shawn Wright, Alana Hibbert, Londa Larmond, Sabryn Rock, Jewelle Blackman, Sterling Jarvis, & Michael Levinson. This picture brings back a bucket load of memories and a flood of emotions! It’s from the moment when there is a change in the relationship and shift in power between the characters of Caroline & Noah. It demonstrates how like when a pebble is dropped in a pool the ripple effect can be devastating & far reaching. The mutual respect, support & trust within the company allowed us all to feel free to take risks during rehearsals. I loved working with “wee Michael Levinson” who although he was only ten at the time was a passionate professional determined to be the best Noah he could be! While fighting with each other or working through challenging emotional material we both just felt delighted to work together. The relationship we developed onstage & off helped us both to grow as artists & brought a fresh spark to our performances.

Since Caroline or Change, some of the projects that have kept me busy are: (cartoon) “Bobo & Kipi”, (webseries): “But I’m Chris Jericho”, (comedy pilot) “Home Stuff” &  (film) “The Fighting Man”. I’m looking forward to being part of the Acting Up Stage 10th Anniversary season production of Once on this Island!

Flashback Fridays – Evan Tsitsias on Edges

2008 saw the first (and only) production by Acting Up Stage to be produced in a non-traditional venue. Edges, by straight-out-of-theatre school writing duo Pasek and Paul, More

Throwback Thursdays – Tracy Michailidis on The Light in the Piazza

Arguably the most beautiful production Acting Up Stage has produced, 2010’s The Light in the Piazza also marked our first collaboration with director Robert McQueen. With its sweeping Guettel score and romantic plot, this production had audiences (and Dora jurors) on their feet before you could say “Ciao, bella.” It also was the first production in which we got to work with the incredible Tracy Michailidis, a powerhouse of humanity with a genuine passion for the art of musical theatre. Today she joins us to throwback to this astounding moment in Acting Up Stage history. 


Michailidis TracySipping espresso and smoking a cigarette, teaching Jeff Lillico how to speak Italian! A dream.  When I see this photo, these are the things I think of, in no particular order: Robert McQueen’s extraordinary attention to detail.  The magic of Jerry Altenburg’s wig, and Carmen and Alex Amini’s costuming. The show remains one of the highlights of my career—I loved getting to play the Rizzo instead of the Sandy.  This cast.  Helping Patty with her hair. Jonathan Monro and his glorious band.  
Two favourite moments, top and end.  Top: I used to watch the audience during the overture from a very tiny crack in the wall.  I’d always assumed the overture’s main purpose was to introduce the music to the audience, so that when they later heard the song, there’d be a familiarity.  But I think overtures do something else: I think they soften you.  Nightly, I’d watch the audience members’ faces as the house lights went out, and slowly came back up.  Their faces concentrated, tuning in.  Paying attention.  And then, as the harp glissando-d, or the strings rose, and Guettel’s unapologetically romantic score soared, their faces relaxed.  I saw people’s brows unfurrow, their shoulders drop; I saw them land.  
And the end: watching Patty Jamieson sing ‘Fable’ from the wings.  She knocked me out every time.


Throwback Thursdays – Elenna Mosoff on The Long and Winding Road

Two things came to define Acting Up Stage in the early years of this decade: 1) Our annual concert, in which Reza Jacobs and an all star rotating team of some of Canada’s greatest musical theatre talent reimagine, rearrange and reorchestrate a legendary songbook. 2) Associate Producer Elenna Mosoff, who left last year to pursue her own avenues, but whose inspiration and vision was the propelling force behind our concerts. As we get ready for this year’s UnCovered: Sting & The PoliceElenna takes a moment to reflect on her favorite concert, The Long and Winding Road. 


Elenna Mosoff
 The Long and Winding Road is one of my favourite memories from working at Acting Up Stage.  The songs in the show were woven together with a series of quotes from John Lennon and Paul McCartney that demonstrated the intricacies of their friendship and collaboration. We staged the two actors adjacent to the band and the singers. The effect on stage is what you see in this picture: John and Paul in their own world, working side by side on creating the music we’ve all come to love so deeply. This shot and moment is a mere glimpse into what their collaboration was like, but a great thread for the concert.


Throwback Thursdays – Elliott Loran 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, Elliott Loran reflects on his big breakout number – a Ziggy Stardust inspired otherworldly experiences involving cats (!!) and having spawned its own video game during Cyclone’s return engagement. David Bowie, meow your whiskers out. 


Elliott LoranAt this point in Ride The Cyclone, Ricky Potts, a comic book obsessed idiot savant of sorts, with the help of his fellow choristers tells the amazing Karnak his origin story, the story of the Swinging Space Age Bachelor Man! It’s crazy to think that I told this story for 5 years and it never got old. I never got bored of it! Perhaps because of Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell’s wildly imaginative script and score; Britt Small and Treena Stubel’s innovative direction and choreography; the amazing talent (actors and crew) bringing it all to life; or all of the above! Whatever it was, I knew I was part of something special. We toured to Victoria, Vancouver, Nanaimo, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Whitehorse, Winnipeg and Toronto and in each new city I would fall in love with the material, the cast, crew and audience all over again. I feel very blessed.