Wednesday, October 20, 2010

2011... here we come!

Well, we're done. We have built the perfect theatre season.

Please smile now...

We know nothing is ever perfect; however hard one may try to achieve perfection, nothing works out that way. But, my, we have been trying. We've tried to find a balance between music and theatre, between laughter and something a little more serious, between country and city, between.... well, you understand.

We do not believe that everyone will like everything in the 2011 season, but we do believe that there everyone will find something to like in the new season, so we expect to see everyone here, at least once!

SFT members will receive their newsletter announcing the new season sometime in the next few days. We truly have had technical difficulties with our printer and apologize for the lateness in getting the newsletter posted off. The season will be going on sale Monday, October 25th, and all the information about it will be posted on the website sometime through this weekend.

In the newsletter you will find information about the changes we've made in the Membership program - not huge changes but refinements to reward our Members and to remind our Members of how valued you are to us. Truly, without our Members and our corporate Sponsors, we couldn't do what we do. So... thank you. And, after you've looked at the info, if you have any questions about your current Membership status, or what the changes might provide you, please give us a call at 613.395.2100

And before I go.... 2010 isn't over yet!

Our annual Panto opens November 19th and runs to December 31st. Some shows are getting very close to selling out - some shows still have some very good seating left - still, don't delay in getting your seats to see HANSEL & GRETEL this holiday season. The Family version could become your own special family tradition... and the Naughty version makes a great holiday celebration with friends and colleagues! Please call 613.395.2100 to order your tickets to a great show of laughter, song, silliness & utter delight.

FYI: The special New Year's Eve buffet dinner is sold out but we do still have a few tickets left for that performance.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Elvis Is In the Building!

Well, he will be... Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday... four different concerts, one hugely entertaining experience!

Just in case there's any confusion - this is not actually Elvis. It's an incredible Elvis impersonator/tribute artist named Stephen Kabakos. But the show isn't just Stephen dressed in white jumpsuits and black leather jackets. He travels with a full band, back-up singers, and a seeming trunk full of scarves to hand out to the fans. I am so looking forward to this! And I hope you have your tickets, because there's one seat left for the Saturday night now (one!) and not many left for the other two evenings... still some good seats for the matinee show.

Plus, we are having three "Southern Comfort Suppers", before each of the evening performances, with a few of Elvis' favourite foods, including banana pudding - southern style. That means 'nilla wafers on the bottom, custard, fresh sliced bananas, topped with baked meringue. I lived in the US South for a few years - actually was living there when Elvis died - and fell in love with the crazy desserts they (used to) make there, including peanut butter pie, Lady Baltimore cake and banana pudding.

If you're interested in good home cookin' followed by great entertainment, please call our box office at 613.395.2100 or toll-free 1.877.312.1162 for more information and tickets.

So I have to tell you about living in northern Florida, practically Georgia, definitely deep south, the summer Elvis died. But I should preface my story by saying I'm an Elvis fan - I like most of his music, love his gospel singing, and certainly have enjoyed watcing his movies because they were fun bits of light entertainment - but I am not inclined by nature to be a FAN! - of anyone really; I think I'm just too Canadian for that. So the reaction of the world around me to the news that Elvis had died actually took me by surprise.

All the local tv and radio stations ran endless bulletins about the latest news. His music was played pretty much non-stop on most of the radio stations for the first few hours, even days, after his death. I knew grown women who cried buckets when they first heard, and again for weeks afterwards whenever his name came up. It was very personal for them.

I have to admit, at first I chuckled a little bit, but then I began to wonder if maybe I was missing the boat somehow. Not about Elvis himself, although he was a remarkable entertainer, and he was certainly going to be missed by a lot of people for the joy his work brought to them. No, I began to think that there was something special about the community that being a FAN! can create and make you part of. Certainly the people I knew or met who were most affected by his death seemed to gather great comfort from the stories and experiences they shared with other fans around them.

There have always been people in show business, in literature, in politics, even in journalism whom I have admired, but until that summer, I had never written a fan letter, never looked for a fan club to join. Never even looked to my group of personal friends to see if they shared any of my deep interests in certain people and their work. It was Elvis and his fans, the people who didn't know him except through his music, but who mourned his loss deeply and personally, who got me to thinking about being a better fan. Maybe not a FAN! - remember, I am very Canadian - but at least someone who wants to say thank you to those performers and others who have touched my life somehow.

That's when I started writing fan letters. Oh, not many of them, a few. And I missed some along the way. I never wrote to David Niven, not as an actor (although I do like his films) but as a writer - I adore his memoirs and his novel "Go Slowly, Come Back Quickly" - and then he died. And a couple of times, I've made phone calls. To broadcast journalists, especially when I was working as one, they were the easiest to do. And you'd be surprised how imporant those calls were.

Ned Potter, formerly of ABC News, did a story about farming which I thought was incredibly good. So I called ABC News in New York right then. Just picked up the phone and called. And he was there, in the newsroom! Someone else answered the phone first, and after I'd given my name & explained why I was calling - just to say congrats for a really well-done story - she put Ned on the phone. I could tell he was prepared to be defensive when he got on the line, but 10 seconds into my little spiel, he relaxed, and we had a great chat for 4 or 5 minutes, ending with his profuse thanks for calling with a compliment!

And that sort of cemented for me how imporant being a fan is, especially when you make the opportunity to tell the person whose work you admire about the way you feel. Now, I'm not recommended throwing yourself, or your underthings, at them on stage. But a nice note or card... some personal message... that's pretty cool. And it will be appreciated.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Possibilities... The Possibilities...

How did this happen? How did the middle of September fall out of the sky and onto my calendar? I'm quite sure it was only last week we were eating fresh local strawberries and wondering where asparagus season went. And weren't we just pondering the excitement of summer theatre to come, and thinking "all those fall concerts are soooo far away..."?

Ha! Now they are upon us.

This is why I like making New Year's Resolutions for Labour Day. I'm still a child of the school year, I suppose, but I really do feel there is a renewal which comes every autumn, the promise of new starts and new ideas, new people and new possibilities. My list this Labour Day weekend consisted of three things: pickles & relishes, finish unpacking the home office, work on 2011 ideas for SFT. The home office is still a mess. Otherwise... we're looking good.

There's going to be a Sponsor Reception at the theatre tomorrow night (September 14) to which our current and would-be sponsors are invited. It's a chance for us to say thanks to our sponsors, and to remind them that they are valuable partners in making theatre possible in Stirling. The sponsorship program has been tweaked a little for 2011, but all for the good. It's important to remind everyone that sponsorship isn't just about advertising... it's also about being part of something that means a very great deal to a very large number of people.

We're going to offer our Sponsors a bit of a sneak peek at what's happening here in 2011 - not that everything is completely confirmed BUT... we've got some great things coming for our 15th Anniversary. And everything should be confirmed by the time the autumn edition of our Members' Newsletter is ready to be mailed.

That's another thing that's being refined for 2011 - our Membership program will be offering people who love the theatre, who support the Stirling Festival Theatre, the chance to get more theatre-related experiences from their membership. Look for that info to come with the next newsletter as well.

Finally - but with a big smile on my face - I wanted to pass on a letter we received from patrons Michelle & Dan G. of Marmora:

"Just wanted to let you know that my husband and I attend the Theatre on 19 August to see THE LAST RESORT. We both thought it was great. The humour was wonderful and the characters were classic. Very well done."

Thanks, Michelle & Dan. We thought THE LAST RESORT was a huge amount of fun ourselves!

Coming up at the Stirling Festival Theatre....

THE COMMODORES IN CONCERT ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 @ 8pm. If you haven't heard The Commodores, you've been missing great 'big band' sounds. A ROAST BEEF SUPPER WITH FRESH LOCAL VEGETABLES WILL PRECEDE THE CONCERT. Proceeds from this evening will benefit the Community Cupboard, Stirling's food bank. For more information or to order tickets, please call 613.395.2100 or toll-free 1.877.312.1162

Later this month... ELVIS WILL BE IN THE BUILDING. Do I have an Elvis story for you...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Slipping from Summer into Autumn

So the second Annual Water Buffalo Cheese Festival has come & gone. It seemed like it was over in an hour or two...

SFT had a small table on the Farmer's Market side of the event, and handed out brochures, a few bottles of water, and free theatre tickets! Congratulations to Hilda Dean of Belleville, who won a Family Pack to the family version of our 2010 Panto, HANSEL & GRETEL, and also congratulations to Nancy Boersma of Stirling and Michael Medgyessy of Frankford, who each won a pair of tickets to see SUDS, the rockin' 60s musical soap opera!

It was wonderful to meet so many people who had such lovely things to say about the theatre, the shows they've come to see and enjoyed, even the show or two they didn't have such fond memories of! That's also important for us to know. If we don't hear back from you, for good or for bad, we can't be sure that we're providing the very best programming you want to see. So please, if you loved THE LAST RESORT or DRIVING MISS DAISY, or any of the concerts we've brought to you so far this year, then tell us. But also, if you had issues or challenges with those shows, or anything else that happens here at SFT, then please tell us that, too.

Coming up next for the Stirling Festival Theatre is SUDS, Sept 9 - 16. And on September 18th, The Commodores are in concert with a fundraiser for the Community Cupboard, the local food bank. The concert will be preceded by a roast beef supper, with fresh, local veggies... and again, the proceeds from this supper will go to the Community Cupboard. Please call 613.395.2100 to order your tickets today!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Love You Forever...

So these are the people who brought to life our production of LOVE YOU FOREVER... AND MORE MUNSCH.

We've had two full houses, filled with children who love this show, who love hollering at the dragon, who laugh at the lady with 17 cats, who giggle with delight when Mortimer keeps making noise! And we have the moms who get a little misty eyed during the LOVE YOU FOREVER part of the story.

Luisa Appolloni has directed this amalgamation of five of Munsch's most-loved stories with joy and finesse, finding the delight in tiny details and the life in the big moments. Bridget Bezanson, Stuart Constable & Brianne Tucker get to be silly and wise and noisy and charming, often at the same time, and wear cool costumes while doing it! Our resident technical genius, David Vanderlip, scored again with a great, simple set design and beautiful, simple lighting design, and then he & Donna Moorman & Nancy Garrod found all the bits & pieces to dress the set so it's all these wonderful books in one go. Donna Carlisle did much the same thing in creating a paper bag dress, or two, and working with (resident technical genius) David Vanderlip and the amazing FANCY PANTS KIDS company to put together a superior dragon. Kudos to two kiddos - Travis Whiteman & Bronson Kozdas - for their efforts all summer long, with & without compen$ation. Stefan Patterson again created a great sound for the show and Darrell Nelham is brilliant at painting posters - no, really, painting posters! We have our own little Tolousse Latrec in house! And Mare Lawrie has managed to keep her sanity and the show running by apparently giving up anything else that might be of interest to her; we understand that the daisies & the weeds in her garden are in a duel to the death but knowing Mare, we expect the daisies to win out!

Speaking of Nancy Garrod, as I was a minute ago... I love volunteers who want to have new experiences. Bless 'em all, those volunteers, because we could do nothing without them but especially thanks to those who want more from their volunteer experience and want to give more to it in return. That's Nancy...

Our ushers for this show have been young people - kids ages 13 - 18 or so. I think that's just plain cool. I really do. For them, to get some work experience to add to their (currently) slender c.v. but also for the youngsters in the audience. A bit of an easy-to-imagine role model working right in front of them.

Had a very tiny little boy stand in line for about 10 minutes yesterday to get autographs of the cast and as he was leaving, I asked him if there was anything about the show that he especially liked. He nodded his head, and his mother encouraged him to tell me what. So he did: "Ev'thing!" His mother said it was his first live theatre production, and she expects to take him to lots more now that he had such a good time with this one. Yea!!

More kids, more young adults, more boomers, more cotton tops... theatre needs you all, so come out and have fun, enjoy the experience, share the moment with friends.

And say hello to me coming & going... I'm almost always around.

LOVE YOU FOREVER... AND MORE MUNSCH runs August 24 - 28. Adapted by Stephen Colella & Sue Miner, directed by Luisa Appolloni, starring Bridget Bezanson, Stuart Constable & Brianne Tucker. Call 613.395.2100 for more info & to buy tickets.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010



There is a new word here at the Stirling Festival Theatre.


Given how many Naughty Pantos and how many lacy bits of lingerie we've seen over the years, I am most surprised that the word has not been invented before... but there you go.

Cleavageable. As in, a device or procedure to adjust one's blouse or dress top in order to better display what your mama gave you, without crossing the line into bad taste or reality television.

Please feel free to spread the word.

And do come see how we apply it in THE LAST RESORT, running August 11 - 14 and August 17 - 21.

THE LAST RESORT, by Leslie Arden (music & lyrics) & Norm Foster (book), directed by Luisa Appolloni, musical direction by Charlene Nafziger, choreography by Christina Gordon. Starring J.P. Baldwin, Allan Gillespie, Christina Gordon, Jon-Alex MacFarlane, Siobhan Richardson, Ian Simpson, Bruce Tubbe, Viviana Zarrillo. Marilyn Lawrie, Stage Manager & Brittney Vandersel, Apprentice Stage Manager. Set & Lighting Design by David Vanderlip. Set Construction Darrell Nelham, Carol Robertson & Travis Whiteman. Sound design by Stefan Patterson. Foley Effects by Bruce Tubbe. Prop & Set Decoration, Donna Moorman. Donna Carlisle, Costume Designer.

Monday, August 9, 2010

This Close to Opening

It's opening week. It's frantic around here - in a controlled sort of way. There's an undercurrent of excitement, a little bit of nervousness, a little bit of satisfaction that everything is in place, or close to it.

Oh, I love this feeling.

And I'm not even in the auditorium for more than a few minutes at a time!

Catching moments of rehearsal here and there since I attended the first read through (and hearing even more of the singing parts of the show), I know I'm not getting anything like a real sense of this production, but I have seen enough to know that everyone involved is working their hearts out to create an incredible production. And you need to know that some really big hearts are involved in creating this show.

We have a volunteer named CAROL ROBERTSON who is a really gifted carpenter. I mean, this woman loves to have a hammer in her hand! Besides loaning us a few set dressing items for DRIVING MISS DAISY, she worked very hard with Darrell Nelham on building the set for that show and for THE LAST RESORT. When you come into the theatre, and have a chance to absorb our fabulous set, do note the "reception desk" for the Last Resort. David Vanderlip's design, but Carol Robertson's execution. She has, by the way, told David either don't design curves again, or only give her squares & triangles to work on.

I don't believe her, but we're humouring her for now.

We also want you to know about LEONARD WIGGER from Springbrook Restaurant who has the most weirdly wonderful collection of... stuff at his place. You're going to love the boat/case! And we hope Leonard loves the chandelier.

Kudos to David V & Donna Moorman (Original Donna we call her now) for their shopping and set dressing skills. David thinks we should offer a prize to the person who guess exactly how many ducks are on the boat/case.

We're getting ready for the Tech/Dress, so I'm going to close now. But do plan to come see this show... it's wicked good fun!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

And it begins again....

Really, I love the first day of rehearsals, when all things are possible, and you believe everything you want to see on stage will happen in just 14 days!

Of course, that's not always true - life gets in the way, the constraints of budgets or lack of time usually being the big culprits. But we're creative, we're smart, we'll find other ways, briliant ways to tell our story and get the play on the boards. And by the time Opening Night rolls around, we've completely forgotten what we thought we were going to do because what we did do is so... amazing! that we bask in the glow of the stage lights, smile deeply, and enjoy a great show!

And that's the Coles Notes version of how a play is made.

The truth is, creating a show is a lot of repetition, a lot of discussion, a lot of practise, a lot of discussion, a lot of repetition... oh, wait, I said that already. But that's what it is. Except... that with every time you walk through a scene, every time you sing a song, every time you do that same step,step,step and kick! a little creative spark goes off. And soon, enough sparks make... a scene. And enough great scenes make... a wonderful show.

We're just at the begining of creating sparks for THE LAST RESORT. The read-through yesterday morning had all of us in stitches (I love it when actors laugh at themselves - self-recognition that 'hey, I am funny' is so cute) so I can't wait to hear & see what it sounds like all ready for the audience.

Because it is the audience we do this for. An audience ready & willing to come to the theatre, sit down, relax, and start laughing, toe tapping and, perhaps, be just a little spooked by all the goings on at THE LAST RESORT.

THE LAST RESORT is a murder mystery musical comedy by Leslie Arden (music & lyrics) and Norm Foster (book), directed by Luisa Appolloni, with musical direction by Charlene Nafziger.

If you want some sense of what a murder mystery musica comedy is like... think a little Panto combined with a little Due South, and there you go!

Panto Fan Alert! Panto Fan Alert! From previous and future Panto productions, you will find starring in THE LAST RESORT cast JP Baldwin, Allan Gillespie, Christina Gordon and Bruce Tubbe. Also in our cast, Jon-Alex MacFarlene, Siobhan Richardson, Ian Simpson and Viviana Zarrillo.

For more information and to ordert tickets, please call 613.395.2100 or visit our website and head to the 'Tickets' icon.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jillian Cook as 'Daisy' & Alan Bomar Jones as 'Hoke'

It's always a little melancholy when something wonderful draws to a close, and that's how we're all feeling today, knowing that there are only 2 performances left of DRIVING MISS DAISY. We think it's been one of the best things SFT has ever produced, and given the audience reactions as they're leaving - not to mention the emails & phone calls we've received - that seems to be what our patrons believe, too.

Special shout out to Barbara Durnford who called to say that she thought this show was one of the best she'd ever seen anywhere, and that it could stand up to anything in Toronto.
Barbara, there are one or two theatre critics in Toronto I would like you to call for us....

I personally love the photo posted above - Jillian & Alan grow together so much over the very short time period they're on stage (although in the play, their characters are actually together for 23 years at that point where the photo was taken), and I think it's lovely to a simple moment, a simple gesture mark that growth.

There are a few more DAISY photos on the website - please do check them out. And if you haven't already see the show... DON'T WAIT! You have July 16th & 17th to catch it, and then that's it.

Thank you Andrew Lamb, Jillian Cook, Alan Bomar Jones, Mark Terene. Thank Alfred Uhry! Thank you David Vanderlip, Darrell Nelham, Donna Moorman, Donna Carlisle. Thank you Travis Whiteman & Stefan Patterson. Thank you Kim Whiteman & all our volunteers at Front of House. I hope you will always have 'daisies' in your world.

Never one to sit on our laurels, we are moving on next week to two performances only of Christina Gordon's SONGS OF THE REEL. July 21 @ 2pm and July 22 @ 8pm. How do we describe this show? It's got great music (and boy, can Christina sing!). It's got dancing (three very cute, very talented boy dancers). It's got funny stories and skits (and doesn't laughing feel good?!). It's about stuff you know and has answers to questions you never thought to ask. It's great entertainment and again, it's only here for TWO SHOWS! Please call 613.395.2100 to order your tickets today.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

while the euphoria lingers...

The dress rehearsal for DRIVING MISS DAISY was.... alright, I'm just going to say it... BRILLIANT!

Really. Brilliant.

The actors were wonderful -
The set looked amazing -
The car(s) were genius -
The costumes were so evocative and beautifully co-ordinated -
The lighting was lovely & perfect, and in no way yellow -
The sound, music & special effects, was incredibly cleverly done -
Stage Management made everyone both happy & perform professionally -
And Andrew Lamb, our director, is... BRILLIANT!

Even before the actors revolved around for their curtain call, the audience was on its feet in a huge, loud, standing "O". Well-deserved, everyone.

Thank you for making me proud to be part of the Stirling Festival Theatre.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day... and beyond

It's one of those days when you think you've got nothing to do but enjoy the sunshine and maybe make a batch of rhubarb-orange-ginger jam... and suddenly all these little tasks come out from under... something.

So I'm spending the day catching up on correspondence, doing a little filing, and enjoying listening to the sounds coming from the rehearsal hall. The cast & director & wizard stage manager are here for a few hours, rehearsing DRIVING MISS DAISY. At least, they tell me they're rehearsing, and I'm sure they are, but boy, do they sound like they're having fun!

I suppose that's what the rehearsal process should be about, at least in small part. Having fun while exploring character, learning & practising blocking, trying to remember if it's the right hand or left that's holding the hat on entrance.

Our director, Andrew Lamb, has a wicked sense of humour, just a little on the sly side. He sometimes says things that he knows are funny, and if you're watching his face, you can see he's waiting a second or two for you to catch the joke. Usually I do - it's important to keep up with the director! Anyway, I'm quite sure that Andrew's good humour all the way around is helping to keep the laughter rolling... when appropriate.

There are lots of laughs in DRIVING MISS DAISY, of course. I mean, in any life well lived there should be lots of laughter. But this play also has its serious moments, opportunities for reflection and the dawning of truth. I am so excited to see the first full performance!

DRIVING MISS DAISY runs July 7th - 10th & July 13th - 17th.

Don't forget the Tuesday Club - buy a ticket to the performance of THE LAST RESORT on August 17th, and get a ticket to see DRIVING MISS DAISY on July 13th at half price. Or vice versa, of course.

Also wanted to let you know I was chatting with Christina Gordon the other day. She's been in Stirling several times for Pantos (remember 'Mama Bear' and 'the Blue Fairy'?) and she's coming back in July with SONGS OF THE REEL. It's not about fishing, but fishermen are welcome. And they, their spouses, friends, fishing mates, and possibly even the trout will enjoy this wonderful revue. How could they not?? Christina's a fabulous, wonderful singer/actress/dancer. She's bringing with her three very cute, very good male dancers (really cute dancers - I may have to get out my leg warmers....). Her pianist is a stitch - and is brilliant on the Bosendorfer on top of being funny. So you take all these great components and use them to sing songs, dance a little, tell a few stories, all from your favourite movies & tv shows, and even a commercial or two. Sounds like some pretty good entertainment to me! Please join us July 21st @ 2pm and July 22nd @ 8pm for good fun with good friends.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Miss Daisy Drives Into Town

They're all here. Director Andrew Lamb, actors Jillian Cook, Alan Bomar Jones & Mark Terene, stage manager Melissa Novecosky... they're all here, settled in, and completed the first day of table talk, reading, a bit of idea swapping, costume fitting, and so forth.

Our 'Meet & Greet' group this morning was small-ish, but so positive, so welcoming. And the treat they got from attending the reading! Oh, my.

Ohhhh my.

I'm not normally at a loss for words. But I really don't think I can do justice to how warm, funny, moving, insightful, breathtaking the first reading by this cast was. Playwright Alfred Uhry (who won the Pulitzer Prize for this play) describes DRIVING MISS DAISY as "truth as he knows it". The truth is haunting and thought provoking, but it's also funny and engaging, while at the same time querulous and demanding. It's so... true!

There is still a two week rehearsal period to finesse so much, to flesh out the characters, to find the strengths and weaknesses in the lives we will follow on stage. Much can, and should, change between this morning and our first public performance on 7th July at 2:00pm. But I believe that these changes will be improvements, they will make these actors stronger & better, the sets will be wonderously powerful aids in the story telling, the lights will enhance the moods, the sounds will carry the audience along the 25 years that tells the tale of Miss Daisy, Hoke and Boolie.

I believe... no, I promise that the SFT production oF DRIVING MISS DAISY will be one of those shows that sticks with you, one that you will remember for years to come, one that will make you grateful you came to Stirling to see it.

Pretty bold promise, eh?

I think that all the work we do here at the Stirling Theatre is top drawer, I really do. I know you're thinking "it's her job to think the best of the theatre's work", but if I didn't believe it, you wouldn't be reading it. I'd find some other way to talk about the shows we present, the plays we produce.

We work very hard to find and create wonderful entertainment experiences for all our audience members. And DRIVING MISS DAISY is one of those shows that truly will appeal to all our audience members, of every age and every walk of life. And I have a bit of a story to tell you so that you'll know why I think coming to see DRIVING MISS DAISY could be so important to you.

About 30 years ago, Jeff & I had the extraordinary pleasure of seeing a production in Boston of DEATH OF A SALEMAN starring Dan Frazier (who most people remember from his role on "Kojak", as the Captain). It was remarkable, not in the least because it really awakened in my husband a real appreciation for and enjoyment of live, professional theatre.

Five years after that performance, Jeff was working on a building in downtown New York, and Dan Frazier, who by then was a cast regular on a CBS soap opera, stopped for a few minutes to watch him tiling this Japanese restaurant. They got to chatting a little bit, mostly about tile and grout, but then Jeff asked him outright, "Are you Dan Frazier?"

Mr Frazier admitted he was, and Jeff said he seemed to be ready for him (Jeff) to make some lollipop reference to "Kojak".

And then Jeff told Mr Frazier that seeing him in DEATH OF SALESMAN back in Boston those several years ago had stayed with him right to that late spring day in New York (and I can tell you, even since then). The performance we attended had suffered a black out with just a few minutes to go before final curtain, and the cast kept going. We, the audience, thought it was an odd way to finish the play, but not necessarily out of character with what was happening, and Jeff told him that we were there that afternoon, how much we enjoyed it, how much the play especially meant to Jeff.

Jeff said Mr Frazier's smile was enormous, as he thanked Jeff for remembering before they shook hands, and he walked on.

I believe you will have, enjoy, and share one of those seminal moments in theatre when you come see DRIVING MISS DAISY, at the Stirling Theatre in beautiful downtown Stirling, Ontario 7th - 10th of July, and the following week 13th - 17th July. Please join us.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Quick Update....

I've actually been getting phone calls & emails so I thought I should say... yes, I found my shoes.

And yes, we found the spatulas. They were in a drawer back at the old house. Really. A whole drawer-ful of kitchen gadgets and do-hickeys. And my 7 beloved spatulas.

I'm sorry if you missed MY SWEET PATOOTIE on Saturday, really sorry. They were terrific, and I hope to be able to find a way to include them in our incredible September show.

There will be more info tomorrow about Joe Matheson and HANK WILLIAMS "LIVE" 1952 tomorrow, but for now let me say that Joe is really sweet. And boy, is he a good singer. Really good. Do come see this show. You will enjoy it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Officially Official

I can't find my shoes.

In the total scheme of things, one broken table top (being replaced even as I write this by the good people at Vic's Glass here in Stirling) is not a bad casualty count for a 400km do-it-yourself move. So now we are officially here in Stirling, and starting to make a new home. We've found a great house to rent (I hope forever! My favourite platter fits in one of the kitchen cupboards - it's never fit in a cupboard before. You have no idea how exciting that is to me), just a short walk from the theatre. Jeffrey is already getting a feel for the area (he's making friends with his fellow fiddlers). And the cat we've inherited has learned to drink water out of a bowl, not the tap.

It's officially official: we live & work in Stirling, to our great delight.

Which will be more delighted when I find my shoes. And all my spatulas. Which I hope didn't get packed together... yuck!

Anyway, now that the move is over, my mind is completely back on work, which means focusing very hard on upcoming events - like MY SWEET PATOOTIE on June 5th at 8:00pm. I'm particularly pleased to have Sandra Swannell & Terry Young perform for the Stirling audience as I've known Sandra for about 15 years now, and Terry for about 8, and they have always impressed me with their great musicianship & wonderful stage presence.

Both were members of the late, deeply lamented folk roots group Tanglefoot - in fact, Sandra was the first & only woman member of the group - so they obviously 'get' the showmanship live performance requires. But they bring something more to their work as this great 'hayseed jazz' duo. It's tough to describe... but I will make you this promise: when you come hear MY SWEET PATOOTIE, you will have more fun than a bubble bath on a moon-lit night in a forest glen.

I'm also working on finishing up plans for the 2011 season. That will be Stirling Festival Theatre's 15th anniversary season, and we've got some really fun & fabulous things coming for you. If you attend the FIRST ANNUAL MEMBERS' SOCIAL, Sunday June 6th from 3:00 to 5:00pm at the Hastings County Ag Museum you could be the first to hear about a little piece of what's coming. Maybe.... But definitely come to the Social. Homemade cookies, people! Homemade! When was the last time you had homemade cookies?? That's what I thought!

See you Saturday night AND Sunday afternoon.

I'll try to be wearing shoes.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Summer is Here!

This is going to be short & sweet.

It's the holiday weekend. There are lots of crazy people out there who think that they are bullet-proof and accident proof and nothing ever happens to them, only to the 'other guy'. Only someone has to be the other guy. Don't let it be you.

Stay safe out there this weekend: wear the flotation devices while on our beautiful & still cold lakes and rivers, enjoy the sunshine & remember the sunscreen, do not use fire starter on the barbecue, wear your sealt belt & remember weaving is for wool, not cars, and hug as many friends as you can.

We'll see you here in Stirling next week for JUDY GARLAND SHOW (May 26th & 27th - we need to sell 78 more tickets to get me to buy a bottle of champagne for the play's star Debbie Collins! Do your part!)... Come back June 5th for MY SWEET PATOOTIE (my promise: Sandra & Terry will delight you as much as running through sprinklers on a hot summer day, with a grape popsicle in your hand)... and then plan to be here sometime between June 9th & 12th for HANK WILLIAMS "LIVE" 1952 (Joe Mattheson will knock your socks off, he's soooo Hank Williams).

Monday, May 17, 2010

So we've had three pre-production meetings here at the Stirling Festival Theatre, one of which (for SONGS OF THE REEL) kind of was sandwiched in and around the discussions for THE LAST RESORT. And I am pleased to report that all three meetings went very well.

And what, I'm sure some of you are asking, is a pre-prodution meeting? Well, it's a chance for the behind-the-scenes people to get to know one another, suss out what everyone is thinking, and make plans towards making the show happen before the actors are added to the mix. This means sitting down with the director, the technical director, the props master, the costumier, perhaps stage management, perhaps the assistant tech director.

We look at the preliminary set drawings David & Darrell have come up with, we go over paint chips & furniture ideas, we talk about the revolve & creating time of day lighting effects & exactly how many antlers are needed to make a chandelier. We go over the props lists and discuss just how big does a fake piece of cake need to be to get a laugh. We chat about the difference between "The New Look" and the 'classic style' in women's suits. And we marvel at having a template of our wonderful Bosendorfer. And sometimes we poke gentle fun at ourselves or each other - all as part of getting to know one another.

When you're working with people with whom you've never worked before, there usually isn't a second hand language that old colleagues & friends can use to explain or elucidate. But in theatre, where the language is pretty particular to the profession, you often do find yourself slipping quickly, and comfortably, into "theatre shorthand". And that's what happened with all these production meetings.

We quickly fell into professional rhythms, marked by understanding and agreement about what all of us wanted to accomplish - which is, of course, a wonderful show! Luisa Appolloni, who will be directing THE LAST RESORT, was delighted at the proposal to see the stage filled with a clever, well-decorated set - not to mention the insight the Donnas had in their respective departments. Christina Gordon, who has created & is starring in SONGS OF THE REEL, was so pleased to see how her show will work in and around what is planned for the others, without in any way making her seem like an 'orphan'. And director Andrew Lamb is thrilled to know DRIVING MISS DAISY (which debuted on Broadway with a very minimalist set) is going to provide audiences with visual and audio interest before the actors even begin.

Thank you Luisa, Christina, Andrew, David, Darrell, Donna M & Donna C for being so professional, so warm, so concerned & caring about your work and the efforts of others. Because of you, SFT audiences are going to enjoy a summer of theatre like they've never seen before.

Tickets for DRIVING MISS DAISY, SONGS OF THE REEL and THE LAST RESORT are all on sale now.
Our "Tuesday Club" program has proven to be very successful - but there are still some seats available for anyone who may want to 'join' a fun way to save a little money, see a lot of theatre.
Please call 613.395.2100 to order your tickets for any of our 2010 shows. And remember to ask the friendly, professional sales associate who answers your call about the value of Membership in the Stirling Festival Theatre. Our first Annual Membership Social is coming up June 6th!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wait, wait. It's MAY already?

And not just May already, but the middle of the month! How did that happen?

Oh, but we've been busy around here. Great shows have happened, great shows are coming. It keeps everyone in the building hopping all the time. Just on Saturday, we held two pre-production meetings (THE LAST RESORT and LOVE YOU FOREVER... AND MORE MUNSCH) and next week, we'll be doing the same for DRIVING MISS DAISY. These meetings are often the first time everyone on the team gets to meet each other and exchange ideas about what the sets are going to look like, what the costumes need to be like, and things like that. There's a sense of great possibilities in the air at these meetings, as if anything and everything is possible.

Within budget, of course!

Saturday night was BABY BOOMERS, THE SHOW. Seriously, I laughed so hard at a few of the stories, my stomach ached. Ached! Scott Harris & Simon B Cotter - you guys are fabulous and I really, really hope we can find a way to bring you back to Stirling for another show. If you missed it (and really, that's a shame), you'll be able to catch some scenes from it on their website; the clips will be up in about a week.

I also want to thank Scott & Simon for making a point of telling me how great the crew who work here at SFT are. I mean, I know it, but it's wonderful to hear the professionals who come in to work recognize that as well. So a big tip of the hat and a lot of gratitude to Dave Vanderlip, Darrell Nelham, Travis Whiteman & Kim Whiteman for making SFT look so good.

MY SWEET PATOOTIE coming June 5th. If you love country or jazz or folk or roots or pop music, if you love a great fiddler & a great guitarist, if you want a terrific evening out with friends and fellow music lovers... this is your show! Sandra Swannell & Terry Young are MY SWEET PATOOTIE (and former members of Tanglefoot) and they are... well, terrific. Please call 613.395.2100 for details and to order your tickets today!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

just a quick note...


That's when our First Annual Members' Social will take place. It's just one of the ways we are developing to enhance membership in the Stirling Festival Theatre.

So if you're a member or sponsor, mark the date & time on your calendar now, and join us for ice cold lemonade, lots of homemade treats, and the chance to get to know SFT - and your fellow supporters of the the theatre - just a little better.

PLUS the Museum will have volunteers on hand to show you around their amazing facility!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Volunteers & Other Good Sorts

This is National Volunteer Week...


That's a big shout out to our volunteers who help make the Stirling Festival Theatre go 'round. In fact, it's a big shout out to all volunteers everywhere who make the entire world go 'round, especially in the cultural and NFP sector.

The Stirling Festival Theatre is a Not For Profit, registered charitable business, and we rely on our volunteers to do a myriad of small but vital things that help make our business run smoother, faster, more efficiently than if staff did everything. Well, frankly, staff couldn't do everything which is why we need our volunteers so much.

Just this week, under the direction of the tireless & wonderful Kim Whiteman, they took part in a 'sticker party'. This is the process by which our brochures are labeled, sorted (we sort to save money when mailing) and then posted off to far-flung corners of the world. Or, in the case of this batch of brochures, to Madoc & Marmora and environs. Five thousand brochures are even now wending their way through the postal system, with another 15,000 or so to follow next week. And it's done so fast, so well because of our volunteers.

Last week, when Mitch Seekins & the band was here for the
BUBLE to BOCELLI concert (which, if you missed it, too bad! It was fabulous!), we asked a few of our volunteers to do some baking for us - dessert for the lunch & dinner we provided the musicians. Well, you would have thought the guys - and Lori - had died & gone to heaven. They loved the fact that they were getting homemade goodies - not pre-packaged, over-processed, frozen sweets but... reall food! That creates such a great impression of SFT and Stirling, and that kind of positive, happy attitude gets spread around the performing community pretty quickly. All because of our volunteers!

And of course, the biggest single task we get out of volunteers is working front of house as ushers and other services during our performances. They are warm, friendly, helpful... a great welcome to the theatre for long-time patrons and new visitors alike. Again, essential work to be done, and I don't know how we'd do it without them!

One of the things that staff - particularly Kim & I - are working on through this year is creating a volunteer appreciation program. We have - and tsk, tsk on us - not been really good at remembering
show our volunteers how much they mean to us. Yes, we say thank you. And yes, I think they do know how much they bring to our organization. But sometimes... one just has to do something just a little more than say thanks, or assume people understand how valued they are. If you have an idea for a volunteer apprecation token of some kind, please let us know! If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with SFT, please let us know.

613.395.2100 and ask for Kim.


Friday, April 16, 2010

How We Talk About Ourselves... and you get something out of it

It's Friday afternoon, and I'm going to hit the road soon, but I wanted to share a couple of things with you that we think are both fun & important before we all start our weekends of fun & relaxation (and in my case, packing).

First... thanks for reading the blog! Re-vamping the website & creating this blog are part of our efforts to be more responsive to our patrons. There are so many entertainment choices available today that we want to do everything we can to make sure that we're giving our patrons the choices they want. Using this blog to talk about the process, and to provide a forum for feedback, is one of the ways to reach out. If you're not already a follower, do please sign up.

Second... We have a Facebook page! As time goes on, we'll be adding more & more to it, including photos and video links (which will also be available on our website) and it's another way for SFT's friends to communicate with us, and with each other.

Third... we Twitter! I gotta say, this one is a favourite. I love being able to just quickly go on line, type in 140 (or fewer) smart, creative, attention-grabbing characters, and poof! you're done. If you don't Tweet, that's okay. It's easy to get started, and it's fun to do. Just visit, they'll show you how to get going, and then you can start following our messages, and learn more about what's happening every day - occastionally several times a day - here at the Stirling Theatre.

Fourth... here's a little promo deal you might not know about yet. We've got ads in three regional magazines - Watershed, The County & Quinte Living and Country Roads. Find them, and if you follow their THIRST-QUENCHING suggestion for ordering tickets. (Was that a good hint? Too obscure? Let me know..) Oh, and by the way, do read all these terrific magazines for themselves - they are great sources of entertaining, educational & just plain "oooh, doesn't that look amazing!" moments.

Today is Darrell Nelham's birthday. You probably will never meet Darrell when you come to the theatre; he's our Assistant Technical Director. But you will always notice if he's not around to do his job, because the seats won't fold down, the lights won't come up at the right time, and the sets will only be plywood & hardware, no paint. He doesn't receive any applause for his work, but he deserves it. Happy Birthday, Darrell!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Time Flies Like the Wind... Fruit Flies Like a Banana

That little quote in apropos of nothing at all... except I have been feeling a tad like Groucho Marx this week, emphasis on Grouch.

Oh, it's nothing serious, but when you think things are going this way, and then they go that way, and you're left standing ten feet back wondering... wha-at?? That's sort of how this week has felt. I'm at the wha-at? stage this afternoon.

Ah, but this too shall pass. Hopefully just about the time the sun shine comes back, and Mitch Seekins rolls into town.

Have you heard about Mitch? He's the guy who is headlining the BUBLE TO BOCELLI concerts for us on April 14th. I've been spending a lot of time on the phone and on line with him, getting ready for these shows. Mitch is the definition of the entertainer/entrepreneur, the sort of guy who keeps his fingers on every part of the business side of show biz. And on top of it, is a superb singer! If you haven't heard about Mitch, if you haven't heard him, call our box office right now & order tickets for either the matinee or evening concert on April 14th - great singer, great band, and the nicest guy.

I have been dealing with a lot of nice guys lately - Dave Campbell is another one. He's directing the show we're bringing to Stirling Theatre in September called "Suds".

Now, if you haven't seen "Suds" you haven't had a great evening out! The music! The dancing! The washing machines! It's self-described as "the rockin' 60s musical soap opera" and really, that's what it is. If you remember a song from the 60s - rock, pop, Motown - chances are it's in this show. I dare you to sit through the entire production and not sing along at least once!

Anyway, Dave & I have never met, but we have this hot, passionate email relationship going on, all about music rights and dance sequences and housing for actors and who loves scotch more. I'm almost afraid to have him come to Stirling, just in case we decide we aren't friends after all! But then, if he doesn't come, "Suds" doesn't come and, trust me on this one, you want to see this show.

Tickets for "Suds" are on sale now. Go on, call us. 613.395.2100 or toll-free, 1.877.312.1162. I'll wait... go on.

Back? Got them? Excellent! And did our outstanding sales associates also mention that tickets are sailing out the door for our earlier summer shows? I'm excited to see them all - THE JUDY GARLAND SHOW, DRIVING MISS DAISY, SONGS OF THE REEL, and THE LAST RESORT - but I think I'm most pleased that tickets are selling so very well for DRIVING MISS DAISY. Oh, all the shows are going to have great audiences, but I will admit to just the tiniest little twang of concern that people might think "seen the movie, don't need to see the play". But the opposite seems to be true. Patrons are calling & telling us that because they loved the movie so much, they want to see the play.

I have to tell you - quite confidentially - as good as Jessica Tandy & Morgan Freeman & Dan Ackroyd were in the movie (and they were so very good).... Wait until you see this cast! Jillian Cook, Alan Bomar Jones & Mark Terene all knocked my sox off at the auditions,and I suspect we may see a few empty sox in our auditorium this July :-) And it's not just about this stellar cast. It's a great story about friendship and truth, and even a little justice thrown in.

You know, it's one of the things I like most about theatre. The stories we get to tell, and audiences get to watch, are so exciting, entertaining, educating, sometimes exasperating. Sometimes plays are about things or people we don't like or don't believe in. Sometimes plays tell stories that are true to our heart. Sometimes plays just make you laugh, or cry, or both. Sometimes they'll set your teeth on edge and you wonder why you're even at the theatre! But the thing is... you are there. You are getting a moment that is never going to happen again.

Live theatre is a one-of thing. Even if a production runs for three years, each show is completely different, a true one-of. Just thinking about that... big a rush as ski jumping.

Not that I ski jump! But you know what I mean.

Hey, thanks for reading this blog. Please be sure to comment - and please follow Stirling Theatre on both Facebook & Twitter. And don't forget to buy your tickets...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Moving On...

Waking up on Saturday morning... and no rehearsal! It was a strange feeling not to be dashing off to work, and yet it was rather nice to sit still for a couple of hours over a cup of coffee and NPR.

THE BROTHERS GRIMM SPECTACULATHON went very well all week long. I found it particularly interesting to see how much the kids grew in the roles as the week went along, from the sheer nervousness of Monday's show to the hamminess (but not too much) on Friday. It was also very interesting to hear different the audiences were each day! Thursday evening, when the adults greatly outnumbered the children, there was much more laughter at the spoken jokes, and not quite as much for the visual (slapstick) jokes.

I loved doing this, and love the roses they gave me (& Brittney, and Donna & Kaitlyn & Katie), and will miss them pretty seriously.

Now, we're ready to move forward with the next events. Coming up in April is our Buble to Bocelli concert featuring Mitch Seekins and his ensemble. I've spent a lot of time on the phone recently with Mitch - what a sweetie! We're thrilled he's coming and know that audiences will enjoy the shows.

Do order your tickets today - Call 613.395.2100 to speak to one of our friendly, professional sales associates. And for more information, please visit our website - And you can follow us on Twitter @StirlingTheatre.

Stirling Festival Theatre Members: Tickets for the fall & winter, including the series of Elvis Concerts and our hugely popular Panto (50 performances this year!), go on sale to our members on March 29th. You CANNOT order tickets on line that day - visit our box office at 41 West Front Street, Stirling or call us at 613.395.2100.

Tickets go on sale to the general public April 19th.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon!

We've rehearsed every Saturday, and a few afternoons during the week, learningour lines and our blocking. We've struggled with speed and volume. We've learned to break the fourth wall. We've learned to listen. We've become an acting ensemble.

We're Ready!

The Youth Theatre Experience is inviting you - yes, you! - to attend a performance of THE BROTHERS GRIMM SPECTACULATHON March 15, 16, 17, or 19 at 2:00pm or March 18 at 7:00pm at the Stirling Theatre in beautiful downtown Stirling.

This is theatre by kids, for kids, and by kids, we mean anyone who can laugh and clap and just plain enjoy kids having fun being kids.

No Grinches need come.

Please 613.395.2100 to order your tickets today!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Yes, There Really Is a Lot to do When There Is No Show

I am not complaining. I love my job, I love this theatre, and I think Stirling is a darn spiffy little town to which I will completely be moving lock, stock & 500 pounds of books, in June when my husband's students are all done and he can carry those books here. However, I do find it nearly equal parts amusing and frustrating when I hear someone say "I guess you must have a lot of free time when there are no shows in the theatre, eh."

Amusing, because if you could see the piles of paper & file folders on my desk, you would laugh. And then run, crying for your life, in fear of being overwhelmed by the masses.

Let me give you a little bit of how one of those 'free time' periods goes around here when there's no show on: There's mail to sort through; invoices to be approved for payment; the Intel to be given a quick glance to see if there are any culture/theatre stories or reviews or ads we should know about; a check on the previous day's ticket sales; letters to be written to sponsors or actors or people requesting things, phone calls from agents or promoters looking for work for their clients or themselves; emails from agents or promoters looking for work for their clients or themselves - and with those emails, links to websites I should take a quick look at/listen to because they could be worthwhile; stand up meeting with Dave, the TD, about plans for the summer season I would like him to prepare for me to take to Toronto for the auditions & pre-production meetings I'm going to have with both summer play directors in a couple of weeks' time, for which I too have to prepare; email correspondence with one of those directors about an accompanist & about an actor whose phone has been cancelled and who doesn't check email, which I know because I've spent time trying to reach him both ways; e-chats with the website designer about the on-going work on the site - and then spending a little time on the site myself, taking notes of those things I need to do/write to bring it up to date; write a newsletter for the Members inviting them to the Annual General Meeting; fight with my computer about not printing the newsletter; and have a discussion about the toilet in the men's room that is acting like a bidet and decide caulking is likely our only solution right now.

And that was my morning.

Really, I am not complaining. I do love my job, and for all the silly little things we all do every day, there's also a lot of really cool, creative stuff that just lights up the heart and mind, and keeps us all happily working in theatre. But here's the frustrating part - everything that our patrons see on the stage is as terrific as we can make it, and we try very hard to make it look like it's effortlessly done. Perhaps we make it seem too effortless, because there are very few people who understand that for every two hour show our patrons see on stage, a thousand person hours (or more!) went into making that magic.

A thousand person hours spent rehearsing, hanging lights, designing sound, making costumes, building props, creating advertising campaigns, selling tickets, stocking the bar... And most of that work happens when there isn't a show at the theatre. It's the work that makes live theatre work, it's the work that makes the shows look so good, it's the work we love to do.

Honestly, none of us are complaining. We just hope you'll understand when we laugh when we hear
"I guess you must have a lot of free time when there are no shows in the theatre, eh."

Next show: Celtic Blaze with Stephanie Cadman. Some seats are still available for the matinee - good seats are yours for the buying for the evening show. And please don't forget the Youth Theatre Experience production of THE BROTHERS GRIMM SPECTACULATHON during March break. Call the box office today for tickets - 613.395.2100 (The ticket page will be returning to the website sometime in the next few days!)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Brochures Are Coming! The Brochures Are Coming!

Well, it's not as sexy as The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! (does anybody remember that movie? I loved it!) but it's the truth.

Boxes & boxes of brochures showed up on Friday, and trays & trays of them are either at the post office or headed there tomorrow. My, but they is purty.

Denis Langlois is a great designer - and very patient with a client who says things like "can it just be shmooshed a little to the left?" So, thank you, Denis, we love the look of this brochure.

And the work that Kim & Fay and Bev & Charlotte have put into getting these lovely things into the mail. You will rarely find me complaining about Canada Post - I think for the most part they really do do a pretty good job - but honestly, they need to re-think their policy of changing their mass mailing policy(cies) every 36 days. It does make it difficult for businesses like ours - like many cultural institutions - who still rely on snail mail for much of our marketing when the process changes, when the process becomes more complicated, when the process stops making sense from what we, the customer, are trying to do.

We try to make things easier for our customers; I do wish all our suppliers and vendors felt the same way.

My first News Director in radio told me that the smartest thing I could do for my career was to remember one simple word: KISS. Maybe the post office could try it too.

Anyway, watch for your brochure in the mail in the next few days; they've been sent to all our Members, Sponsors, and patrons who have purchased tickets any time since 2007 up to today. Sometime next week, we'll start putting them on display in all tourist and retail locations that would like to have them. If that includes you... let me know who & where you are!

Tickets for all events up to 31st August 2010 are on sale NOW!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Good, The Bad & The Theatre

We held our first rehearsal for the Youth Theatre Experience last Saturday. Thank goodness for Brittney & Richard - they really stepped up to the plate for me, allowing me to attend an SFT staff function at the same time.

Our young actors got to play some theatre games, and wear off a little energy, with Brittney before they sat down with Richard and worked on their script reading and writing skills. Most people don't know there is a real skill to reading scripts - and I think it's one that should be taught/learned as early as possible in an actor's career. Richard Turtle is a published & produced playwright, so I reckoned he would be an excellent teacher of this skill - and I was right! The kids really seemed to enjoy the experience, and so did he.

I can only hope that they took those skills home with them when they read the script for the first time!

Choosing a play to produce that will be acted by kids, for kids, is a very difficult task. You have to think about the people you don't know yet who will be acting out the story. You have to think about the audiences who are expected to come (based on previous experience). You have to think about the stories that you, as a creative & thinking person, want to see told. I must have read a dozen plays for young actors & audiences before latching on to The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon, and even then I had some reservations.

Yes, it's funny. Yes, it moves incredibly fast so it will be fun for the actors to play. But yes, there were - and are - some issues with dated jokes (who in the general public even remembers O.J., never mind a kid who's 11 today?) and some issues with language (which I think Brittney & I cleared up, but will be sure to double check as we rehearse). But there is also the fact that the Brothers Grimm more than lived up to their name - their fairy tales are pretty grim!

We live in a Disney-fied world these days; in fact, the play even pokes fun at The Mouse, as they say. As a society, we have smoothed out the scary parts of old fairy tales and removed the ones that some people can find offensive. We want life to be easier and happier for our children, and we want them to know personal safety and comfort in their everyday lives.

I personally like the scary stories, even without the "happily ever after" endings. And if you know the time in which the Brothers Grimm collected the folk tales and stories that become 'their' stories, you know that talk of enchantresses and devils and witches who tricked children into a dark & forbidding forest was part of the daily life of people who were very uneducated, very superstitious.

What these tales are about - whether in their original version, in the 'smoothed out' version, or even in this farcical version we are presenting - is the story of good and evil. And if it uses slapstick and irony to make the point that good triumphs, evil is vanquished, perhaps that can be considered a way to reach an audience that may not have had a chance to think too much about these things.

As we rehearse our play, while we're having fun, I hope that my discussions with the actors will help them see that these stories we're telling are encouraging strong, good, personal values that I hope everyone can believe in, and not a world in which evil wins, even for a moment. Can you do all that and still get laughs? I think so... if you're open for the experience. We'll see as the weeks unfold.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Working With Young People

I have a 26 year old mind in middle-aged body. I love working with teenagers and people in their early 20s because sometimes I don't think I'm that much older than they are.

Until my knees creak, of course.

Anyway, Brittney & I were going over the script we're using for the Youth Theatre Experience in March, and I made a pop culture reference that I didn't think was that old. Apparently it was. And then, trying to make me feel better about being reminded of my quickly passing years, Brittney said, "Do you know, I'm part of the last generation to know what life is like without everyone in the family having a computer?"

I asked her if she knew what a typewriter was. Her mother has memories of using one...

My point in bringing this up is that theatre can be an ageless cultural touchstone for every generation. We don't need to wireless gadgets to understand the magic in the 19th century gem of a play, PETER PAN. We don't have to know that pumps were the only source of running water in many houses when THE MIRACLE WORKER took place. And we already know that love is eternally painful and dangerous, for Juliettes in 16th century Verona or 21st Vancouver.

Theatre is the ultimate time machine. And yes, I can remember a time when there were party lines for the phone (this was at the cottage, deep in the hinterlands, and I believe we were the last 8 party line customers in Ontario) and telegrams were how urgent messages were sent and people dressed up to fly somewhere (when apparently airlines would prefer we all wear as little clothing as possible these days!).

So if our plays tell stories from those times - hurray, we'll all have something fun to talk about at intermission. But if our plays also talk about the feelings and ideas of those times - hurray, for we'll have something to talk about for days after the final curtain.

It's going to be interesting to see how the Youth Theatre Experience takes their own memories of early childhood and the fairy stories they all learned back then and apply those sensibilities to their production.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


In all the excitement of the Open Theatre, I forgot to post this!

The theatre is changing our approach to kids & theatre a little by trying to open up the experience to just about anyone who thinks that being in a show or coming to a show would be fun! So we've got a new name for all the theatre things we're doing this year - THE YOUTH THEATRE EXPERIENCE - with different activities happening with that whole experience sphere.

First up in March, will be a presentation of the Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon for which we are holding auditions on Saturday, January 16th.

These aren't going to be traditional auditions - no resumes, no headshots, no prepared monologues, 'cause I'm not looking to create great theatre. I'm looking to create a great experience. I hope the kids who come out will learn a lot, have even more fun than that, and in the end will provide our audiences... their audiences... with a wonderful, live theatre performance.

So, if you're a kid between the ages of 10 and 16, and you think that spending the next ten Saturday mornings with friends old & new, having fun, doing some really interesting work, and learning new skills sounds like something you might be interested in... then come see us SATURDAY, JANUARY 16th @ THE STIRLING FESTIVAL THEATRE, 41 WEST FRONT STREET, STIRLING, any time between 10am and 2pm. If for any reason you cannot come that one day, call the theatre at 613.395.2100 and we'll see if we can see you sometime next week.

There is a catch, and it is an important one: We will be presenting this show ever day through March break week; 4 matinees, 1 evening show. If you know now that you cannot do that, then we're not going to be able to put you in the show.

And for all you professionals out there who got excited at the word AUDITIONS... this is strictly community and kids theatre. Professionals are welcome to volunteer their time to coach and teach.

Thanks for supporting SFT.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Open Theatre Success!!

Well, wasn't that a night!

And an afternoon, actually, as well.

The Stirling Festival Theatre First Annual Open Theatre went off extremely well, both afternoon and evening sessions. I have to say that when we chose the times, from 2-4 and 7-9, it felt a little like we were planning a wake! But of course, this was just the opposite. We were celebrating a New Year, a new beginning, for the theatre.

We invited pretty much the entire world to come to the theatre for a chance to tour backstage, learn more about the upcoming year, meet the "new" kids (that would be me & our TD, Dave Vanderlip) and say thanks to the "old" kids (that would be Joanne, Fay, Kim, Charlotte, Bev, Donna and all our many, wonderful volunteers, including a great board), and of course learn about our exciting new season.

Luisa Appolloni, who will be directing THE LAST RESORT, was here, and charmed everyone as only she can do. Unfortunately, other committments & iffy weather kept our other two directors, Ken MacDougall (HANSEL & GRETEL and our murder mystery dinner theatres) and Andrew Lamb (DRIVING MISS DAISY) from joining us, but both sent their regrets & regards, and look forward to meeting people this summer.

The last few months of 2009 were not the happiest of times for the SFT family in many ways. Transition and change are never easy, and when there is a true clash of opinion and belief attached, it makes the idea of change even more difficult. But change does happen, and it can be all for the good.

I'm looking forward to a lot of good stuff coming up in 2010... and well beyond as I'm already putting plans in place for our 15th anniversary coming up in 2011!

Coming up first... dastardly & delicious murder & mayhem Feb 12, 13, 14 and then in March, our Youth Theatre Experience kicks off with some fractured, and funny, fairy tales running in March break week. Call the box office for more details & tickets!!