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.