4 Questions

Getting to know more about PSFT actors with 4 questions

Getting to know more about PSFT actors with 4 questions


October 14, 2021

NEVIN CAMPBELL

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? My first time on stage was my first piano recital when I was 7 years old, however, the first show I ever played piano for was in Grade 6 (11 years old) for our elementary school production of The Wizard of Oz. I wore a white tuxedo with tails!!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? I really enjoy the double role of pianist/musical director. As a pianist, I love to perform for audiences, especially when playing the songs that everybody knows and loves. As a musical director, I love to collaborate and work with the entire cast and my fellow musicians to help bring the show to life!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? It often happens that singers need songs in a different key than the music I have, and sometimes it easier to use the transpose button on my keyboard instead of re-writing the music. I have, on more occasions that I like to admit, forgotten to turn off the transpose button when the song is done, which makes for interesting start to the next song!
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? I love the role pianist/musical director, so I guess you can say I’m living the dream!

 

October 11, 2021

RICK KISH

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? Theatre Western at UWO when I was 19… I was a late bloomer. The show was “The Rainmaker”. At the time, I was Managing the box-office and saw a post come by for the audition. I’d always had a fantasy to be on stage, but hadn’t found the opportunity. Also, I’d been watching some incredible theatre at Talbot College as, at that time, it was a great landing place for touring productions. I was inspired, found the courage, auditioned and was cast as Noah Currie… it was terrifyingly incredible!!!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? I’ve performed this role three times in the outrageous musical production called, “Saucy Jack And The Space Vixens”. I played a down-on-her-luck waitress named Booby Shevalle who desperately dreams of something more than working for her low life boss, bar owner, Saucy Jack! The Space Vixens are the super heroines of the galaxy and an inspiration to all… Booby’s destined for greatness and ends up going to places she’d only imagined and never thought possible. The character was so attractive to me because she was such a good person, with a huge heart and would’ve given the feather boa off her shoulders to anyone who needed it! I love Booby!!!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? I was in a children’s show and was playing the role of the Court Jester. I had three plot revealing monologues where I was responsible for giving a whole bunch of information in a specific order… It was a three act play. I made my entrance, bowed to greet the King… and promptly recited the monologue that was supposed to happen in the THIRD act!! The King looked at me with a sly smirk that could only mean absolute horror! I smiled at him, looked out at the audience, shrugged my shoulders and like a good Court Jester… giggled and ran off stage! This of course leaving the king to figure it all out, on his own. Now, I will add, the actor, Stephen Lish, was such a brilliant actor, he managed to do a whole rewind of what I had done back to Act I. He gave the correct information, basically rewrote, live and on the spot, my monologue and got everything back in order! I was embarrassed and in awe! We did laugh about that for a very long time! Oh, btw, it never happened again!!
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? My dream role would be to play Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables”. It is, by far, my absolute favourite character and favourite musical of all time! Anyone casting??

September 15, 2021

JAMIE WILLIAMS

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE RECREATING A ROLE THAT YOU’VE PERFORMED BEFORE? Performing a role you’ve done before isn’t as uncommon as you might think. I’ve done it at least a dozen times. But I tend not to think of it in terms of recreating a role. Each production is different: A different venue, production team, fellow actors- a different context. In the case of The Fixer-Upper, yes most of these elements are the same but one thing is not- my age, where I am now as opposed to then, and that influences how I see the character, the situation. There is also the opportunity for improvement and seeing things we missed last time and the luxury of the knowledge from the first production. Ultimately I think I’ll be able to grow further with Bruno revisiting him this time around and that will lead to a better performance.

WHAT ARE THE UNIQUE CHALLENGES TO THIS ROLE? Obviously being onstage alone is a challenge. There’s nowhere to hide. As the focus I can’t lose my focus or I might lose the audience. There is also the challenge of engaging the audience with this role. It is a show of stories, not a lot is happening actively, physically, so the storytelling has to be compelling and enthralling which means Bruno’s words and imagination have to be vividly brought to life.

HOW DO YOU ANTICIPATE THE EXPERIENCE OF PERFORMING TO A SMALL AUDIENCE? Audience size is never really a concern for me. Of course a full house and lots of laughter can really lift and support a performance but an audience of two is still an audience and they will enjoy the performance however they choose just as a larger one will. And if they do enjoy it? Mission Accomplished!

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC TECHNIQUES THAT YOU USE TO RELATE TO A FELLOW ACTOR THAT YOU CAN HEAR BUT NOT SEE? Listening. Danielle is a great actor and it comes through in her voice. Her voice and characterizations provide me with everything I need as Bruno to be in relationship with. I just have to listen. Listening is perhaps a practice I could exercise more and The Fixer-Upper has given me that opportunity. (I’m sure my family will hope I carry that practice over into my day to day life.)

 

September 10, 2021

DANIELLE NICOLE

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE RECREATING A ROLE THAT YOU’VE PERFORMED BEFORE? I think it’s always fun to revisit a role I’ve done before because when it’s a good piece, there are always new moments of discovery. And you can also do some fine tuning. For this one it’s been about 7 years since we’ve done it – even aging 7 years makes a difference in how you approach your scripts. Coming into rehearsal was certainly a more comfortable situation this time as I knew exactly what to expect.

WHAT ARE THE UNIQUE CHALLENGES TO THIS ROLE? The unique challenges for me in this show are that I’m playing 3 different characters but you never actually get to meet them. The play is a series of phone calls with our main character, Bruno. So I’ll be backstage “on the phone” with him throughout. I have to make sure my choices for each character are very specific to clearly differentiate them since you’ll only be hearing them. That means making decisions about how old they are, where they come from, their relationships to the other people in the script, the rhythm in which they speak, how do they move/sit/hold themselves, are they aggressive or friendly, intelligent/ditzy, direct/wishy washy, manipulative/empathetic, loud/timid speakers, fast/slow speakers, and exactly where to place their voice in my mouth, etc. I have to do my best to paint a clear picture for Bruno and also the audience so they can easily follow the story.

HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO CONNECT WITH AN AUDIENCE YOU CAN’T ACTUALLY SEE? While on my mic backstage, I’m close enough that I can certainly hear the audience reactions but I still do feel a bit disconnected from the action. When we did this show before I found it a little more challenging knowing how long I should wait for laughs before I continued on; you want to avoid stepping on the laughs when you can to be sure people are able to hear the next lines. That makes it all the more important to really just focus on my conversations with Bruno – it’s like if I stay connected to him, I’ll automatically be more connected to the audience.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC TECHNIQUES THAT YOU USE TO RELATE TO A FELLOW ACTOR THAT YOU CAN HEAR BUT NOT SEE? I would say being in the moment, visualization, and focus are what I find most useful. I have to really do my best to listen to the other character. I visualize the entire world of these characters and so I think about my relationship with them, how I feel about this person in general and how I feel about what they’re saying to me/how they’re treating me right now. My focus has to be grounded and steady so that I can do my part in keeping that ball in the air to keep the action moving.

 

August 9, 2021

CHRIS GIBBS

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? It was as a street performer in Covent Garden in London. I had just turned twenty-one, I had no performing experience and I had no idea how to put on a show, but I had taught myself how to do acrobatics, and I knew that I wanted to be a performer. I spent a terrifying half hour trying to get people to stop and watch the routine that I had worked out. I had just learned how to do a standing back somersault, and I kept doing these in the hope that people would stay and watch what else I was going to do, but most of them would just smile and clap, and keep on walking. Eventually I had about ten people watching, and I did my little show, and at the end collected about two pounds. The next day I could hardly walk.
WHAT IS THE MOST OUTRAGEOUS AUDIENCE HECKLE YOU HAVE ENCOUNTERED? So … I am going to adapt this question, because if hecklers were interesting, they’d be doing a show instead of heckling.
Instead I will tell you about the most outrageous unwanted audience participation I have encountered, which, surprise surprise, happened when I was a street performer.
I was working in a duo at the time, and we had a nice crowd of about 200 people in the inside performance space in Covent Garden. Suddenly, we were joined in the space by half a dozen skinheads. The audience stayed and watched as these men followed us around the space for a few minutes. They were very menacing, but also seemed to be unsure of what to do now they had a couple of hundred people watching them.
The strange thing was that just before the skinheads got bored and left I noticed that Emma Thompson was in the audience. She was talking to a child – I assume her own – presumably telling them that this is what can happen to you if you don’t go to drama school.
I also assume that there were many people in that audience who thought that the skinheads were part of the show, perhaps a surreal satirical theatre piece in the middle of a stupid comedy show with two men who fell over a lot.
WHAT IS THE ODDEST GIG LOCATION YOU HAVE PERFORMED AT? A business seminar in Belgium, where I played a professor of accidents for a bunch of Belgian businessmen.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? Most of my work is still comedy, either my one-man shows or shows that people ask me to do, but I’ve been studying acting since I moved to Canada in 2002, and I have discovered that apparently, when the role calls for it I can be quite intimidating and a little frightening. I would love to play a part where I get to see how far I can go with that, maybe a play about a comedian who exacts justice on a heckler.

 

 

July 19, 2021

KATE GORDON

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? My VERY first stage appearance was playing the Virgin Mary in the school Christmas pageant in grade 5. I’ll never forget the ‘audition’. We all had to take turns reading aloud in front of the class and I was DETERMINED to get cast as Mary. I was painfully shy at the time and it was my very first outlet allowing me to safely raise my voice and enjoy the attention!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? My favourite role so far was playing Pontius Pilate in The Last days of Judas Iscariot. I played him as a ‘her’ and as a fully embodied, powerful, sexy beast of a monster complete with a threatening golf club in hand and stilettos on my feet (while ‘on trial’ in the play)! It felt glorious and bold. That role sparked real joy in me.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE? I am not one to break character and ‘corpse’ while onstage. Ever. Except for this one time, playing the big, exuberant German flight attendant, Gretchen, in Boeing Boeing. (My second favourite role ever!) My cast mate- who shall remain nameless, (although he is very well known to PSFT audience!) would look at me in a certain way during a particularly heated scene in the second act. There was something about the absolute ridiculousness of the scene and our complete commitment to it that made us both ‘corpse’ almost every show. I always felt terrible about it. I would work so hard to prep myself to NOT laugh- but it was sooooo hard!! But it was also soooo fun!
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? This is a tough question. There are so many roles I would die to play. But I’d have to say my dream role would be playing a classic, iconic woman such as Hedda Gabler but in a fully physicalized production. I am a very physical actor and the universality of movement-based theatre has always excited me. Embodying the role of a complex woman such as Hedda would be a dream come true.

 

 

July 12, 2021

JANET MONID

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? The first thing that comes to mind are the piano recitals my piano teacher would have her students attend that were held in a school auditorium, on a stage. Terrifying yet exhilarating! Then there were the public speaking contests in elementary school. Also, not necessarily on a stage but in front of a class, in grade four my friends and I would go from classroom to classroom and perform Carol Burnett ‘sketches’ in front of each class. Such a great feeling when the teachers allowed us into their classes.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? It would have to be Connie in “The Ladies Foursome” at PSFT. The journey that she and the other ladies take, the things that are revealed, the hits….the misses! It’s a play in which 18 holes of golf are played in the duration of the play. So much to keep track of – entrances to the left or right?, where is the golf tee?, which way do you hit on this tee?, is it my line?, what’s my line?? The best part was the camaraderie with all of us ‘ladies’. We would get on stage every show and ride the wave. So much fun!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE? Yes, I’ve forgotten words, made up words, forgotten sentences…or three pages/a whole scene, but the most interesting mistake, but not my mistake, was one night while doing a production of “Deathtrap” ( I was Helga ten Dorp) …*spoiler alert*…myself and another actor were waiting backstage – a super small backstage that contained the wings, dressing rooms and workshop all in one- when all of a sudden the actor who’s waiting with me holds up the ‘bloody garrote’ that is supposed to be pre-set behind the couch. The murder scene on stage is about to take place within minutes. There is absolutely no way to get that thing onstage. Hearts never pounded so fast. Especially the stage manager’s. I think the actor was killed by a massive choke hold in that performance.
Remember kids: ALWAYS check your props BEFORE the audience comes in.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? Any role. I dream about getting any role in any play everyday!

 

July 5, 2021

LEISA WAY
WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? I was seven. It was a school production of The Nutcracker (see attached photo). I had two left feet, so my parents were surprised when the teacher chose me to be the Sugar Plum Fairy. I adored wearing the tutu with rhinestones on it. That’s where my obsession with costumes began. After that, I turned my mom’s cedar chest into a tickle trunk, like Mr. Dressup, and my friends and I would write our own plays and perform them. I didn’t appear in my first professional theatre role until I was 14. It was “Dorothy’ in The Wizard of Oz at the Sudbury Theatre Centre, and the professional actors were so kind to me. Over 40 years later, many of those original cast members are still friends today, including PSFT favourite Marcia Tratt, who played the Wicked Witch.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? That’s a tough one!! I loved doing The Long Weekend here at PSFT, because Norm Foster and my husband David Nairn are my absolute favourite actors to share a stage with. We performed that play at six different theatres in Canada, and we even took it to Bermuda. Two favourite acting roles are “Billie Dawn” in Born Yesterday (I was such a fan of Judy Holliday in the movie) and “Judy Garland” in Canadian premiere of “End of the Rainbow”. People think “End of the Rainbow” must be a musical, but it’s actually a very serious play with just a bit of music. Growing up I was a huge Judy Garland fan, so it was an honour to portray her onstage, but the role was emotionally exhausting, as the play is set in the last three months of her life, when drugs and alcohol were winning their battle with her. However, if I had to choose my most thrilling role to play? Just because I’m a daredevil, I’d have to say playing “Peter” in Peter Pan and getting to FLY! The first time I performed the show, I played ‘Wendy” opposite Cathy Rigby as Peter, and the incredible British rocker Long John Baldry as Captain Hook. It was my first US Tour, and then about ten years later I landed back in the States, but this time in the role of “Peter Pan” himself (herself?) at a theatre in Carmel, CA. That was the year of 9-11. The world paused that day, and when we came back in the next day to perform the show, we re-choreographed the Captain Hook/Peter bomb scene. It was just too real a reminder of what had just happened. The theatre asked me to start the show that night by singing the American national anthem. I was the only Canadian in the cast. Thankfully, I knew the words. To share that moment with that audience, singing with me through their tears, is something I will always remember.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE? Another tough one!! I’m not sure if these qualify as mistakes, but when I was playing “Anne” in Anne of Green Gables at the Charlottetown Festival, one night we got to the final scene in the play, where Marilla is singing to Matthew’s empty chair and Anne bursts in to tell her she has turned down the scholarship and will stay home instead. Well, we lost power in those very last minutes of the show. The quick thinking crew grabbed flashlights. The final scene was lit with only with those tiny beams on our faces. It was magical. Another time, I was playing “Guenevere” in Camelot at Huron Country Playhouse, and I was singing my big ballad standing at the top of this beautiful, grand staircase at the side of the stage. As I was singing, I could hear the audience gasping, “Oh! Oh”! And then I’d sing a few more lines and they’d gasp, “Oh!, Oh!” again. It turns out, it wasn’t my performance they were oohing and aahing about. A bat in the barn was nosediving me, and with the Rapunzel like wig I was wearing, it would have been an interesting scene if that creature had got caught in my wig! And a final favourite onstage (offstage?) moment was here at PSFT. I was performing in my Canada 150 concert, and had just exited the stage to my quick change booth. I had disrobed, and was standing there in my wig cap and underwear, when suddenly, this tiny, elderly lady was standing beside me. She had stepped up onto the stage from her front row seat, and purposefully walked through the other performers who were singing. Thankfully she did this without tripping on any of the instrument cables, and she made it backstage and followed me to the quick change booth. She wanted to know where I had found my costume, as she really liked it. It was a Canada flag dress that I’d had made just for the show. I whispered that I would love to chat with her after the show and we really had to get her back to her seat. My mind was whirling as I turned to sing my background vocals into the backstage mic (yes, I sing while costume changing) and I tried to figure out how best to get this sweet lady safely BACK to her seat. But when I finished singing that vocal line and turned around – she was gone! She had walked right back onstage, nimbly navigating all the cables on the floor again. She walked back through the performers, sat back down in her seat and proceeded to beam up at me for the rest of the show. And she found me after the show for that chat about costumes. I will never forget her.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? Whatever show I am doing! Honestly, I just love performing and connecting and sharing with audiences, and my fellow performers. I miss it so much right now. My band and I have been so blessed to perform at PSFT in the past, and meet so many wonderful people. We can’t wait until we can all gather together again in your beautiful theatre. What a celebration that will be!

 

 

June 28, 2021

STEPHEN SPARKS
WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? I was the drama kid in my high school so I started there.
After high school I had no idea how to become an actor so I drove truck in the Alberta oil industry. After a few years of unrewarding work I remembered how I loved acting. I joined a local amateur theatre group and was cast as a shepherd and a guard in Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale. I loved it and did a few other plays till I was accepted into theatre school.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? I got to play the Canadian artist Tom Thompson in a beautiful musical production of Colours in the Storm.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE? Very early in my career I did a dinner theatre production of The Best Little Whore House in Texas. There’s a scene where the victorious football team comes running onto the stage. I got the idea that adding a handspring to my entrance would be cool.
I over rotated the landing and went careening out of control. I ran into the proscenium and fell backwards off the stage. Knocking into tables and spilling drinks- all the while keeping up my vocal lines in the song. Needless to say Stage management strongly urged me to cease adding unrehearsed gymnastic moves.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? The next one that comes along!

 

 

June 21, 2021

DANIELA VLASKALIC

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? My first time on stage in a significant role was in Grade 10. My school was doing a production of Fiddler on the Roof and I was cast in the role of Golde. It was an amazing experience that the entire school got behind, including the school band which played the entire score live, every performance. After that any doubts I had about pursuing acting as a profession were extinguished.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? This is a difficult question. It’s hard to narrow it down to just one. I have had many wonderful experiences on stage. One that comes to mind is the role of Helen in the play, Cripple of Inishmaan. In one scene, I had to crack raw eggs on the head of the actor who played my younger brother. The reaction from the audience and the actor playing my brother was always uproarious.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE? My favourite onstage mishap was during a live performance, a bat that had somehow found its way into the theatre, was startled and began to dive bomb the stage and the audience. This caused a huge amount of distress to both. My fellow actor and I tried to continue but after several bat “appearances” my only option was to hide behind the furniture. Thankfully with the help of the front of house staff and the other actor the bat managed to escape the theatre unharmed. The audience all thought it was part of the show.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? My dream role has not been written yet. One of the best things about Canadian theatre is that we have so many amazing playwrights that are creating new work every day. Many of my best theatre experiences have been being a part of world premieres of new Canadian work. Developing and bringing to life characters that are newly formed and that are being shared with audiences for the first time. Every time I get to be a part of the process of bringing a new play to life is very special and I hope that we will get to see and hear these new voices and new plays again soon.

 

 

June 14, 2021

MURRAY FURROW

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? The first time I appeared on stage was in grade three. I had written a short play (to impress a girl). I directed and starred in it. I not only wrote a part for her, but also her younger brother who was in kindergarten. I had to feed him every line during our one performance, and had to physically move him at least once. I didn’t end up with the girl, but her brother still works as a theatre technician in Toronto.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? Favourite role? That is a tough one. I’ve been lucky enough to be in two plays by Simon Joynes; “Dump Guys” at Port Stanley, and the premier of “Mini Putt” in Port Dover. I really loved both of those experiences. The other two that stand out for me are Pumbaa in “The Lion King” here in Toronto, and Bottom in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Oakville.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? On stage mistakes? I’ve never… Okay. It was opening night of the premier of a play called “Rope’s End” at the Thousand Islands Playhouse. I started the play with a long solo scene, very somber, tense and sad, then I walked across the stage to the entrance of a large house set. I have a bit with my cell phone (one of many) and then gather up the courage to go and knock on the door of my long lost love. Except, I dropped the phone. And I couldn’t find it. Anywhere. I looked and looked, but I finally had to ask the audience where it went, yelling “We can’t continue without the stupid phone so…”. A few audience members yelled back where it had fallen, I said a very polite “Thank you”, and turned to the door. The theatre erupted with tons of applause and laughter, and they were on our side for the rest of the evening.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? I think Bottom had been my dream role. I’d love to do it again, but had such a great time doing that first production that I’d be fine if I didn’t get another chance. Really, my dream role now is as Playwright. Simon did a workshop of my first show (since grade three) called “Our House”, and the plan was to have a production last summer. Alas, that wasn’t to be. Hopefully it will happen eventually, when the world returns to something like normal. I’ve written a few more since, “The Lakeland District Flat Earth Society” is my favourite so far. Both of those are set in Lakeland, a fictional summer town created by Simon, that I stole, and then asked if he minded. Luckily, he did not.

 

 

June 7, 2021

CHRIS BANCROFT

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? My first time on stage also includes one of my favourite on stage mistakes. Our high school theatre arts class at Chatham Kent Secondary School were performing a stock melodrama at a local elementary school for a jam packed gymnasium of rambunctious students. I was playing the evil Snidely Whiplash character-type and entered the rear of the auditorium upon my majestic imaginary stead intent on evil. I pridefully strode through the sea of upturned faces toward the stage and subsequently tripped traversing the the front of the stage apron steps. I was horrified for a moment before everyone roared with laughter. I quickly regained my wits, acted as if it was a staged pratfall and kept the falling “bit” for the remaining performances. Laughter is good and I was hooked.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? I have A lot of favourite roles but the one I am currently engaged in at any particular time is usually the most appealing. If I had to pick one though I’d probably go with Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar with Theatre Kent in Chatham, Ont. At the time I was seriously contemplating a return to college to study outdoor recreation and went to this audition on a whim. I was the last to audition, had virtually no expectations and was “unavailable” anyway, as school was calling. I was pleasantly and frighteningly shocked a day later when the role was offered and set me off on a whole new life’s journey.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? My dream role would be that of the journalist James Redpath, who is one of the the principle narrators in a musical I co-wrote with London playwright Jason Rip called, JOHN BROWN & THE GHOSTS OF HARPERS FERRY. The dream role is as much or more about the staging of my dream “production” which is a project very dear to my heart. One of the great attractions for me in my artistic endeavours has been in the ability of the arts to not only entertain but to illuminate, teach and promote human rights and this epic drama strives toward this end in the enactment and storytelling of John Brown and an eclectic group of abolitionists who challenged the entrenched status quo of their day against many powerful forces.

 

 

May 31, 2021

SHIRLEY BARR

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? I was five and in kindergarten. It was the annual concert and I was insistent that I was going to be the drummer. Front and centre for all to see up on the big stage, which really was just a little platform, but was huge to me. I wasn’t a very good drummer, but I made enough noise, pranced around the stage, stealing the scene from every other child. And I loved it.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? It’s hard to pick a favourite as each role possessed something special about a character I was about to play and wanted to inhabit. I’ve played Frau Schneider (Cabaret) twice and would do it again. Shirley Valentine was probably the most difficult one, but I absolutely loved who she was. It was a real privilege to be her for PSFT.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? I was listening to the tannoy in my dressing room when I heard a line that sounded like my entrance line. In panic I ran up a flight of stairs, through the back of the theatre and onto the stage in the middle of a scene — which was not mine! I misheard the line and arrived about 10 pages too early. It was a British play, so I kept in character, apologized profusely for interrupting them, and slinked back off the stage. The onstage actors carried on, the audience hadn’t a clue what happened and we all had a good laugh about it after the show.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? Anything that a 71 year old with a crap memory could do would be wonderful.

 

May 24, 2020

BRUCE DAVIES

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? The first time I appeared on stage was in 5th grade, playing Dick Deadeye, a rogue sailor aboard the ship H.M.S. Pinafore, in the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta of the same name. It was great fun, mostly because I got to wear an eyepatch, a blacked-out tooth, and responded to every insult with the zinger, “Because I’m three-cornered, ain’t I?!!”, (referencing my Tricorn hat, of course.)
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? My favourite role ever was the Clown role from the play The 39 Steps. It was a daunting challenge creating more than 10 different, specific characters, that I employed throughout the performance, often switching from role to role with only seconds to spare. (I recall losing close to 7 pounds over that 8 week contract!)
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? My favourite, or perhaps, most memorable onstage mistake occurred while I was performing in the play Corpse!, a wonderful comedy thriller in which I portrayed two twin brothers at the turn of the last century in London, England. The show opens with one brother creating an extravagant meal for a soon to be arriving dinner guest.
After spending 15 minutes preparing the extremely detailed meal, with my guest now seated, I began to cross downstage to the dining area from the kitchen, my arms full with a massive tray of plates of real food and a bottle of wine tucked under one arm. Stepping down onto the second stair, my foot caught the hem of the beautiful, draping Japanese kimono I was wearing. This catch, coupled with my momentum (and gravity!) vaulted me into the air, whereupon I did execute the most perfect pratfall ever, face first, onto the floor – tray still in hand!
Food was strewn everywhere, as was wine, and my dignity. It’s a miracle nothing had broken; not the bottle, serving plates, or my pelvis. Following an audible collective gasp from the audience, followed by a long silence, I calmly picked myself up, found a cloth from the kitchen and continued the rest of the scene cleaning up, as my guest looked on from dinner, as though it was all perfectly natural. I’m certain the spirit of Buster Keaton took hold of me for that brief moment in time.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? This is a difficult question; there are so many great roles, however I’ve never been one to crave the dramatic roles so much; I tend to gravitate toward comedies, so I suppose my dream role would be one from the canon of Neil Simon; Felix from The Odd Couple perhaps? He’s a grossly under appreciated playwright. His writing contains so much humanity, making the comedy within all the more moving and relevant. And maybe as an extra add-on, the husband role in the hilarious Murder at the Howard Johnson’s.

 

 

May 17, 2021

TYLER RIVE

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? The very first time I appeared on stage was as a Christmas elf, with a penchant for hitting things with a hammer for a holiday review. I was 6 or so.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? My favorite role, so far, was Padraic in the Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh with Ground Zero/Hit & Myth
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? My favorite on stage mistake was during Evil Dead: The Musical when Rebecca Northan’s wig just wouldn’t stay on.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? I’ve love to play Semyon Podsekalnikov in Nikolai Erdman’s The Suicide.

 

 

May 10, 2021

BRITTANY KAY

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? The first time I appeared on stage, I was 6 years old in The Wizard of Oz at a local day camp. I played Glinda and my sister played Dorothy. I remember being so jealous of her, vowing that I would one day be as good as her.
Well she’s a doctor now….so I guess I’m the last one laughing! Kidding !
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? Oh that’s tough to choose! They’ve all been so different and wonderfully unique. I think the most defining role I’ve ever had was when I was 11 years old I played Young Nala in Mirvish’s The Lion King, at the Princess of Wales Theatre. This production was one of my biggest influences, truly shaping me into who I am today. The early exposure and immersion into theatre solidified my creative path.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? If you saw Book Club, I’m sure you can already guess! Iain and Franny shared my favourite onstage mistake (that wasn’t even mine to make!). Who was the cause of it will always be an official debate. Iain made a physical gesture, which caused the whole audience to laugh and caused someone onstage to corpse, causing all of us to corpse, and the audience too. Our stage manager, Jory (you’re the best!), said the laughter lasted an entire minute. I’ve never felt more of a connection to the audience.. Truly special.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? Mhmm at this point in the pandemic…ANYTHING! I dream, literal dreams at night, of being back on a stage. I would love to play Hedda Gabler.

 

 

May 3, 2021

JEFF CULBERT

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? When I was pretty small, my brother Pete and I played the twins, Pete and Repeat, in some forgotten musical for the church choir in Lucan. But I think that my first speaking role was playing Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol at Biddulph Central School – Grade 7 or 8. There was a gap in the back wall that the audience was unaware of, so when I left Scrooge’s bedroom, walking backwards through the gap and speaking in a spooky voice, I seemed to disappear into thin air. At least that’s what my Mom told me.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? Archy the cockroach. He communicates with humans in free verse, telling them what life looks like from a cockroach point of view. Poet Don Marquis created Archy over 100 years ago, along with his bohemian counterpart, Mehitabel the alley cat. He reflects on morality and justice, while she sticks to dancing and survival. I toured around with a show called archy and mehitabel that I put together from the poems, and they’re both great characters.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? I was doing the show I Hate Hamlet, playing the ghost of John Barrymore, who comes back from the dead to coach an actor (played by my brother Tim) in how to play Hamlet. And he drinks a lot. At the end of the play, I disappear, leaving Tim’s character onstage alone with my copy of Hamlet, which he, of course, has a much better appreciation of now. No words, just a spotlight on him and the book; he picks it up and thinks fondly about it, blackout, end of show. But one night, I got offstage and realized that I hadn’t left him the book. And I couldn’t go back on, so I just watched to see what he would do. No words, just a spotlight on him, he picks up one of Barrymore’s many empty wine bottles and thinks fondly about it, blackout, end of show. So that night, the show came across as a salute to alcoholism.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? The role of Prospero in The Tempest has intrigued me for a long time. I have some different ideas about the character than I have seen portrayed onstage, and I’d like to try them out some day. Prospero is full of rage at first, and all he wants is revenge. But he goes through a humanizing process and comes out on the side of forgiveness by the end of the play. It’s a long journey, and I’d like to explore how to make it work.

 

 

April 26, 2021

SHANNON MCCRACKEN

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? The very first time I was on stage was around Christmastime, I believe I was 3 years old, and I found a microphone and some Christmas related props to hold, and I went up on stage (uninvited) and started to sing Christmas songs for people. I have picture proof of this and was rocking a great bowl cut at the time (thanks, Mom).
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? I only got a little taste of Amalia in She Loves Me, but my goodness, I would love to do that show again and again. The score, the melodies, the comedy – it’s one of my favourites.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? Oh, live theatre! I don’t have a huge, dramatic “I can’t believe that just happened on stage” moment (yet… I’m sure it’ll happen), but there are so many little things to choose from.
One moment that makes me laugh is I went to sing for a show and we didn’t do a light test before. So I get on stage, and the spotlight is so bright that I can’t see a single thing. Not even the tables and piano that are on the stage. Everything is black. So I just go for it with the movement I had planned, and end up walking into a piano, a table, and I think I even got stuck behind another table and was trying to feel my way to get around it at one point? About halfway through the piece, I realize it was a losing battle and I had better just stand still and not move anymore.
But while I can’t see a single thing, from the audiences’ perspective, they’re viewing a very well lit person just walking into different pieces of furniture. If I was watching myself I would have been laughing.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? Hmmm… I’ve never been able to choose one show or one role. But I would love to do any show that Adam Guettel composed and be able sing his score (and while we’re in dreamworld, let’s say we’re doing the show with a full orchestra!). I would really like to play a lawyer. And when live theatre returns and I am lucky enough to get to pack my bags and do summer theatre in some beautiful town in Ontario, I’d like to do a Kristen Da Silva play.

 

 

April 19, 2021

LORNA WILSON

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? Back in the 60’s there was no theatre in my Elementary or High School. I went into verse speaking competitions. I recited passages from Shakespeare. In grade 12 I won the Burnside Trophy from The Shakespeare Society of Toronto. I did Juliets’ famous “potion scene” from Romeo and Juliet. I never imagined in a million years I would win first prize. I used to practise the monologue in my parents basement near the coal chute so the mood was perfect for poor Juliets trauma.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? My favourite role was Maxine in Bordertown Cafe. Blyth did the original version back in the 80’s. The audience adored this play and so did the actors. I loved working with the late Jerry Frankin. The cast bonded in a special way and it was a huge success. Maxine was just a funny, wonderful role and all summer the locals would yell across the street “hey Max how’s it going?”

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? One of my many theatre mistakes was falling down the stairs in Port Stanleys’ production of “Giving UpThe Ghost.” A bit of a shock and a bruised ego but “onwards and upwards” or should I say downwards.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? I don’t have a dream role. I am proud of my career and now thrilled to have a recurring role in a TV series called Y-The Last Man.

Live theatre will return and the audience and actors will create magic once again.

 

 

April 12, 2021

SHARON MCFARLANE

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? The first time I remember being on stage was with a young people’s group at our church. We were big fans of The Carol Burnett Show at the time and I guess we decided it would be a good idea to perform a sketch from the show and present it for a ‘variety evening’ in the church hall. It was called “The Little Foxies” and I got to play the Carol Burnett role with full Southern accent. I’m pretty sure we laughed on stage as much as Harvey Korman & Tim Conway did in the show and were probably much more entertained ourselves than the audience was.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? I would probably have to say playing Natalie in “Lunenburg” by Norm Foster at PSFT. I find Norm’s humour so funny and rehearsals are always full of laughter. It’s so rewarding to hear the laughter from the audience too. Natalie was a real challenge as she does have a lot of the comedic moments and that felt like a lot of pressure! Having great fellow actors like Sarah Gale and Terry Barna helped a lot.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? I did a lot of children’s touring after theatre school and I was touring a show for Catalyst Theatre in Edmonton. It was about teaching kids about staying safe and listening to their instincts. We would start scenes and then one actor would step out of the scene and ask the young audience their opinion on what to do. As actors, we switched roles continuously and one of my roles was of a woman offering a ride to a young boy from my sports car. I switched costumes to dark sunglasses and a flowing scarf and when he stopped the scene to ask the kids if they thought he should get in the car, one young audience member put up his hand and said “I think that even though she’s blind, you shouldn’t get in the car.” So much for my cool sunglasses – the three of us in the cast absolutely lost it and it was many minutes before we recovered and got back on track.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? That is a tough one…as I get older that changes so much. There are several great roles in “August Osage County” by Tracy Letts and I’m almost ready to play the matriarch ‘Violet.’ Violet is addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol and has a sharp tongue. The family dynamics are like watching a train wreck and the laughs are ones that make you cover your mouth in horror. The relationships are so complex and the character has many layers of pain; both physical and emotional. That appeals to me.

 

April 5, 2021

MATTHEW GORMAN

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? In either grade 1 or 2 I was the shoemaker in the Christmas Concert at school. There was a good costume and I didn’t have to sing with the other elves. That was great. Then in about grade 4 I was lawyer in a show about someone being put on trial for using bad grammar and all the witnesses were verbs and nouns I got to yell at people. Also great.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? I think Mark Crawford’s Stag and Doe was probably the most fun I’ve ever had doing a show. A great script and a great cast and creative team. I could have run that show for a very long time and never been upset about coming into the theatre.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? I almost choked to death once while eating a pretzel on stage. Thankfully the show was set in the 60s and there was a fake bar on stage with a bunch of water in gin bottles so the other actor on stage could make me a drink as I was turning blue. All I remember thinking was, “not this show, not Neil Simon, please let me die during a better show.”
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? Right now, and maybe this is because of how life has changed for us around our house, I’d really like to be the dad in something. I had a really great experience touring schools and theatres with a kids show a few years ago where I played the best friend/kid part and I’d love to go back to something like that and play the other side. It might also be nice to do something that my own kid would actually be interested in.

 

 

March 29, 2021

Madeleine Donohue

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? Snow White, in grade two. As “Bashful.” I was painfully shy, and rarely spoke in school. That said, I don’t think I realized that this was a problem, until I heard my teacher speaking about me. I was in french immersion, and apparently understood the language better than she thought I did. One day, she looked right at me and then turned to the drama teacher and went “oh crap. We forgot to give that kid a part. What are we going to do with her?! She NEVER TALKS.” And the other teacher went “uh oh. Uh…give her Bashful, he has no lines.” All in french, while I listened. And then they were really excited about their smart solution. And, of course, I spent the entire performance feeling tragically overlooked and misunderstood. And now that I have my own kids I suspect that there are some great lessons in there, about kids understanding more than you think they do, or about not underestimating them, or something…but I’m not going to think too hard about those lessons, because parenting is hard.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? Hmmmm. An acting experience is defined by so much more than just the role, I find. It’s about the co-workers, the venue, the audiences. I’ve played some great roles to audiences of 12 people, in terrible rat-infested spaces. Or outdoors, in the rain, by a swamp. And, believe it or not, some of those experiences were among my favourite moments in theatre. But if I had to pick one experience that stood out, it would be playing Margot in Dial M for Murder. This was a few years ago, in P.E.I., at the Watermark theatre. My husband was in the show as well, which helped! But we went with our two tiny kids, and had a beautiful few months. It was all of the things you hope for, when you go to theatre school: packed houses, warm audiences, kind and hilarious castmates, a beautiful setting, a great director (Megan Watson). Not to mention THE BEST, most beautiful costumes, and a tech team that really, really cared. Such a big part of doing a great job, as an artist, is about being part of a great team.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? Oh MAN. Sooooo many to choose from. I’ve done a lot of comedy, a lot of outdoor theatre, a lot of children’s theatre….sometimes all at once. Also, I fall down a lot and bump into things a lot, and I am a truly terrible “corpser.” Meaning, once I start laughing onstage, I’m toast. Just totally dead. Not good. Anyway, in my first equity show I was playing some ridiculous Russian babe in a tight sweater, and a shelf fell on my head. I was standing right under it, and I think I acted my way into a wall, with way too much gusto. I wasn’t hurt, but we were all just dying. Everyone laughed. Luckily, it was the kind of show where the audience shows up half in the bag, and they just roared, to see us losing it. I’m not sure how long it lasted. I think I probably just had to give up and leave the stage, at some point.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? Probably someone loud, and silly, and completely over-the-top in a musical. I’ve only done a few musicals, but they were all the absolute most fun I’ve ever had. I’m talking…Miss Hannigan, in Annie. Has anyone written an adult version of Pippi Longstalking? I want to be THAT. One of those roles where, the more “out there” you are, the more impressed people are. Like, you could show up drinking a martini and basically yell your way through the role, and people would love it. I’ll ask Mark Crawford to write it for me. As long as I get to wear a lot of gaudy, swishy robes, I’m good. There should probably also be a scene where I’m in hair curlers. Got that, Mark? Let’s DO THIS.

 

 

March 22, 2021

Karen Parker

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? I was in grade 5 and I played a harvester in our school production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. 
It was a very short appearance! I spun in circles for a bit then left.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? I most recently was in an ongoing production called “She the People” which was a Second City production celebrating the female experience through sketch comedy, improv and music. It was so much fun and very important. I worked with some incredibly talented people and the show ran for a few years and included performances at Just For Laughs in Montreal and a run with Mirvish. I miss it so much!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? Ha! Once while doing children’s theatre I fell asleep onstage. It was a gruelling tour and we decided to have Indian food for lunch. I had butter chicken which is so rich and delicious and satisfying. Then went back to do a 2nd show. It was Peter Pan and I played Smee. When I jumped over the side of the ship and landed on the beach I had to pretend to be knocked out. Well I immediately fell asleep! Clearly I am method. The narrator woke me up. No more heavy lunches for me!
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? Oh I have always wanted to play Dotty Otley in Noises Off! Carol Burnett played her in the movie version and was amazing! It’s such an incredible farce! Honestly though at this point I ‘d be happy doing anything onstage. It’s been over a year and I feel like I’ve been in a creative coma. I can’t wait to perform again. Oh and leave my house.

 

 

March 15, 2021

Iain Stewart

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? When I was about 8 I performed in a pretty great pantomime of ‘The Princess and the Pea’. I shared my first performance with my dad, who had performed professionally in bag piping but never had been in a show before. Neither of us knew what a pantomime was going in but it was all so exciting and we caught the theatre bug in a big way. My dad still performs in community theatre in B.C. and I work professionally in Ontario.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? I think my top favourite roles all come from the same show. At Magnus Theatre I did a production of ‘Bed and Breakfast’ with Daniel Krolik where I played 11 roles! It was so much work, trying to figure out little ways to indicate each character, vocally and physically but it was sooo much fun. I would love to do that show again. I loved playing the pregnant, easy going cafe owner, and the shy, gay stuttering pre-teen as well as the snobby, well-to-do Hotel Guest. And all with no costume changes or props. Wild!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ONSTAGE MISTAKE? Well, in that same show ‘Bed and Breakfast’, my pants split at the beginning of act 1. And I don’t mean a little tear, they were opened from top to bottom. And I don’t change, or leave the stage even, for the next hour! So I just performed two dimensionally, never turning my back to the audience. It was a challenge but we made it through.
This next one’s not really a mistake, but maybe not the most professional moment of my career. I’m sure other people in this cast have mentioned the same thing… I hope. When we were doing ‘Book Club’ at the one and only Port Stanley Festival Theatre one night, the audience was really fired up and laughing a lot. There is one moment where my character, who has been unintentionally considered
gay by his crush, decides to act overly macho to make up for it and does a full man spread sit on the couch. The audience DIED laughing. And I mean they lost their marbles. So much so that I couldn’t continue. I started looking to my other castmates to see if they were witnessing the same hysteria that I saw. I don’t know who was first, and if I did I would never tell, but one by one the cast began to crack. The awesome Stage Manager Jory timed the laughter and it lasted a whole minute! 60 seconds. That may not seem like a long time but in comedy that’s a looooong time. The whole cast eventually corpsed (laughed on stage) and it was just a room full of people laughing on and off the stage. It was glorious and so much fun, I will never forget it. (Although it may have not been 100% professional).

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE?  I would love to play a really wacky character again. Something really big and funny. Maybe if they made the Big Lebowski into a play I could play the Dude. “I’m The Dude, So That’s What You Call Me. That Or, Uh His Dudeness, Or Uh Duder, Or El Duderino, If You’re Not Into The Whole Brevity Thing.” I think it could work.
Also I would love to get a play or movie produced. I’ve been doing a lot of writing during the pandemic, which I’ve loved, and hoping to get a short film produced soon. 🙂

 

March 9, 2021

Mark McGrinder

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU APPEARED ON STAGE? I’m not sure what inspired it but, for some reason I decided to write and direct Peter Pan II when I was in third or fourth grade and we performed it in the school library which had an actual stage with a curtain so it felt really official at the time.
I remember very little about it except that my character’s name was Ooga Booga (the villain obviously), the plot was shamefully centred around notions of a damsel in distress (my friend Wendy played…Wendy) and about 60% of the action was an elaborately choreographed sword fight that I had with my friend Eric (who played Peter Pan). At one point I came dangerously close to hitting him in the head with my “sword” (a ski pole with the bottom taken off) and ended up knocking his pointed cap off his head. Everyone said that was their favourite part so we said we did it on purpose.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE ROLE? I always find this a difficult question to answer because every production has something that makes it memorable. For me, it’s less about my work in the show and more about the experience as a whole. There have been a few projects where it all seems to come together and that can be thrilling. Ultimately, we’re doing it for the folks in the seats so the moments that resonate most deeply are the ones where the audience is present in a really powerful way, be it through laughter or reverent silence. I was in a Toronto production of The Normal Heart, produced by a theatre company which I’m a part of (Studio 180) and I will never forget how profoundly that show moved audiences and how inescapable the emotion was given that we were doing it in the round, with audience members on all sides. It’s a hokey term but there’s a sense of communion between the company and the audience that is really magical in moments like that.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ON STAGE MISTAKE? Oh, so many mistakes, hard to pick just one. I will always remember a moment I shared with my good friend Dylan Roberts in a production of Twelfth Night. I was playing Sir Andrew Aguecheek, who delivers a written challenge to his friend Sir Toby Belch which is then read aloud from a giant scroll. At some point late in the rehearsal process I asked Dylan, “Have you memorized the challenge, or do you just read it?”
“I just read it,” he said. “It’ll probably sink in at some point.”
Neither of us were aware how imminently that theory would be put to the test. During a packed student matinée, I strode up the vomitorium (a central entrance in the theatre) to present my challenge with gusto. As I reached into my pocket for the giant scroll I felt…nothing.
I looked back down the entryway and saw our assistant stage manager, frantically waving the scroll which had fallen out of my pocket during my entry (Did I mention I was playing the bagpipes at the time? It was a lot to keep track of). I frantically searched my pocket for anything to substitute for the written challenge and found it in the form of a 2 inch by 2 inch, yellow post it note upon which I had written the time of a hair appointment I had recently booked.
“Here’s the challenge. Read it. I warrant there’s vinegar and pepper in ’t” I said as Sir Andrew. There was neither vinegar, nor pepper in’t. Just a messily scrawled “Sarah: 2:40.” Or Susan. I don’t know, someone was cutting my hair at 2:40. Dylan glared at me. He now had to recite a very long speech that was normally written out for him in full. I gulped. He gulped. I tried to tell him with my eyes that I wasn’t doing it as a gag to put him on the spot. And then he began, “Youth. Whatsoever thou art, thou art but a scurvy fellow.” And out flowed, word perfect, the text of the letter he had so recently admitted to not knowing by heart. But the pièce de résistance was the moment, about halfway through the letter, that he turned the essentially blank post it note over to the other side and continued reading. It was brilliant. I was in awe of his composure and barely able to escape the scene without breaking into hysterics.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? I never know how to answer this question. There isn’t a certain role that I find myself thinking – oh, if only. Much like discussing my favourite role to date – I don’t really covet the specific challenge. I’m more desirous of a satisfying experience. There are two extremes that I’ve glimpsed that I’d love to experience again.
When I was at the Shaw Festival, I had the opportunity to be in a few massive shows with casts of 20 or more. That feeling of being part of an ensemble and telling a story on that ambitious a scale is not something we’re presented with a lot. Theatres are constantly striving to keep doors open by producing shows with smaller and smaller casts because of the harsh economic realities of producing for the stage. As we emerge from the shadow of COVID-19 and return to theatres, the imperative to keep costs down will be stronger than ever, so the likelihood of being able to engage in something on that scale is diminishing. So that would be dream #1. To have the opportunity, despite all odds, to be a part of something massive, working with a team on and off stage committed to telling a story together.
On the flipside, I’ve never been more challenged that when I undertook the role of Billy Bishop in Billy Bishop Goes to War. It was terrifying and exhilarating. It’s over two hours of talking, singing and sweating, supported by an onstage musician but it’s essentially a one man show and the demands are massive. I’m not sure I long for the anxiety I felt performing that but there’s a thrill in the burden of responsibility. There’s a beautiful little play called Every Brilliant Thing which I love and can imagine being a joy to explore with an audience, but right now, my dream is that there is another role. And another show and another audience. My dream is that we find our way out of this mess and are, one day soon, able to gather again, and laugh and think and feel. Together.
And directing. I’d also love to direct.

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:)