Bygone Theatre’s Top 5 Toronto Fringe Picks 2017

As always, here’s our round-up of the Top 5 2017 Toronto Fringe shows we think you should see – we know they’re gonna be great because they feature past Bygone artists! Check it out:

32 Short Sketches About Bees (Shannon Lahaie)

32 Short Sketches About Bees - 2017 Toronto Fringe

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.

 

Caitlin & Eric Are Broken Up (Caitlin Robson, Eric Miinch)

Caitlin And Eric Are Broken Up - 2017 Toronto Fringe

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.
#CEBrokenUp

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.

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.

Confidential Musical Theatre Project (June 9 – Elizabeth Rose Morriss)

Confidential Musical Theatre Project - 2017 Toronto Fringe

SynopsisOur 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 RopeGertrude 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.

On The Inside (Ryan Kotack)

On The Inside - 2017 Toronto Fringe

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.

Grey (Kenton Blythe)

Grey - 2017 Toronto Fringe

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!

 

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!

-E.

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Crew Spotlight: Emily Dix

25.pngEmily 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!

Cast Spotlight: Elizabeth Rose Morris

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your favourite old movie?

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

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

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

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

Why should people come and see the show?

For fun, entertaining vintage comedy!

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

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” – 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.

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

Arts Workers Ticket Discount for Bygone Theatre’s “Rope”

Bygone Theatre is pleased to announce that we have added a special PWYC performance of our upcoming production of Rope, exclusively for arts workers.

See the show at 2:00pm on Friday November 28th at the Gibson House Museum, 5172 Yonge St. (right near North York Civic Centre subway station). Cash only at the door. PWYC available only for the Friday 28th matinee. Other show dates are November 21, 22, 28, 29 – 7:30pm and November 22, 28, 29 – 2:00pm. Regular tickets are $20 and are available through TO Tix.

Check out the facebook event page for more details.

“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 – Crew Spotlight – Devon Potter

Our next crew spotlight is with stage manager Devon Potter! The lovely lady who keeps us all organized and running on time!
1. What first attracted you to Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope?
The idea of doing a site-specific show was what initially attracted to me to this production; it’s one thing I haven’t had the opportunity to do in my theatre career and have always wanted to do.  It’s proving to be a very different sort of beast, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all works once we move into the venue.

2. What challenges have you faced & what is your favourite part of working on a site-specific play that runs in real time?

Working on a site-specific show as a Stage Manager is quite different than doing a show at theatre – a lot of the tech elements are removed, which you might think would make the show seem simpler, but a whole lot of different challenges present themselves to make up for the simplicity of the technical side of things.  Things like figuring out how best to let the actors know when it’s show-time since they will be ‘on’ even before the audience enters the room, to the different vantage point from which I’ll be watching the show (if only historical museums came with their own booths!), to having no way of communicating with anyone backstage, since there really is no ‘backstage’ to speak of, are just a few of the challenges that I will face as SM.  It’s exciting though – I’m always up for new challenges, especially when it comes to theatre, and it will be fun to feel it out and work with the team to make sure all aspects of the production are as smooth as they can be.

3. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
My favourite part of the process so far has been watching the actors come alive as their characters; it’s always fun to see how differently each performer prepares and works, and there have been some really neat things happening in rehearsals in terms of character choices and development.  It’s always tough to tell at a first read-through how characters are going to be portrayed, but it’s been great seeing the cast experiment and grow and solidify who they are as their respective characters.

4. Why should everyone come and see Rope?

Come and see ‘Rope’ because it’s a great, suspenseful show that isn’t done a lot and has something for everyone.  Suspense, mystery, sexual tension, deep discussions, sarcastic one-liners, odd, funny, dark and intense characters.  The cast is made up of an incredibly talented bunch of actors and you don’t want to miss seeing the work that they’ve created!

Rope – Cast Spotlight – Elizabeth Rose Morriss

Today’s cast spotlight is with Elizabeth Rose Morriss who plays the aloof Miss Susan Kentley in Rope. Elizabeth has previously worked with Bygone Theatre on their Retro Radio Hour shows.

1. What first attracted you to Bygone Theatre and this production of Rope?
I really enjoyed working with Emily on “Noble Savages,” which she directed for Newborn Theatre. When she started Bygone Theatre, I was eager for the chance to work on a play with her again! I admit, I wasn’t familiar with Rope when Emily announced that it would be Bygone’s next production, but as soon as I read it I was interested in being part of it.

2. What challenges have you faced/OR/ what is your favourite part of working on a site-specific play that runs in real time?
I have worked on a couple site-specific plays before—Brant Theatre Workshop’s recurring production of Dracula at Casa Loma, and SQUAT: A Super-Secret Back-Alley Musical at Cinecycle warehouse in the 2013 Fringe Festival. My favourite part of productions like these is having such an incredible backdrop for the production, to have a real castle, warehouse, or turn-of-the-century house to stage your play in is a rare treat, and adds a whole new dimension to the performance. The biggest challenge for me is staging the piece in rehearsal spaces, and then having to translate it to the actual site. It’s a lot easier to visualize entrances and exits and blocking for a traditional theatre space than for a non-theatre space which you haven’t seen.

3. What have you done to prepare for your role?
Susan Kentley is a smaller role, and being such a quiet, uncommunicative character means she has very few lines. That means there are a lot fewer obvious clues about her character, so I’ve had to look very closely at the script for the few lines and stage directions she does have, as well as anything any other character says about her, in order to figure her out. Then it’s a matter of looking at the time she does spend onstage with that in mind, and figuring out her reactions to things, and her reasons for saying—or not saying!—what she does.

4. What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
Watching each of the characters come to life, as each actor works through their own process. It’s fun to see people making discoveries and choices. And we always end up having some laughs along the way!

5. Why should everyone come and see Rope?
Great script, talented cast, cool venue—it should be an excellent show!