Posts Tagged ‘GLT’

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!

Much Ado about an Anniversary

Posted: January 8, 2010 in Personal, Theatre
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It was a year ago this week that I underwent the surgery for my ruptured Achilles tendon. Not unexpectedly, it had a profound affect on the way things unfolded this past year. I spent almost half of 2009 in rehab of one kind or another trying to get back to where I was before the accident. I would have to say that I’m at about 85-90% which is just about what they told me to expect.

I can still ride my bike, for which I am very grateful. In June I had a great time on the Ride to Conquer Cancer with the rest of Team Kortight and I am looking forward to participating in the 2010 Ride later this year with an even larger team; but more on that in another post.

What I wanted to write about today is that this week, one year after the fact, I finally returned to the scene of the crime. The other night I attending a production meeting for “Much Ado About Nothing“, the Shakespearean comedy being presented by Guelph Little Theatre in April.

There was every much a sense of déjà vu as I crossed the parking lot and entered the front doors. It was, after all, a winter night the last time I was there. Just like that night a year ago there was a slight breeze, stars were twinkling in the clear winter sky, the soft glow of the florescent lights emanated from the lobby, and smoke rose lazily from the cluster of smokers near the front door – (heavy sigh)  it was almost as if no time had passed at all.

However, time has indeed passed and that became abundantly clear shortly after walking in the door.  I spent some time catching up with friends, hearing about the projects they had been working on, telling them what was happening with me.  Each conversation was punctuated by the same expression, “Man, has it really been a year?”

The time lag continued to make itself obvious during the discussion about the play. It took a while to get back in the groove, feeling my way into the conversation almost like a newcomer. Adding to the feeling was the fact there are only two familiar faces on the production staff:  Gerry Butts is directing, and Beth Freeth is stage managing.

I’ve worked with Beth as SM before, on ‘Kitchen Witches’ for the Elora Community Theatre. She’s an energetic type,  knows her stuff, understands the dynamics of what I need to fulfill my role as Sound scape Designer, and has a self professed affinity for Star Trek.  I’m going to enjoy working with her again.

Gerry is a gentle giant of a man who I first got to know when he played Willie Loman in GLT’s production of “Death of a Salesman.” I’ve never worked with him as a director though and I’ve seen other director/actor types in action, some ofwhich can be a regular Jekyll and Hyde. I am looking forward to discovering both his directorial style and how he functions at the helm of a team.

Poster for Much Ado about Nothing at GLT

Romance & Comedy in 16th Century Italy

There’s is one other familiar face. I’m beginning to believe there is ethereal conspiracy afoot in the heavenly realms designed to keep me in the company of this person. But I don’t mind because he is one of the more congenial and dare I say brilliant people it has been my pleasure to meet. Once more Ken Cameron is involved in the same production as I, this time he brings his thespian skills to bear in the role of Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon. Ken is a gifted actor who has worked with me on every project I’ve been on save one (‘Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean’ – on which I was brought in only a week and a half before opening) and I have come to value his friendship.

Adding to the mix this time however, is the addition of Ken’s son Andrew to the cast in the role of ‘Boy’, in Act II. It’s Andrew’s second excursion under the lights and I’m looking forward to getting to know this remarkable young man better. I call him remarkable because, quite frankly, the shoe fits. In March of 2009 Andrew and Ken made the trip to Queen’s Park to see Andrew receive his Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year Award.  There’s a pic of Andrew and the other winners HERE (he’s the one in the chair beside Lieutenant Governor Onley); the write-up can be found HERE. Having two Camerons around is really going to keep me on my toes.

So that’s where we are in the opening days of 2010, one year after My Great Fall. I’m back in the theatre and working a Shakespear piece for the first time since high school. It’s going to be an interesting spring.

Now there is a lot more going on than just my return to the tech booth at GLT. But we’ll talk about that another day.

Happy New Year!

I suppose the time has come to write about my current situation, if for no other reason than a multitude of individuals who have said to me in the last few days, “I expect much blogging while you are laid up the next few weeks.”

I think that was one of the things that made me take an hiatus from blogging – the sense of having to meet expectations. I started it because I just wanted to get things down for myself, but soon I was writing for everyone but me. But that is of course the dilemma every creative thinker faces, is it not? Do I write, paint, play, sing, sculpt, or whatever else it is I consider my raison d’etre for my own satisfaction, or do I do it for those whose opinions I hold in even higher regard – my audience, though I may be loath to admit it. I suspect, like most things in my experience, the truth lies somewhere in between, consisting of x parts one and truth – x parts the other.

But to return to the subject at hand: on Friday morning (Jan 9/08) I shall report to Guelph General Hospital’s Day Surgery ward to undergo a procedure to repair the Achilles tendon on my left foot. It seems I have a knack for putting my foot in it (as my wife Roberta will confirm) and this time what I put my foot in was a hole in the floor backstage at Guelph Little Theatre. The details of exactly how it happened are largely unimportant. Let it suffice to say,”Black floor + black hole x large differential bifocals = Ouch!” If you have no idea what the bifocals have to do with it, ask someone who wears them.

And so I find myself faced with the prospect of surgery, followed by several weeks in a cast, then more time in a walking cast, and who knows how many sessions of excruciating physio-therapy. Oooh! – what fun! But then I suppose it could always be worse. There will be time to think, to write, to sort, to meditate, to vegetate, and of course, to blog.

I strongly suspect that this may well be one of those, be careful what you pray for scenarios. As the New Year unfolded I found myself offhandedly praying for more time to engage in all of the above – especially the writing. Then this happens. Powerful stuff prayer. Use at own risk!

So there you have it, the back story to where these ramblings will be coming from for the next little while. If you would like to support me in some way during my period of recovery then I ask you to click your way over to the Guelph Little Theatre website and book a few tickets for “The Curious Savage“. It is the delightful little comedy I was working on the preparation for when this happened. Yes I know, it’s a shameless plug; but if it sells out in a stampede of sympathetic consumerism it shall serve to bolster my self-esteem as I will have ‘taken one for the team.’

What is “The Curious Savage“? It is the story of three siblings, five friends, two attendants, and a woman and her bear; all drawn together by means of foolish expectations and not so foolish dreams. Yes, it is a rather cryptic description I know, but then, where’s your curiosity?

Until next time then, I covet your prayers, your well-wishes, and your contributions to the box office.

Shalom

Thank You All for Your Support

Posted: December 25, 2007 in Theatre
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Merry Christmas Everyone!

I want to thank all of you who attended our Christmas production, “The Missing Piece/Peace”. It was a great run and in tickets sales, donations received and raising awareness of the work that iProjects.ca does in the third world – it was a tremendous success! Thank you and may God bless you all!

I’m always of two hearts when a show ends; on one hand I’m glad the work is over and there are no more ghost glitches to track down, on the other hand after three months working with some great people there is a hole left by their absence. I know I’ll see many of them again but I miss the camaraderie.

I particularly want to express my thanks to Marion, Julie, Katura, Faith, Verese, Michael, Alan, Mike, Mark, Laural, and Adam. I have mixed a number of bands and chorus in my time, but this is the most fun I’ve had in years. No matter how tired I might have been when I arrived at rehearsal, no matter how much the day may have worn me down, listening to these talented singers and musicians work their craft always brought me back to life. Bless you all.

So… with the show over, and Christmas 2007 all but out of the way, life will soon fall back into it’s usual routine. But there will be new projects I’m sure, and I look forward to the adventure.

Merry Christmas Everyone! And may God bless you richly!

— Dennis Gray —

The Cast and Crew of “The Missing Piece/Peace” (click for larger image)


The Missing (Piece) Peace

Posted: November 22, 2007 in Theatre
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Every year I find myself taking on at least one major theatrical effort. For many years it was either with road companies or in church groups, but the last two years I find myself working in community theatre. Last year, as some of you may remember, I was priveledged to work with some great people on a production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Saleman.” This year I find myself doing soundscape design once again on a new production called “The Missing Piece Peace.”

Written by Deborah Briggs and Alan Garrett “The Missing Piece Peace” is a Christmas production with a difference. I can’t go into a lot of detail without spoiling the experience, but trust me this is not your parent’s Sunday School Christmas play.Taking place in different dimensions and different time zones, it chronicles one man’s struggle to make sense of it all. I’ll leave it at that. The play features a great cast under the direction of Deborah Briggs; and Alan Garrett as Musical Director adds his own touch to the proceedings with a live 7-voice chorus accompanied by a five-piece ensemble. All in all it promises to be a wonderful dramatic and musical experience.

But if that isn’t enough, there’s an even more compelling reason to take in “The Missing Piece Peace” this holiday season. All of the proceeds from the ticket sales will be going to assist iProjects.ca in funding the building of an orphange in Peru. The land for the project has already been acquired and they are now looking to build the needed buildings.

iProjects.ca (Isaiah Projects) is a Christ centered charitable organization, working in partnership with local leaders in third world countries to help fund infrastructural development projects that will significantly impact the lives of the local people. Projects are selected on the basis of how they will offer hope and improve the quality of life for individuals with a bias towards helping the young and most needy in society. Iprojects funds the construction of schools, orphanages, youth centres and other projects which empower youth to become leaders in their own communities therefore enabling them to have a positive influence in the area where they live.

In addition, we are also asking patrons to bring Canadian Tire money and/or pop cans to be donated to Habitat for Humanity to help them in their efforts.

So if you are going to be in the Guelph area this holiday season I would ask you to contribute to two great causes and enjoy a great show by attending “The Missing Piece Peace.” Performances are being presented at Guelph Little Theatre, on the following dates:

Saturday, December 15, 2007 @ 2pm & 8pm

Sunday, December 16, 2007 @ 2pm

Thursday, December 20, 2007 @ 8pm

Friday, December 21, 2007 @ 8pm

Saturday, December 22, 2007 @ 2pm & 8pm

 

All seats are $17 and available through the Guelph Little Theatre box office by calling 519-821-0270 or through their website at www.guelphlittletheatre.com

Thanks everyone… and see you at the show!!

—–

WE’RE GOING TO FESTIVAL

Posted: February 25, 2007 in Theatre
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The Guelph Little Theatre production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” is has been selected for the Western Ontario Drama League‘s Festival during March Break!!

This has been an amazing experience. I have to admit, when Lloyd Lindsay (our director) first asked me to be a part of this production, I was a little reluctant. But I am so glad I said , “Yes.”

I have long wanted to be a part of a production of “Death of a Salesman.” I think I was one of only a handful of kids back in high school who ‘got it’ when the teacher tried to explain it’s significance. There are some plays that just define what theatre is all about and what it accomplishes beyond mere entertainment. “Death of a Salesman” is one such play.

I knew as we went through the process we were putting together a fine production. — our selection to Festival confirms it. There is a wealth of talent to be found here that is exceeded only by the dedication that accompanies it.

I want to take the time to thank the entire cast and crew for what has proven to be an incredible learning experience for me. At over 50 years of age I am learning more and more just how much I have yet to learn. My gratitude and admiration goes out especially to the ‘tech support’ team I was so privileged to be a part of..

Gary ChapmanTechnical Director/Master Carpenter – having someone else who spoke ‘my language’ around made being the rookie a lot easier. Gary – you’re the best.

Greg InsleyProducer – This former ‘sound guy’ has certainly found his true calling as a producer. Thanks Greg for your incredible support. (And yes.. I still have two computers.)

Ruth ConnorStage manager – I’ve been away from theatre for nearly two decades, but you made me feel like I never left. Thank you.

Lynn ChapmanSet Decor/Properties – Definitely the hardest working person I have ever met. It tires me out just thinking about how much work you do. Amazing!

Lynn FisherDramaturge/Costume Design – Every night as I came into the theatre, I was met by your lovely smile and a warm greeting that always made me feel like I belonged. Thank you so much.

Anna Graham & Anthony “Pooch” BrownLighting Design – Watching the two of you paint the set with light was a joy to behold. Thanks Pooch for your help as well solving a few technical challenges. You guys are terrific!

Davian HartLighting Operator – I really enjoyed working with you in the booth, Davian. Every time I hear someone of my generation complain about ‘kids these days’ I’m going to point them in your direction. Now we just have to sort out what music we’re playing in the hotel in Sarnia. Jazz vs Heavy metal – tough choice!

Andreen Harwood Costume Design , Kelly InsleyProperties , Deb WoodwardHair & Makeup , Paul CheesmanAssistant Stage Manager – I didn’t work with you folks directly, what with you being backstage and me up in the booth (thought thanks for keeping an eye on the back stage amps Kelly), but I did get to see see the results of your efforts and your dedication to your crafts. It was also great to hear your stories about your experiences in the theatre. You guys are amazing!

Lloyd LindsayDirector/Mentor/Friend – Lloyd, there are those who consider me a fairly articulate person, but somehow I lack the words. It’s been a great ride Lloyd! Thanks ever so much for inviting me along. God bless you!

I could not write about this without saying something to the cast of “Death of a Salesman.” I want the thirteen of you to know that you made my job one of the most difficult times I have ever spent behind a sound board. Take it easy – that’s actually a compliment.

Watching you people perform was amazing! Even after ten shows and I don’t know how many rehearsals you still managed to grab hold of both my mind and my heart and made me want to just sit there and watch. Usually it’s boredom and repetition that gets in the way of my job. Not with you folks! I would have given anything to spend just one performance sitting in the audience enjoying the experience. Thank you so much. You are a credit to your craft.

I’ll avoid the impossible task of picking favorites by thanking you in order of appearance..

Gerry ButtsWillie Loman – You tore my heart out Gerry!

Liz (Stokes) PoultonLinda Loman – More than once Liz — I cried.

Rob Gray ‘Happy’ Loman – (no relation) – Though I’d be proud if you were!

Adam Waxman Biff Loman – Someday, I just know I’ll be turning to someone and saying, “You know, I worked with him once!”

John LicariBernard – Actor and musician, you are a substantial talent John. I’m a fan.

Tracey KenyonThe Woman – The “Other Woman” is an oft underrated role. No one will ever underrate your talent. Well done!

Jim MonaghanCharley – Thanks Jim, you’re sense of humour was quite often just what I needed. – A salesman doing “Salesman” – what a concept.

Paul DuncanUncle Ben – From that first day reading through the script I knew you’d be great ‘Ben’. I wasn’t wrong – well done!

Ken CameronHoward – “Authentic” sounding recordings are one thing Ken, authentic performances are another. Thanks for the authenticity you brought to the stage.

Mary LillicoJenny/Waitress – Some people’s contribution goes well beyond what happens on stage – so it is with you. You often brightened my day, Thanks Mary.

Ryan KotackStanley – Ryan, I know I need unique New York. I also need to see more of your work in future. Great job!

Liz GallagherMiss Forsythe – Will you accept a compliment from a stranger? You ought to be on stage. Oh wait – you have been! Told ya Stanley!

Kimberley YoungLetta – The best dressed cordless power drill operator I’ve ever met. Pretty good actress too! Congrats.

If I’ve missed anyone please understand it wasn’t for lack of trying. This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I thanks to you all for your part in it.

See you in Sarnia!!

Dennis Gray

Death of A Salesman

Posted: January 22, 2007 in Theatre
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Last week I mentioned that I was working with Guelph Little Theatre on a production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. It has been a great experience. I haven’t worked in formal theatre in a number of years (25 actually) so it’s been a bit of a flashback getting involved again. I was a little surprised to find out how quickly I fell back into “the mode”. I love working behind the scenes to make a thing come together. However, I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about my feelings on this however. I know a lot of blogs are about what’s going on inside a person’s head, but that’s not me.

I’m writing today to make a shameless and enthusiastic plug for the play itself. I’m a firm believer in supporting local artists of all kinds, painters, sculptures, musicians and, of course, actors. There’s an incredible amount of talent out there that will never be seen on the silver screen, or on Broadway, or hung in the National Museum of Art. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of your attention. No matter the genre, it has been produced by talented and dedicated individuals who love what they do and do it for no other reason than it brings them joy.

It’s kind of like small town hockey – sure, there’s the dream of playing in the NHL, but most know they’ll never be there. They play anyway – just for the love of the game. At it’s heart, community theatre is the same way. Local volunteers, people like you and me with a regular 9-5, 40 hour-a-week day job, who spend their free time making something they care about happen. The group working on Death of a Salesman includes factory workers, construction workers and contractors, IT managers, warehouse workers, and I don’t know what else.

And frankly, I think we’re putting together a great production. ‘Death of a Salesman’, for those of you who may not be familiar with it , is an North American Theatre classic. An emotional look at the last days of Willy Loman, a hard working family man, who’s pursuit of the American Dream hasn’t panned out the way he had always hoped. Is it his fault? Or is the dream itself flawed? Questions we will all face one way or another in life, and over the years many people have found some insight for their own journey in the lines of this Pulitzer Prize winning play.

So I’m am appealing to you, gentle reader, to support this production. Opening night is Thursday, February 8th, 2007. There are 10 showings running Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for the following three weeks, with a matinée in Sunday the 18th. Tickets are $17.00 and can be ordered online or by phone at 519-821-0270. Full details are available at the theatre’s website.

So if you live near Guelph, or know someone who does, or will be visiting the area during the run of the play, please do yourself (and me) a favour and come out to enjoy a great evening of local theatre.

Thank you.