Kenton Blythe is playing trouble-maker Dennis in our upcoming production of Loot. You may remember Kenton from one of our Retro Radio Hours, or from his role as Max Halliday in Dial M For Murder, back in 2013.
Bio: Kenton is excited to be farcing around with you and this awesome cast. Selected Theatre Credits include: Grey (Toronto Fringe)[Best Ensemble Nominee My Entertainment World], Heart of Steel (Next Stage Fest.) Cabaret. Juno and the Paycock (Shaw Festival), Evil Dead: The Musical (Starvox Ent. w/ Jeffery Latimer Ent.), Dial M for Murder (Bygone Theatre) Selected Film: Sandman: 24 Hour Diner (Youtube / Vimeo), Reign (The CW), Blood and Fury: America’s Civil War (AHC), Looking For Today (Canadian Film Fest.) Twitter: @KentonBlythe IG: @KentonBlythe Youtube: Kenton Blythe
What made you want to be a part of Loot?
I loved the script when I read it and I always get cast as murders and racists, so a farce is a lovely change of pace.
How do you feel about your character? Do you relate to them at all? Share any of the same traits?
Dennis is fun loving, scatter brained, and perpetually horny. Yes.
What’s been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
Figuring out how to make everything I say sexual in some way. Don’t know if they’ll all make opening night…
What’s your favourite thing to have come out of the 1960s?
The Beatles, and my Aunties (All of them.)
Are you working on any other projects at the moment/ What might we have seen you in recently?
Check out my youtube channel and facebook page for highlights from the show I wrote and performed at the 120 Diner in November 2017. Conor Fitzgerald (One of the producers of this show) and I made a movie that premiered at the Canadian Film Festival in 2016 called Looking For Today which is also on Youtube. Finally you should check out the Sandman fan film I was in called Sandman: 24 Hour Diner.
Why should people come out and see the show?
We have all the comedy of a corpse without the smell.
Anything else you want us to know?
Here are all my social media outlets, you should totally follow them:
Facebook: Kenton Blythe (the page)
YouTube: Kenton Blythe
You can see Kenton Blythe onstage at the Alumnae Theatre March 8-17, 2018.
Get your tickets online now.
Synopsis: It started out as a bet: could this team put together a sketch comedy show with thirty two sketches about bees – any kind of bees, from honey bees to the letter B to Bea Arthur (if we can get the impression right) – in sixty minutes? Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. Let’s find out!
Featuring: Created by Andrew Bushell (Bad Dog), Leigh Cameron (Second City), Claire Farmer (Dame Judy Dench), Jessica Greco (Dame Judy Dench), Shannon Lahaie (Dame Judy Dench), Chris Leveille (Dame Judy Dench), and Cameron Wyllie (O Dat Dum), and directed by Paul Bates (Second City).
Shannon Lahaie: You may remember Shannon as Susy in Wait Until Dark. While she did a stunning job as a young, blind housewife in this suspense drama, Shannon’s greatest strength is in comedy. I saw her last year in Everything Else Is Sold Our and it was absolutely brilliant. With many of the same faces onstage this year, I know this show will be a hit.
Shannon Lahaie with Eric Miinch, Bygone Theatre’s Wait Until Dark.
Synopsis: Newly-Singles Caitlin and Eric walk into a bedroom… and go on a painfully funny rebound to look back on their past relationships.
Featuring: Misery loves company! At a story-telling event in 2015, Eric Miinch (Fratwurst Comedy, Behold the Barfly Fringe 2016) told the audience a funny story from his personal heartache, and Caitlin Robson (Karenin’s Anna, Fringe 2014) countered with one from hers. Realizing what they had, they teamed up with Director Jess Beaulieu (Crimson Wave Comedy & Podcast), and through some improv, roleplay and imagination, they devised this candid, laugh-til-you-cry dialogue about love lost, and the art of moving on.
Caitlin Robson: You may remember Caitlin from her role as Miss Jeffries in our 2015 production of Rope. While this was another drama, Caitlin showed off her comedic timing at our Retro Radio Hour – Suspense!fundraiser, and I can’t wait to see her in this original show.
Caitlin Robson in Bygone Theatre’s Rope.
Jamieson Child & Caitlin Robson in Bygone Theatre’s Retro Radio Hour – Suspense.
Eric Miinch: Eric played the sinister Mr.Roat in last year’s production of Wait Until Dark. While he made for an excellent villain, it was very against his character, and almost felt like a waste not giving him a chance to show off his comedic improv skills. Eric shines in comedy, I can’t wait to see him in this.
Synopsis: Our casts are given their scripts and scores and asked to familiarize themselves with their roles – but not to reveal the show title or their role in it to anyone. With no rehearsals, the cast and crew meet for the first time one hour before the performance begins. The audience shows up with no knowledge of what show they’re about to see. The only rule: don’t stop. No matter what.
Featuring: It varies, but we recommend the June 9th performance as it features the lovely Elizabeth Rose Morriss!
Elizabeth Rose Morriss: Liz has been a Bygone staple from the beginning. You may remember her from her role as Miss Kentley in Rope, Gertrude Baldwin in His Girl Friday, her performances at our Vaudeville Revue, or from one of our many Retro Radio Hour shows. CMTP is an ambitious project at any time, but doing them for a Fringe sounds incredibly challenging. Liz is a wonderful actor and a beautiful singer, so you know that, regardless of what the show is, the June 9th performance is going to be great.
Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Elizabeth Rose Morriss and Eric Lehmann in Bygone Theatre’s Vaudeville Revue
Elizabeth Rose Morriss and Ian McGarrett in Bygone Theatre’s Rope
Elizabeth Rose Morriss and Alex Clay in Bygone Theatre’s His Girl Friday
Elizabeth Rose Morriss in Bygone Theatre’s Retro Radio Hour – Suspense
Synopsis: On The Inside is a docutheatre production inspired by Ashley Smith, a young female inmate from New Brunswick. Convicted of a minor infraction, Ashley later spent nearly three years in solitary confinement. This piece takes a close look at the effects of solitary on a young person and the hunger for relationships. Shame and vulnerability reveal themselves at different moments in the lives of an inmate, nurse and two prison guards. Each character journeys through the contrast between a harsh penal system and the reality of our universal desperation to be felt, heard and seen.
Featuring: Harry Lavigne, Ryan Christopher Kotack, Marnie Wohl Bennett, Kelechi Ofoha.
Ryan Kotack: Ryan was recently seen as Murphy in His Girl Friday, and before that as a cop in Wait Until Dark. In both of these roles, as well as others I’ve seen him in, he plays a gritty, disillusioned tough guy, and with the sound of this show I think he’s well cast and will be right at home – can’t wait.
Synopsis: Twelve years ago Richard Buttle killed Jayden Alexander. Today is the day of his parole hearing. Jumping through time, the circumstances that lead to the crime begin to unravel. Who is really to blame? Not everything is as black and white as one would like to perceive.
Featuring: Kenton Blythe, Andrea Carter, Kion Flatts, Mandy Roveda, Asante Tracey and Veshone Cunningham.
Kenton Blythe : You may remember Kenton from way back in 2013, when we mounted our second ever production, Dial M For Murder. Kenton played loveable crime-writer Max. Since then he’s gone on to perform in a tour of Evil Dead; The Musical and to do a season at the Shaw Festival. Can’t wait to see him onstage here at home!
Kenton Blythe as Max Halliday in Bygone Theatre’s Dial M For Murder
The Toronto Fringe Festival has an amazing 160 ticketed events, as well as over 50 free, drop-in events – so get out there and get Fringing!
Emily Dix is directing, producing, designing and stage managing HIS GIRL FRIDAY – learn more in her #crewspotlight.
Emily Dix is the Artistic Executive Director of Bygone Theatre, and is directing, stage managing, designing and producing His Girl Friday. Emily has produced all of Bygone’s shows and directed 5 of the 6, with this now being her 7th.
Bio: Emily Dix is a Toronto based theatre artist, a “jack of all trades” who has worked as a director, producer, stage manager, set & costume designer and performer. In 2008 she moved to the city to attend UofT and quickly became involved with companies on campus, like Victoria College Drama, the UC Follies, St. Mike’s Drama and Hart House Theatre. In 2012, she founded Bygone Theatre, a company which she still runs today as the Artistic Executive Director. Emily has worked as a producer for Theatre 20 and as the assistant producer at Tarragon Theatre, as well as a production assistant for Poculi Ludique Societas, the PR Manager for the Social Capital Theatre, and numerous other freelance positions. In addition to her work in theatre, Emily is a vintage lover and avid collector. She owns an Etsy shop, Tucked Away Antiques, that specializes in small vintage items and digital downloads. Emily has also dabbled in design, making web sites and posters for local artists. For past credits and more information, visit her website, www.emilydix.com.
What made you want to mount His Girl Friday?
While not a conscious decision, I realized that all of the shows Bygone had mounted so far were either dramas, or at the very least rather dark comedies. I never intended for us to stick to style like that so when I was planning our 2016/17 season I knew I wanted a comedy. I had a list of several that had caught my eye, but one day I stumbled across a list of films that were currently in the public domain, and couldn’t believe His Girl Friday was one of them! I was going to write the adaptation myself, but my uncle, Craig Dix, had recently sent me a radio of script of his he’d done, so I asked him if he’d like to do it, and the answer was an enthusiastic “yes”. It’s a great story, with a large and diverse cast, strong female lead AND in the public domain – how could I not want to put it on?
What do you love about the show?
It really is very funny. I love the fast-paced dialogue and the opportunity for cheesy, over-the-top humour. While there are certainly complications with having such a large cast, I did want to be able to include a lot of people, so the size of it appeals to me as well. Plus, I love stories that include a great romance, without it being the central part of the story. It keeps things endearing but not sappy, and makes for a plot everyone can enjoy.
Which role – director, producer, designer, stage manger – have you found most challenging? Why?
I think with this one, I’d have to say director, simply because of the size of the cast. While I did the first round of auditions very early December, it took a very long time to get everything cast; I’m glad I held out for the right actors, but it has been stressful not having the whole group. As producer, it’s always stressful because there is a lot of money on the line, but I feel like I’ve done it enough by now that I have a pretty solid idea of what it takes, and just look at past show reports to calm myself when I start worrying about whether we’ll be able to make rent.
What has been the most rewarding part of the process so far?
Seeing the advances the cast has made. Like I said, big show, lots of fast-talking dialogue, it’s not an easy play. It’s exhausting, especially for the leads. But I’ve got an amazingly talented cast, and every rehearsal they’re leaps and bounds above where they were before, so it’s super fun and rewarding to see them get comfortable in their roles and play with a lot of the silliness that is there in the script. It’s going to be a funny show.
Why should people come and see the show?
It’s so much fun. Fast-paced, goofy, it’ll have you laughing and on the edge of your seat. Not to mention we’ve got a huge cast, so if you’re in the local theatre scene, chances are you know someone involved! Come out and support Toronto Theatre.
Anything else we should know?
Sadly, it’s a very limited engagement, just one weekend. So there are only 5 chances for the public to come and see the show; Thursday March 2, 8:00pm; Friday March 3, 8:00pm; Saturday March 4, 2:00pm and 8:00pm; Sunday March 5, 2:00pm. We encourage you to buy your tickets in advance, which can be done through the Native Earth box office, at www.nativeearth.ca/hisgirlfriday. Hope to see you there!
Retro Radio Hour – Winter Wonderlandis just around the corner! This is the 7th in our radio series, another fun-filled evening of vintage radio plays, oldies music, magic & a Christmas sale all in support of our mainstage season. The show is playing at the Imperial Pub, 54 Dundas St. E (Yonge & Dundas) Friday November 27th; doors open at 8pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.
This month’s show features…
Elizabeth Stuart-Morris – Bygone’s Chair
Elizabeth makes her Bygone performance debut this week. Come see the lovely lady who’s been hard at work behind the scenes. You may have seen her in other performances in Toronto, like the recent Summerworks production of Seams.
Leete Stetson – Bygone’s Vice Chair & Past Performer
Leete has been a part of Bygone since its beginning. He starred as Tony in Dial M For Murder and as Brandon in Rope, as well as having participated in past radio shows.
Emily Dix – Bygone’s Artistic Executive Director
Emily usually works behind-the-scenes, directing and producing Bygone’s shows, but she has performed in every one of our radio shows to-date.
Jamieson Child, Nicholas Arnold, Emily Dix & Caitlin Robson
Matt McGrath – Bygone Founding Member
In addition to working on the production side of Bygone’s shows, Matt has been seen onstage in previous radio shows, and as Kenneth in Rope.
Ian McGarrett – Past Performer
Ian made his acting debut as Thompson in Dial M For Murder and since then has been a staple of Bygone’s radio series. He also played the role of Dr. Kentley in Rope.
Elizabeth Rose Morriss and Ian McGarrett in Bygone Theatre’s Rope
Leigh Beadon – Past Performer
Leigh has been involved in the last few radio shows, performing his incredible magic/mentalist routine!
Michael Zahorak – Past Performer
Mike first joined Bygone as the composer for Kill Sister, Kill. Since then he has performed for several of our radio shows.
Time for another Cast Spotlight! Ian McGarrett plays retired professor Dr. Kentley in our upcoming production of Rope. Just last year Ian performed for the first time onstage in our production of Dial M For Murder, and now is back again for another “killer” show! Here’s what he has to say so far;
What first attracted you to Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope?
I learned a lot and had a great deal of fun working on Bygone Theatre’s production of Dial ‘M’ for Murder. Towards the end of that production Emily mentioned she wanted to put on a production of Rope and her enthusiasm for it got me initially interested. When I saw that it was actually going to happen I was tempted to contact Bygone and see if they had cast Dr. Kentley even though I had a prior commitment which might interfere. Fortunately, my procrastination wasn’t punished. Emily emailed me and, well, how could I say no.
What have you done to prepare for your role?
I grew a beard. Or rather, I didn’t shave the beard I grew for a role in another production I am in.
What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far? I like rehearsals because I get to see the production developing and coming together.
Why should everyone come and see Rope?
Who doesn’t like a good story about murder?
Rope runs November 21-29th, 2014 at the Gibson House Museum. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through TO Tix. Seating is extremely limited, so ordering in advance is encouraged. For more show information check us out on facebook or twitter, or see our website.
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 ofRope?
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 seeRope?
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.
Leete Stetson has worked on every Bygone show to date; he was music director and part of the choir in Doubt: A Parable, played Tony Wendice in Dial M For Murder and has performed in each of the Retro Radio Hour shows. Leete joins us again as the sinister Brandon Wyndham in Rope.
1. What first attracted you to Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope?
The lovely and talented Emily Dix. To date, I think I’ve been involved in just about everything Bygone Theatre has done. Emily and I have many interests in common, one of which is Alfred Hitchcock who did a film adaptation of this play.
2. What challenges have you faced/OR/ what is your favourite part of working on a site-specific play that runs in real time?
My favorite part of working on play that runs in real time is that you don’t have to make up what happens to the character in between scenes. The biggest challenge of working on a play that runs in real time is that you don’t get to make up what happens to the character in between scenes.
3. What have you done to prepare for your role?
I’ve sat in the dark late at night and had deep conversations with the air about death and the futility of existence. Then, I’ve turned on the lights and read the script until I could say almost all of my lines in the right order.
4. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
I like the parts where I’m waxing philosophic with Rupert/Jamieson Child. He’s a good listener. My second favourite part of the rehearsal process is yelling at Emily when I disagree with her.
5. Why should everyone come and see Rope?
It’s not very often that you get to see a play in as beautiful a location as the Gibson House museum. It’s not very often that you get to see a play whose scope is as pinpoint-focused as one room, one evening. It’s not very often that you get to see a play with as talented a group of actors as Nicholas Arnold, Jamieson Child, Caitlin Robson, Elizabeth Rose Morriss, Matt McGrath, Chelsey MacLean and Ian McGarrett
Rebecca Russell and Leete Stetson in “Retro Radio Hour” – photo by Danielle Son
Leete Stetson in “Dial M For Murder” – photo by Danielle Son
Leete Stetson in “Dial M For Murder”
Want to see more of Leete? Get your tickets to Rope through TO Tix.
It’s that time again! Time for our Cast and Crew spotlights for Rope. First up, Bygone Artistic Director/Producer and director of the show, Emily Dix.
1.What first attracted you to Rope?
I’ve been a Hitchcock fan since I was a kid. Growing up I had some darker interests and was always drawn to mystery and horror; my parents, worried I’d see too much gore too young, steered me towards the classics. As an adult I studied film at UofT, and the more that I watched Rope the more I was drawn to the story. One day, while watching the film with my co-founder Matt McGrath, I noticed a note in the opening credits; based on the play by Patrick Hamilton. I was thrilled. We looked up the play, found that, despite some differences, it was still amazing, and it’s been on my radar and to-do list since then. That was back in 2011.
2. What challenges have you faced working on a site-specific play that runs in real time?
A lot of the same issues that I had when we did Doubt back in January 2013; plays are written (generally) to be on a stage and to have SFX like lighting and sound. I wasn’t too concerned with this initially because I thought, well, real-time should look like real-life, what’s the issue? But being in a museum we do have a lot of limitations and things to consider. Also, ending a play that has a dramatic finish when you can’t simply “go to black” is a challenge. But we manage alright.
3. What have you done to prepare for your role?
As Artistic Director/Producer, preparing for my role basically means preparing the entire show. Over a year ago I started some basic design ideas and looked for venues. Once we had a venue and dates set, I finalized costume designs and started working on raising funds and casting the show. Now I’ve got rehearsals where I do all the basic directing stuff, I spend evenings doing admin things like balancing budgets and filling out the ticket selling paperwork, and then of course there is the marketing. A lot of time is spent on the computer. I spend hours daily updating social media, writing to the cast, contacting other companies to cross-promote, completing props lists, updating online event listings; no one task is particularly difficult but there is a LOT to do.
4. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
I love my cast. I say this every time, but it really is true. I think the best thing that I ever do for one of my shows is cast a group of amazing people; I’ve done it before and it’s happened again. Everyone is so unbelievably talented and they’re a really fun group. Despite working on a heavy play with some dark and very serious concepts, rehearsals are always fun and everyone is getting along. I always look forward to going to them and I never want them to end. It’s a great group.
5. Why should everyone come and see Rope?
Aside from all the usual things – amazing cast, beautiful costumes, and a phenomenal script – you should come and see Rope because it really is different from anything else you’re going to see in the city. The venue is unique and perfectly suited to the show. The play is not one that is done very often, so chances are no one else has seen it performed live (plus, we’ve made some changes as it is now public domain). Rope is unique because it addresses issues of morality, murder and equality without forcing them down your throat; it’s never preachy, it doesn’t talk at you about these things, it simply lets the audience in on a dialogue about it. Sitting right there amidst the party guests the audience is invited to join the conversation and make up their own minds, question themselves on what they would do if they were in that position. I think it’s a neat concept.
Rope run November 21-29th, 2014 at the Gibson House Museum. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through TO Tix. Seating is extremely limited, to ordering in advance is encouraged. For more show information check us out on facebook or twitter, or see our website.
This weekend we had our auditions for our November production of Rope; what an amazing group of talented people! Some tough decisions had to be made but it’s made for what I’m sure will be a stellar cast. So say hello to the cast of Rope!
Leete Stetson as Brandon Wyndham
You may remember Leete Stetson as Tony Wendice in last August’s production of Dial M For Murder.
Bio: Last year, Leete Stetson played Tony Wendice in Bygone Theatre’s production of Dial M for Murder, and assisted with Doubt and the Retro Radio Hour series. Despite what you may assume from his previous work with Bygone, he has murdered hardly any people. Leete is also the General Manager of Theatre Double Take and one third of the creative force behind the comedy/mystery podcast Duotang Chesterfield’s Mystery Theatre. In his spare time, he serves you coffee.
Nicholas Arnold as James Kelly
This is Nicholas Arnold’s first Bygone Theatre production.
Bio: Nicholas Arnold is an award-winning writer, director and producer in the film industry as well as a professional actor in theatre and film. Nicholas produced his first documentary at the age of 14 and followed that with his feature directorial debut, “The Vicious Circle,” a film on bullying and hatred, by the time he was 17. Recently, Nicholas premiered his second feature film, “William’s Lullaby,” this time focusing on depression and grief and how it affects child-hood development. As an actor, Nicholas was awarded the Bancroft Theatre Guild Award for Acting Excellence for his 2008 portrayal of “Sparkle” in Judith Thompson’s gritty drama, Habitat. He has also toured Ontario with his one-man show, A Tribute to Jerry Lewis and in 2012 toured the Southern US in The Best of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
Jamieson Child as Rupert Cadell
This is Jamieson Child’s first Bygone Theatre production.
Bio: Jamieson Child is an actor/ filmmaker/ playwright and graduate of Ryerson University’s Film Studies program. He has directed, co-written, and appeared in three shockingly funny shows created with his brother, one of which, Kill Sister Kill, premiered to startled reviews at the 2013 Toronto Fringe. Some past theatre credits include Cosi and You Are Here (Alumnae Theatre), and Orsino in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (Ruckus Magazine). He is an original member of the New Drama Company (www.newdramacompany.com). This is Jamieson’s first experience on stage with Bygone Theatre. He is very pleased to join such great company for Rope. Enjoy the show.
Chelsey MacLean as Leila Arden
This is Chelsey MacLean’s first Bygone Theatre production, however, she worked with director Emily Dix back in 2007 on a play called Stalls.
Bio: Chelsey MacLean is thrilled to make her Bygone Theatre debut in the role of Leila Arden. Past credits include Theatre Sheridan: Make-Up Artist in Merrily We Roll Along, Dance Ensemble/ Swing in Chicago, Bessie Bletcher in Colours in the Storm and ensemble in Oklahoma! The Singer’s Theatre: Mimi Maquez in Rent and Yvonne in Miss Saigon. Chelsey is a recent graduate of the Sheridan Music Theatre Performance Program and is grateful to her Sheridan family of faculty and friends.
Matthew McGrath as Kenneth Raglan
Producer Matt McGrath is thrilled to be acting in his first Bygone production!
Bio: Matt has been acting on stage for over a decade; for five years he performed in productions with the Youngest Shakespeare Company. He attended Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts for their drama program, and graduated from U of T with a degree in Cinema Studies and English.
Selected Stage Credits: “Excuse You” (Theatre On A Though/Toronto Fringe); “Young Frankenstein” (Alexander Showcase Theatre); “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” (Hart House Theatre); “Absolute Alice” (Stratford Factory Productions/Toronto Fringe); “Hairspray” (St. Michael’s College); “Pigeons In Love” (InspiraTO Festival); “Arsenic and Old Lace” (Victoria College Drama), “The Philadelphia” (Victoria College Drama).
Ian McGarrett as Dr. Kentley
You may remember Ian McGarrett (by voice at least) from Bygone’s production of Dial M For Murder; he played Thompson and all the voices on the phone and radio.
Bio: It was my grandmother who instilled in me an interest in theatre. I can remember when I was seven or so, acting out improvised scenes with her based on bits from The Beverley Hillbillies in which she was Miss Hathaway and I was Mr. Drysdale. My grandmother was a schoolteacher and introduced me quite early to Shakespeare, reading from The Merchant of Venice, Portia’s speech about the quality of mercy and all that glisters etcetera. Although I maintained my interest in theatre and even did some volunteer work at the Tarragon and Factory Lab but owing to inordinate stage fright we have to skip fifty years before I first appeared on stage. Three words. “Sir. Yes, sir!” but for that I got to take a bow and I was hooked. I next auditioned for Nuts and got a callback, hoping to play the court’s security guard or maybe the stenographer, only to be surprised when the director asked me if I was okay with playing the District Attorney. That’s fairly well up to date, not much of a bio and all I can say is… still hooked.
Elizabeth Rose Morriss as Miss Kentley
You may remember Elizabeth Rose Morriss from our Retro Radio Hour. She also worked with director Emily Dix on the Newborn Theatre production of Noble Savages several years ago.
Bio: Elizabeth Rose Morriss has degrees in Music Theatre (Acadia University) and Education (Nipissing University). She has been involved with the Civic Light Opera Company since 1999, playing roles including Magnolia in Show Boat, Marsinah in Kismet, and Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes. Elizabeth has appeared in the Toronto Fringe Festival in Lord of the Rings: the Musical: the Musical (2007), SQUAT: A Super Secret, Back-Alley Musical (2013), and Group Therapy (2014). Other credits include the two-person comedy Romantic Fools at the Queen Elizabeth Dinner Theatre, Newborn Theatre’s 2012 Odds & Ends Festival at the Tarragon Theatre (with director Emily Dix), a recurring role as Mina in Dracula at Casa Loma, and Bygone Theatre’s 2013 Retro Radio Hour. Elizabeth is thrilled to be working with Bygone Theatre again!
Caitlin Robson as The Maid
This is Caitlin Robson’s first Bygone Theatre production.
Bio: Caitlin Robson is a Toronto-based emerging artist. Recent acting credits include Anna in Karenin’s Anna at Toronto Fringe (Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Production and outstanding Ensemble, NOW Magazine; Fringe Highlight, The Torontoist); Judith in Equivocation, Persephone Theatre (nominated for eight SAT awards) Caitlin is also an experienced drama instructor, and an independent director and producer. Thanks to her friends and family for all their love and support!
Emily Dix – Director
Our Artistic Director is going to be directing this production; she has directed all Bygone Theatre shows to date.
Bio: Emily is a founder member and the Artistic Director/Producer of Bygone Theatre. She has worked as an actor, director, stage manager and designer. In August of 2014 she traveled to New York with Promise Production to stage manage their production of “No Visible Scars” for the New York City International Fringe Festival. Emily is in charge of all of Bygone’s artistic decisions, as well as marketing and promotion.
Selected Directing Credits: “Festival of Dance” (Hart House Theatre); “Dial M For Murder” (Bygone Theatre); “Festival of Dance” (assistant director, Hart House Theatre); “Revelation” (assistant director, New Ideas Festival, Alumnae Theatre); “Doubt: A Parable” (Bygone Theatre); “Plasterface” (Newborn Theatre); “Noble Savages” & “Children Don’t Cry” (Newborn Theatre, Odds & Ends Festival); “Pigeons In Love” & “Bucket” (InspiraTO Festival); “The Night of the Iguana” (assistant director, Hart House Theatre); “Hairspray” (St.Michael’s College); “Arsenic and Old Lace” (Victoria College Drama Society); “Stalls” (Sears Drama Festival); “Liars” (Sears Drama Festival).
Devon Potter – Stage Manager
Devon Potter is our stage manager for Rope; this is her first Bygone Theatre production.
Bio: Devon is a Toronto-based Stage Manager, Producer, theatre reviewer, writer and sometime performer who has been involved in theatre for the better part of two decades. When not doing or reviewing a show, she spends her time watching Indie films and dreaming of life in Paris. Selected credits include: As Stage Manager: Parade (StageWorks Toronto), South Pacific, My Fair Lady (Scarborough Music Theatre), Miss Caledonia (Lunkamud/Summerworks Theatre Festival), The Cat of Kensington (Cats in the Cradle/Toronto Fringe Festival FringeKids!), A Quest of Character (Kid-Safe Productions/Toronto Fringe Festival FringeKids!). As Co-Producer: Nine (Scarborough Music Theatre). As Production Assistant: The Canadian Premiere of Martin Crimp’s The City (Actors Repertory Company).
When dressing a period set it is important to have not only a good grasp of what was actually popular and available during the period, but also an idea of what most audiences will associate with it. “Mid Century Modern” is a huge decor trend right now, and so those looking to set a show in the 1950s or 60s are in luck – there are lots of vintage and new pieces available that fit the style, for a range of costs.
When trying to capture the essence of an era, I usually focus on a few key things:
Silhouette: What sort of general styles and silhouettes were common, and where can we find those in both vintage and modern pieces?
Colour: What colours were popular at the time? And in particular, what colour schemes would have been used then that are rarely used today?
Accents: Are there any accent pieces (lamps, phones, statues, vases etc.) that are frequently associated with the decade?
I then research a bunch of photos and hit the thrift shops. While it is always fun to go to vintage and antique stores, I generally find that, for one, the costs there can be high and two, since those pieces are actually old they frequently look too worn to be used in a set that is meant to be of that time. Often times, the best solution is to go through thrift stores and see what more recent pieces can be recycled and reworked to fit the desired decade. But before I get to the little details, I start with the first thing the audience will spot: the colour.
The Mid Century Palette: 1950s and 1960s Colour Schemes
While many of the colours popular during the 50s and 60s are seen in homes today, the big difference is in how they weren’t afraid to mix lots of bold, contrasting colours, whereas we tend to tone them down with neutrals. Let your colours speak to the tone of your show; doing a drama? Why not try for a deep, forest green with red and golden accents? Have a cheerier, lighter mood in mind? Pastels were popular and can look stunning onstage. Don’t be afraid to play with unique colour combinations, and when in doubt, a quick google search will come up with some mid century colour palettes you can choose from. If you have the opportunity, one of the best ways to get a real retro look is to incorporate the bold carpet colours of the decade (though of course we don’t all have the resources to cover our stage floor).
Dark, bold colours with a mid century brick fireplace
Pastel kitchen with matching appliances
A bright and neutral look
Brightly coloured kitchens
Formica countertops – 1950s
Elvis Presley in his home
Cyd Charise in her homw
The Mid Century Silhouette: 1950s and 60s Furniture
One of the most easily recognized features of the mid century furniture silhouette is the thin, tapered wooden legs. Often stained to look like teak, they sometimes had a metal cap at the bottom, and are relatively easy to replicate should you not be able to find an actual vintage piece. Eames-styled chairs, with thin wooden arms and legs and tailored, boxy cushions were also popular. I often find pieces from the 1980s that, from a distance, can work in a mid century set.
The Mid Century Vibe: 1950s and 60s Accent Pieces
The fun part of dressing a mid century set is hunting for little accent pieces that can really bring the whole thing together. Try to think of things that, not only have the right look for the decade, but that can be usable onstage. People in the 1950s and 60s smoked and drank more than most of us do today, so investing in a bar, some ashtrays and some retro glassware may be worth the while. A vintage lamp will instantly stand out as something not-of-this-decade and so can be a good choice as well. And of course, who doesn’t like to add a few vases or some kitschy ceramics? They are fun, often cheap, and help the overall vintage vibe of your set.
Bar carts not only add a retro feel, but give actors something to play with
vintage phones are readily available in thrift stores
a set of retro glasses is great for establishing era, and again is something to play with onstage
investing in a retro lamp instantly gives the set a vintage vibe
people smoked more in the 50s and 60s – an ashtray is a cheap and easy accessory to ad
a wire magazine rack looks cool and can be used for props
Blue Mountain Pottery was popular in the 1950s and is often found in Goodwills
a 1960s lamp – a great piece
Bygone’s Mid Century Set: Dial m For Murder
In August of 2013, Bygone Theatre produced Frederick Knott’s “Dial M For Murder”, setting the show in 1956. While the set was simple, some vintage elements (along with some new, “vintage styled” elements) quickly conveyed a retro vibe.
In this shot you can see several key pieces:
1. The Bar – this vintage find cost us $100 and is currently in our living room. It was worth the splurge as it was a key piece in the show an a great spot for stage business.
2. The “Vintage” Couch – while this is actually our old living room couch (bought new at a futon store in downtown Toronto a few years before) the boxy, tailored style fit it in perfectly to our 50s living room. A couple bright accent pillows were added to bring it into our whole “martini” colour scheme
3. The “Vintage” Coffee Table – I suspect this table is actually from the 80s, because unlike a true mid century one from he 50s or 60s, it is made of particle board and plastic, not teak. I found it for $20 on kijiji and it is currently our living room table
4. The 1950s Lamp with Fibreglass Shade – another splurge at $100, but one I think was completely worth it. This lamp is so perfectly 50s, and that fibreglass shade stands out beautifully onstage. We used it a lot for practical lighting, so that was good as well. This too has made its way into our regular living room furniture.
When dressing a period set on the cheap, it is important to think about what the audience will really see. Yes, you can likely find a beautiful vintage Eames-styled chair, but at what cost? Our used couch had the right shape and colour, and worked great. Lots of 1980s furniture has the look of mid century modern from a distance, but is much cheaper as it is made of plastic or metal, rather than solid wood. Again, great onstage. If you keep your colour scheme retro and throw in a couple well-picked vintage knick knacks (we used quite a bit of Blue Mountain Pottery, cheap, and made it look like something Margot collected), you can avoid having to purchase too many things. Try to think of pieces that could be used in other shows, or other periods as well. Remember, just because something is set in the 1950s, doesn’t mean the character’s can’t have a few older “inherited” pieces as well. It’s all about balance. In this show, we paid particular attention to the costumes, which also allowed us to go a bit simpler on the set. In dressing a period show on the cheap, remember that, while you may put in the time researching exactly what is accurate for the year (I know I did!) most audiences won’t know the difference between something from 1950 and 1960. Play with what you can find and you’ll realize that a period set can be a lot of fun, and a lot simpler than it may initially appear.