“Rope” – All Wrapped Up

It’s a little late to be doing the “that’s a wrap!” blog but as a producer, the work for Rope just ended for me the other day. Now that I’ve finally got the time to take a break and reflect I thought I’d give a little summary of how the show went.

My beautiful cast. Photo by Danielle Son.

We were very lucky to sell out 5 of our 7 performances, and all were loved by our audiences. We got a lot of positive feedback; here are some of the review highlights:

“The story’s best known in its film adaptation by Alfred Hitchcock, but there’s some point in seeing the theatrical original, especially in Bygone Theatre’s site-specific staging at North York’s Gibson House Museum…Under director and costume designer Emily Dix, the visual details, including millinery by David Dunkley, are generally understated but impressive. She’s also given the action a local flavour with mentions of Upper Canada College, Yonge Street and Rosedale. Most importantly, she generally keeps the tension taut: will someone discover what’s in the trunk?…Stetson brings an increasingly frenetic fervour to the murderer that nicely balances Child’s cold, analytical surmises…Matthew McGrath has charm as another party guest, while Chelsey MacLean adds a touch of flapper raciness to the production.” – Jon Kaplan, NOW Magazine

“The supporting cast are excellent: Matthew McGrath’s dandyish Kenneth is the perfect partner for Chelsey MacLean’s note-perfect Lelia, a bubbling and coquetteish flapper gal with lips for days and eyeliner to match. Ian McGarrett, as the victim’s father, has an interesting presence which detaches him from the rest of the company — a not-unpleasant effect. David Dunkley’s millinery is also a highlight: there are only two ladies’ hats, but where this company dug up such marvellous and contrasting costumes is beyond me…the character work is outstanding, particularly MacLean’s high-spirited modern bohemian, Stetson’s sinister schoolboy, and a few blink-and-you’ll-miss-‘em flourishes from Elizabeth R. Morriss’ Miss Kentley.”
Mike Anderson, Mooney on Theatre

I’m very happy with how the show went and couldn’t be prouder of the cast & crew. I had the chance to work with some amazing people and can’t wait for our next production – stay tuned for details on that.

If you want to see more Rope footage check out our facebook page for photos by Danielle Son, or see our mini montage of footage here:

-E.

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Review – “Evacuate”: Rhymes With Orange Productions, Toronto Fringe

I saw Rhymes With Orange Production’s “Evacuate” Saturday afternoon at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace, a show written and directed by Katie Alguire. It starred Anne Shepherd (who played Sister Aloysius in Bygone’s production of “Doubt”) and Tom Bolton, with a brief appearance by Scott Cavalheiro. The show follows Iris and John, an elderly couple faced with the possibility of abandoning their home when a forest fire starts nearby. The show is on the whole very well written, and had a somewhat dark and unexpected ending.

Tom Bolton as John is a delight. He was at once a cranky, crotchety old man and a worried, loveable human being. He very much reminded me of my Mother’s Father, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching him onstage. Anne Shepherd as Iris was funny and playful, though at times worked a little too hard at seeming old. Overall, both actors did a good job with a text that had a very natural sound, but relatively little action.

The script itself was good, but could use a few revisions. Some of the more interesting moments, like the discovery of the photograph (I won’t go into more detail so as not to spoil it) were not developed to the extent one would hope. This is something that could maybe be addressed in a later incarnation of the show, perhaps one that was lengthened just slightly. The end of the play was also a little disturbing, and possibly not in the way it should have been. A sudden raising of the stakes leaves the audience feeling shocked, but not at all satisfied, and was another moment that could have been developed further.

The play’s biggest fault was its staging. The arrangement of the set made it difficult for the actors to have much movement, and while the chairs and floating window created some nice symmetry for the pre-show, it was not the best design for a play of that length, especially when a lack of depth to the stage meant lots of pacing back and forth. The lighting design was a little surreal at the end, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I haven’t made up my mind as to whether or not I liked the choice, but it was certainly memorable.

Despite an overall melancholy tone, “Evacuate” was a funny and enjoyable play. Very natural characters and dialogue made it easy to watch, and so this is one I would add to my recommended list.

Toronto Fringe 2013 – Bygone’s Fringe Picks

942567_509117382482644_14951962_nThere are so many shows in the Fringe each year and it really is impossible to see them all. When you work in the arts, chances are you know at least a dozen people involved in the fringe, and for me that’s what determines which shows I go to see. So here are my (admittedly slightly biased) picks for this year’s Toronto Fringe:

1. “Teach Me” – Newborn Theatre: George Ignatieff Theatre
Written by my friend Rachel Ganz, I am stoked to see this show. I read the very first draft months ago when she started, and it was great then; I’m sure by now it’s evolved into something even better. Rachel has been accepted to National Theatre School for Playwrighting in the fall, so you know she’s one to watch out for. I was lucky enough to direct her one-woman-show “Plasterface” back in November, and I know her work always leaves a mark. If you’re looking for a bizarre, compelling story with hilarious and unbelieveably natural dialogue, I recommend this one.

2. “Excuse You!” – Theatre On A Thought: George Ignatieff Theatre
Bygone’s Producer, Matt McGrath is performing in this piece by Bryce Alexander Dudley. This show has already ended up on lots of “Fringe Picks” lists, and with good cause – a collection of stories about the hilarious world of customer service in the arts. Certainly something all of us can relate to, and sure to be a laugh!

3. SQUAT: A Super-Secret Back-Alley Musical – Watch The Elbow Productions: Site-Specific, CineCycle, 401 Richmond St. W
I’m psyched to see this site-specific musical because it’s got some amazing performers in it: Elizabeth Rose Morriss was one of our lovely performers in Retro Radio Hour, and Victoria McEwan and Colin Asuncion were in the production of “Hairspray” I did a couple years ago, as Tracy Turnblad and Seaweed. Plus what’s not to love about a site-specific musical? I’m interested to see how they tackle this one.

4. “Monstrous Regiment” – Socratic Theatre: Site-Specific, Paupers Pub, 539 Bloor St. W
Another site-specific show, this one features two of our “Dial M For Murder” actors, Jason and Rebekah Manella. A lot of what you see at Fringe is original works, which is great, but sometimes it’s just as fun to see a published show like this one, especially when it’s been adapted for a site-specific location, and shortened to fit the time slot. I’m excited to see them pull it off!

So these are the first ones on my list – I’m hoping I’ll get to see a lot more as well. See one you like? Let us know in the comments. And stay tuned for reviews on these and maybe more!

-E.