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            The Way I See It Theatre Blog is the proud owner of a snazzy new domain and a spunky, spruced up new look! The same blog that you have enjoyed on Livejournal now makes its home right here! Please check it out, update your bookmarks and spread the word!


            As I was transferring all the old blog entries to the new website, I came across some particularly fond blasts from the past, and I thought I would thrust some of them back into the limelight for my new[er] readers, who may feel overwhelmed in digging through the archived blogs as there is quite the collection.

Here are some of the entries that stood out to me:


  • Obviously, my interview with Tony Award winning Broadway Star, Idina Menzel, was a definite highlight of TWISI thus far.
  • During my interview with Haligonian actor Jeremy Webb I could barely capture his answers because he had me in stitches the entire time.
  • I discussed my perceptions of Toronto’s importance and its potential on the World Theatre Scene as long as we refused to downplay our power, and start saying yes, we can! In the same way, I discussed our government’s lack of support for the Arts, and the need for Canadians to stand up and defend our right to our own, unique, distinct culture. 
  • Damien Atkins conducted the best interview of Adam Brazier ever for me in March. Hysterical.
  • Patricia Zentilli? Check. Sharron Matthews? Check.
  • I got to review some Broadway Shows when I went to New York for three days on a “scholarly trip”- West Side Story and In the Heights were both so great.
  • I was particularly proud of my entry addressing the Garth Drabinsky diabolical.
  • Wayne Gwillim made a song for Greg Gibson during the Sing Out, Louise! promotional campaign that impressed me to the core. And it’s so damn catchy!
  • I interviewed David Storch! Dream. Come. True.
  • I interviewed the Impromptu Splendor cast in January. It was the first/only time I ever interviewed four people back to back. Ron Pederson’s epic answers still make me laugh.
  • I wrote a Christmas entry about the need for theatre and charity to have stronger links. It is essential for the theatre world to give back to its community.
  • I wrote “What Gives” for a school Dramaturgy assignment, and I think it captures nicely the Edmonton-connection aspect of TWISI.
  • I shook things up a bit with my sharp interrogation of Richard Ouzounian a year and a half ago. I still stand by my initial perceptions.
  • And OF COURSE- the Original Edges Interview that started it all! 
 I encourage you to check them all out and to indulge yourself in a little, nostalgic TWISI retrospective. Thank you for your continued support! See you on the new blog! 

Smoothies With Colin Jones: Neptune's Got the Power!

In December, I was blown away by Colin Jones, who played Jean Valjean in Neptune Theatre’s Youth Performance Company’s production of Les Misérables: School Edition. His performance earned him a 2009 TWISI People’s Choice Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Young Actor in a Musical. Jones has recently graduated from Sir John A. Macdonald High School and is heading to Victoria, British Columbia at the end of August to attend the Canadian College of Performing Arts in the fall. In anticipation of the next chapter in his life, Jones and I sat down at Second Cup on Spring Garden Road and enjoyed delicious Vanilla Strawberry Smoothies which are only $0.99 ($1.14 with tax) until July 17th. They are incredible, low in fat and ridiculously cheap, so I would encourage you to all run to Second Cup and take advantage of this berry delicious promotion. In the meantime, you should read this great interview with Colin Jones, as he is absolutely one to watch for. I am certain that he will be nationally heralded as a brilliant Canadian musical theatre performer within the next decade. Currently, he is the very definition of what Rosie O’Donnell would have called a “cutie-patootie” in 1996.     


Amanda Campbell (AC): So, Colin, the first question I was wondering was when and how did you first get involved in the theatre?


Colin Jones (CJ): Um, I guess really it was in school and doing school stuff in elementary. My school, the school I went to it was sort of arts focused- I mean, it wasn’t like a performing arts school or anything because we were like five, but like in kindergarten our teacher would get us to do stuff like acting out the stories that we would read as a class. And then that led to summer camps… I don’t think that it was until grade four that we actually had drama and then in grade five I did my first musical. It was this terrible musical comedy about a traveling dentist. Oh, I almost remember what it was called…. How Floss Will Travel! (laughs)... Then I just kind of continued on from there—


AC: Wow. Did you have a big part in that show? Was there any sense then that this was something that you were particularly skilled at and that you should maybe pursue?


CJ: Um, I played the narrator and I liked it but I wasn’t like “this is what I want to do!” I don’t even know if I had that moment until not long ago. Maybe not even until this year almost.


AC: Did you have any early theatrical influences? Or even an artist you liked or a CD that you would listen to that had a profound effect on you?


CJ: Um, I dunno. Not really. Growing up I was never a really die-hard musical theatre fan and my parents almost never took me to see many musicals. I remember that my neighbour and I would always watch the Whitney Houston produced version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella with Bernadette Peters and Brandy. I always really loved the big production of it all. I guess that I basically owe it all to my mom because she found Neptune for me, and I went to a musical theatre camp that summer and loved it.


AC: How old were you then?


CJ: I was about fourteen or fifteen. I think it was 2005. And the camp was Mamma Mia, the musical theatre camp, and I remember being sceptical at first because my mom was like, “you’ll get to sing ABBA all day!” and I was like, “ehn, I dunno” but I went with a couple of friends and I ended up auditioning for YPCo. I absolutely loved it. It was taught by Matt (Amyotte) and Mary Fay (Coady) and then some how I ended up being a YPCo Apprentice, back when they still had that. I actually don’t know how I pulled that off. First of all, the auditioner was sick so I got an automatic Call Back and then I had to be late for some reason, I can’t even remember why, but they knew, and I remember going into the Studio Theatre and it being packed with people and then slapping my name on my front and back and having to go in and sing in front of all those people. And there was such an intense dance call. And I did this terrible monologue-


AC: What did you sing?


CJ: Mr. Cellophane from Chicago.


AC: And you did a terrible monologue!?


CJ: Yeah, a terrible monologue that I had gotten from the Internet. And I don’t even know what it was from or remember what it was about, but what I do remember is that Drew, Drew O’Hara, who was also auditioning at the time, had the same monologue. And we both didn’t really know it that well, and so both of our monologues had the same sort of idea, but they were not really the same at all. No, it was actually kind of a miracle that I got it. I was actually kind of surprised.


AC: When was your first year in (the Youth Performance) Company?


CJ: My first year in Company was 2007.


AC: What show did you do that year? What was your experience like that year?


CJ: Little Women. Um, yeah. I really liked it. I really liked that role. As Professor Bhaer I got to play the romantic lead, and marry the lead and yet I was still only in like four scenes. It was great because it felt so rewarding but it wasn’t too much commitment. And also, I loved working with Sam(antha Wilson). She is so nice and just so… so eloquent.


AC: Did you like Little Women as a show? It was a bit strange the way it was set up, having such a major character not appear onstage until late in the Second Act. There was so much crammed into the end of that show.


CJ: Yeah, I did. It’s a bit strange, like you said. But I liked it a lot. It was also great working with Vicky (Houser) too. She’s great.


AC: And then you played Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. What was that like?


CJ: That was like ridiculous. I’m one of those people who don’t know a lot of musicals before I start rehearsals. There were people who auditioned for YPCo that year because Neptune had announced that they were doing Les Miz and they loved Les Miz. I auditioned for YPCo because I loved YPCo. And then when I was doing my research, people started to say that I should go for Valjean, like write it down on the paper for the audition or whatever. And when I was listening to it, I started to be like, “okay, I guess yeah, this would be a really cool part to play.” Mary Lou Martin directed and I had never met her, but some people in the company knew her and people like Meghan (Hubley) knew her and people started saying things like, “Mary Lou Martin hates flip flops” and “Mary Lou Martin hates Andrew Lloyd Webber… don’t sing any Andrew Lloyd Webber” and I started to get really intimidated. So, when I went in for my audition I sang “My Unfortunate Erection” from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and she was like, “that was cute.” And that was like it. So, I was like, “what does that mean?” “Is she going to even cast me?” “Is cute good?” And then when I got the letter, that form letter, that had “Jean Valjean” filled in, it was sort of strange to think that someone thought I could do that. It’s still in the front of my school binder… the letter there saying “we are pleased to offer you… (laughs) It was such a big role to tackle. But, Matt (Amyotte) and Mary Lou (Martin) made it a lot easier. They both would let you go with it and to make your own choices, but if they thought you could do something better they would suggest different things and help guide you in the right direction. Also there was those two semitones that were lower in the School Edition so it wasn’t like I was belting Bs like Colm Wilkinson.


AC: Right. Better to wait until you’re on Broadway for that and you have mics. So after Les Miz, you played Jack in Into the Woods at Saints Alive Theatre Company. Can you talk a bit about that?


CJ: Um, it was like completely different and yet just as challenging. I mean, the musical itself is challenging, and some of the music in Les Misérables was a challenge, and then there’s just (Stephen) Sondheim in general. It was also a fun change to play a comedic, more carefree character rather than this sort of… epic… adult. I dunno, I loved working with Saints Alive Theatre. I sort of wish that I had gotten the opportunity to work with them before like my last term in school because you get the opportunity to work with older artists and it is so much more professional. I was working with people like Ian Gilmore, and other older theatre performers who aren’t just thirteen to eighteen. That was really nice. It was also really nice that I got to work with people who had already graduated from CCPA and Sheridan. It’s like; they sort of prove that you can do this.


AC: Can you explain to the readers who maybe aren’t familiar with CCPA a little bit about the program you’re embarking on?


CJ: Okay, from what I understand, there is a national tour of auditions in, I think, ten cities and over three days, and the founder and the Artistic Director are there and they videotape the auditions. Then they review the tapes, and people are asked for interviews and stuff and then they choose forty or so first years and you can go and do just your first year there and leave with a… sort of certificate of Performing Arts and that can be it. But, they also interview people again and they choose eighteen to twenty-four people for the Year Two program and then those people can graduate with an advanced certificate of Performing Arts. And then they interview again for their third year program, which is basically a Company Year, where the students do three shows.


AC: Is there anything that you’re specifically excited about at CCPA?


CJ: Um, for me, I just really enjoy musical theatre and I wanted to train in musical theatre rather than straight theatre. I have vocal training and I love dancing, and there are not too many choices for musical theatre at the postsecondary level and CCPA was the only one that I was accepted at. My parents are still iffy about me going, but they’re getting better because I think they realized that I was going to go no matter what. But really, I wouldn’t get excited about any school in particular, I’m just excited to learn in general. If it came down between Sheridan and CCPA I would probably choose Sheridan just because it is closer. But I think that I would learn from both, just in different ways. But that either will be a worthwhile experience. ... I’m really excited to learn how to tap dance because it just looks the most impressive to me of any other kind of dance.


AC: Well, Colin Jones, I have to ask you the obligatory question: Where do you see yourself in five years? … If I could hand you your dream future on a gold platter, what would it look like?


CJ: Oh, okay. I dunno- there’s two different answers to that question really. There’s the realistic answer and the dream-


AC: Don’t say realistically you’ll be working at Starbucks because I don’t think that’ll happen!


CJ: That’d be fine. I’d take the free drinks! (laughs) Realistically, if I do all three years at CCPA, I would only be out for a few years… and I would want to be establishing myself… somewhere… I kind of feel like I’d like to come back to Halifax to work. Now, that is five years from now, so that could change, but I would love to work at Neptune because almost everything that I have seen there has been so impressive. That being said, I wouldn’t mind being in a National Tour or being on Broadway... but I wouldn’t expect that to happen so soon.


AC: Is there any particular show that you’re like, “I neeeeeeeeed to do this!”?


CJ: I think I’d like to have another stab at Les Miz. Maybe not even playing Valjean again, I just think that being in a big company and doing that show would be vastly different than what it was like with YPCo. I also really like The Last Five Years, I really like the music and I really like the concept of the show and the backwards and the forwardness and then meeting in the middle. But, I love most musicals, I’d love to be in any of them. I also would really like to be in something new that will be written in the future.


AC: You mentioned that you would like to come back to Halifax and work here, and I know that some of the professional actors here have been talking lately about the challenges that this city presents, so I was wondering, do you have a vision of theatre here that you would like to see in the next five years?


CJ: It’s kind of hard to say, I don’t have much to compare it to because I haven’t seen a whole lot of stuff outside of Halifax. I’d love to see more people that live in Halifax and surrounding areas getting their work here because there are a lot of talented people here. And recently I noticed a certain director of a certain show at a certain theatre brought in a lot of his friends from a certain city and the show wasn’t really up to par with the other shows that I have seen there, I didn’t think, anyway. I think that a lot of people I know… even people my age or slightly older, people who live here, could have done much better with that material. I didn’t even think the choreography was as good as was hyped.


AC: I know exactly what you mean. I agree. You mentioned that you got your start in Elementary School, and I know that between your generation and mine Public Schools in Nova Scotia have faced harsh Arts Funding cuts and there are more being threatened, how important do you think it is to have drama in school?


CJ: I think it’s important to have it in school. Kind of just doing the kind of stuff that I was talking about, like acting out the stories in Kindergarten, that’s important. I find that I work out excess emotions when I’m performing and I think that would be helpful to keep dumb High School drama down. It will keep everyone happier. At my school (Sir John A. Macdonald High School), the drama program was pretty well respected and so was our Improv Team, which actually has been a shining part of our school because they’ve gone to Nationals and stuff… less so our musical, which is still sort of iffy, and I found that Drama class was still sort of iffy… I once had to leave another class to go get ready for a Drama Final Exam which was a performance, and the teacher whose class I was leaving said, “this is unheard of! Leaving class for a Drama Exam.” And it was sort of disheartening to see that she felt that Drama was lesser than what she was doing. But, you still have to understand where they’re coming from, they’re there to teach this and Drama is not a grad requirement.


AC: What song have you been listening to a lot on your Ipod?  


CJ: I’ve been really liking “A Beautiful Mess” by Jason Mraz.


AC: Is there a TV show that you’re looking forward to watching in the Fall or a show that you watch now that you’d encourage other people to watch?


CJ: I’m really excited for Glee. I love the pilot episode so much. What else have I been watching lately? Oh, yeah, So You Think You Can Dance. And there’s a fall season of So You Think You Can Dance too!


AC: What was the last good movie you saw?


CJ: Um, good as in entertaining, I saw The Hangover, which isn’t exactly profound, but was a funny, entertaining movie. I’m also excited for the new Fame movie, not to be too stereotypical, but it looks really good. … I’m going to see the new Harry Potter tomorrow. (laughs) The Midnight Premiere.


Well, I may not be a master at Divination, but I predict the doors to Colin Jones’ theatrical career will be swung open wide quicker than you can say ‘Alohomora.’Stay tuned!         


News From Around the Barrio

            I have been remiss in keeping you informed with some of the goings on beyond the borders of Canada’s Ocean Playground for the past few weeks, and I owe many apologies for completely dropping the Toronto Fringe Festival ball. I’m so sorry I missed it. It passed me by completely with nary even a shout-out. I hope that all the shows were great successes, it seems as though Torontonians ventured out in droves to support the arts, and I couldn’t be happier! It is been a tumultuous couple of weeks with starting my first two weeks of teaching nearly entirely sold-out camps for 4-6 year olds at Neptune Theatre School, acquiring a nasty virus we’re all hoping is not any strain of Swine Flu, having two computers crash (one twice) and still dealing with pesky schoolwork haunting me from my academic adventures. That said, there still seems to be an awful lot to tell you, so, as Matthew Amyotte would say, without any further ad-uh—let’s see what’s-a-goin’-on in your neighborhood!


            First and foremost, I have just recently become aware of Canopy Theatre in Toronto, which is a nine year old company dedicated to fostering and showcasing the talents of young and emerging artistic professionals in the production of outdoor classical theatre in downtown Toronto. Romeo and Juliet opens on July 15th at Philosopher’s Stage at Philosopher’s Walk (80 Queen’s Park) and runs until August 1st. The mandate of this theatre company is the creation of assessable theatre, and so not only does Canopy allow you to get your Shakespeare fix without a hefty trip to Stratford, its ticket prices are excruciatingly reasonable ($10.00 for adults, $8.00 for students/seniors and PWYC performances on Wednesdays). Andrea Wasserman, Canopy’s Artistic Director directs, and the show is produced by Doug Floyd through Hart House Theatre and Evelyn Wiseman. Matt Gorman Assistant Directs, Susan Bond provides dramaturgy and the play stars Tyrone Savage and Cosette Derome. Bring Your Own Blanket. This is a production of the world’s most famous love story that everyone will be able to enjoy! 416 946-0314 or email  

            If you loved Spring Awakening earlier this year in Toronto, and if you’re eagerly awaiting news of Jake Epstein’s first week as Melchior in the National Touring Cast, I have been told that you must ensure a seat in the audience for the Canadian Premiere of the American musical bare presented by Waters Edge Productions. According to its website, “bare is a pop-rock musical about the coming-of-age of five high school seniors at a Catholic boarding school. Knowing their stay in this insular world is drawing to a close, each of them question where they are in their lives and what the future holds in store. Answers are sought in the church confessional and in less formal venues including a stage, a rave, and a well-locked dorm room. The story focuses in on a secret love affair between two boys, Peter (played by Wade Muir) and Jason (Graham Parkhurst). Though Peter is ready to tell the world about their relationship, Jason fears the repercussions. bare is the beautiful and moving story about love, fear, acceptance and finding yourself.” Bare opens July 17th at Hart House Theatre (7 Hart House Circle, Toronto) and plays Wednesday-Saturday until August 1st, 2009 at 8:00pm with a 2:00pm matinee on Saturday. Tickets are $35.00 for adults and $25.00 for students and seniors. For tickets visit UofT Tix.

            If you’re looking for a fun little frolic in Barrie, and in the heat of the summer, who isn’t (?!), Da Capo Productions is presenting the delightful Charles Schultz/ Clark Gesner/Andrew Lippa musical You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown at the Barrie Downtown Theatre (1 Dunlop Street). It boasts of a stellar cast: Trevor Campbell (Charlie Brown), Ari Weinberg (Snoopy), Lizzie Kurtz (Lucy), Ryan Kelly (Schroeder), Gabi Epstein (Sally) and Christopher Wilson (Linus). The direction and choreography is by Donna Marie Baratta and the Musical Directing by M.J. Johnson. The show plays July 27, 2009 until July 31st, 2009- Monday/ Friday at 1pm and Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday at 7pm. Tickets are $15.00 for adults and $10.00 for children and seniors. For reservations please call 705 717-9776 or visit the website.

            Also in Barrie this summer you can catch a creation from Mamma Mia/ We Will Rock You star Adam Brazier called He Sings She Sings at the Gryphon Theatre (1 Georgian Drive). Here is the blurb from the website: July 22nd at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, July 23rd and 24th at 8:00pm for $29.00 ($25.00 for 2:00pm), “created and directed by Adam Brazier “songs from some of Broadway’s best musicals including A Chorus Line, West Side Story, Annie and The Full Monty, will leave you singing and smiling. A cast of two(Brazier with Melissa Thomson-Hicks and Mark Selby on the keys) embarks on a wonderfully humorous look at modern-day relationships through the revealing words and music of the most beloved tunes of all time!” Sounds like the potential for a charming evening! For more information, visit this website.


            Since I dropped the Toronto Fringe ball, but I am a big fan of Chris Craddock, a brilliant playwright/performer from Edmonton who started in the Edmonton Fringe Festival years ago, I am going to plug his show Moving Along, hoping that all you in Toronto saw it and relished it for every exquisite moment and that you will help me pass the word along to the citizens of Winnipeg. Moving Along begins at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival (Canwest Performing Arts Centre 2 Forks Market Road) July 15, 2009 at 11:00pm, Thursday July 16th at 5:00pm, Friday July 17th at 10:30pm, Tuesday July 21st at 7:15pm, Thursday July 23rd at 12:00pm, Friday July 24th at 9:30pm and Saturday July 25th at 12:00pm. Here is what other reputable people had to say about Craddock and his show: “The writing is as electric as the chair and the performance will make you gasp!”- Liz Nichols, The Edmonton Journal, “Craddock is nothing less than brilliant”- Martin Morrow The Calgary Herald, and “This show is brilliant!… See it! See it! See it!”-Kurt Spenrath See Magazine. I rest my case.


            Summer is always fraught with Shakespearean offerings what with classical works under canopies and in parks and parking lots alike. In Edmonton, for example, the Freewill Shakespeare Festival has kick-started with Comedy of Errors and Titus Andronicus which play on alternate evenings at 8:00pm Tuesday through Sunday until July 26th. There are matinees at 2:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. For tickets visit Tix on the Square or call 780-420-1757.


            Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare’s goriest of tragedies, is (obviously) the inspiration for Stewart Lemoine’s newest revenge comedy Mother of the Year now playing at the Varscona Theatre in Edmonton. Check this out! “In July 2008, the largest Teatro cast in many a season convened for the premiere of Stewart Lemoine’s A Rocky Night for his Nibs. Box office records were shattered as a riot of summer fun was had by all. Teatro’s July offering for 2009 is entitled Mother of the Year, and it’s another big 'un, a grandly scaled companion piece to the Free Will Shakespeare Festival's concurrent production of Titus Andronicus. This potent new Lemoine offering looks directly into the dark eyes of ambition and revenge and returns their cold gaze with a dazzling smile

Set in Edmonton during the 1980’s, Mother of the Year unfurls the dramatically hilarious saga of a pair of rival meat packing companies and the families who run them. It’s a fast-paced, shockingly Shakespearean display of simmering resentments, disastrous marital alliances, quiet double-crosses, and bold betrayals, all played out in a world strongly reminiscent of such classic Reagan Era prime time soap operas as Dynasty, Dallas, and Knot’s Landing.

Coralie Cairns, previously seen in Teatro’s At the Zenith of the Empire and The Velvet Shock, returns in the role of Vitellia Fane, the fire-breathing matriarch of Fane Foods, with Ron Pederson and Farren Timoteo as her hapless sons. Julien Arnold plays hooky from the Free Will Players this season, to appear as Granger Haverly, proud CEO of Haverly Meats, father to two coltish daughters portrayed by Briana Buckmaster and Shannon Blanchet, and employer of two assistants with very different notions of loyalty, played by Jana O’Connor and Davina Stewart. Andrew MacDonald-Smith appears as a mysterious newcomer among the sexy slaughterhouse crowd, and Jeff Haslam and Sheri Somerville smolder as unscrupulous contractors whose dealings with the Haverlys and the Fanes help precipitate the torrents of calamity and carnage that conclude the play.

Stewart Lemoine directs the proceedings with whimsical gravity, while set and lighting designers Paul Bezaire and Scott Peters create an opulent Romanesque vision of Edmonton in its Pocklingtonian heyday. Costume designer Leona Brausen has a ball, outfitting everyone in shoulder pads, sequins, and appliqué. In a long overdue return to Teatro, stage manager Michelle Chan uncorks the champagne, hoses down the abattoir, and hands out the volumnizing gel.

Mother of the Year runs at the Varscona Theatre from July 9 to 25. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 pm, with additional matinee performances on Saturdays at 2pm

Ticket prices are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors on Wednesday through Saturday evenings. All seats on Saturday afternoons are $15, and Tuesday evenings are Pay-What-You-Can.

Also, anyone with a ticket stub from the Free Will production of Titus Andronicus will receive a $10 discount on a single regularly priced ticket for Mother of the Year, and Mother of the Year ticket holders will receive the same discount at Titus Andronicus. This deal is available at the door only!

For reservations, call 780 433-3399, Voice box #1.Tickets also available through Tix on-the-Square at 780 420-1757 or



Also at the Varscona, if you’re in Edmonton, you’re not going to want to miss the Season Finale of Oh Susanna!—the live, improvised Euro-style variety show hosted by the indominable and ultra glamorous Susanna Patchouli. It has been an entire decade of frivololity- so come kick off at the party that tops them all—featuring the divine charms of co-host Eros, God of Love and the antics of the Compania del Mambo, plus a cavalcade (a freakin’ cavalcade!!) of special guests! Laughs! Music! Cocktails! The party starts at 11pm on Saturday July 25th at the Varscona Theatre (10329-83rd Avenue, Edmonton.) It’s surely a celebration not to be missed!


I am hesitantly going to post the news that Anthony Rapp, the original Mark in Jonathan Larson’s 1996 musical Rent, who reprised his role in the 2006 Chris Columbus film adaptation told me that as far as he knows, Toronto will be added to the list of destinations for the National Touring Company of the musical in which Rapp plays Mark and Original Cast Member Adam Pascal reprises his role of Roger. I will post more information as soon as it becomes available, in the meantime, you can catch the scoops from this website.


Lastly, I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that I have enabled the comment option at the bottom of each of my blog posts. I do encourage you all to leave comments and opinions and to further discussions of the issues that the blog attempts to raise. I also encourage you to embark in discussions with one another as well as just with me, as that will help develop a more unique and strong sense of community here at TWISI. Please, do bear in mind to be considerate and respectful, and that this blog tries its best to be a positive space, and while of course criticism is welcome, I would like to gently discourage anything that resembles overt “bashing”. Enjoy! And thanks for visiting!


Frolic in the Park with Love’s Labour’s Lost

I don’t make a secret of the fact that I usually don’t like my Shakespeare “fucked with.” It’s not necessarily that I am a Shakespeare “snob” (that depends on your definition of snob), but I think that Shakespeare’s works are so seldom professionally produced in places like Halifax with one regional theatre and a few independents who are passionate about creating new works and a Fringe Festival which so often provides space for contemporary and Canadian productions, that when I go to see a Shakespeare production I want it to be a work of quality. Maybe, if I’m being honest with myself, I want it to seem “authentic” or even “reverential,” but those concepts are neither here nor there. Quality, though, does seem to be a fair expectation for a theatregoer to have. For this reason, I tend to have a love-hate relationship with Shakespeare by the Sea, because too often I leave frustrated in feeling that they fucked too much with the play.

I understand, of course, that Shakespeare by the Sea, is attempting to make these shows assessable to a non Shakespeare-savvy crowd of Haligonians, and that their target audience are tourists and park lovers who want to be entertained, and perhaps it is ambitious and impractical of me to feel like the Bards’ words alone are sufficient to translate to these particular people. In any case, I think there is a balance that must be struck. I’m happy to report that in the case of their newest Shakespearean offering, Love’s Labour’s Lost, I think the balance is pretty near accurate.

Love’s Labour’s Lost is a really silly play and therefore it lends itself nicely to the antics of this group of actors and the dynamics of the park itself. It is written in a pastiche of poetic styles from Shakespeare’s time which lends itself to feeling a little clunky and reminiscent of plays written by other less sophisticated Elizabethan playwrights. Its plot is extremely loose and often confusing, and the direction by Elizabeth Murphy helped to clarify a lot of the subplots and strange Shakespearean antics. I found the choice to use more modern-style dress also helped to illuminate the characters and establish them visually within their context. The costumes also suggested Noel Coward to me, which was an interesting analogy. I was a bit confused with the costume choice for Ari Millen’s Moth, who was the only character who looked like he had walked off the set of Grease.

There were several really fantastic performances that made watching this production enjoyable and at times particularly hilarious. Amos Crawley was absolutely brilliant as Berowne. His command of the language is breathtakingly superb and it makes his performance shine with finesse and every moment appear so natural and honest. Kevin MacPherson was also in complete ease with his lines and was able to express an exuberant silliness that lent such energy to the production. Jeff Schwager was hilarious as the foppish, witty, Boyet. I was particularly impressed by Caitlin Stewart this year, who played Rosaline with a mixture of spunky ingenuity. She reminded me of Maggie Gyllenhaal and within the context of this show that worked really well. Drew O’Hara shone brightly as the shy, awkward Dumaine, giving a particularly genuine performance, which Shakespeare’s words don’t always lend kindly to. Simon Henderson was absolutely delightful as Dull, utterly reminiscent of a Muppet, and Jeremy Webb was also Muppet-like (more specifically hysterically akin to Pepe the King Pawn) playing Don Adriano De Armado with a wayward accent and extra, extra cheese. The Queen of the Park, though, was definitely the divine Geneviéve Steele whose French accented Shakespearean verse as The Princess of France was absolutely flawless. She had such spunk and joie-de-vivre; it was a pleasure and real treat to watch her perform.

Despite the fact that the play is long (it runs until about 9:30pm with an intermission- during which if you’re cold, you can cuddle for free with Jeremy Webb) and the Second Act drags in bits, Love’s Labour’s Lost is a fascinating play to see. The ending is especially unexpected and the performances infuse it with a sense of modernity and relevance that I found surprising. At its core, however, it is still a nonsensical romp in the park and one that adds just the garnish a Haligonian summer’s day dish needs to add spice and delight.

Love’s Labour’s Lost runs in rotation with Jack and the Beanstalk Market (not written by William Shakespeare) and MacBeth until Sept 6th, 2009. Admission is by donation, with a suggested donation of $15.00. You can bring your own blankets or chairs, or you can rent chairs at the park. All shows take place in the Cambridge Battery in Point Pleasant Park (5718 Point Pleasant Drive) and you can consult the Shakespeare By the Sea Schedule for show dates and times.


Face the Picnic: Sketch Genius that is 100% Reliable


There is this apathetic myth that tends to circulate among Haligonians from time to time that I would like squash right now. It is the myth that nothing cool ever comes from Halifax and nothing cool ever happens in Halifax. So frequently it seems like the general public in Halifax looks wistfully toward Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and laments that it has been short sided. This is not necessarily so and I am not talking about the fact that as I type these words Paul McCartney is hanging about our fair city (in the glorious sunshine and mild summer heat) readying for his concert tonight in the park where we have all played Frisbee, walked our dogs, jogged, rode our bikes and sunbathed. No, I am referring to the success of some of Halifax/Dartmouth’s own talents, specifically the popularity of a little video sketch called Powerthirst.

            Powerthirst currently has 15, 414, 516 views on youtube (a number of hits that this blogger only dreams about!) and Picnicface, the Halifax-based sketch comedy troupe that has been running like Kenyans since 2006, has garnered fans across North America and around the world. Although Picnicface has reached Internet celebrity and their youtube videos have joined Sidney Crosby and Ellen Page as being household names across HRM, if not throughout the province, what many people don’t seem to realize is that living in Halifax gives you a huge advantage over the hoards of other Picnicface fans living elsewhere, because every second Sunday the Picnicface boys and girls do a live show for just five bucks at the Paragon on Gottigen Street.

            On July 5th I found myself at the Old Marquee Club, now known as Paragon, in a slowly gentrified strip of Gottingen Street, surrounded by young hipsters in skinny jeans, sipping soy beverages and seeking Halifax’s small (but mighty) Independent Theatre scene. It became apparent that a large number of the audience that filled Paragon for the newest Picnicface show avidly attended the shows and were familiar with the troupe’s style and their sketches. Although, I was a little surprised by how easy it was to snag a seat in the relatively small venue considering the live shows are biweekly and this troupe is internationally known. I was thrilled, however, that the show boasted of entirely new sketches that you cannot see anywhere else.

            The Picnicface Troupe, made up of Andrew Bush, Kyle Dooley, Cheryl Hann, Mark Little, Brian MacQuarrie (who was MIA in the July 5th show), Evany Rosen, Scott Vrooman and Bill Wood, are masters at creating the ultimate succinct, clever, absurdist sketches which always seem to walk the line between sketch and improvisation. There is this laissez-faire ambiance surrounding Picnicface which suggests that at any moment an unexpected hullabaloo could ignite, and Little and Bush would calmly and wryly catapult its hilarious elements into the show. When the sketches are particularly incredible, it seems as though they are being created spontaneously and the audience is prone to wondering whether particular moments emerged organically or were deftly scripted by the troupe.

            Highlights from the July 5th show included Kyle Dooley’s remarkable 1940s gangster voice, Andrew Bush’s exuberant shoe/jacket salesman, the sophisticated witty word artistry displayed in Bill Wood and Kyle Dooley’s scamply radio play, the cleverness of the Scott Vrooman/ Mark Little sketch which reflected on the marvel of the evolution process from babyhood to adulthood, Bill Wood’s disgruntled crazy employee, and Mark Little’s cartoon-like Agent Buttburger. There was a clear sense of continuity between the sketches as there were recurring characters sprinkled throughout as well as referential sketches. At the end of the show a multitude of familiar characters crowded into one sketch which provided a clever sense of conclusion. Despite some technical glitches, Bush and Little’s comic timing and sense of confidence turned any hitch into a source of glee rather than irritation.

            After an intermission where patrons were encouraged to pay visit to the bartender, the Picnicface gang treated the audience to some Improv, which was quite basic, but ultimately entertaining. The highlight of the Improv was Andrew Bush’s rap about racism. It’s interesting to note that the members of Picnicface have recently returned to Halifax from Edmonton where they were performing at Improvaganza at the Varscona Theatre. This proves to me why I think it is so important for the theatre community in Canada to be aware of the events and the talented performers all across the country, because ultimately we are all connected, and so often our worlds collide and our talents are given opportunities to overlap. Improvaganza is the perfect example, as members of Rapid Fire Theatre (which includes many members of Teatro la Quindicina) played host to Improvisers that I blog about frequently in Toronto as well as Picnicface from Halifax. I love seeing artists from across the country playing and learning from one another and I hope that these opportunities will only increase in the future!

             Next Sunday, July 19th, 2009 will be Picnicface’s last show before they go on hiatus for the summer, so I encourage you all to support these talented folks and head over to Paragon (2037 Gottingen Street) at 8:00pm for the show. It costs an incredible mere $5.00 and is well worth its weight in the power of 500 babies.           


Heal the World


            In an ABC’s 20/20 exclusive interview with Barbara Walters in September, 1997, Michael Jackson discussed with Walters the paparazzi Hollywood epidemic shortly after the tragic death of Princess Diana. In this interview, when asked his feelings on the nicknames the press had bestowed upon him in the tabloid magazines, the late King of Pop said, “I have a heart and I have feelings. I feel that when you do that to me. It’s not nice. Don’t do it. I’m not a “wacko.” I don’t want the paparazzi, really. But if they come around, be kind. Write the right kind of thing to write.” Of course, Barbara Walters, hard-hitting, razor tough journalist that she is, questioned Jackson’s perception saying, “Is it the journalist’s role to be kind?” This question has been haunting me since Jackson’s untimely death on June 25th.

            It is perhaps ironic that since Jackson’s death, I have been spending most of my time surrounded by four to six year olds, as I’m teaching theatre camps to students at Neptune Theatre School in Halifax. My super-indelible cohort in the Neptune madness, the incredible Jessica Barry, and I try to infuse our students with strong values and we do not take lightly the responsibility that comes with the power of being teachers, role models (and sometimes idols and heroes) to some of the shortest and most impressionable members of Canadian society. We teach the children the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. We stress the importance of caring and of being kind. As individuals these basic principles, which are entirely secular, form the foundation of our children’s education, and yet, as a society we seem so quick to toss them out the window. Kindness. Caring. Genuine, unselfish sympathy, understanding and compassion. In our world of reality shows like Big Brother, websites like TMZ, and Perez Hilton and of course the countless tabloids and magazines, our society is continually pitting people against one another and themselves, creating scapegoats to divert the public attention from massive global epidemics like famine, poverty, natural disasters, and war and building up idols and superstars only to wait in anticipation for the right moment to tear them back down. Michael Jackson’s words may seem simple, they may even seem infantile or inane, but in fact, they are quite astute, and quite wise. Why shouldn’t an adult, a professional grownup, have to abide by the same rules as a four year old in a preschool classroom? Be kind. Be considerate. Care.

            Of course, one must ask difficult questions at times, and Michael Jackson’s intricate life is fraught with examples of the press digging and searching for the truth, which at times appeared like a dark, twisty, mysterious, elusive thing. Yet, are we not taught as young children the appropriate way to ask questions? The appropriate way to approach problem solving? Are we not taught that resorting to lying, name-calling and overt, hurtful, unfounded judgements are detrimental to the well being of other human beings? Do we not learn in seventh grade that gossip alone can leave scars that take years of soul searching to heal? Did we not learn throughout those painfully awful years between age twelve and seventeen that viciousness and maliciousness are a sheer waste of our time and energy and that it always comes back to bite us in the end? If this is the lesson we wish to teach the teenagers of the world, how do we justify condoning the very same behaviour by adults who make their living spreading lies about celebrities and viciously and maliciously creating havoc in order to sell and advertise products that make us lazier, fatter, and less compassionate people?

            Michael Jackson issued a challenge to the press in 1997 which went entirely ignored, “write the right thing.” Recently a Facebook friend of mine who was on a very popular, successful American sitcom when he was a child from the mid/late eighties until the early nineties had a status that jumped out at me. It said, “Got so scared yesterday when someone said, “Hey, you’re on TMZ.” As a society we seem to forget that acting is a profession. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a strange one, but it is still a profession. Yet, the more “successful” one becomes, the more this profession morphs into a celebrity circus and human beings become targets, as my Facebook friend exemplifies. Without even looking at the website, this actor was afraid because he knew that the attention that would be lavished upon him given his celebrity status on this website would undoubtedly be negative and unkind. Perez Hilton recently got into an altercation with someone who was frustrated by the blogger’s unkindness and lack of empathy and consideration for celebrities’ feelings. Yet, we cannot blame Perez Hilton alone, for if there was no market for his product, he would disappear. Society clicks and surfs and looks to throw celebrities to the wolves and the Golden Rule asunder.

            What does this have to do with theatre? What does this have to do with me? I recently read an old quote from Toronto Life where Albert Schultz, Artistic Director of Soulpepper Theatre, criticized a theatre critic in Toronto saying, “I have told him that I sometimes find his approach bitchy, mean-spirited and personal, and I know I'm not alone in this assessment.” Therefore, it is not only in Hollywood where our society seems to relish in tearing others and their accomplishments apart. As artists we are encouraged to express our innermost selves, we are continually struggling to be brave, and to be open to inspiration, to our most creative impulses, to push the boundaries and to be personal. As artists we are encouraged to share. As children we are told to share our talents as "gifts", and as adults we try to nurture and foster the emerging creativity, zeal, passion, love and sense of fun and play in the children we care about. How then we can turn around and attempt to tear artists apart for sharing their gifts-- for giving us some of the most candid expressions of the human spirit? Can’t we only speak about how this gift impacted us on a personal, individual level? Can’t we only speculate from our limited experience with this art how successful we feel the artist was in conveying what we assume may have been her or his intention? There will be those who will thrive on the adversity and will muster every ounce of ambition to prove “those bastards wrong” and some will. There will be those who don’t take anything personally, and continue along their artistic path relentless in their own pursuits. Yet, how many dreams do mean-spirited, bitchy, personal “critiques” squash? How many artists with the potential to be great become disheartened and choose a safer path? Is this a necessary weeding out of the weak? A strength-testing challenge? If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen?

            I disagree wholeheartedly with the argument that to be kind somehow devalues criticism, and that everything becomes wishy-washy and painted with the same mediocre brush. When we teach children, we guide them and encourage them and treat them with respect and kindness. And yet, their natural strengths still shine through brightly, and I believe, even brighter than they would if the children were treated with harsh judgement and criticism for the things that they struggled with or were still learning and figuring out. We will create an atmosphere conducive to learning and to excelling if we are encouraging, kind, compassionate and empathetic. If it works in kindergarten, it will work everywhere.

            Michael Jackson tried to elevate his life to a higher purpose, above the petty turmoil of Hollywood. He donated passionately to charities and he was devoted to shining the limelight on the plight of the people in Africa. For all his scandals and the misconceptions about his life, and the speculations about his tragic death, Michael Jackson wanted to create a better world- one that resembled the UNICEF posters in Elementary Schools with children of all colors, creeds, religions, beliefs and languages of choice, all with happy smiling faces, holding hands all around the globe. Again, this may seem infantile, it may seem precious, or impossible, but as lofty as it may be, shouldn’t the happiness and peacefulness of everyone be a priority for the citizens of Earth, the only planet that can sustain life in the Milky Way and maybe even beyond?

            For children, adults tend to break things down into manageable chunks, and I’ve found this advice is pertinent for adults prone to feeling overwhelmed as well. I may not be able to save the world in one fell swoop, but I am entirely in charge of this blog, and as the great playwright Brad Fraser reminds me, with power comes responsibility, and that is something that I hold solemnly in my heart. This blog seeks to help heal the world. This blog seeks to create a better Earth in whatever small way it can. This blog seeks to be a place of care, of compassion, empathy and kindness. This blog seeks to say YES. YES, Barbara Walters, the press can be kind and still maintain its journalistic integrity. “There are ways to get there if you care enough for the living. Make a little space, make a better place. Heal the world.”


TWISI Fine Print

            I was sitting in the park beside St. James Cathedral one pretty spring day in Toronto after coming from seeing a particularly extraordinary production at Soulpepper when I started to muse about the little things I enjoyed about the theatre. The programmes, the theatre buildings, and I found myself saying (in my head), “Someone should give out awards for these types of things!” The next thing I knew, I had realized that I was that perfect someone, and that I could. Not only could I give out awards for things no one seemed to be talking about, but I could give out production and performance awards too. Before I knew what was happening I had come up with thirty categories and had a flutter of excited butterflies in my belly.

            The more I sat in the park and thought, however, the more it seemed a smidgen self-serving for me to use my blog to give awards to the people I thought deserved them. But… what if my readers could vote too? And thus the TWISIs and the TWISI People’s Choice Awards were born! I have had so much fun playing hostess to the 2009 TWISIs. It gives me a little thrill every time people say or type the word ‘TWISI’! The response delighted me and exceeded my expectations, so thank you to everyone who voted, and to every single person who is reading the results right now. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart for finding your way here.

            The TWISI Awards were chosen by me (Amanda Campbell) and the TWISI People’s Choice Awards were tallied and chosen by popular vote.



I wish to offer a hearty congratulations to all the winners of the 2009 TWISI Awards! I would also ask that if you have won a TWISI award, please get in touch with me at some point to discuss exciting details of the prizes to follow. You can email me at or however else you know how. I would also encourage you to let any winners you’re in contact with know about TWISI and the awards, because I would be extremely humbled if all the remarkable people listed above read my blog, and I want to make sure the winners get in touch with me about fun specifics. So, please, share the joy!

Have a Happy Canada Day!


2009 TWISI Award Winners


The 2009 TWISI Award WINNERS

1.      Outstanding Achievement in the Production of a Play (awarded to the theatre company):

TWISI Award:  Scorched- Tarragon Theatre. (Richard Rose).

      TWISI People’s Choice Award: Scorched- Tarragon Theatre. (Richard Rose).


2.      Outstanding Achievement in the Production of a Musical (awarded to the theatre company):

TWISI Award:  Cabaret- Stratford Festival. (Des McAnuff).

      TWISI People’s Choice Award: Edges AND A New Brain. Acting UpStage. (Mitchell Marcus.)


3.      Outstanding Achievement by an Actor in a Play:

TWISI Award: Albert Schultz. Glengarry Glen Ross. Soulpepper Theatre.

      TWISI People’s Choice Award:  Diego Matamoros. Travesties. Soulpepper Theatre.


4.      Outstanding Achievement by an Actor in a Musical:

TWISI Award: Steven Gallagher. A New Brain. Acting UpStage Theatre.

      TWISI People’s Choice Award: Steven Gallagher. A New Brain. Acting UpStage Theatre.


5.      Outstanding Achievement by an Actress in a Play:

TWISI Award: Kristen Thomson. I, Claudia. Crow’s Theatre.

      TWISI People’s Choice Award: Kristen Thomson. I, Claudia. Crow’s Theatre.


6.      Outstanding Achievement by an Actress in a Musical:

TWISI Award: Trish Lindström. Cabaret. Stratford Festival.

      TWISI People’s Choice Award: Janet MacEwen. Anne of Green Gables. Mirvish Productions.


7.      Outstanding Achievement by a Young Actor (under 18 years old) in a Play:

TWISI Award: Lucas Tennen. A Christmas Carol. Soulpepper Theatre.


8.      Outstanding Achievement by a Young Actor (under 18 years old) in a Musical: TWISI Award: Christopher Van Hagen. The Music Man. Stratford Festival.

*I bent the rules for the Young Actor and Young Actress Awards as some of the winners appeared in non-Equity productions*

      TWISI People’s Choice Award: Colin Jones. Les Misérables. Neptune Theatre School Youth Performance Company.


9.      Outstanding Achievement by a Young Actress (under 18 years old) in a Play: TWISI Award: Isabella Lobo. Festen. Company Theatre.

      TWISI People’s Choice Award: Lucy Campbell Devil’s Disciple. Shaw Festival AND Samantha Wilson. Blackbird. The Canadian Stage Company.


10.  Outstanding Achievement by a Young Actress (under 18 years old) in a Musical: TWISI Award: Vicky Houser. Les Misérables. Neptune Theatre Youth Performance Company.

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Jacqui Sirois. Thoroughly Modern Millie. CATS Mainstage Company)


11.  Outstanding Achievement by a Director of a Play:

TWISI Award: Joseph Ziegler. Travesties. Soulpepper.

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Richard Rose. Scorched. Tarragon Theatre.


12.  Outstanding Achievement by a Director of a Musical:

TWISI Award: Ron Jenkins. The Black Rider. November Theatre/ Tarragon.

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Daryl Cloran. A New Brain. Acting UpStage Theatre. AND Michael Mayer. Spring Awakening. Mirvish Productions.


13.  Outstanding Achievement in Set Design:

TWISI Award: Michael Gianfrancesco. It’s A Wonderful Life. The Canadian Stage Company.

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Graeme S. Thomson. Scorched. Tarragon Theatre.


14.  Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design:

TWISI Award: Leslie Frankish. The Forbidden Phoenix. Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Bretta Gerecke. Nevermore. Catalyst Theatre. Luminato Festival.


15.  Outstanding Achievement by a New Theatre Company (one founded after June 2008):

TWISI Award: The National Theatre of the World. Ron Pederson. Matt Baram. Naomi Snieckus.

      TWISI People’s Choice Award: The National Theatre of the World. Ron Pederson. Matt Baram. Naomi Snieckus.


16.  Outstanding Achievement by a Cabaret Performer (female):

TWISI Award: Sharron Matthews for Sharron’s Party

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Sharron Matthews for Sharron’s Party


17.  Outstanding Achievement by a Cabaret Performer (male):

TWISI Award: Thom Allison for Rainbows and Songbirds

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Bryce Kulak for The Big Idea


18.  Outstanding Achievement by a Playwright:

TWISI Award: Wajdi Mouawad for Scorched.

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Wajdi Mouawad for Scorched.


19.  Outstanding Achievement by a Canadian Playwright:

TWISI Award: Stewart Lemoine for Happy Toes. Teatro la Quindicina. AND Jonathan Monro for Variations On a Nervous Breakdown. Talk is Free Theatre.

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Kristen Thompson. I, Claudia. Crow’s Theatre.


20.  Outstanding Achievement in the Production of an Improv, Sketch or Comedy Show (awarded to the theatre company):

TWISI Award: Ghost Jail Theatre (Ian Rowe/ Caitlin Howden).

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Ghost Jail Theatre (Ian Rowe/Caitlin Howden).


21.  Outstanding Achievement by an Improviser (Male)

TWISI Award: Fraz Wiest

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Matt Baram


22.  Outstanding Achievement by an Improviser (Female)

TWISI Award: Kayla Lorette

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Kayla Lorette.


23.  Outstanding Achievement in Musical Direction

TWISI Award: Reza Jacobs for The Sound of Silence. Acting UpStage.

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Wayne Gwillim. A New Brain. Acting UpStage.


24.  Outstanding Achievement in the Production of a Visiting or Touring Show:

TWISI Award: Spring Awakening. David Mirvish.

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Spring Awakening. David Mirvish.


25.  Outstanding Achievement on CD by a Canadian male theatre artist (The album must have been released between June 1st, 2008- June 30th 2009).

TWISI Award: Michael Hughes for Michael Hughes

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Michael Hughes for Michael Hughes


26.  Outstanding Achievement on CD by a Canadian female theatre artist. (The album must have been released between June 1st 2008- June 30th, 2009).

TWISI Award: Patricia Zentilli and Patti Loach for Pull Me Through

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Janet MacEwen for Back Where I Belong AND Patricia Zentilli and Patti Loach for Pull Me Through


27.  Special Honour for Best Theatre Programme (as in, the booklet you receive at the theatre):

TWISI Award: Soulpepper Theatre. (Albert Schultz)

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Shaw Festival. (Jackie Maxwell).


28.  Special Honour for Favourite Theatre Space (as in, the building that houses the theatre):

TWISI Award: The Berkeley Street Theatre (Matthew Jocelyn)

TWISI People’s Choice Award: BusStop Theatre (Lee-Anne Poole)


29.  Special Honour for Most Audience Friendly Theatre Company:

TWISI Award: The Canadian Stage Company (Natasha Mytnowych)

This award is going to Natasha Mytnowych to honour all the work that she has done to develop and implement amazing programs that reach out to young artists and the theatre community as a whole and enriches the Canadian Stage experience so much. 

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Acting UpStage Theatre. (Mitchell Marcus) AND Ghost Jail Theatre (Caitlin Howden and Ian Rowe).


30.       Special “Just Cuz” Award for Someone in the Theatre Community most deserving of recognition:

TWISI Award: Jenni Burke.

Jenni Burke has fostered, encouraged and inspired dozens of young performers through her work at Statler’s and with her huge heart and beautiful spirit. 

TWISI People’s Choice Award: Derrick Chua.

 While I was tallying the votes, I was really touched by the “Just Cuz” category, and I realized that there were so many people in the theatre community that were deemed deserving of recognition. So, I decided to post all the names that were emailed to me on the blog as a way of honouring each person individually.

The Other Recipients of “Just Cuz” Shout Outs Are:

Martha Burns, Martha Irving, Jon Kaplan, Matt Baram, David Shore, Caden Douglas, Meghan Hubley, Sharron Matthews, Thom Allison, Barbara Fingerote, Nina Aquino, David Oyie, Blair Irwin, Janet McEwen, Raquel Duffy, Steven Gallagher, Claire Leger, Matthew Amyotte, Ron Pederson, Pat Thornton, Mike Jackson, Kayla Lorette, Jeigh Madjus









A celebration of professional theatre across Canada that

gives Canadian theatre lovers, patrons, artists, and audience members

the opportunity to honour the members of the Canadian theatre community they feel are most deserving of recognition.


Presented by Amanda Campbell, theatre critic of The Way I See It:

A theatre blog primarily based in Toronto.


Voting is underway immediately until June 22nd, 2009.

Results will be announced on July 1st, 2009.



            Amanda Campbell, in conjunction with her theatre blog, The Way I See It, based primarily in Toronto, but dedicated to fostering support, recognition and pride in theatre across the country, is very excited to announce the debut of the First Annual The Way I See It (or TWISI for short) Awards. The TWISI AWARDS seek to celebrate professional Canadian theatre by honouring both the theatre artists and companies Campbell deems most deserving of recognition in thirty different categories. More importantly, the TWISI People’s Choice Awards provide the Canadian public with the opportunity to vote on which Canadian theatre artists and companies it feels are most deserving of recognition. In this way, the TWISI Awards act like a combination of Critic’s Choice and People’s Choice Awards for the Canadian Theatre.      

  The TWISI Awards seek to honor those who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in their particular craft. They do not denote who is the “best” or the “favourite.” It is going to be massively difficult to pick or even to narrow down, because there has been so much outstanding work done this year in Toronto. However, I hope that these awards will be seen as more of a celebration of all the great talent we have here, rather than a means for competition.

  The TWISI Awards will consider all the shows that I have seen between June 1st, 2008 and June 30th, 2009. That means that shows and actors from all cities that I have seen theatre in between those dates will be considered.

  The TWISI Award winners will be picked by me, and announced on the blog on JULY 1st, 2009.

  I will only award one TWISI award to any one individual artist, to spread the honors around as much as possible. However, the winners of the TWISI People’s Choice Awards are left entirely up to the people.

  There will also be the TWISI People’s Choice Awards- where anyone can send in their votes for each category via email ( and I will tally the votes and announce the winner at the same time that the TWISI Awards are announced. This means that (assuming people vote!) there will likely be TWO winners in each category. If the People’s Choice and I have the same pick, then that winner will get a DOUBLE honor!!

o   Anyone can vote for the People’s Choice Awards, and they can pick artists and productions from any show (even ones that I did not see or blog about) as long as the production occurred between June 1st 2008-June 30th 2009.

o   Artists can vote for themselves, if they so wish.

o   All voting will remain confidential. I give you my word of honor.

o   You may vote from obscure email addresses and using Aliases.

o   You do not have to vote for every category. For example, you could email and just let me know your pick for outstanding achievement in musical direction and leave it at that. You can email some votes now and some later. You can do whatever you gosh darn want!!

o   Please specify which category you’re voting for in your email!

o   You must cast your vote by JUNE 22nd, 2009 for it to be considered.

o   The voting is now open!!! So cast your vote today!!        


The 2009 TWISI Award Categories

1.      Outstanding Achievement in the Production of a Play (awarded to the theatre company)

2.      Outstanding Achievement in the Production of a Musical (awarded to the theatre company).

3.      Outstanding Achievement by an Actor in a Play

4.      Outstanding Achievement by an Actor in a Musical

5.      Outstanding Achievement by an Actress in a Play

6.      Outstanding Achievement by an Actress in a Musical

7.      Outstanding Achievement by a Young Actor (under 18 years old) in a Play

8.      Outstanding Achievement by a Young Actor (under 18 years old) in a Musical

9.      Outstanding Achievement by a Young Actress (under 18 years old) in a Play

10.  Outstanding Achievement by a Young Actress (under 18 years old) in a Musical.

11.  Outstanding Achievement by a Director of a Play

12.  Outstanding Achievement by a Director of a Musical.   

13.  Outstanding Achievement in Set Design

14.  Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design.

15.   Outstanding Achievement by a New Theatre Company (one founded after June 2008).

16.  Outstanding Achievement by a Cabaret Performer (female)

17.  Outstanding Achievement by a Cabaret Performer (male)

18.  Outstanding Achievement by a Playwright (the playwright’s work must have had a performance between June 1st 2008-June 30th 2009 but it can be anyone. If Shakespeare wins, I’ll figure out how to get his prize to him later).

19.  Outstanding Achievement by a Canadian Playwright (the playwright’s work must have had a performance between June 1st 2008-June 30th 2009)

20.  Outstanding Achievement in the Production of an Improv, Sketch or Comedy Show (awarded to the theatre company).

21.  Outstanding Achievement by an Improviser (Male)

22.  Outstanding Achievement by an Improviser (Female)

23.  Outstanding Achievement in Musical Direction

24.  Outstanding Achievement in the Production of a Visiting or Touring Show.

25.  Outstanding Achievement on CD by a Canadian male theatre artist (The album must have been released between June 1st, 2008- June 30th 2009).

26.  Outstanding Achievement on CD by a Canadian female theatre artist. (The album must have been released between June 1st 2008- June 30th, 2009).

27.  Special Honor for Best Theatre Programme (as in, the booklet you receive at the theatre).

28.  Special Honor for Favourite Theatre Space (as in, the building that houses the theatre).

29.  Special Honor for Most Audience Friendly Theatre Company.

30.  Special “Just Cuz” Award for Someone in the Theatre Community most deserving of recognition.


TWISI Cheat Sheet

Some people have asked me for a list of shows that have happened this year in Toronto to help them vote for the TWISI Awards. This list does not pretend to be comprehensive, and please feel free to vote for productions not listed here, but it may be just the launching pad you need to email your votes in to before JUNE 21ST. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

*For a complete listing of the current Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival Seasons: Please See Their Websites.

Last year’s plays at Shaw were: An Inspector Calls, Wonderful Town, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Follies, Getting Married, The Little Foxes, After the Dance, The President, The Stepmother, A Little Night Music and Belle Moral.


Last year’s plays at Stratford were: Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, All’s Well that Ends Well, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Music Man, Cabaret, Caesar and Cleopatra, Fuente Ovejuna, The Trojan Women, Emilia Galotti, Palmer Park, Moby Dick, Krapp’s Last Tape/ Hughie, Her Infinite Variety and There Reigns Love  


Theatre in Toronto


  1. A Christmas Carol (Soulpepper Theatre Company- adaptor/director- Michael Shamata. Starring Joseph Ziegler, John Jarvis, Daniel Chapman-Smith, Jaclyn A. Smith, Oliver Dennis, Patrick Galligan, Kevin Bundy, Maggie Huculak, Lucas Tennen, Lauren Cambone-Mannell…).
  2. Festen (Company Theatre- director- Jason Byrne. Playwright- David Eldridge Starring Phillip Riccio, Allan Hawco, Tara Rosling, Caroline Cave, Eric Peterson, Rosemary Dunsmore, Richard Clarkin, Nicholas Campbell, Gary Reineke, Isabella Lobo…)
  3. The Forbidden Phoenix (Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People- director- Ron Jenkins- Playwright- Marty Chan/Robert Walsh (Canadian) StarringMichael Dufays, Troy Feldman, Lori Nancy Kalamanski, Shannon Kook-Chun, Richard Lee, Nadine Villasin…)
  4. You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown (Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People- director Allen MacInnis- playwright- Clark Gesner/Michael Mayer/Andrew Lippa. Starring Jessica Greenberg, Andrew Kushnir, Cyrus Lane, Jane Miller, Karim Morgan, Jay Turvey)
  5. Shirley Valentine- (The Canadian Stage Company- director Roy Surette, playwright Willy Russell Starring Nicola Cavendish).
  6. Miss Julie Freedom Summer (The Canadian Stage Company- director- Stephen Sachs Adaptation from August Strindberg by Stephen Sachs. Starring Caroline Cave, Kevin Hanchard, Raven Dauda.)
  7. Poor Boy- (Zuppa Theatre Company- directed by Alex McLean, Created by the Company (Canadian) Starring Stewart Legere, Susan Leblanc-Crawford, Ben Stone, Kathryn McCormack and Claire Gallant).
  8. Monty Python’s Spamalot (National Touring Company- Mirvish- Director- Mike Nichols. Playwright- Eric Idle/ John Du Prez. Starring Jonathan Hadary and Esther Stilwell)
  9. Scorched (Tarragon Theatre- Director- Richard Rose- Playwright- Wajdi Mouawad. Starring: Valerie Buhagiar, Sergio Di Zio, Jerry Franken, Sophie Goulet, Janick Hebert, Nicola Lipman, Alon Nashman, Sarah Orenstein and Alex Poch-Goldin.)
  10. Wild Dogs (Nightwood Theatre- Director- Kelly Thornton. Playwright- Helen Humphreys/Anne Hardcastle. Starring Les Carlson, Steve Cumyn, Raven Dauda, Stephen Joffe, Tony Nappo, Tamara Podemski and Taylor Trowbridge.)
  11. Missing (Factory Theatre- Director: David Ferry. Playwright- Florence Gibson. Starring- Guy Bannerman, Shauna Black, Andrew Gillies, Kyra Harper, Fiona Highet, Emma Hillier, and Alan Van Sprang).
  12. Travesties (Soulpepper. Director- Joseph Ziegler. Playwright: Tom Stoppard. Starring: Kevin Bundy, Oliver Dennis, Maggie Huculak, Diego Matamorors, Krystin Pellerin, Jordan Pettle, David Storch, Sarah Wilson).
  13. Blackbird (Studio 180) Director: Joel Greenberg. Playwright David Harrower. Starring: Jessica Greenberg, Hardee T. Lineham
  14. The Crackwalker (Staged and Confused- Director- Michael Murphy. Playwright- Judith Thompson (Canadian). Starring, Marie Jones, Hannah Miller, Craig Pike, Rick Jon Egan and Simon Paabar).
  15. Edges (Acting UpStage Director: Evan Tsitsias, Musical Director: Reza Jacobs, Playwrights- Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Starring Jordan Bell, Eric Craig, Gabi Epstein and Sara Farb).
  16. Scratch (Factory Theatre. Director: ahdri zhina mandiela Playwright: Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman (Canadian). Starring Kevin Bundy, Monica Dottor, Catherine Fitch, Ryan Hollyman, Mary Ann McDonald and Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman).
  17. Frost/Nixon (Canadian Stage Company Director: Ted Dykstra Playwright: Peter Morgan. Starring Len Cariou and David Storch…)
  18. The Sound of Music (Mirvish. Director: Jeremy Sams. Playwright: Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers. Musical Director: Jeffrey Huard. Starring Elicia MacKenzie, Burke Moses, Noella Huet, Jeff Irving and Blythe Wilson).
  19. A Raisin in the Sun (Soulpepper) Director: Weyni Mengesha. Playwright: Lorraine Hansberry. Starring: Awaovieyi Agie, Abena Malika, Charles Officer, Kofi Payton, Clara Ricketts, Alison Sealy-Smith).
  20. Top Girls (Soulpepper. Director: Alisa Palmer. Playwright: Caryl Churchill. Starring Diana Donnelly, Megan Follows, Kelli Fox, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Clara Pifko, Liisa Repo-Martell, Robyn Stevan,
  21. Ring Around the Moon (Soulpepper. Director: Joseph Ziegler. Playwright Christopher Fry. Starring Jordan Pettle, Brenda Robins, Mike Ross and Kristen Thomson.)
  22. The Real Inspector Hound/ Black Comedy (Soulpepper. Director Jim Warren Playwright: Tom Stoppard/ Peter Shaffer. Starring: Caroline Cave, Oliver Dennis, C. David Johnson, Corrine Koslo, Mike Shara, Michael Simpson, William Webster, Sarah Wilson).
  23. The Black Rider (November Theatre- Director- Ron Jenkins. Playwright: Tom Waitts, Robert Wilson, William S. Burroughs. Starring Kevin Corey, Mackenzie Gray, Rachael Johnston, Colleen Winton, Ashley Wright and Michael Scholar Jr. Musical Director: Corinne Kessel.
  24. Variations on a Nervous Breakdown (Talk is Free Theatre. Director: Richard Ouzounian. Playwright- Jonathan Monro. Starring Chilina Kennedy, Jonathan Monro, Cory O’Brien and Patricia Zentilli).
  25. It’s A Wonderful Life (The Canadian Stage Company- Director: Donna Feore. Adapted  by Philip Grecian from a film by Frank Capra. Starring Mike Shara, Kawa Ada, Leslie Arden, Juan Chioran, Diana Cofini, Tracey Ferencz, Steven Gallagher, John Gzowski, Douglas E. Hughes, Patrick McKenna, Marla McLean and Blair Williams).
  26. A Chorus Line (National Touring Company. Mirvish. Director: Bob Avian. Playwright: Marvin Hamlisch/ Edward Kleban/ James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante.
  27. Hard Sell (Necessary Angel/ Wyrd Productions Director: Daniel Brooks. Playwright Rick Miller/ Daniel Brooks. (Canadian) Starring Rick Miller.
  28. Ubuntu (Tarragon Theatre. Director: Daryl Cloran. Created by the Ensemble. (Half-Canadian (haha) Starring: Mbulelo Grootboom, David Jansen, Holly Lewis, Michelle Monteith, Andile Nebulane.)
  29. A New Brain (Acting UpStage. Director: Daryl Cloran. Playwright: William Finn. Starring Steven Gallagher, Barbara Barsky, Thom Allison, Juan Chioran, Parris Greaves, Allie Hughes, Steve Ross, Jonathan Tan, Paula Wolfson, Patricia Zentilli.
  30. Glengarry Glen Ross (Soulpepper. Director: David Storch. Playwright: David Mamet. Cast: Kevin Bundy, Peter Donaldson, Michael Simpson, Stephen Guy-McGrath, Eric Peterson, Jordan Pettle, Albert Schultz, William Webster.
  31. Another Home Invasion (Tarragon: Director Richard Rose. Playwright joan MacLeod. (Canadian) Starring Nicola Lipman)  
  32. Spring Awakening (National Touring Company. Mirvish. Director: Michael Mayer. Playwright: Steven Sater/ Duncan Sheik. Musical Director: Jared Stein. Starring Christy Altomare, Blake Bashoff, Kyle Riabko, Matt Doyle.)
  33. You Fancy Yourself (Contrary Company/ Theatre Passe Muraille). Director: Mary Francis Moore. Playwright: Maja Ardal (Canadian) Starring Maja Ardal.
  34. East of Berlin (Tarragon Theatre. Director: Alisa Palmer. Playwright: Hannah Moscovitch (Canadian). Starring: Brendan Gall, Diana Donnelly, Paul Dunn).
  35. A Beautiful View (Tarragon Theatre. Director: Daniel MacIvor. Playwright Daniel MacIvor (Canadian). Starring Tracy Wright and Caroline Gillis).
  36. Doubt (The Canadian Stage Company. Directed by Marti Maraden. Playwright: John Patrick Shanley, Seana McKenna, David Storch, Raven Dauda, Daniela Vlaskalic).
  37. I, Claudia (Crow’s Theatre. Directed by Chris Abraham. Playwright: Kristen Thomson. (Canadian) Starring Kristen Thomson.)
  38. Anne of Green Gables (Mirvish. Directed: Anne Allan. Playwright: Don Harron, Norman Campbell, Mavor Moore, Elaine Campbell. Starring: Amy Wallis, Janet MacEwan, Julain Molnar, Sandy Winsby.)


Cabaret Performers


  1. Sharron Matthews- Sharron’s Party
  2. Thom Allison
  3. Patricia Zentilli/ Patti Loach
  4. Justin Stadnyk
  5. Jeigh Madjus
  6. Jake and Gabi Epstein
  7. Sara Farb
  8. Blair Irwin
  9. Gabi Epstein
  10. Michael Hughes
  11. Bryce Kulak
  12. Allie Hughes
  13. Ari Weinberg


Improv/Sketch Theatre Companies


  1. Ghost Jail Theatre
  2. Bad Dog Theatre
  3. Monkey Toast
  4. The Second City
  5. Catch 23
  6. The National Theatre of the World/ Impromptu Splendor
  7. ProjectProject
  8. The Sketchersons