4 Questions

Getting to know more about PSFT actors with 4 questions

Getting to know more about PSFT actors with 4 questions


March 1, 2021

Jane Spence

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? The first show I performed in was Elves and the Shoemaker for Story Book Theatre in Calgary. I got to play the fairy princess. I was about 20 years old. My parents had come to see it. After the show I asked my mom if my dad was feeling alright, she said he cried when he saw me on stage. I had never seen him cry before. I was hooked. I now know those tears were because he knew at that moment, that I was never going to “get a real job”, but back then I took it as the highest of compliments.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? One of my most favorite roles was playing Sarah in the Birds and The Bees for Port Stanley Theatre. The script was a gift of laughter and heart warming moments, and the entire team really became a family, many of whom I am still in touch with.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? One of my favorite moments where something went wrong on stage was while I was performing in Ed’s Garage at Theatre Orangeville. There was a big storm and the power went out suddenly. My scene partner, Tim Campbell, thought fast and said ” Sure gets dark quickly around here.” We all laughed until the power came back on.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? I would love to play a cop on tv series. I have also always wanted to play Queen Margaret in Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays. As far as modern theatre, I enjoy performing in comedies with a lot of heart like a Norm Foster play.

 

 

February 22, 2021

Mark Crawford
WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? I think it was a Christmas concert. I don’t know which came first: being an elf with my kindergarten class or playing The Little Drummer Boy at church.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? That’s a tough question!
One of my favourite roles was Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey, which I did at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. It’s a delight to play those scenes with the invisible rabbit, but there are clues in the play that Elwood didn’t have a happy childhood and is an alcoholic, so there’s plenty of depth to explore as an actor. That play is a comic masterpiece and I found the character a joy to inhabit.
My other fave was performing my own play Bed and Breakfast in theatres all over the country. In B&B, I played Brett and 10 other characters–very challenging and very fun.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? There are so many: a raccoon wandering onstage mid-Shakespeare, splitting my pants moments before an entrance, trying to hold it together as a case of the giggles swept through a cast.
One of my favourite onstage mistakes happened in Port Stanley. In my play Stag and Doe, I played the caterer Jay. In one scene, I made a cocktail out of the ruined Jell-O shots while trying to impress Dee, played by the beautiful and talented Kate Gordon. We had it all set up so I’d empty a bottle of orange juice and toss it into the recycling bin. But one night, my aim was off. It hit the rim, ricocheted onto the floor, and slid halfway across the stage. The whole audience went, “Ohhhhh!” knowing that my cool-dude move had just backfired. So I trundled across the stage, picked up the OJ bottle, walked back to the blue box, and dunked it. Kate, still totally in character, laughed and gave me this perfect look as if to say, “You are such a dork.” It wasn’t a big moment, but it was one of those happy accidents that made the scene totally fresh for us and the audience.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? It changes all the time, but one role on my dream list is Malvolio in Twelfth Night. Who knows, though? My dream role could be something that hasn’t been written yet!

 

 

February 15, 2021

Andy Pogson

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? I have an early memory of playing a character in a school play or skit. I think I was maybe in grade 4 or 5. I think I was a camel salesman. What I remember best was the joke. I was sitting beside my camel (a bunch of pillows, exercise mats and stuffing covered by some brown fabric) and I had to sadly say ” Camel, you are best friend…and my only one.” Not greatest joke, I’ll admit, but I remember the other laughing at my delivery and copying it back to me…that was definitely one of the first times that I got a taste of performing and getting a reaction. Then there was a long gap when I became shy and unsure of myself and so I only occasionally joined school plays to play small parts or to be in the chorus. It wasn’t until grade 12 that I got up the nerve to really audition for lead roles and I got a part! I remember in my final year of high school playing Seymour Krelbourn in “Little Shop of Horrors” in our high school musical. What I lacked in singing confidence, I made up for in comedic timing and had a blast. It was also one of the first times I remember my Dad saying to me that he wasn’t sure about this idea of me being an actor. But after seeing me up there, he now understood that this was what I was really good at and that I should pursue this career. He is now one of my biggest fans and it meant a lot to hear him say that he believed in what I could do.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? Most actors say the last role that you played is your favourite. But for me it’s a hard question to answer. So much is wrapped up into it. It’s not just the role or part. What makes the role special is also the play it’s in, the cast I get to play with and the theatre and community that gets to watch it.
The last show and part I played in Port Stanley was pretty special. The play was Ed’s Garage and it was a wonderful experience. Often in theatre, you like some parts of a gig but not so much other parts. That’s like most jobs I guess. Maybe you like the cast, except that one difficult actor. Or you love the play, but no one comes to see it! Or people flock to the show but you know in your heart, it isn’t very good. Or the director is difficult, or it’s a long time away from your family. But in Ed’s Garage the stars aligned. The play was hilarious and my part was fun to play every night. The cast and crew was fantastic and our director (Jane Spence) was delightful. People came to see it, laughed a lot and we loved performing it! The Port Stanley community is supportive and not shy about telling you they saw the show and loved it. It was one of those rare moments where it felt like everything clicked. So it’s hard not to remember that one so fondly.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE? I did an outdoor touring production of “The Odyssey” a number of years ago. The play was performed in the round, meaning the audience surrounded the actors making any mistakes or errors hard to miss. No place to hide or sneak away, except through the audience.
It was the big finale with Odysseus returning home to exact revenge on a mob of unruly suitors courting his wife. The finale of the play and story has Odysseus stringing a magical bow and arrow and then shooting arrows at all his enemies, slaughtering them. Good family fun! I was one of the suitors in the mob and we were peppered throughout the audience and in the aisles watching Odysseus in disguise walk up to the magical bow to string it.
We had been doing the play for months and we were all ready with our dramatic deaths (another great part of being an actor, pretending to die on stage). Odysseus grabbed the bow and attempted to string it, only to have it snap in two! We all stood there in stunned silence for a few seconds and stared at Odysseus. If the bow was broken, he couldn’t kill us. The mob would win. Uh-oh.
Then in a moment of creative inspiration, the actor playing Odysseus seemed to summon up some energy or ethereal power from the air around him and like a magician or Iron man (Odysseus is a greek superhero), he started sending the magical power and energy out his hands and towards the stunned mob. As good actors, we all fell over and died on cue! If any audience members didn’t know the original story of “The Odyssey” then they saw a very unique ending to this already magical story. Some were probably confused and some probably thought it was pretty cool. We laughed about it after and quickly fixed the bow for the next night.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? I used to have dream roles when I was younger. But as I have grown up, I have just become more thankful for the chances and roles that come to me. My dream role now is to just keep working. It’s a dream to get to walk into a theatre, put on a costume and pretend to be someone else. It’s a dream to have the audiences join us in the dark to laugh, cry, scream, think and go on the journey. And it’s a dream to get to do it again the next day. And now in our current situation and lockdown, it’ll be a wonderful dream come true when we all meet again in the theatre. See you then.

 

February 8, 2021

Marcia Tratt

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? My first show was a musical called “Four Feathers West” in Grade 3 so I guess I was 8 years old. There were roles of fairies and pixies which of course were what I hoped to be cast as – but instead my teacher gave me the role of Commander Rabbit. I had a rabbit costume and even an army helmet, so the rabbit ears were poking out the bottom of the helmet. I’d love to find that play and read it after all these years because the only thing I remember about any of that early experience, is being so embarrassed by my skinny arms that I wore a buttoned-up cardigan during every rehearsal!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE?  Impossible to choose, I’m afraid. Some of the most enjoyable were Brooke Ashton in “Noises Off”, (a naive sexy blonde with contact-lens issues, in a great farce); Madame Thenardier in “Les Miserables”; the deranged Annie Wilkes in “Misery”; Wallis Simpson in “The Duchess”; Marilla in “Anne of Green Gables”; the grim and repressed Rheaunna in the musical version of Michel Tremblay’s “Belles Soeurs” – and playing the role of Vi in “Halfway There” here at PSFT is definitely among those on this list. It’s aways wonderful to play so many different types of characters!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE?  There are always a few – and hopefully the audiences never realize them! What comes directly to mind is, recently I played ‘the old battle-axe’ Daphne Drimmond in “There Goes the Bride” at a large dinner theatre. At one of our first previews when I made my entrance I noticed people at a front table talking on their cellphones, and because it was so early in our run I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to get used to such distractions – so all of a sudden I completely ‘blanked’ and forgot what I was supposed to say! No one onstage could help me because it was near the top of the play and my character was arriving with all sorts of new information which no one onstage was supposed to know. So I stood there at the foot of the stairs and started blathering away about who-knows-what – I think I threw in something about the joys of gardening!? – and after experiencing about 20 seconds of the horrified looks of the other 2 actors frozen onstage with me during my ongoing mindless (literally!) drivel, a merciful light suddenly dawned: my memorized lines came back to me and the show proceeded unscathed. Luckily the role of Daphne Drimmond is rather eccentric, so my weird disjointed blathering might not have seemed too out of place -?? But believe me, that was a REALLY LONG 20 seconds
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE?  Again, there will always be quite a few. Mrs Lovett in “Sweeney Todd” (if I could handle all those rapid-fire lyrics). Germaine Lauzon in the musical of “Belles Soeurs.” Any role in any play by J.B. Priestly. And I have always wanted to do the role of Susan in “Woman in Mind.”

 

 

February 1, 2021

Tim Machin

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE?  I can’t remember what the play was. It was a school production. It was before I was 10. I was playing a turtle. What I remember most, is that my Mum made me the most amazing costume, very simply. My turtle shell was a laundry basket covered in brown packing paper, with the shapes of the shell drawn on to it. I could curl up in a ball on my hands and knees and fit underneath the laundry basket and just stick my head out when I had something to say. My Mum was so clever.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE?  Feste, in Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, for Driftwood Theatre Group. I first saw a BBC production when I was in Grade 10. With Felicity Kendall as Viola. Something about that play, I just loved it. I was drawn to Feste because he seemed to link everybody up. He was melancholy and funny at the same time. There was a production done at UVic when I was a student, but I wasn’t in it. I saw Mark Rylance’s all male production at Shakespeare’s Globe and it was the funniest thing I had ever seen. It made me want to do that play even more. We had a fabulous cast for the Driftwood Production including Madeleine Donohue as Viola, Andrew Scanlon as Malvolio and Karl Ang as Orsino . I was given beautiful, original music to sing by Tom Lillington and we played in beautiful parks around Ontario.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE?  Another Driftwood show. The Odyssey. I played Odysseus the elder. At the climax of the play, while in disguise, I string the bow that only I can string, that symbolizes that I am King, in order to slay all Penelope’s suitors. That night, I was standing alone, centre stage, the rest of the cast, as the suitors, are scattered around the periphery amongst the audience. I pulled back the bow string to loose the first arrow, and the bow broke in half. I didn’t know what to do. So I made a snap decision. I summonned the powers of zeus from the heavens and channelled it through my fingertips to “zap” all the suitors. Port Stanley alumni, Andy Pogson, who was also in that show, reminds me about that night every time he sees me!
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE?  Willy Loman. An amazing playwright. A truly great play. I love everything he stood for and everything he was saying through his plays.

 

January 25, 2021

Franny McCabe-Bennett

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? I remember distinctly being in a class play in grade 2, staging our own version of the story of King Midas after our teacher read us the fable. I don’t remember what my actual part was, but I remember being EXTREMELY jealous that my “friend” got to play the princess. That might be the role I’m chasing to this day.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? I’ve been lucky to play a range of characters and I’ve always jumped around between comedy and drama. One of my very favourite roles was Catherine in “Proof” (the Gwenyth Paltrow part, if you’re familiar with the movie). Catherine is smart, funny, going through a major change in her life – it’s a juicy part in a great script. I’d love the chance to do it again!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE? One of my favourite on-stage experiences of ALL TIME is when the entire cast of “Book Club” had to hold the show because the audience was laughing so hard, we actually couldn’t continue. There was a moment of physical comedy that really got everyone that evening, it was a scene with the entire cast, and we had to wait for the laughs to die down before we could continue with our lines (or we wouldn’t have been heard) and it lasted so long that then everyone started laughing at everyone’s laughter, which eventually made it to the cast and we all started giggling and it became a vicious, hilarious, circle for at least one full minute. I’ve never experienced anything like it before or since, it was a delightful moment of true harmony between the audience and the actors—and that’s what we do it for, to invite our audiences into our pretend world, to connect, to share joy (or sorrow or righteousness, depending on the play). Recognizing that we were all in the same room, laughing at the same goofy physical bit, was an exercise in humanity and true playfulness and fun that has stuck with me ever since. The cast is still in touch and it’s a memory we all love to share and remind each other of!
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? I’d love to play Miss Hannigan in “Annie” or Mme Thernardier in “Les Miserables”. Give me a lady with opinions, some jokes, and a song or two and I’m in!

 

 

January 18, 2021

Elana Post

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ONSTAGE? The absolute first time I appeared on stage outside of church Christmas pageants was as one of the three little pigs in my kindergarten class’s acclaimed production of The Three Little Pigs. If I am remembering correctly I played the stick house piggy.

My first professional theatre appearance was as an acrobat and understudy of the women’s chorus in The Mikado at the Stratford Festival.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? Ooh, tough question. I’ve thought long and hard and I’m not sure I can answer this one. The roles that I have enjoyed the most are the ones where a lot of experimentation has been allowed, not only by the director but also by the amount of time allotted to rehearse and, in my younger years, by me. I also find it delicious to play what, on the surface, may appear to be an unlikeable character. I like to dig in and see what layers really exist.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE?  I once was in a show that was rather tough on costumes as there was a lot of physical comedy. One night, mid scene, right after I had been thrown over another character’s shoulder, the clasp above the zipper of the wedding dress I wore detached and the zipper decided that was the night it would no longer stay up on its own. We did stay in character but there were lots of laughs (from the audience while we were onstage and from us once we were offstage) and it was great fun trying to solve the zipper problem while being truthful to the scene. A memorable night for sure.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE?  Another good question. I don’t think I have ever really attached myself to the idea of dreaming of playing one role in particular, but I love a good comedy with lots of physical action where the opportunities for getting a little wacky are boundless.

 

 

January 11, 2021

Terry Barna

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ONSTAGE?  I actually still have vivid memories of taping my father’s dress socks to the side of my head, wearing a white pyjama jumper and performing as Snoopy in our Grade 1 presentation of “Charlie Brown’s Christmas”! I also remember the feeling I got inside while listening to a hundred people laugh and clap when I was onstage. I think it’s that feeling I miss most during these COVID times. My first professional gig was the world premiere of “Small Time”, by Norm Foster, with NORM in the show!

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE?   As an actor, I get asked that a lot. While it is very much like choosing a favourite child, I have been fortunate to play some great roles, like Frieda Heitz in “The Last Resort”, Marty McCoy in “Discovering Elvis” (gave myself male pattern baldness for that one), and Daddy Warbucks in “Annie” (went right down to the root for that one), to name just a few.

When I think back over past shows however, I think it’s the memories of how audiences responded to a show that make them my favourites. Without sounding like I’m kissing up, the way the PSFT crowds responded to Earl in “The Birds & The Bees”, The Church Ladies in “Harvest”, Earl in “7-10 Split”, and Charlie in “Lunenburg” have made all of these shows incredibly special.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE?   Well, “favourite” is an interesting word for this question. One very memorable moment came during a performance of “I’ll Be Back Before Midnight”. In one of the lighter, touching scenes of what is a pretty scary, hairy play, my wife and I have a tender moment where I pick her up in my arms and carry her upstairs to the bedroom. In one performance, I swooped her into my arms and duly farted. And not a little fart. We heard some chuckles from the front row, so we played a cute little giggle to each other and then totally lost it once we were off stage. I figured that maybe the first row or two heard it, so we didn’t dwell on it. Three years later, I was at a friend’s Birthday party and someone came up to me and asked if I was in that show. When I confirmed it was me, they commenced to tell me “I was there the night you farted!”. Turns out, they were in the second-LAST row of the theatre!

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE?  I love the challenge that comes with playing multiple characters, like Allan Duncanson in “Harvest”, and one of my dreams would be to play one of the clowns in “The 39 Steps”. It’s also been a dream of mine to play Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”. Outside of those, I love creating a character for the first time, so it is a dream come true whenever a theatre company casts me in a Premiere production.

 

January 4, 2021

Liz Gilroy

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ONSTAGE? I was about 8 and my ballet school was performing at The Oakville Centre, but my first time on stage professionally was 4 years later. I was 12 and I was playing Bet in OLIVER at the Limelight Dinner Theatre in Toronto. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE?  My favourite roll was Dainty June in GYPSY at The Stratford Festival. I could have played that part for years. It was directed and choreographed by Brian Macdonald, who was one of our most revered directors of G&S and musical theatre in Canada.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE?    My favourite on stage mistake has to be when i was doing CHARLIE BROWN at the Georgian Festival Theatre in Meaford, ON. I was playing Sally and I had this great monologue about a sculpture I had to make for art class, a bent coat hanger…..I also entered in tap shoes for that monologue. I was waiting in the wings on stage left and i was sure it was my entrance, so, i flapped on loudly from the wings only to find I was 3 scenes too early. i found myself on stage with Schroder, his piano, and Lucy.. Needless to say i circled the stage, still flapping around in my tap shoes , and LOUDLY exited stage left. i figured I had nothing to lose at that point .

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE?  My dream role……?????? Well, now that I direct/choreograph mostly, my dream role would be to be an Artistic Director of a theatre one day. BUT i would also love to do MAME with my best friend Lisa Horner . We have already talked about how we would switch back and forth between Vera and Auntie Mame, depending on the day.

 

December 28, 2020

SCOTT MAUDSLEY

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ONSTAGE? a) As a paid performer: when I played Jonathan Harker in Dracula in a summer employment student group production at the University of Guelph. I worked with an incredible performer named Michael Shrawen (sp?) who played Renfield. We had this crazy chase scene where he leapt from the stage onto an 8 foot high platform to cut off my escape. b) unpaid: I think it was a Christmas show in about grade 2 at my elementary school in Sudbury, Ontario where they gave me the narrator role because it had the most lines and I was good at remembering lines.  My Mom says it was at my pre-school which coincidentally was part of the Early Childhood Education program at the University of Guelph but I don’t have any real recollection of this…thank goodness

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? Playing opposite Liz in the two-hander show “Same Time Next Year” at Magnus theatre in Thunder Bay. It was written by Canadian playwright Bernard Slade who also created TV shows like the Partridge Family and The Flying Nun. Lizzie was great and had to wear the most extraordinary collection of wigs as her character aged throughout the show. The only wig they proposed for me, which was when the show entered the swinging sixties, got kiboshed…again, thank goodness.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE? When I was a real ham in high school, I played Sneaky Fitch in a comedic Western. It was at the height of popularity of the Rock Group, the BeeGees and Movies like Saturday Night Fever in which their music featured. As I lay dying, my monologue required me to repeat the phrase “Stayin’ Alive” several times. Bear in mind, the script for Sneaky Fitch was written years and years before the BeeGees even existed. But that didn’t stop me from surreptitiously snapping the fingers of my downstage hand each time I said the line: “Stayin’ alive”, “Stayin’ alive”. The audience lost it.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? Strangely I always wanted to play Lee in Norm Foster’s the Melville Boys but am a bit long in the tooth for that one now. I grew up loving the Rock Musical, Jesus Christ Superstar and I never felt my lack of singing chops should prevent me from playing Pontius Pilate. But getting the chance to play Angus in Michael Healey’s masterpiece the Drawer Boy at PSFT was definitely a dream role.

December 21, 2020

TRACEY BELTRANO

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ONSTAGE? I was 4 years old. It was a year end dance recital where I tap danced with 8 other kids with our teachers in the wings in case we forgot steps. I remember being terrified but so curious about what it would feel like.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? I played Bananas in, “House Of Blue Leaves” by John Guare, in my 2nd year exam play at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC. It was the first time that everything I learned started to click. The work disappeared and I was fully engrossed in the role. 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE?  The time the whole cast of “Book Club” at PSFT fell into a laughing fit on stage. The audience was along for the ride. None of us could keep a straight face so we just laughed. For a full minute. Felt like ten! It was so cathartic. It was a moment of synchronized joy for everyone there. To me, it encapsulates the magic of theatre in one moment.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE?  Since I was a child, I’ve been a huge fan of strong, female characters who are a bit broken. I was a huge fan of Rosalind Russell and Ethel Merman and their portrayal of Mama Rose in “Gypsy”. That would be the ultimate dream role for me. “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” has been a sort of anthem for me throughout my life. It perfectly suits just about any situation and I’m often humming it under my breath.

December 14, 2020

DANIELLE NICOLE

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ONSTAGE? I recently saw the fantastic Sarah Machin Gale’s PSFT promo and she and I happen to have the same first onstage show, “The Wizard of Oz.” For me, I was in Grade 1 and it was during my first year at St. Joseph Elementary School in Wawa ON where we moved from Windsor in the late 70’s. Being 6 years old, I played a munchkin. Ding Dong the Witch is Dead was my favourite song at the end and I think the rest of the time we did a lot of munchkin giggling and hid from Dorothy behind extra large green garbage bags that were filled with stuffing and covered in paper flowers. I’m not sure set budgets for small productions have improved that much over the years. 😉

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? My favourite role was Alice in Sexy Laundry opposite Jim Doucette at PSFT. The show is a comedy about a couple attempting to rekindle the romance in their relationship – the script was a really nice mix of laughs and some very touching moments. I tend to gravitate more to comedic scripts that are grounded in the realities of relationships. And hey, I got to use a whip so this show really had it all! I just remember laughing all the time in rehearsal with Jim and our director Liz Gilroy – you really can’t ask for more than that. I hope we can remount it one day for you see, I’m older and much wiser now (well, I think I’m wiser anyway) and I can use even more of my own experience having been married in real life for the past 12 years.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE? I was playing The Baker’s Wife in The Capitol Theatre Repertory Players production of “Into the Woods” in Windsor, ON about 20 years ago. I wish I could remember the name of the amazing designer/creator of our cow, “Milky White.” This cow was simply gorgeous – the softest coat, long eyelashes that were the envy of everyone in the cast, he was also a puppet in that we could open his mouth and actually feed him some props during the show, and the best part was that despite the fact that he was quite large, he was on wheels so my baker and I could easily roll him around the set. And it went very smoothly during rehearsals and through many runs of the show. Until the night one of his back wheels caught on a set piece as we quickly rolled him onstage. And you guessed it, he tipped right over. Both of us quickly set him right, gave him a pat and a nuzzle to make sure he wasn’t hurt of course, (had some silent, inside laughs along with the audience who was killing themselves) and got on with the show. That happened to be the night the show was recorded so we have this wondrous event on tape to watch over and over again. This brought cow tipping to a whole new level!

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? Oh, I’d love to play Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd one day. I love the darkness and daring of this show and it has some fantastic songs. I was in the ensemble of this show actually about 26 years ago and was one of the members of the quintet. We had a fantastic leading cast so I learned so much just by watching them every night. And there’s nothing like some complicated Stephen Sondheim when you’re still learning to read music! It’s been a while since I’ve performed in a musical but I do miss it very much.

December 7, 2020

JAMIE WILLIAMS

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ONSTAGE?  The first time I appeared on stage in a ‘play’ that I can remember would have been in Grade 2 at Burnham public school in my hometown Cobourg, Ont. I can’t recall the name of the play, but I do remember I was the head mouse of a group of mice inhabiting the Trudeau household ( that would of course be Trudeau senior) planning a route to the pantry while avoiding the house cat. A riveting suspenseful plot and I daresay a masterful performance on my part; a mouse has never been so mousey. I have also played a tree but that’s a story for another time.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE?  My favorite role, apart from Iago and Macbeth, would be Bernard Nightingale the egotistic, fame seeking and promiscuous academic from Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. An English don on the verge, so he thinks, of proving his theory that Byron killed another man in a lover’s duel thereby pulling himself out of obscurity and into the upper echelon of academia where he feels he belongs. Spoiler: his theory turns out to be wrong. However my favorite role at PSFT, and one of my all time favorites is the role of Bruno McIntyre in Lorne Elliot’s The Fixer Upper; the doomed cottage renovator trying to step out from the shadow of his Aunt Tillie while sharing hilarious stories about family and relationships directly with the audience. A challenging but highly satisfying show.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE?  You know, no mistake onstage is ever a good thing, generally it is either a blip you hope no one notices or it is an altogether mortifying experience  so to identify a favorite is not so easy. That said, I was in a production of Ray Cooney’s Run For Your Wife (and no I’m not referring to the PSFT production, though I was I in that one) where at the end of the play the bumbling Detective Porterhouse, a gentle soul really, comes out in frilly apron,tea service presented, with the statement “I’ll play mother!” and is rounded upon by the ambitious somewhat hysterical Detective Troughton who who shouts “Sit!” and Porterhouse drops into a chair. In this production it was a comfy low wing back chair. Our actor playing Porterhouse was cast because of his talent, of course, but also because he very much suited the name of Porterhouse. On this particular night when he dropped back into the chair his backward momentum was such that he knocked the chair loose of its moorings, it was bolted to the stage, and the chair, he, and the tea service went ass over, pardon the pun,tea kettle. It was so surprising and so fitting and such a display of athleticism (the actor springing to his feet unhurt, you might think it had been part of the show) after an instant of stunned silence the whole cast, and I do believe the whole cast was onstage at that point, burst out laughing, as thankfully did the audience. It took  what felt like two minutes to recompose and carry on through the final few minutes of the play. It was a shameless display of ‘corpsing’. But who would blame us? The actor involved was not only unhurt but a great sport and enjoyed the laugh with everyone, and I think was a bit proud of what as I have said was quite an acrobatic achievement.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE?  I don’t know that I have a dream role. I’m always pleased for the opportunity to work and love making audiences laugh. Particularly in my newer role as playwright. I recently originated the role of Blake Wellner in The Writer by Norm Foster and I would call that a dream role. I’ve always loved Shakespeare and a good villain (I realize good villain is an oxymoron but you know what I mean) so I’d have to say I would truly love to play the role of Richard the Third. I don’t know if I’m getting long in the tooth but I’d jump at the the opportunity. Apart from that, to adapt a line of Norm Foster’s, I’d say my dream role is my next one.

November 30, 2020

SARAH MACHIN GALE

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ONSTAGE?
The first time I was in a play was in my elementary school musical’s production of The Wizard of Oz. I was in Grade 4, so I must have been 8 or 9 years old. I was Glinda the Good Fairy and I was pretty excited about my costume. I got to wear Mrs. Jones’ wedding dress.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE?
Ah!!! So many favourites! I loved playing Mrs Webb in “Our Town” in a production by Theatre Rusticle directed by Allyson McMackon. Also I loved playing Julia Child in a production of “To Master The Art” at the Grand in London, ONT, directed by Susan Ferley.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE?
I remember once being on tour and there had been some huge delay in us arriving at the theatre we were supposed to perform in. We were touring in Germany and maybe there was something lost in translation, but we arrived at the theatre to set up and the set from the previous play was still in place. So we decided that we’d just try and perform our play on their set. The set in place was “La Cage Aux Folles” and the play we were doing was “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. I think there was a lot of ‘laughing upstage’ during that show!
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE?
My dream role is performing in live theatre again. But really, I can’t wait to get on a stage in front of an audience. There’s nothing like it!

 

November 23, 2020

CAITLIN DRISCOLL
WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ONSTAGE?
My first stage appearance was at the Peterborough Theatre Guild as Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web when I was 12. I had to paint my face completely grey every show to match my grey spider’s outfit.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE?
That’s like picking your favourite kid (or in my case cat 😉 ! I can say one of my favourite roles was playing the Pomeranian triplets Hedwig, Berta and Ima on stage at the Port Stanley Festival Theatre last year! It was such a workout and so fun to do three wacky characters.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE?
I was playing multiple roles in a show at 4th Line Theatre in Millbrook Ontario. So, I had to underdress a sequined top to be a dancer in one scene, while at the same time, I was playing an old drunk man in another scene. The old drunk man I was playing had to fall on top of someone sitting on a chair. One day the chair beneath us broke! We both tumbled to the floor and my old drunk man’s jacket ripped open to reveal a sequined top! I think I said “whoopsie” in my old man voice and tried to close my jacket as we ended the scene. Not sure how many people noticed the sequins, but I got a good laugh about it.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE?
I love playing as many characters as possible in a show. I love using different voices and accents and making people laugh. Mostly I am just happy to be on stage in any capacity and I can’t wait for that to happen again.

November 16, 2020

WILLIAM VICKERS

What was the first time you appeared on stage?

The year was 1962 and I was six years of age singing in a regional school competition. The venue where I performed still stands. It’s a small redbrick Victorian building near the corner of highways #10 and #24 in the village of Caledon. At that time it was the town hall. My performance was flawed. Midway through the song I lost my words and left the stage in embarrassment. The adjudicator singled me out and in front of the audience said that I was very special and said that she wished she could give me a medal but couldn’t because I had forgotten my words. Her kindness encouraged me to continue in singing competitions and it was those future experiences that gave me my ‘stage legs’.

What has been your favourite role?

This is such a tough question because theatre is a collaborative art form. Enjoyment and success is dependant on the quality of the production you’re in.
Playing motel manager “Phillie” in George F. Walker’s “Problem Child” (in Munich Germany) and “Criminal Genius” (in Niagara Falls Ontario) were two particularly pleasant experiences. Mr Walker wrote a beautifully funny yet profoundly tragic character and it was a thrill to play him.

What is your favourite onstage mistake?
It wasn’t mine but I was on stage at the time. It was during a performance of a Murder Mystery at The Shaw Festival. A well known actor blanked on the name of murder suspect “Lizzie Borden”. So he called her “Laura Secord” instead. I sent him a box of chocolates for Christmas.

What is your dream role?
King Lear……yah that will remain a dream for sure.

 

November 9, 2020

RACHEL JONES

What was the first time you appeared on stage?
The very first time I was ever onstage was in Grade 1, way back in 1977. I played the fairy in a school holiday show, with a little tutu and leotard; I don’t even remember what the show was! What I do remember is that I was also the narrator at the beginning of the play, so my beautiful bristol board and tinsel wings had to be covered with a huge white sheet for the big reveal later. I do remember how the crowd went, “Awwwwww…” when I came out. Been a while since I’ve got that response!

What has been your favourite role?
I think my favourite role was Lavatch in the Canadian Stage production of All’s Well that Ends Well at Shakespeare in High Park a few years ago. The role is actually a role for a male clown, but the director had this cool vision where Lavatch became a very overtly female clown, almost a parody of female actually. I was all stuffed up with body padding, and I wore a cow print dress and huge red lips and carried a martini everywhere I went. I got to sass people all the time and address people in the audience directly with some extra text that was written for me. I also did some lounge singing. It was a huge challenge to find the right balance for her and I loved it! Also up there with my favourites though, is the time at Port Stanley when I played a really dim police officer who disguised herself as a tree in order to catch the bad guys.

What is your favourite onstage mistake?
Oh dear, this is from a Port Stanley show and Simon doesn’t even know about it, I don’t think, so I’m sticking my neck out here. It wasn’t a mistake, but rather bad form onstage. We were doing Real Estate and the four actors involved were all very close friends and spent a lot of time together outside of rehearsal. (I married one of them, eventually!) We had got hooked on a famously bad movie called The Room, and one of our jokes to each other was to say “Oh hi, Mark,” which the lead actor/director of the movie said frequently in a really weird, unintentionally comical voice. So last night of the run of Real Estate, an evil idea occurred to me. Bruce Davies and I didn’t enter until about 20 minutes into the play, while the other two actors had been onstage the whole time together. I didn’t tell Bruce what I was planning. My first line was “Hi Joel.” So when I came on, I said, “Oh hi, Joel” in the same weird voice from the movie that we’d been mocking for weeks. It was just the subtlest shift, nothing the audience would notice, and I thought the other three actors would just register it and have to struggle not to smile. But what actually happened is that they lost it. Completely. They were laughing so hard that they couldn’t say their lines, and this went on for what seemed like an hour! The audience was loving it – I don’t know if they thought it was a built in joke in the play or if they suspected that something had gone off the rails, but they were laughing up a storm as well. I think I was the only person in the theatre with a straight face! I think that’s the one and only time I ever pulled a joke on castmates during a performance, and it was very unprofessional, but so good!!!

What is your dream role?
Well, that’s hard to say – there are so many roles I’d love to play. I want to play all the great male Shakespearean roles, although I’m a bit old for Hamlet. Lady Bracknell from The Importance of Being Earnest has been a favourite since I was about 11, and I would love to play the part of the old lady in The Chairs, by Ionesco, so I’ve got something to look forward to in about 20-30 years! Shirley Valentine! That would be a challenge…

 

November 2, 2020

Jeff Dingle

What was the first time you appeared on stage?
The first time I ever appeared onstage was in my Elementary School Christmas Pageant. I was in grade 4. The plot involved a host of cartoon characters having scenes with Santa (or an elf? Some sort of festive character…) and they learned about the spirit of Christmas, or something like that. One scene would have Charlie Brown and Linus, the next Scoobie Doo characters, I think Aladdin was there, etc. I played Piglet in the Winnie the Pooh segment. I had two lines and it was awesome.
What has been your favourite role?
This is really hard. I had a lot of fun last summer at PSFT playing a washed up TV Ghost Hunter in Giving Up the Ghost. Later that year I also got to be former Prime Minister Joe Clark in Michael Healey’s very funny play 1979 for Theatre New Brunswick. I was really lucky to have those parts. They were both non-stop rollercoasters. You have to cherish roles like that cause they don’t come around every day.
What is your favourite onstage mistake?
Once upon a time I was in this play called Macbeth, you might have heard of it… I was playing Malcolm, King Duncan’s son. We were performing outdoors in the summer. It was the scene where everyone wakes up to discover that Duncan has been murdered. At the end of the scene Malcolm and Donalbain (my brother) are left behind to ponder our next move since everyone will likely suspect we were the killers. I have the final speech in the scene. It’s a good five or six line piece of poetry, and I completely blanked. As Donalbain is talking about hiding in Ireland or something I just stared at him thinking “I have no idea how I respond to this”. Not only that, but I have to say something that ends the scene and gets us off stage. When Donalbain stopped speaking I just stared at him “dramatically”, put my hand on his shoulder and proclaimed:
“Let’s ride!”
And then I ran away into the woods, forcing Donalbain awkwardly run after me. I convinced nobody that this was supposed to happen, especially since the audience was packed with English Scholars who were attending the production as part of a convention. The event was so infamous that on closing night members of the cast made t-shirts with an image of a disappointed Shakespeare with the caption: “Let’s Ride”.
What is your dream role?
Personally I think I’d be a terrific Phantom of the Opera. And by terrific I mean terrible. I couldn’t sing the part to save my life and nobody would find me scary in the slightest, but man that would be fun. I think forcing an audience into watching me butcher Andrew Lloyd Webber for two and half hours would be an incredible experience… for me:)