I’m In a Play – Secondary Cause of Death – Theatre Thursday

secondary cause
(Caption: This is the face of a girl who slept for four hours during the daytime on Tuesday because she was sent home from work, and went on to kill it at the theatre that night. This is the magic that theatre does.)

I’m in a play!

Let me be real here – this is not a review for the play that I am in. Mostly because I think the show is pretty great but it is nigh impossible to be objective about a play that you are in. This also isn’t really an advertisement or promotion for the show that I’m in – I’ve been doing a ton of that on social media, even including a “tech week selfie” game with Claire since we always seem to manage to be in tech week at the same time. So, what is this? I guess it’s really more of an ode.

I can’t remember the last time I was so thrilled to be in a play – maybe when I did Scorpio Theatre’s world premiere of Blood of the Red Queen, had a role rewritten for me and knew that I was a part of something that was going to just take off? I don’t know… I’m always pleased to be in a play and I always love it (otherwise I wouldn’t do it), but this time I’m just thrilled.

Part of it may be that I was asked to step into this show to fill a role once they lost an actress after rehearsals began – I hadn’t met the director before so I did do a bit of an audition, though nothing like the ones I’ve written about before – and it’s always nice to be needed/wanted.

Another part of it may be that I’m really getting to stretch myself as an actress. I am playing the type of role that I often get cast in (lovely and graceful) but the process hasn’t been “easy” by any means, and I appreciate that. I swing towards bubbly when I act and I’m playing a character who is on the older end of my age range so there is absolutely no room for bubbly. The show also takes place in England in 1939 (and is very British murder mystery in feel) so accents are imperative. I went to U of C, I haven’t learned accents! But I can do one now…

I think the biggest part of it, though, is that I just feel like such a part of things doing this show. I am a shy person by nature (which people always seem to mistake for my being a bit of a bitch and not just rampantly socially awkward) but everyone in this show has just made such an effort to make me not feel like the “new girl” since Day One. There is a camaraderie in the dressing room that I haven’t actually felt since university (other than during Full Circle Theatre shows, but that’s really just me gathering my friends together and going “let’s make a play!”) and I love it, even when I just sit quietly and listen to everyone else. I absolutely trust every person on that stage to pick me up and save me if I forget a line. (Oh gosh, that better not happen… knock on wood!)

I’m in a play. And even though I am going on vacation the day after it closes, I’m going to miss it when it’s done.

If you would like to see the play that has inspired such gushing from me (and hear my sparkling dulcet tones), Simply Theatre’s “Secondary Cause of Death” runs until October 1 and tickets can be purchased by calling 587-575-656 or by visiting http://www.simplytheatre.ca Come see it. It’s worth it. (This is not a promotion, I’m just happy.)

Sherlock Holmes – Theatre… Tuesday…?

Two Thursdays ago my mom, Bryan and I went to see the opening night of Vertigo Theatre’s season closer Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily. Normally this would be a weird time to write about it – the show is still on but it would only have a week to go so it may be hard to get out to see it. However, this show has actually been so well received (it just won a Critter award!) that it has been extended until June 18 (which incidentally is also the day my show closes…)

Sherlock-Holmes
Program Image belongs to Vertigo Theatre

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily was a bit of a revelation to me. I’ve seen the team of Haysam Kadri and Karl Sine play Holmes and Watson before, and I’ve seen Haysam in a variety of roles over the last nine or so years… but I don’t think I’ve ever seen Haysam be quite so funny. He – and the entire cast, really – was obviously having a blast onstage, and the enjoyment is infectious.

If Sherlock Holmes isn’t necessarily your jam, you still may love this show because it is peppered with real historical Victorian London references and characters. Paul Welch’s Oscar Wilde looks astonishingly like the real deal and lights up the stage with his witticisms. The script tends to stick to Wilde’s more popular works for its referential humour so even casual fans will be “in on the joke”.

I can’t imagine that I’m in the minority when I say that I love clever humour that throws around cultural references. This past month of theatre in Calgary has absolutely fed into this love and I hope that it is a trend that will stick around for awhile.

And if you’re on the fence about Holmes at all, let me just say… I was offered a ticket to see it again last Friday and I deeply considered it. I decided not to take it though so someone who hadn’t seen the show could have the opportunity. Soooo…

(Please note: This show did just win a Critter award for Best Direction of a Play so that may increase interest in seeing it. You can get tickets by visiting the Vertigo Theatre website.)

(Double please note: I know today is Tuesday… Thursday is the day before my show opens and if I thought I was stressed before… At least Tuesday still alliterates, guys!)

Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)

desdemona
Sometimes you see a show that takes you completely by surprise. For me, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) was that show.

I read it in university. I’m certain I read it in university – it’s a Canadian play. It was written by Ann-Marie MacDonald (yes, the author of Fall on Your Knees) in 1988 long before Fall On Your Knees. As director Kate Newby remarks in her Director’s Note, it explores a seemingly endless list of important historical, cultural and political themes. I apparently own two copies of this play. I absolutely read this play in university… and I don’t remember doing so at all, except a vague recollection that “this play seems kind of odd”.

My vague recollection is completely wrong.

This production of Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) (a co-production between The Shakespeare Company, Hit & Myth and the newly re-branded Handsome Alice Theatre) absolutely proves the common refrain that plays are meant to be seen and not read. The show is equal turns clever, thought-provoking and downright hilarious.

The production also lands on so many levels. Though Shakespeare fans will have a million “Oh! I get it! I’m so clever!” moments (much of the show is written in iambic pentameter and MacDonald skillfully weaves actual Shakespearean dialogue into her own), the absolutely clear intentions and communication on the part of the five actresses in the show coupled with adept physical comedy allows audience members of any background to enjoy the show.

Oh yes, did I mention? The cast of Goodnight Desdemona is five powerhouse female actors – a virtual “who’s who” of young lady actors in Calgary – who play everything from a Henry V style “Chorus” (Julie Orton) to a swaggering Tybalt (Mabelle Carvajal) to Juliet (Genevieve Pare) and Desdemona (Allison Lynch) themselves. (Each of the aforementioned actors plays at least three different characters and it is never any doubt at all who they are. Stunning.) At the centre of it all, is Ayla Stephen as Constance Ledbelly, an academic who falls into the worlds of two of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies as she tries to sort out the truth of the plays and the truth of herself. Ayla and I attended university together, so I’ve seen her play a dizzying array of different roles, but she really does shine when she gets to play a fish-out-of-water and lean into her comedic side. She, and, actually, all the ladies in this show, can communicate more with a facial expression than the average person can with a whole speech.

I generally wait until shows close to write about them, but in this case, I couldn’t wait. Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) runs until May 21, 2016 and absolutely everyone should go see it. I’ve done my best not to spoil any plot elements, but I genuinely think I could go see the show again tonight and enjoy it just as much as I did the first time even knowing how it ends. Tell your friends, get a girl (or guy) squad together, grab your lover or guilt your mom into hanging out with you and take in this show before it closes. Tickets can be purchased by visiting The Shakespeare Company’s website.

(Note: I was not compensated in any way for writing this blog post. I just really really liked the play and want everyone I know to go see it so I can talk to them about it.)

Short-Lived TV Shows I Love

I have had plans every evening this week and I have cancelled every single one of them. And I have loved it. Flu season had a late start here in Calgary and I’ve been pulling eleven hour days at the ol’ day job so going home at the end of the day and zoning out with a little TV and leftovers is heaven. Last night I was asleep at 9:30 and today, for the first time this week, I feel energized.

So, obviously Fit February is off to a raring start. (But still! Over 15 000 steps per day! That has to count!)

My new shut-in nature has also granted the opportunity to catch a few episodes of Eugene & Daniel Levy’s Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek on Netflix. At work, I’ve had numerous people, independently of each other, tell me that I remind them so much of the daughter on the show that they’ve actually checked the credits to see who was playing her. I don’t know if I see it yet, but Schitt’s Creek is a weird quirky little show, which I love, so I’ll keep watching it anyway.

“Weird quirky little show” is a pretty apt definition when it comes to the type of tv I like. I’m a big fan of the “gets cancelled after 13 episodes” or the “it’s crazy that they got renewed” niche. So, if you like little shows that make you feel better about your life, here’s a short list of short-lived tv shows I love:

1) Mixology
Mixology
This guy only had 13 episodes, one season, and I’m honestly not sure if it could have handled any more seasons. Mixology tells the story of 10 singles in a bar over one night – each episode is a little vignette that centres around two of the characters, though the other storylines progress as well. It’s easy to bang through this entire series in a week and it always inspires me to dress up and head to a cocktail bar. Also, I’m a fan of everything Vanessa Lengies does. [You can watch Mixology on Canadian Netflix.)

2) Friends with Better Lives
Friends with Better Lives
13 episodes filmed, only 8 episodes aired… maybe I wouldn’t have loved this sitcom if it kept going, but there was just something about the premise. Hey, these are people in their early 30s who are all in completely different places in their lives and that is cool. Add in some James Van Der Beek and Zoe Lister-Jones and an early episode about what a guys’ night becomes when you hit your thirties and move to the suburbs… I’m happy. (However, Friends With Better Lives apparently has a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I mostly watched it on the airplane while travelling for work… So I may have terrible taste. But the acting on this show is just SO GOOD.) (Friends With Better Lives can be found on Amazon for purchase.)

3) Garfunkel and Oates
Garfunkel and Oates
The Netflix app on my new SmartTV doesn’t easily show how many episodes there are of a given show if you just click on it to watch it and, holy geez, I was so disappointed when I realized there was only one short season of this show after binging on it. Garfunkel and Oates is a folk comedy band (consisting of Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci, who you will definitely recognize as every present guest stars if you watch any comedy at all) and the tv show is a fictitious look at their lives trying to make it in LA. Awesome strong funny girls trying to make their way in the world… with songs? I’m in! (Garfunkel and Oates can be viewed on Netflix.)

4) Happy Endings
Happy Endings
This quirky little ensemble comedy about six friends dealing with the fallout of two members of their group splitting up, featured an all-star cast (seriously… Adam Pally, Elisha Cuthbert, Damien Wayans Jr…) and sharp writing. It is an even better version of Friends with Better Lives. Happy Endings actually made it to three seasons, but was plagued with a strange episode sequence in Season One (the ever present “they” were concerned about too many episodes about the breakup off the top of the series so the first season aired in an odd order) and with its airing time being bumped around during Season Three. I cannot say enough good things about this show. If you love clever, aware humour , even in the wackiness of situations – early New Girl, anyone? – track Happy Endings down and watch it. (Happy Endings is tragically no longer on Netflix. The first season was released on DVD in Canada and the rest of the seasons are considered imports… One day, they will be mine, though – and for a reasonable price!)

5) Veronica Mars
Veronica Mars
Wikipedia describes Veronica Mars as a teenage noir drama, but I still think it fits on my list. And, yes, it was critically acclaimed, has a movie and stars Kristen Bell… but it was still consistently plagued with potential cancellation (that is why the third season has several mini-story arcs) so it counts as short-lived and underappreciated! Even if murder mysteries aren’t your thing, give Veronica Mars a chance… if only to watch the brilliant nuanced performance that Kristen Bell brings to every second she is on-screen. And the rest of the cast isn’t too shabby either… (Psst: Krysten Ritter, Max Greenfield, Alona Tal and Jonathan Bennett are only some of the guest stars who will have you going “Hey! It’s them!”.) (Veronica Mars can be found streaming on Netflix. But it’s so worth it to invest in your very own copies on DVD.)

6) Community
Community
If Veronica Mars maybe doesn’t fit on this list, Community maybe really doesn’t fit on this list. After all, it is so close to the six seasons and a movie that Abed always referenced. But, at the risk of sounding like a super hipster, I was into it first! I made everyone I know watch it. I have an ex-boyfriend who told me I was the Dean, because he was Jeff Winger, which made me the Dean because I loved both costumes and Jeff Winger. Every season has real winning moments, though I think the second is my favourite season and the third season Christmas episode is my favourite episode. Community does Glee better than Glee does. Just watch it. (Community can be found on Hulu in the US and on Netflix in Canada.)

I wonder how long I can keep being a shut-in for so I can re-watch all my shows! What are your favourite semi-unknown shows to watch when you just can’t brave the rest of the world?