Am I truly awake? Did last week really happen? I’ve got the receipts and ticket stubs to prove it, so I guess it did.
I took a big leap and went down to Toronto for the week. As previously mentioned, I had done some advanced prep work and went down feeling confident and apprehensive all at the same time.
Things were off to a good start when I arrived. I had an Ottawa friend who was auditioning for the Stratford Conservatory and we met for lunch. We followed that up my a trip to TheatreBooks and the World Biggest Bookstore.
Here’s a little bit of info about me. I don’t just love books, I adore them. The treasure trove of information found in each and every one, waiting to be unlocked and discovered; the personalities hidden within the words; the stories waiting to take me away to places unknown… It’s all incredibly sexy and addictive. I’ll go throw genre phases – these days it’s books on marketing, new media, and spirituality (or marketing your spirituality through new media) – though there is always room on my book shelf for plays, plays and books about plays. There’s just something about the written page between my fingers that just makes me so very happy. And I’m good to my books (I never bend corners or write in them), so I rarely get any paper cuts. I’m starting to run out of room though. Guess I’ll just have to get more bookshelves.
I got to see a few shows while I was in town too. First up, there was a wonderful adaptation of Miss Julie by Canstage. This play really made me realize that for an audience to understand the themes in the original piece, it does have to be updated. In this case, we’re in 1964 Mississippi aka Freedom Summer two days after Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. I can’t even find the words to tell you how much sense this adaptation makes (granted there are a few groaner moments, but these were Strindberg’s fault – I mean come on, a bird in a cage? Gee, I wonder what that refers to?). There’s also incredibly strong chemistry between the main actors and the esthetics for the show are just wonderful. I really appreciated the Marilyn/Jackie O dichotomy you see in Julie (unfortunately, she’ll never be a Jackie), but that might just be because I’ve been watching too much Mad Men lately. Anything from that time period just tickles me pink these days.
Next, I saw a musical without knowing that’s what I was going to see. A friend invited me to see A New Brain by Acting Up Stage with him and it was a refreshing surprise. Thanks to my dabbling in stage management with the fine folks at Zucchini Grotto, it turns out I already knew a few of the songs in the show. It also made me realize that I prefer the smallish, independent musicals to the big budget ones. Though I’m in no way an expert, I’ll take Evil Dead: The Musical over We Will Rock You or The Phantom of the Opera. That said, and I’m sorry to say this to all the purists out there, I really did like Mamma Mia!. Shut up! ABBA gets a free pass from me.
Anyway, its a good thing I like the little new musicals, since I then went out to Sheridan College to see a friend in, yup, another musical. It’s called Big Time Operator and it’s a new show set to the music of the Big Bad Voodoo Daddies. I’m a huge swing fan, so this was a bit of a treat. Though this was as cheesy as musicals get (“bad” guy finds out he has a son, meets a “good” girl, falls in love in like 5 minutes and decides to change his whole life around if he can just stay out of jail, happy endings all around – It’s like Grease meets… something else and swing music – Sorry, I really don’t know my musicals), it was a lot of fun. I was actually really impressed with the choreography, though the prop “drinks” could have been anything else than what they had. I didn’t realize so many speakeasies served daquiris.
To top that off, I had a great meeting with a Toronto agent that I need to follow up with and a fantastic reference from some former teachers, which led to an audition prior to my departure.
I also somehow managed to work out everyday for five days, which is some kind of record for me, and the long train rides gave me plenty of time to write and, of course, read.
And now I’m back in Ottawa, finishing up some grant applications and organizing a fundraising event before jetting off again. This time, I’ll be off to Kitchener to see a staged reading of a show I wrote and after that, well, I’m not sure. Will I be popping by Toronto to meet with that agency again or to shoot an industrial video? Or will I be heading back to Ottawa to study clown with the craziest bunch of Fools I know? Only time will tell, but until then I’m just enjoying the sweet, scary embrace of the unknown.