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Interview with Allen Moyer – Set Designer for the COC’s ‘Die Fledermaus’

29 Sep

Lavishness and grandeur are two of the aesthetic qualities many expect from an operatic performance, and responsible for delivering on those expectations is a tight-knit quartet comprised of the director, lighting designer, costume designer, and of course, set designer.

Allen Moyer is one said set designer, and a highly prolific and respected one at that – with over fifty opera productions, countless theatre and musical productions, and an impressive list of awards and nominations to his name. No stranger to the Canadian Opera Company stage (having designed both The Flying Dutchman and Nixon in China) Moyer is back in town working on Johann Strauss II’s bubbly Die Fledermaus which opens October 4th.

We had a chance to speak with Moyer about his career, creative process, influences, and his bucket list. Have a listen to our extensive  conversation, and be sure to check out examples of his other work below, as well as a special COC video about the construction of the daunting Fledermaus set.

 

For tickets and more information about the COC’s production of Die Fledermaus head over here.

 

Interview with Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster – ‘Mary Warren’ in Soulpepper’s ‘The Crucible’

4 Sep

Soulpepper has a hit on their hands with their production of Arthur Miller’s famed McCarthy Hearings allegory, The Crucible, thanks a remarkable creative team which includes Soulpepper Academy member, Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster. We had a chance to chat with Courtney about the power and relevance the work still wields today, the role of superstition in the world of theatre, and the interaction between performance and aesthetics. Have a listen below!

(Fair warning, we do go into some detail about the story, so if you don’t want any plot points spoiled you may want to skip 1:15 to 3:45.)

 

 

Interview with Alan Held – Star of the COC’s ‘A Florentine Tragedy / Gianni Schicchi’ Double Bill

25 May

Yin yang, that’s not a bad way of describing the Canadian Opera Company‘s double bill of Zemlinky’s subtle and cutting three-hander, and Puccini’s uproarious ensemble comedy. There are two elements that tie this pair of contrasting one-act operas together: the setting of Florence (whose skyline is beautifully unveiled in Gianni Schicchi), and the welcome presence of celebrated American bass-barritone Alan Held. We spoke with the outgoing and affable Mr. Held, who was kind enough to share his thoughts on the challenge and pleasure of playing such different parts over the course of one night, the physical experience that is an opera performance, and a great story from his youth about an unexpected run in with a legend of the operatic stage.

For more information about A Florentine Tragedy and Gianni Schicchi, head over here, and check out the beautiful production shots below.

Interview with Peter n’ Chris – Sketch Duo Extraordinaire

12 Apr

After winning the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival Audience Choice Award (not a small feat given that these Vancouverites did so without the advantage of home town support), Peter n’ Chris are back in the Big Smoke by invitation of the Festival to perform as part of the Best of the Fest Encore Weekend which runs until this Sunday. Here is our interview with Peter n’ Chris, and their thoughts on their traditional writing process, the appeal of television, and the art of chemistry – oh yeah, and Peter’s phone number. Give him a call, he’d love to be invited to your Ice Cream Social or Bowling Party!

Interview with Mike Ross – Co-Star of Soulpepper’s production of ‘High Life’

28 Feb

In its early days, Soulpepper was strongly associated with classic “theatah” – its programming dominated by revered chestnuts rarely penned more recently than the 1950s. They have since broadened their spectrum to include more contemporary fare, and a perfect case in point is their current production of Canadian playwright Lee MacDougall’s 1996 crime and drug riddled dark comedy High Life. Here is co-star Mike Ross with his thoughts on relating to a despicable character, High Life‘s unusual romantic element, and the unexpected and “brain melting” reality of live theatre that reared its head on opening night.

For tickets and more information about High Life, head over here.

Interview with Marla Brennan – Performer in the COC’s ‘Love from Afar’

9 Feb

The Canadian Opera Company can be given credit for its even handed programming choices. Crowd pleasing chestnuts are often well represented in their seasons’ line ups, but there are always a couple of lesser known dark horses that tantalize with possibility. One such example is Kaija Saariaho’s contemporary and contemplative Love from Afar, helmed by Cirque du Soleil veteran, Daniele Finzi Pasca, and currently playing at the Four Seasons Centre.

Finzi Pasca does not shy away from his festive roots, packing the production with eye candy and acrobatic flourishes. One of the performers contributing to this visual feast is Marla Brennan, clown and shadow puppeteer. Here’s Marla on her new found appreciation for the operatic genre, her own experience in the pursuit of love from afar, and the joys of smiling.

For tickets and more information, head over here. And check out some beautiful bonus photos of Love from Afar below.

Interview with Shak Haq – Director of UC Follies’ ‘Tommy’

7 Feb

Popular musical theatre can, at its least interesting, be a pleasant but doughy experience (I’m looking at you Mamma Mia). Thank goodness for outside-of-the-box hits like Hair, The Rocky Horror Show, Avenue Q, Sweeny Todd, and of course, Tommy.

This psychedelic work, based on the concept album of the same name by legendary band The Who, was one of the first to marry the electric world of rock and roll with the footlights of Broadway – ultimately paving the way for the now pervasive jukebox musical, and subsequent rock opera hits like Green Day’s American Idiot.

Multi-disciplinarian Shak Haq is at the helm of the UC Follies’ (one of U of T’s oldest dramatic societies) production  of Tommy, now playing at the Hart House theatre. Have a listen to our conversation below.

For tickets and more information, head over here.

Interview with Jenn Fraser and Graham Isador – Founders of Pressgang Theatre

27 Jan

Young, ambitious, and talented. It’s an apt description of both the creative duo of Jenn Fraser and Graham Isador, and of their company, Pressgang Theatre. While they have big plans for the future, their forthcoming storytelling night, Narcotics Synonymous, promises to be a raunchy, unapologetic, and highly entertaining evening of tales all heavily involving mind altering substances and beverages. Have a listen below for a tantalizing preview of Narcotics Synonymous, and other Pressgang projects simmering on the back burner.

Narcotics Synonymous is one night only – Saturday January 27, Comedy Bar (945 Bloor St. West), 9pm, $10.

Interview with Ins Choi – Writer and Co-Star of ‘Kim’s Convenience’

25 Jan

The Toronto Fringe Festival has a delightful habit of spouting out some little gems that grow into big hits – The Drowsy Chaperone, Da Kink in My Hair, and My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding being notable examples. Its latest success story is Ins Choi’s ‘New Play Contest’ winner Kim’s Convenience. Following a sold out run at the 2011 Fringe, this charming, funny, and poignant show about the not always luxurious life of a Korean-Canadian family and their mom and pop convenience store, is back on stage as part of the 2012 Soulpepper season. Here is Ins Choi and his thoughts on the rise of  Kim’s Convenience, the power of customer loyalty – even in the face of a race riot, and the price of cigarettes.

For tickets to Kim’s Convenience head over here, and for more general info about the show, head over to the Kim’s Convenience website here.

Interview with Rosanna Saracino and L.A. Lopes, Director and Co-Star respectively of ‘No Exit’

25 Jan

A fresh presence in the Toronto theatre scene, Art & Lies Productions, is having no trouble finding its niche or voice. Founded by a quartet of talented female artists (not that their gender matters), this company is embracing absurdist theatre with a vengeance. With one production already under their belt (Death by Woody Allen), they are back on stage with Jean Paul Sartre’s wry and well known treatise on misery, No Exit. Here are director Rosanna Saracino and co-star L.A. Lopes with their thoughts on the underlying profundity of absurdist theatre, why cramped black box theatres can be a blessing in disguise, and how Bugs Bunny and an Italian upbringing can provide endless inspiration.

No Exit runs until Feb 4th at the Passe Muraille Backspace. For tickets, head over here.

Interview with Michael-David Blostein – Star of ‘Cabaret’

23 Jan

Emerging but already widely lauded musical performer, Michael-David Blostein, is currently wowing audiences as the ‘Emcee’ in Kander and Ebb’s dark classic Cabaret – now playing at the Hart House Theatre. Here is the gravy-voiced actor with his thoughts on the admirable and stunningly liberal qualities of pre-Nazi Germany, on working with theatre big-wig Adam Brazier, and why bigger isn’t always better – at least when it comes to performances. Thanks to the recently re-opened Green Room for hosting the interview.

For tickets and more information about the Hart House production of Cabaret, head over here.

Next Stage Interview with Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee (aka Morro and Jasp) – Co-Creators of ‘Go Bake Yourself”

10 Jan

Clown sisters Morro and Jasp are back (performing in the newly minted Ante-Chamber space at the Next Stage Festival) with their own brand of cooking show – part Iron Chef, part Julia Child, all hilarious. Here are the ladies behind the famous red noses with their thoughts on how they are living proof of the old adage about “too many cooks in the kitchen”, their recently found love of site-specific theatre, and the tantalizing possibility of a future dramatic “Morro and Jasp” show.

For tickets and more information, head over here.

Next Stage Festival Interview with Alistair Newton – Writer/Director of ‘Loving the Stranger’

10 Jan

When you see Alistair Newton’s name – or that of his company, Ecce Homo Theatre – associated with a project, you can be certain you will be in for a highly theatrical, heavily researched, and critically minded piece of stage work. His refined Next Stage Festival remount of Loving the Stranger, which chronicles (among other things) the story of gay concentration camp survivor and artist, Peter Flinsch, is no exception. Here is our conversation with Alistair, including his thoughts on the dangers of apathy, the dichotomous nature of Weimar-era Germany, the political value of entertainment, and how an 89 year old man decorates his kitchen cupboards.

For tickets and more information, head over here.

Next Stage Festival Interview with Kat Sandler – Writer/Director of ‘LoveSexMoney’

9 Jan

Kat Sandler and her company, Theatre Brouhaha, are having a pretty good year. Not only is the remount of her timely and imaginative 21st century relationship dramedy, LoveSexMoney, currently playing at the Next Stage Festival, but her new work, Help Yourself, won the Toronto Fringe Festival’s coveted New Play Contest and will be sure to be an early attention grabber at this summer’s festival. Here is Kat (and friends) with their thoughts on love and intimacy in the digital age, how the internet has raised our standards for romance, and sex robots – really.

For tickets and more information, head over here.

Next Stage Festival Interview with Allison Beula – Writer/Director/Choreographer of ‘The Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party A-Go-Go’

9 Jan

Sometimes the only thing better than a goofy genre movie, is an equally goofy send-up of said genre. Renaissance woman of the stage, Allison Beula, has put together such a send-up with her loving parody of the 60’s surf movie, curtly titled The Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party A-Go-Go. This perfectly crafted cheese-fest first took the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival by storm (check out our review here), and is back to warm the winter-braving crowds at The Next Stage Festival. Here is Allison with her thoughts on why surf movies are so bad they’re good, the advantage of taking on all the key creative roles, and how the perfect musical collaborators can sometimes just fall in your lap.

For tickets and festival information, head over here. For more information about the show, head over here.