A Note From Our Artistic Executive Director at the Start of Our 10th Season

On Saturday November 26, 2022, we opened our first production of our 10th season, The Birds, at Hart House Theatre. As my speech was somewhat improvised and a little scattered and emotional, I wanted to share a cleaner version of it now – there’s a reason I’m usually the one behind the camera/stage, and writing this out is sure to be a better way to ensure I share all I want to say.

As you likely know if you are reading this, my name is Emily Dix and I am the Artistic Executive Director of Bygone Theatre, a company I founded in October 2012 along with Matt McGrath and Tom Beattie. Both of them have since moved on, but I’m happy to say that many of the wonderful people I work with today have been with the company in some capacity or another for years, and I hope that continues to be the case. In 2015 we became a non-profit and formed our first Board of Directors: Elizabeth Stuart Morris was Chair, Leete Stetson was Vice Chair, Elizabeth Rose Morriss was Secretary and Conor Fitzgerald was Treasurer. While our Chair and Vice Chair were only with us for a season, Conor has gone on to become Bygone Chair and Elizabeth, who has worked with Bygone in various capacities since the very beginning, is still our Secretary. We have since added to our board Dr. Mark Terry as President, and Vinay Sagar as a member. This team has provided guidance and support in countless ways, and because of them we were able to become a registered charity in the summer of 2022. I would like to extend my thanks to all who have helped in the formation of this company – it isn’t as glamourous a role as some of the creatives, but it is essential, and we couldn’t do it without you.

Through the years Bygone has produced numerous one-night-only performances in addition to our mainstage shows. These include many “Finn and Friend” productions, staring the incomparable Tom Finn and his hilarious brother, Kevin Finn, as well as a series of retro game shows hosted by the one and only Bob Burnhart (aka actor and dialect coach, John Fleming). We have also produced over a dozen “Retro Radio Hour” shows that feature the talents of dozens of lovely singers and actors, both those who have been featured in mainstage shows and those who joined us for a one-off performance. These smaller performances still require a tremendous amount of talent, planning and work, and many have been mounted as fundraisers, meaning those involved have donated their time to help grow the company. To everyone who has been involved in one of these events of which there really are too many to count, thank you.

Our last major production was The Rear Window, performed at Theatre Passe Muraille back in March of 2019. It had been our biggest show to-date, and while a major financial risk, it was one that we felt we needed to take. The show was a success with great reviews and a total of 11 Broadway World Toronto nominations, four of which led to wins: Best Direction of an Equity Play – Emily Dix; Best Original Lighting Design – Wesley Babcock; Best Leading Actor – Tristan Claxton; and Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Kate McArthur. Unfortunately, what we had hoped would be a big jump forward in the growth of our company was quickly stalled in 2020, at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, we had to press pause, and went for over 2 years without producing a live show.

During our production hiatus, we shifted focus to develop the other aspects of our company. We always knew we wanted to work towards charitable status, and so we put all our time and effort into building our Sustainability and Diversity & Accessibility Mandates, and our education program. With the help of Dr.Mark Terry, we partnered with the Youth Climate Report, and became the first theatre company to publicly commit to following all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. When the YCR was awarded an honourable mention at the 2020 UN SDG Action Awards, we were given the opportunity to share a video that outlined our commitments. Since then, we have further narrowed and focused our mandate into three main areas: Mend & Make Do; Vintage Aesthetics, Not Values; and Indie Unite. We reaffirmed our commitment to accessibility, and committed to providing clearer breakdowns in all casting and production calls, highlighting specific skills, abilities, potential challenges and possible solutions. We majorly expanded our commitment to diversity, and instituted quantifiable goals such as reserving 50% of auditions slots for BIPOC performers, and providing free admission to all Bygone shows and events for anyone who identifies as being of Indigenous descent. We also provide free advertising space to Indigenous-led organizations, and are seeking funding to be able to hire an Indigenous artist as a consultant as we continue to expand this mandate.

In 2021, we were awarded the Toronto Star Readers’ Choice Award for Best Live Theatre, and were runner-up for NOW Magazine’s Best Small Theatre – if you like the work we do, voting is currently open for the Broadway World Toronto Awards, and while we did not produce anything last season we are nominated for Best Local Theatre in both the Professional and Non-Professional categories – you can cast your vote here.

With the help of a generous donation last season from Jane Aster Roe of Aster Roe Productions, we were able to start two new initiatives; a revival of our Retro Radio Hour series, now to be in podcast form; and the expansion of our Youth Production Assistant program. As with all of our new programs and initiatives, our top priority is with providing payment and support to artists, who have been disproportionately affected during the past few years of the pandemic. With that goal in mind, our first charitable campaign was the creation of our Artist Fund, which gave 100% of funds raised directly to our artists. It is our goal to re-fill this fund with the ticket sales from each show, as well as through fundraising campaigns, so that we can work towards always providing industry standard rates to all the artists we engage. This year, we raised over $12,000 which went directly to the cast of The Birds – thank you to everyone who donated, and if you would still like to give your support, donations can be made via our Canada Helps page.

Throughout the pandemic we provided a series of free webinars on topics ranging from producing to vintage design – these will become a regular part of our programming. This season, thanks to a major donation from IG Financial, we are launching a new program: Empower Your Tomorrow: Financial and Business Literacy for the Arts – stay tuned for details. We are also thrilled to be providing a series of workshops through our venue partnerships with Hart House Theatre.

Finally, this season will include two more mainstage productions: The Yellow Wallpaper, a mix of ambulatory theatre and digital projection being presented at Campbell House Museum, March 2023; and Wayne & Shuster, Live! which will bring Canadian comedy legends Wayne & Shuster back to the stage with the support of their children, Michael and Brian Wayne and Rosie Shuster, thanks to sponsorship from Alterna Savings and a venue partnership with Hart House Theatre, May 2023.

Now that we’re all caught up on the craziness that is the last few years, it’s time to say thanks to those who have helped create what is not only our first show of our 10th season, but the first back since our COVID-19 hiatus, AND our first show as a registered charity: The Birds.

First, to the staff of Hart House Theatre. To Doug Floyd, who took a chance on a small company and let us come into a space we simply could not have afforded on our own – thank you for the encouragement and support, and for giving us a chance to show what we can do. This literally wouldn’t be happening without you. To Gillian Lewis, who is actually the HHT Education & Production Coordinator, but who seems to do basically every job there is. Thank you for helping with everything from organizing workshops to finding props and for the constantly positive attitude and excellent hugs. To Brian Campbell for his guidance and support as we get used to being back in a theatre, and a union house at that – thank you for your patience. To Lindsey Middleton for all the last-minute help when my computer decided to die THE WEEK of opening – thank you for being on-the-ball, keeping a cool head, and finishing the program I should have had done 3 weeks prior. To Parker Nowlan, for being an absolute superstar. I don’t even know where to start. Parker has done everything from set building to programming the lights and has been there to save the day numerous times through this process (starting with emergency printing at our callbacks). Thank you for all your help, and most of all, for doing it with a smile and the patience of a saint. To Brendan (oh my god how do I not know your last name??), who programmed our sound and took my rambling, very non-technical notes and requests and made it all work – thank you for also being super patient, and for making last-minute adjustments more times than I’d like to count. And to all the front of house staff, the Hart House volunteers, and the cleaning staff who’ve dealt with our cluttered backstage – it takes a huge group of talented and dedicated people to run something like Hart House Theatre, and I am thankful to all of you.

Warning – this is where I may start to get sappy.

To our cast and crew, starting with our team of production assistants. Thank you to Ainsley Munro for late-night flat painting, to Sarah Allen who shadowed Wes and helped with odd set and prop tasks that ranged from dressing to running to Rotblotts for more tape. To Kiana Josette, who is working with us in various producing capacities and who took stunning production photos and all the pictures of our opening night gala. To assistant/apprentice director Julia Edda Pape, who attended nearly every rehearsal and provided great vision and insight, as well as helping in a variety of PA roles, and who was a part of the workshopping of the script. Thank you for being consistent, reliable, hardworking and talented – you are going to go far. To our ASM/Associate Producer Jane Aster Roe, who has worked with us in some capacity since 2016 – thank you for doing everything from raising funds to selling tickets, setting props and doing coffee runs – your willingness to do whatever needs to be done has been invaluable and is very much appreciated. To my mother, Karen Henderson, who sewed the lovely dress you see on Daphne at the top of the show and to Tegan Ridge, who came in last-minute with some hair & makeup suggestions – thank you. A major part of Bygone’s image is our historically accurate aesthetic, and that couldn’t have been achieved without you.

To Wes Babcock, our set designer who eventually came on as lighting designer as well, and had to work with tight deadlines and an even tighter budget – thank you for not only doing your job wonderfully well, but for helping with all the dozens of things that were decidedly not your job, like helping with sound cues and InDesign files – I know you weren’t the production manager, but you were definitely a production manager. More importantly than that, you’ve been an amazing friend, as you always have been, and I appreciate you lending an ear not only to my worries and questions about the show, but to my complaints about life in general. I’m so happy to have known Wes for many, many years, and hope to have him in my life for many more to come – I promise every time we will pay you more than the last.

To our wonderful stage manager, Kate McArthur, who is one of the most beautiful people I know. I am so proud of you and all your work on this, jumping into a role you hadn’t filled in years, you’ve done an amazing job and shown you really can do anything. Thank you for being a constant support in every way, you’re one of my closest friends and I could not have maintained my sanity this past month without you. I look forward to spending this entire year creating things with you.

To my fantastic cast – Anna Douglas, who I have not known for long, but who I could immediately see was the perfect Daphne. Anna approaches her work with a focus and dedication that is truly admirable, and while I rarely have time to point it out in rehearsals, I see new details and nuances every time she runs a scene, and those are noticed and appreciated. Her commitment to the show and determination to make it a success has been clear since day one. Thank you, Anna, for the attention-to-detail, thoughtfulness and thoroughness in all that you do.

To Alex Clay, another one of my closest friends, and someone who I have been lucky to work with several times before. Alex read the very earliest versions of this script and has been a sounding board throughout the entire process. Thank you for the lunch-time phone calls to go over ideas, and for coming to each rehearsal focused and ready and full of incredibly lame jokes that always make me laugh. I’m so happy to see you in a role that allows you to show such range, and excited for everyone to see what a talented and capable actor you are. I’m so happy to have you in my life.

To Oliver Georgiou, who I knew was “Mitch” about 5 seconds into his audition. Oliver is wonderful onstage and off – not only is he a talented and engaging actor, he is a thoughtful and supportive team member who has done everything from running warm-ups to bringing me allergy medicine the day after I complained about a dusty theatre. Oliver’s additions to the script have been essential, and the ending is what it is thanks to him. Thank you for supporting and elevating all my ideas, and for being a great listener and a wonderful person to be around.

To Kiera Publicover, who is one of the most wonderfully laid-back actors I’ve ever had a chance to work with, thank you for being a constantly positive and calming presence – much needed in a show as intense as this. Kiera took what could have easily been a small, two-dimensional part and built it into a fully-formed, engaging and endearing character that is exciting to watch. I can’t wait to see all the amazing things you go on to do. Thank you as well for your assistance with editing the Land Acknowledgement, and for the suggestions of Indigenous organizations to support.

To Chad Allen, who I had worked with briefly before years ago when he swooped in last minute to save the day by playing several small roles in His Girl Friday. Chad is a true pro, and has excellent taste in coffee. Thank you for always bringing focus and dedication to all you do, and for being such a positive and guiding presence in rehearsals – I look up to you, and not just because you’re a giant and an “old man”. Chad has also taken a small role and turned it into a character worthy of a spin-off. Thank you for always going above and beyond.

Last, but certainly not least, to Conor Fitzgerald, Bygone’s Chair, my fellow Producer, and my partner in every aspect of life. Thank you for creating business plans and spreadsheets, for driving ridiculously far away for obscure auction pick-ups, for keeping me supplied in Diet Coke, and for supporting me during every stage and mood and thing. It sounds so cheesy to say he is my other half, but it really is true, and I could not do any of the things I do without him.

To all who have helped Bygone become what it is today, and to all who have supported The Birds in anyway, thank you. I hope you enjoy our show and our season, and all the big things to come.

  • Emily Dix
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Retro Radio Hour – Winter Wonderland

Retro Radio Hour – Winter Wonderland is 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.

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.

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.

#BTradio #WinterWonderland

Rope: Opening Weekend

On Friday Rope opened to a packed audience; our Opening Night Gala was a hit and the show was a smashing success. I’m so proud of all those who have been involved and it was wonderful to finally see everything fall into place onstage. This Saturday November 22nd we have two performances; a 2:00pm matinee, which as of late Friday night is 78% sold out and a 7:30pm evening show, which is currently 93% sold out. It’s great to have such full houses and we open the show is received well!

If you would like to get tickets to this weekend’s performance, check out TOtix.ca. Tickets can be purchased online up to 2 hours before the event. After that, tickets can only be purchased at the door; cash only, please.

If you are unable to join us for opening weekend, not to fear! Next Friday November 28th we have a 2:00pm PWYC matinee for Arts Workers and a 7:30pm performance. On Saturday November 29th we have a 2:00pm matinee and we close that evening at 7:30pm.

All photos courtesy of the talented Danielle Son; check out her website here: http://www.logosphotography.org/.

To see the rest of the production stills check out our facebook page.

More updates coming soon!
-E

“Rope” Opens in One Week!

On September 15, 2014, the cast of Rope met for our first read-through. After a single reading, I knew I had made the right casting choices. We had an incredibly talented group of actors, and thankfully, everyone got along from the start.

First read-through, September 15, 2014
First read-through, September 15, 2014

We got into rehearsals right away, and quickly started making interesting discoveries about the text. The onstage chemistry grew fast, and offstage new friendships started to form.

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We put together an awesome fundraiser, Retro Radio Hour – Suspense! and got to see everyone’s comic side.

Jamieson Child, Nicholas Arnold, Emily Dix & Caitlin Robson
Jamieson Child, Nicholas Arnold, Emily Dix & Caitlin Robson

And a glamourous side as well.

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Retro Radio Hour – Suspense! cast

As the show progressed, and intensity grew, I started to get really pumped about the show. Despite seeing scenes over a dozen times, these guys were giving me chills. I knew we had something great.

In one week we will open at the Gibson House Museum. It has been 2 months of hard work but it has certainly been worth it. Don’t miss your chance to see this amazingly talented cast; Leete Stetson, Nicholas Arnold, Jamieson Child, Chelsey MacLean, Matt McGrath, Ian McGarrett, Elizabeth Rose Morriss and Caitlin Robson.

Join us for our opening night gala at 7:00pm on Friday November 21; show starts at 7:30pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance through TO Tix.

-E.

Rope – Cast Spotlight – Leete Stetson

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

 

Want to see more of Leete? Get your tickets to Rope through TO Tix.

Say Hello To The Cast of “Rope”!

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

Leete Stetson
Leete Stetson

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

Nicholas Arnold

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

Jamieson Child
Jamieson Child


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

Chelsey MacLean
Chelsey MacLean

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

Matt McGrath
Matt McGrath

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

Ian
Ian McGarrett

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

Elizabeth Rose Morriss

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

Caitlin Robson
Caitlin Robson

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!

Production Crew
Emily Dix – Director

Emily Dix
Emily Dix

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
Devon Potter

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).

To Cast, With Love – Director’s Notes from “Dial M For Murder”

There’s never enough space in the tiny little programs to say all that I want to about a show, and about all the amazing people who’ve helped to make it happen. I’ve considered doing what some directors do, and making a speech at the end of closing night, but that always felt more like a selfish statement than a good time to thank everyone; no one wants to see the boring old director after seeing the awesome show, and I don’t want to keep the cast and crew from getting out and celebrating. So in an effort to say all my thank-yous, but keep our program from becoming a full length novel, I’ve decided to write here the “director’s cut” version of my notes on “Dial M For Murder”:

First off, to my fellow producer and co-founder of Bygone Theatre; Matt McGrath. Matty is my best friend and my go-to for just about everything in life. When we started this company, he was mostly interested in being involved as an actor, but as the company has grown he has stepped up and taken on some major production roles, most of which he had no prior knowledge of. Matt does everything from scraping together the funds for the show, to working on the set, to going out and putting up hundreds of posters. He essentially functions as an assistant director and I often go to him for advice on scenes or moments in the play, be it just for reassurance or for actual help should I ever find myself stuck. He is an invaluable part of this company, this production, and my life. So many thanks, and a thousand hugs and kisses go to him.

My stage manager Jayden Hsueh has not only take on the dreaded SM tasks like booking rehearsal spaces and working out scheduling issues, but he has stepped up to help with finding props and building sets as well. Jayden is always a happy, positive influence in the room, and his smile (and the cookies and doughnuts he often brings to rehearsals) helps to keep everyone’s energy up. Jayden is motivated and reliable, and I can’t wait to work on another production with him.

Alexis Budd, our fight director, is a great guy to work with. He is smart, funny, and always patient when teaching actors the choreography. He has a creative mind and is great with thinking on the spot, but is always open to suggestions from actors or myself as well. His acting experience helps him not just give tips on how to safely move and fake things like slaps, but on how to really sell it as well. If I ever find myself needing another fight director, he’ll be my first call.

Jackie McClelland is our props master and one of our set designers for this show. I was thrilled to get her, as Jackie is working with increasingly bigger companies and productions, and I worry one day she’ll go off and leave us behind! Jackie is clever and a great problem solver, and has worked out all our props issues. She has a great eye, and is a fun and positive person to work with; I hope we’ll get the chance to do another show together again soon.

Mike Bazzocchi is an amazing builder. He has a unique background that includes engineering and acting, so he not only knows the practical elements required in making a set, he knows what will look good and what the actors will need as well. He’s quick on his feet, positive, and great at explaining things to those of us with no design knowledge. I hope to be able to give him a more creative set to design one day, as I know he is capable of coming up with really original ideas as well as making something that looks like an authentic 1950s living room. He makes me laugh, and I always feel confident any task left to him will be done, and done well. Thank you for that.

My mother Karen Henderson made not just our lovely pinch pleat curtains, but all of Margot’s dresses as well, which not only saved us a lot of money (and me a lot of time), but meant that we could have authentic 1950s dresses that fit our actor perfectly. She is a life-saver as her sewing expertise means I can pick out virtually any pattern and fabric, for any actor, and leave her to do all the hard work of actually making the thing! Every time we do a show and I pile more and more costumes on, she swears it’ll be the last time, but hopefully it doesn’t actually come to that as her costumes are a big part of what makes our shows look great.

Reg Matson is our technical director (and Inspector Hubbard, but I’ll get to that), and has helped me to solve problems from how to run sound from strange spots onstage, to what should be done with the lights. Reg not only has vast theatre knowledge, he has a great artistic mind. He never tells someone what they should do, but asks them questions and helps them to figure out what it is they really want to achieve. He’s been an amazing positive influence in so many ways these past few months, and I know we’ll continue to work together in the future.

Nicole Byblow chose all the lovely period music for the show. Nicole and I first met when doing “Retro Radio Hour”, and I’m so glad to have found not just a talented performer, but a fellow Judy lover as well! Nicole has a great ear and a real understanding of the period, so she’s certainly someone I will work with again. She’s a fun and sweet person, and great at everything she does.

Janice Li is our high school production assistant, and has helped with everything from sitting in on auditions, to making the bricks for the exterior wall, to doing random tasks like coffee runs and sweeping the stage. She’s always up to any task we give her, and I think she will do well as she goes off to focus in production design. I hope she’s managed to learn someone along the way, or at the very least had some fun – we’ve certainly needed all her help!

There have been dozens of people who have helped out with things along the way, and I hope I can remember them all here, so thank you to;

My aunt, Heather Henderson, who donated all our concession items and helped to make the cast t-shirts.

My sister, Rebecca Dix, who worked on the display boards, the concessions, and running Front of House.

My father, Kevin Dix, who shuttled around props, costumes, and concessions, driving up from Waterloo to do so.

Our former producer, Tom Beattie, who donated funds, supplies, and his time to this show.

Brian and Margaret McGrath, Matt’s parents, who donated both money to the show, and allowed us to use their garage to build the set, while putting up with not just the noisy actors and the mess, but with feeding all of us as well!

Danielle Son who took lovely photos of the show.

Kyle Pearson, K. Nolan, and Chris Ross who all came to help out with the load-in.

UC Follies, who helped with both cross-promotions, and who leant us space and props for the show.

Orphaned Egret Productions
, Newborn Theatre, BeMused, and Hart House Theatre, who all helped to promote the show.

Jesse Watts, who was the first to make a donation to “Dial M For Murder”.

Noa Katz and Deb Lim who are assisting backstage.

The staff at the Robert Gill Theatre; the late Lou Massey who helped with our initial set-up, Paul Stoesser who helped in running tech week, Teo Balcu who took the lead in our lighting design, and Vanita Butrsingkorn who assisted in all sorts of backstage and technical elements during tech week.

TAPA, TO Tix, and The Robert Gill Theatre for all the help and support.

Insomnia Restaurant and Lounge for sponsoring our opening night after party.

And, last but not least, my fabulous cast.

I’m so happy to have met Leete Stetson. He is a talented actor and a wonderful friend, and I thank him for all his support and advice on and offstage. We became friends while acting together in Hart House’s “Romeo and Juliet”, and quickly discovered a mutual love of musicals, and a lot of similar tastes. While he and I may disagree on some fundamental theatre things (like bare walls versus a full set), the debates are always friendly and useful. I know I will work with him again, and can’t wait to see what amazing character he does next.

Rebekah has been a total joy to work with. Every note I give her she takes and acts on immediately; she started out as Margot looking and sounding great, but the progression I’ve seen her make through the rehearsal process has really been astounding. She’s turned what could have been a 2-dimensional, typical 1950s housewife into a complex and compelling character, and she makes these changes with such ease that it’s clear she’s one to watch out for. On top of her talent onstage, Rebekah has helped with things like hemming pants, and has offered to pick up the slack wherever it’s needed. I hope we will work together again as she is a lady of many talents, and a very sweet girl to boot.

When I first met Kenton I hoped that he would be as talented as he was sweet and charming, because after 30 seconds of talking to him you know he’s someone you want to work with. Lucky for me, he was. Kenton takes initiative not just with learning and running lines, but with running warm-ups with the group as well. He has amazing stage presence, and is a total joy to watch. A man of many talents, I know he will go far, and I just hope that before he gets too big I have another chance to work with him! All that energy he has is bound to come in handy as he is one who I think will find himself constantly working.

As an actor, Reg is thoughtful and deliberate. He has a very analytical approach to acting, and often pauses to talk through the motivations of all the characters onstage. He is clever and committed, and I love to watch him go through his process as it often brings out new and interesting moments in the show.

Jason  has been a total joy to work with, because he is a kind, thoughtful and genuine human being as well as being a talented actor. Despite having a relatively short amount of time onstage, Jason has been at nearly every rehearsal and has helped with things like being on book, or reading for someone who wasn’t there. He’s always quick to offer assistance with anything, and is always in a positive mood. He takes notes to heart, and has created in Lesgate a truly disturbing character that is so far from his real self that it is a testament to how good an actor he really is.

Despite being onstage for only about a minute in this show, Ian has shown up to all the rehearsals and stayed attentive, offering suggestions, advice and questions throughout the process. He has truly taken the “there are no small parts, only small actors” motto to heart and has created several distinct characters for his brief phone conversations. He has been helpful by being on book and keeping track of actors blocking while he’s not onstage, and has always been a positive influence in the room. And with a voice like his, there’s no doubt he’ll find himself more work in theatre, or radio!

To everyone who helped in anyway, be it by working on the show directly or just being someone to talk to when the stress levels got high, thank you. And to everyone who came out to see all our hard work, thank you – none of this could happen without you.

-Emily Dix
Artistic Director
Bygone Theatre

Friends of Bygone – Photographer Danielle Son

One of the most valuable friends a theatre company can have is a good photographer! So much time, money, and effort goes into a show, but by it’s nature theatre’s fleeting; every performance is different, and can never be perfectly recreated. And when the run is over, all that is left are some photos to keep the memory alive, which is why we’re so happy to have the talented Danielle Son working with us once again so that our show can be preserved and remembered!

Danielle first worked with us in January 2013 on “Doubt: A Parable”, taking phenomenal pictures like this:

Anne Shepher as Sister Aloysius and Jordan Gray as Father Flynn, 2
Anne Shepherd and Jordan Gray in “Doubt: A Parable” – photo by Danielle Son

When we did our fundraiser in May, “Retro Radio Hour”, Danielle stopped by to get some great live event photos like this one:

Rebecca Russell and Leete Stetson in "Retro Radio Hour" - photo by Danielle Son
Rebecca Russell and Leete Stetson in “Retro Radio Hour” – photo by Danielle Son

Yesterday she swung by rehearsal and snatched some amazing photos like this chilling shot from the “Dial M For Murder” fight scene:

Rebekah and Jason Manella in rehearsal for "Dial M For Murder" - photo by Danielle Son
Rebekah and Jason Manella in rehearsal for “Dial M For Murder” – photo by Danielle Son

You can check out all her “Dial M for Murder” rehearsal stills here on our facebook page.

And be sure to check out her website for some of her other work!

“Dial M For Murder” – Rehearsal Photos

We’re doing runs all week so I thought I’d nab some quick rehearsal photos – here’s the cast in their new “Dial M For Murder” t-shirts!

Remember, the show runs August 15-17 at the Robert Gill Theatre. Tickets are available through TO Tix and we highly encourage you to buy in advance!

If you like these pics, check out our facebook page for more!

The cast of "Dial M For Murder"
The cast of “Dial M For Murder”

Kenton Blythe as Max Haliday
Kenton Blythe as Max Haliday

Leete Stetson and Rebekah Manella as Tony and Margot Wendice
Leete Stetson and Rebekah Manella as Tony and Margot Wendice

Jason Manella as Captain Lesgate
Jason Manella as Captain Lesgate

Reg Matson as Inspector Hubbard
Reg Matson as Inspector Hubbard

Dial M For Murder – Actor Spotlight – Leete Stetson

Leete is starring in “Dial M For Murder” as the deviously charming Tony Wendice. Leete has previously worked with Bygone Theatre, both as the music director for “Doubt: A Parable”, and as a performer in their “Retro Radio Hour” fundraiser.

Leete Stetson aka Tony Wendice
Leete Stetson aka Tony Wendice

Bio: Leete Stetson is an alum of the Victoria Conservatory of Music and Dalhousie University, graduating in 2009 with a BA with combined honours in music and theatre. In Toronto, he has worked with Hart House, Alumae Theatre, Charcoal Sketch Productions, Cilantro Dream Theatre and Bygone Theatre, though this is his first time acting in a Bygone show.

1. How did you get started in theatre?
I started acting in highschool, more as a lark than anything, to complement my training as a singer. Throughout highschool, I found more and more that I liked it and wanted to pursue it as a career.

2. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal process?
Rehearsing. Delving into the script and finding connections with the other actors.

3. What are some challenges you face as an actor?
The fact that I’m just not that talented.

4. Any advice you want to give to others pursuing acting?
Anything anybody is willing to teach you, learn that.

5. What are you most excited for in regards to “Dial M for Murder”?
It’s an incredibly fun and funny group of people that I look forward to getting to know better. And also the material is a lot of fun, and I’m excited about finding all those little moments that can be enhanced with looks, gestures and unexpected profanity.