Cast Spotlight: Guifré Bantjes-Ràfols

guifre_9845webGuifré Bantjes-Ràfols plays cop-killer Earl Williams in our upcoming production of His Girl Friday; this is his first show with Bygone.

Bio: Guifré Bantjes-Ràfols is an emerging international artist who has worked on productions in Toronto, Barcelona, and Saskatoon, and is thrilled to be joining Bygone Theatre as Earl Williams. Most recently he has appeared as Jacob Mercer in Salt-Water Moon (Quarter Century Theatre), Lazarus in Lazarus and his Beloved (Broken Hill Theatre), Cheever in The Crucible (Kindling Collective), and Nelson in the feature film Sebastian (Bonpland Pictures). He recently graduated from George Brown College’s Theatre Arts program where, in addition to playing roles such as Alexander Kalabushkin (The Suicide), and Joe (The Crackwalker), he produced and directed trailers and other promotional materials for the graduating season in 2015-16.

How did you hear about Bygone Theatre and this production of His Girl Friday?

I first heard about Bygone Theatre a couple of years ago when they were taking their production of Kill, Sister, Kill!, to the New York Fringe.  The show sounded really interesting so when my wonderful friend Sean Jacklin, who is playing the role of Walter Burns, was kind enough to tell me they were casting for His Girl Friday, I jumped at the opportunity. 

What made you want to be involved?/ what do you love about the story?

I really enjoyed the witty dialogue and fun characters when I read the script. All the characters offer so much room for play and depth. Even though there is a central narrative, and characters, that drives through the play, you really get a sense of everyone’s quirks and idiosyncrasies.

What’s your favourite old movie?

Probably Singin’ in the Rain. (Or perhaps Lion in Winter)

Have you been in a show like this before? What else might people have seen you in recently?

No, I can’t say I’ve ever been in a show quite like this before. It’ll be interesting to bring that film style to the stage.

In January, I played Jacob Mercer in Quarter Century Theatre’s production of Salt-Water Moon. But it was in Collingwood so… Unless you have a car, I won’t hold it against you if you didn’t make it out :p Before that, I played Cheever in The Crucible with Kindling Collective.

Why should people come and see the show?

Because it’s going to be great! Do you like wit? Do you like it with a touch of slapstick? Do you like to have a great story to tie it all together? (and do you like it to have a vintage film flavour?) Then you’ll love it. You’ll have a great time! What better reason to go to the theatre!?

Anything else you want us to know?

Not really.. 🙂 Most of my life is up in the air most of the time and I’m never really sure what I’ll be working on next. Hopefully something as cool and fun as this.

Get your tickets to His Girl Friday online now.

Cast Spotlight: Elizabeth Rose Morris

elizabeth-rose-morriss-headshotElizabeth Rose Morriss plays uptight Gertrude Baldwin in His Girl Friday. You may remember Liz from her role as Miss Kentley in Rope and as a performer in our Vaudeville Revue, as well as numerous Retro Radio Hours. She is also currently on the Bygone Theatre Board of Directors.

Bio: Elizabeth Rose Morriss most recently performed as Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music (Confidential Musical Theatre Project), as Adella in The Little Mermaid (Lower Ossington Theatre), and as Margot Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank (Plain Stage Theatre Company). Previous Bygone Theatre roles include Miss Kentley in Rope, singer in the Vaudeville Revue, and a regular performer in their Retro Radio Hour shows.
She has degrees in Music Theatre (Acadia University) and Education (Nipissing University), is currently on the Board of Directors of Bygone Theatre, and does Marketing for the Toronto Confidential Musical Theatre Project. Keep up with Elizabeth online: Twitter and Instagram @lizrosemorriss, and facebook.com/elizabethrosemorriss.

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How did you hear about Bygone Theatre and this production of His Girl Friday?

Emily Dix directed a play I was in with Newborn Theatre, and I’ve been happy to be involved since the beginning of Bygone Theatre! I’m currently on the Board of Directors, and was intrigued from the first time Emily announced His Girl Friday as the next mainstage play.

What made you want to be involved?/ what do you love about the story?

I love the snappy, very stylized 1940s dialogue. The whole script is so witty and fast-paced, it’s a lot of fun!

What’s your favourite old movie?

I love a lot of old movies, mostly musicals, but my favourite has to be Singin’ in the Rain.

Have you been in a show like this before? What else might people have seen you in recently?

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Ian McGarret as Mr. Kentley and Elizabeth Rose Morriss as Miss Kentley in Rope, 2014.

In 2014, I played Miss Kentley in Bygone Theatre’s production of Rope—different decade and not a comedy, but also a period piece, and also a play with a classic movie version. Most recently I played Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music (Confidential Musical Theatre Project), Adella in The Little Mermaid (Lower Ossington Theatre), and was a singer in Bygone’s Vaudeville Revue.

Why should people come and see the show?

For fun, entertaining vintage comedy!

See Liz live onstage this March in His Girl Friday – tickets available online.

Cast Spotlight: Steve Hobbs

steve-hobbs-high-rez-headshotComedian Steve Hobbs plays sweet but bland insurance salesman, Bruce Baldwin, in His Girl Friday; this is his first production with Bygone Theatre.

Bio: Steve Hobbs is an actor/comedian and a long-time Toronto improviser. A graduate of the Second City Conservatory sketch and Long-form programs, he’s known for his stage performances in hit Toronto Fringe shows like “Behold the Barfly!” (2016, 5N’s – Now Magazine) and performed, co-wrote and produced in “Everything Is Fine” (2014, 4N’s – Now Magazine, 4.5 stars – The Torontoist). In improv, he plays monthly in the James Bond-themed “Double Oh!” show, previously headlined Impatient Theatre Co. comedy nights with “El Fantoma”, and has been featured internationally in various comedy festivals (Detroit Improv Festival, North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, NYC’s Del Close Marathon). Off-stage, he’s been a writer for The Second City Network, CBC Punchline and the Beaverton, as well as co-wrote the 48 hour film project 2016 finalist “Fumbled”. When he’s not performing, he’s coaching and teaching as part of the Second City Toronto faculty.

How did you hear about Bygone Theatre and this production of His Girl Friday?

I heard about the production through Emily Dix herself at Bygone, but she also close ties to a director/producer team that I go way back with to past Fringe successes and beyond. They kind of recommended me and played match maker a little bit, which was nice. Small world!

What made you want to be involved?/ what do you love about the story?

The theme of professional versions of ourselves clashing with our romantic ideals is something that I not only identify with personally, but it’s also pretty trendy these days (have you SEEN La La Land??). His Girl Friday nails the frustrating balancing act for me, and grabbed me as a lighter, more fun exploration of that same dichotomy and realities.

What’s your favourite old movie?

Uh oh. I know I should probably say “Casablanca” or something, but honestly, its probably more like that 60’s Adam West batman film. Bombs, sharks…it’s basically Casablanca.

Have you been in a show like this before? What else might people have seen you in recently?

I haven’t been in a production set in this particular era before, but I’ve been in multiple successful Fringe shows (“Behold, the Barfly!”, “Everything is Fine”) and make TV/youtube/stage appearances fairly often. I play in a monthly James Bond themed improv show as well, and guest as a comedian when I can.

Why should people come and see the show?

This show has a stellar cast, fast talking drama and comedy, and my character goes to jail a lot. It’s a winner, come watch!

Anything else you want us to know?

It’s my first time working with Bygone, and I’m PUMPED.

See Steve onstage this March in His Girl Friday tickets available online. 

Cast Spotlight: Ryan Kotack

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You may remember Ryan Kotack from past Retro Radio Hours, or from his role as a Policeman in Wait Until Dark.

Bio: Originally from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ryan Christopher Kotack studied professional theatre at University of Guelph to then pursue a film/ TV career in Toronto. You may have seen him in shows such as the medieval drama REIGN & science fiction thriller DEFIANCE. His selected film credits include; IN THE HOUSE OF FLIES, ANTISOCIAL 2 & AGAPE. He stars as ASIM in the award-winning short film BOSNIAK, currently screened by AIR CANADA.

 How did you hear about Bygone Theatre and this production of His Girl Friday?

After enduring many auditions of mine, Emily finally caved in last spring and offered me a small role in Bygone Theatre’s WAIT UNTIL DARK. Clearly, she does not learn from her mistakes. Here I am once again.

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Ryan Kotack in Wait Until Dark

2. What made you want to be involved?/ what do you love about the story?

The pace. The comedy. The characters!

3. What’s your favourite old movie?

King Kong. One of the greatest love stories ever told about a monkey.

4. Have you been in a show like this before? What else might people have seen you in recently?

I love period pieces. I minored in history in University. My fourth year graduating theatre class produced a war-era collective creation called Sincerely Yours. The story focused on broken relationships in Hollywood, during the United States involvement in WWII, while propaganda movies began to shape America.

Recently, I played a Scottish Military Advisor to the Regent of Scotland in the television show REIGN. They gave me a sword, we had an amazing dialect coach on set. It was such a privilege and I loved it all.   

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Ryan Kotack (far left) in Reign.

5. Why should people come and see the show?

You get a chance to travel to the era of Cary Grant and it is a guaranteed laugh! On a more serious note, the show is very relevant in portraying the power of the press. How does the media shape our reality? Have we progressed or regressed from WWII? 

6. Anything else you want us to know?

I am currently studying the Advanced Meisner Technique under Adrian Griffins. This man studied at the Neighbourhood Playhouse in New York City with Sanford Meisner. 

Help support Bygone Theatre by making a donation through our FWYC campaign – all proceeds go towards this great show with a large & talented cast!

Cast Spotlight: Matthew Hallworth

Matthew Hallworth plays reporter Roy Bensinger in our upcoming production of His Girl Friday.

Bio: Matthew is a Toronto-based Producer, Writer, Actor, Improviser and Singer. He is a largely supportive member of the Toronto Improv Community both on stage and as a Stage Manager at The Second City. His most notable work is “Fumbled” a short film created as part of the 48 Hour Film Project which he was Producer, Writer and Actor on and won “2nd Runner Up” and “Best Ensemble”.

1. How did you hear about Bygone Theatre and this production of His Girl Friday?
I have been familiar with Bygone Theatre for some time because of their Retro Radio Hour shows, I just had to jump on the opportunity to do a fast-talking 1940’s piece!

2. What made you want to be involved?/ what do you love about the story?
I’ve always had a fascination with classic comedies and as a modern comedic performer; I feel its important to be in touch with these classic styles as so many elements are still very much crucial today. I love all the layers to this work; the love triangle, the sleazy reporters, the big plot changes and the fun of all of it!

3. What’s your favourite old movie?
The Great Dictator (1940) I’m a huge admirer of Chaplin’s work and this one really speaks to me as a brave political satire which mocked Hitler before the world knew him to be a monster. Everyone knows the famous speech at the end, but the film all around is a beautiful work of slapstick and screwball comedy, all the bits with Chaplin and Jack Oakie still make me laugh hysterically. 

4. Have you been in a show like this before? What else might people have seen you in recently?
I was once cast in a slapstick production which unfortunately never came to be! I’m mainly an Improviser and perform throughout the city, I recently Produced and Directed Miracle on the Danforth, an Improvised Holiday Special at the Social Capital. In March you can see me in Round 2 of the World’s Biggest Improv Tournament with my esteemed partner, Sean Browning. 

5. Why should people come and see the show?
The comedy, drama and relationships in this piece are timeless; add to that the presence of a strong female character (Hildy) and, well, this is going to be a great time! 

See Matthew onstage this March in His Girl Friday. Buy tickets now.

Rope – Cast/Crew Spotlight – Matthew McGrath

Bygone Co-Founder/Producer Matt McGrath is stepping onstage for this production, performing the role of the young and innocent Kenneth Raglan. We asked Matthew about some of the challenges he is facing taking on roles on and off stage.
1. What first attracted you to  Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope?
I have wanted to be a part of this show for years. It has always been one of my favourite Hitchcock films. When I learned it was also a play, I knew I had to put it on.
2. What challenges have you faced working on a site-specific play that runs in real time?
As a producer the main challenge has always been raising funds, and getting people to care about the show as much as you do, so they’ll want to come see it. As an actor, for this show specifically, it is trying to stay interesting on stage during large chunks where you say nothing, but to not be distracting either. It’s harder than it looks!
3. What have you done to prepare for your role?
Watched tons of downton abbey and Boardwalk empire.
4. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
Watching the dynamic between the three leading men evolve.
5. Why should everyone come and see Rope?
To see a Canadian twist on a classic show. There are top notch performances, and the venue is beautiful and one of a kind!

You can see Matt onstage November 21-29th at the Gibson House Museum. To buy tickets to Rope check out TO Tix.