Posts Tagged ‘Community Theatre’

star is bornWell, that’s another “Christmas Show” at Guelph Little Theatre wrapped up and put away. We call it the Christmas Show because it’s usually aimed at kids and because of it’s chronological proximity to the Holiday Season; even though more often than not it isn’t about Christmas. I really get a kick out of doing these pantomimes each year. It’s a present in a very real sense of the word.

It’s a present to me because I get to do a host of audio gags that just don’t fit into productions like Doubt, or Death of a Salesman (although I suppose there are a few places in Shakespeare where a well places rimshot might work.) It’s a chance to do a few things I don’t normally get to do as well. This time around I got to figure out how to make an unplugged microwave “cauldron” light up and beep on cue. It’s just a whole lotta fun!

It’s a present to the Guelph Little Theatre as well because it’s the best type of show to introduce a whole new generation to the joy of live theatre. The pantomime is always youth and kid heavy and this year there was a lot of kids I’ve never seen before, and a few adults actually. Their youth and energy is absolutely contagious. Though, like any show, it can be tiring spending 3 moths working on a production, this year I was just a little less tired, and a little more pumped about the season. The best part though is knowing that some of these kids will be back. They’ve caught the bug and will be around on other more serious productions to bring their energy and enthusiasm to bear on those projects as well. I can’t wait to see it!

It’s also a present to the community, as is every production we mount at Guelph Little Theatre. It’s easy to get caught up in the big screen experience. I won’t deny it. However, some of my most emotionally touching and compelling experiences have been had sitting in a small intimate theatre watching the unfolding of the human condition happen live, right there in front of you, only a few meters away. And while Bill Murray and Meryl Streep aren’t going to climb down off the screen and ask you how you liked the film; these wonderful local actors, who work just as hard I think, on their own time, for no money (it’s all volunteer folks) but rather just for the love of the art, are happy to meet with you after the lights go down and share a few thoughts over a drink in the lobby.

But unlike a lot of Christmas presents this one gets “wrapped up” after it’s been enjoyed. We put everything away and sweep off the stage until the next show. Which you can get tickets for here!

Community theatre has become the second biggest part of my life after faith and family. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience and working with this wonderfully crazy cast and crew on “Once Upon a Witch” has only served to re-enforce that. The list of who to thank for that is as long as the full list of everyone involved. I owe each and every one of them for the gratitude I feel.

But as usual two stand out: our Director Tim Campbell, and my personal little “Morty” (stage manager) Beth Freeth. Thanks to you both so much for including me!

See you next year!

Yesterday I went down to the Juravinski Cancer Centre for the first check-up since the end of my radiation treatments. My radiation oncologist Dr. Wright and his resident poked, prodded, peered and perused every corner of my throat, inside and out. The tissues are healing nicely, slightly ahead of the average curve apparently, there’s no swelling anywhere there shouldn’t be, and everything is returning to a colour vaguely resembling the colour it was before it all began. The conclusion: he is willing to go out on the proverbial limb and declare me to be 100% cancer free – with 95% certainty.  The 5% is reserved until after I have a high-contrast CT scan performed in the next few weeks in case it reveals something completely unexpected. Failing that though, I’m done. To quote the good doctor, “Just keep doing what you’re doing and we’ll see you in six weeks”. In two weeks we’ll see if my surgeon is willing to make the same bold declaration.

If he does, it’s a declaration that has me facing some previously unexplored territory – the future.

Let me explain…

I was 14 in 1967 when my Dad decided to explore the family genealogy as part of the whole ‘Centennial Year’ thing. What we discovered was that the males in the Gray family are pretty short-lived. On average we tend to kick off in the mid-Fifties, with the overall average being a ripe old 56. In the dozen or so generations he was able to track down nobody survived past the age of 60. My father did not buck the trend, passing away from colon cancer at that very same Gray family average.

So over the next few years I thought about that from time to time and by the time I reached my twenties I had pretty much resigned myself to the idea that 55-60 years was the best I could hope for. Planning for retirement was pretty much set aside and I started living life with little more than your basic 5-year plan.

But now, it looks like I have to re-jig my thinking. It would seem that there is a new paradigm on the horizon; for the first time in my life I have to seriously consider the prospect of growing old!

I know, to you it sounds strange, but the reality is that I truly had fully resigned myself to dying of cancer sometime in my Fifties. In fact, in some respects I was actually looking forward to it; you know, seeing Jesus and all. When Dr. Wellman revealed that cancer had been found in my cyst back in November there was no shock, no dismay, no fear, because I had been expecting it all along. The diagnosis arrived exactly on schedule just as it did with my father. There were no surprises at all.

However, one thing has changed – medical science. Unlike all the preceding generations, when the inevitable struck me, no one was saying, “This is it I’m afraid. You have x months to live.”  No, instead, there was a very confident team of specialists saying, “Here’s how we’re going to get you out of this.” They laid out a very convincing plan of action and all that they planned has gone exactly as planned, maybe even a little bit better.

There was another difference as well. While my family has always been of the church going variety, faith in God to change the future was never a part of the religious dynamic. Faith was something that carried you through the hard times and gave you the strength to face certain doom with the traditional British stiff upper lip. Disease, misfortune and death were not things to pray your way out of, they were part of God’s mysterious ways and no one seriously expected anything to change.

I however, have been blessed to be part of a praying and more importantly believing faith community. Dozens of people have contacted me to tell me they are praying for my successful recovery; there have been dinners brought to the door, rides to treatment offered and a variety of other expressions of love and support that have, quite frankly, left Roberta and I feeling slightly over-whelmed. And it would seem that all that prayerful support have borne fruit. The cancer has come and gone and I’m still here. Praise God!

Now, before I get a minor flood of emails taking exception to my crediting God in this I will answer your objection right now. I have absolutely no idea why everyone who is prayed for as I was doesn’t get healed. I have no doctorate in theology, no inside track on the details of God’s plans for the Universe, and no pretensions for being anything other than the simple believer that I am. However, I am a believer, and I believe that the prayers of my friends at Kortright and elsewhere have had just as much a bearing on this outcome as the ministrations of the doctors, nurses and technicians at the Juravinski and St. Joseph’s in Hamilton.

And I am immensely grateful to each and every one of those who prayed, cooked, drove, hugged, filled in for, and gave of their time and resources to support Roberta and I over the last 5 months.  You people are amazing!  God bless each and every one of you!

However, that still leaves me facing a future I never thought I’d face.  And though the prospect is actually a little scary, I’m looking forward to it. I now have to actually ponder what I might do with my twilight years. Any suggestions?

Till next time… Shalom.

Well at least that’s what United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood would have us believe. He made the following announcement in his blog yesterday…

Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.
We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.
To set this approach in motion, we have formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities:
  • Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
  • Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
  • Go beyond minimum design standards.
  • Collect data on walking and biking trips.
  • Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
  • Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
  • Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.

(Emphasis mine.  Here’s the link to the rest of the article…  DOT Website)

It’s an impressive list, and one I would heartily endorse. In fact I would love it if Canadian Minister of Transportation John Baird would issue a similar statement. To be fair, he may well have done so, but a search of Transport Canada’s website has yet to reveal a national policy on the integration of human-powered transportation into provincial and municipal infrastructure.  If anyone out there knows where to find it, please send me a link.

In the meantime, if LaHood does succeed in his stated desire to end the conflict between cars, bicycles and pedestrians, it will hold out some hope for a healthier, more environmentally friendly future.

Okay so here’s the situation… You are the producer/director of your mother’s cable-access cooking show. You get the word that the show has been cancelled and during the final episode, your mom’s chief rival shows up to disrupt things. After all, her show’s been cancelled too, and with the history that exists between her and your mom, she’s not going down without settling a few things first. And if that wasn’t bad enough, this is the week you’ve chosen to stop smoking!

Such is the starting point of “Kitchen Witches”, Caroline Smith’s hilarious comedy. Directed by Denise Gismondi and produced by Jim Monaghan it is the latest offering by Elora Community Theatre. Performances are being held at the Fergus Grand Theatre, 8pm each evening (Sunday Matinee – 2 pm), April 25 – 27 and May 1 – 3, 2008.


Yes, it’s shameless self promotion time again, and once more I make no apologies. “Kitchen Witches” is my latest adventure as a soundscape designer. The unique challenge to face this time around is the production of some original music for the show. The play centers around a cable access cooking show and like any good TV program it needs a theme. And simply re-cycling the music from the Galloping Gourmet or even Bewitched isn’t going to cut it. Besides somebody, somewhere likely still holds the copyright and they’d want their piece of the action.

Fortunately, I had the assistance of a very talented young man by the name of Ben Leibovitz. He came up with a great theme and with the help of some local singers and my friend Brian’s in-home recording studio we’re getting the job done. The final mix should be ready some time next week.

The show is also giving me an opportunity to work once more with Ken Cameron. I was privileged to work with Ken on “Death of a Salesman” at Guelph Little Theatre a while back, and in “The Missing Piece/Peace” with In the Light Productions this past Christmas. This time around Ken plays the role of the producer/director in “Kitchen Witches” and has to referee the tussles between the troublesome twosome. I have really come to admire Ken’s talent and professionalism and I’ll tell you, if I wasn’t already involved with the show, I’d be coming out to see it anyway just to enjoy watching Ken do what he does so well.

So if you’re going to be in the Fergus/Elora area during the run of the play (again that’s April 25 – 27 and May 1 – 3, 2008 at the Fergus Grand Theatre) do yourself a favour and come out for an evening of fun and laughter with Community Theatre at It’s Best.

Tickets are available in advance by calling Ralph Basset Associates @ (519) 843-4852 -or- Long Distance (866) 500-6652. The box office open one hour before each performance.