Naughty… But Nice (Theatre Thursday)

Naughty... But Nice publicity shot
Picture courtesy of Forte’s Facebook page –
this moment is right before a really great boy band number about being seated at the Kids’ Table

On this, the last Theatre Thursday of 2023, I am writing about a theatre event that is ending in 2023. And, okay, yes – I understand that theatre is ephemeral and exists only in the moment and also pretty much every local show in Calgary is ending in 2023 anyway because runs are short. But that’s not the point. You’ll understand what I mean if you read the title. Today, I am writing about Forte Musical Theatre’s Naughty… But Nice

What Is Naughty… But Nice?

Ah. You must be a new reader who didn’t experience my Naughty… But Nice post from 2021. To quote myself from the past “Naughty But Nice is a comedy musical theatre revue – all original songs, all sassy, all funny.” It’s also a yearly tradition and this year is the 10th incarnation. 

It’s also the last year. Forte has announced that there is another holiday show coming next year, but this is the last time that we’ll be able to hear such classics as “Bailey’s For Breakfast”, “Why Do I Live Where the Air Hurts My Face?”, and, my personal favourite, “Just Another New Year’s Eve”. (I thought this song was new in 2021. I have discovered that I was wrong but I don’t care because it’s still my favourite.) 

Why See It This Year?

Other than because it’s the last one? Because this year is a delight. It is such an amazing celebration of all the things that make this show what it is. There is not just one but two songs about sleeping with Santa. Scott Olynek gets to sing his song, “Bailey’s For Breakfast”. The audience gets to vote on songs when there are various songs that fit a specific niche. (One of which is New Year’s Eve songs… and my performance was lucky enough to include my fav from above.) 

There is a medley where the performers mash together, like, 50+ classic Christmas songs and carols. There is also a medley to include a bunch of popular NBN songs that aren’t in this production. And there are new songs. And the show ends with a video completion of clips from the past ten years, which is enough to make you cry.

And Eric Wigston is a goddman delight in his first year in the show.

Now, if I have one small criticism, it’s that this particular compilation of Naughty… But Nice songs makes a show that is heavy on dude solos and light on solos for Katherine and Katelyn. But maybe that was in part because of the songs that my particular performance voted on? Hard to say.

So We Should See This Show?

Anyway. Just go buy tickets. If you’re reading this post on the day it comes out, there are four more performances (though tickets are selling fast). And if you can’t make it to NBN – that’s okay. Forte is dropping another new show in the spring and I will do everything in my power to see it and write about it here. 

I love local theatre.

Oh! And also also – they dropped a music video to perennial classic “Why Do I Live Where the Air Hurts My Face?”. Check it below. (Important note – Justine Westby now lives in Florida. Coincidence? I think not.)

Why Do I Live Where the Air Hurts My Face?

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Holiday Plays in Calgary

It’s Day 7 of Blogmas and it is snowy out. I guess we all knew this was coming eventually, but it feels like a night for hibernation. So, while you’re hibernating, feel free to read this post and make plans for a night when you are ready to leave the house. Because this post is all about Holiday Plays in Calgary.

Holiday Plays in Calgary graphic
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Sleuth – Vertigo Theatre

On Theatre Thursdays, I discuss topics related to theatre. I also write about local productions that I think #yyc should see. Today I’m talking about one of the many holiday productions currently running – Sleuth

Sleuth Poster lovingly stolen from Vertigo Theatre. Photography credit to Tim Nguyen.
Poster lovingly stolen from Vertigo Theatre. Photography credit to Tim Nguyen.

My friends! Do you know what snuck up on me so quickly this year? December! And by “December”, I mean “Blogmas”.

My November was incredibly ambitious. I truly thought I would write every day during the month for Nanowrimo, chronicle what we were doing at Riverona rehearsals, actually produce/director/act in Riverona, and have a social life?! Oh Erin, you sweet summer child.

Blogmas seems easy in comparison. 

And it’s especially easy when I have a fantastic theatre production to kick the season off with… Vertigo Theatre’s production of Sleuth

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Murder on the Orient Express – Theatre Thursday

On Theatre Thursdays, I discuss topics related to theatre. I also write about local productions that I think #yyc should see. Today I’m talking about one of the many holiday productions currently running – Murder on the Orient Express.

Murder on the Orient Express poster
Poster lovingly stolen from Vertigo Theatre. Photography credit to Tim Nguyen.

Guess what everyone? It’s December 1! And you know what that means? It’s Blogmas!!

Unlike last year, I did stunningly at Nanowrimo this year. I clocked in at 50,5871 words at about 11pm on November 30. I am so hyped about my book and ready to keep grinding at it. Mostly because I just really need to know what happens next to my characters. 

I am also excited to keep my practice of writing every day going, but refocusing a little bit to sharpen my non-fiction writing skills. And I had so much fun doing Blogmas last year, how could I not do it again? Once again, I can’t promise everything I write will be Christmas related, but y’all know it will all be fun! 

Especially because this year December 1 is a Thursday, so that means we get to start out with an old classic – Theatre Thursday! And you read it above – I’m talking about Vertigo Theatre’s production of Murder on the Orient Express.

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Cipher – Vertigo Theatre

On Theatre Thursdays, I discuss topics related to theatre. I also write about local productions that I think #yyc should see. Today I’m talking about a show that I was supposed to see almost two years ago – Vertigo Theatre’s Cipher.

vertigo theatre cipher
Poster lovingly stolen from Vertigo Theatre. Credit to Tim Nguyen.

Cipher was originally set to open just a few days after what almost everyone I talk to cites as the “start” of the pandemic in Canada. (March 13, 2020, if you were wondering. Though there were cases in the time leading up to this, March 13 is when everything really came crashing down around us.) And, yes, I had tickets to opening night.

Almost two years later on January 20, I had tickets to opening night once again. And, yes, it was well worth the wait.

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Naughty But Nice (The At Home Week)

Real talk time. I totally get that I’ve been writing about a lot of “going out and having festive fun” things so far this Blogmas. And I know that’s not everyone’s vibe. Maybe your going out comfort level is different than mine. Maybe you always prefer “home” to “not home”. Maybe you just need a little break because you’ve been out too much. Maybe you live where the air hurts your face.

We all have our own reasons to prefer to be at home. So, this week, I will be featuring activities that I’ve done at home this holiday season and ideas to keep your home time festive.

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Two Gentlemen of Verona – Theatre Thursday


(“Two Gentlemen of Verona” Poster Image, as always, lovingly stolen from Theatre Calgary. Their site is always adding more incredible, informative material about their shows, please take the time to explore it.)

First off: I probably should have written about this show a month again. Actually, if I were really good at my job, I would have seen the show early in it’s run and written an actual review to actually encourage my readers to go see it. But long-time readers know that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here for ruminating on things for far too long and then vomiting my thoughts about important theatre onto this blog. And today? The #importanttheatre that I’m talking about is #ShakesBow‘s production of Two Gentlemen of Verona.

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Fear In Theatre – Theatre Thursday

First Theatre Thursday of 2018, ya’ll, and I’m treading onto some probably already well tread ground… fear. And Theatre.

You Mean Stage Fright?

Now, I don’t mean stage fright – I think most peoples’ minds immediately pop to stage fright when they think of acting, but it’s a totally different fear. “Oh my gosh, I could never do that, I’m so afraid to talk in front of groups!” you say. I hear it all the time.

Like a jerk (or like most actors), I’ve never suffered from that fear, though. At my day job, I take literally any opportunity to talk to the class… you need someone to give exam instructions? I’m your girl. And I’ll probably think I’m hilarious while doing it. That being said, I’m not going to pretend that I’m not nervous before I go on stage. Of course I am, even when I feel confident – I want to do a good job and I think when you stop feeling a little bit nervous about a big project, that’s when you stop caring about what you do.

Acting In a Play Isn’t Like Delivering an Exam Spiel Though, Is It?

You’re right, it’s not. I free-style my exam instructions like crazy, when I’m in a play we spent approximately 1-2 hours rehearsing for every minute that takes place on stage. Combine that with a lack of fear of public speaking, and you get nerves, but not fear… because all the big risks happened during rehearsal!

For instance, I’m in a show right now. (When am I ever not in a show, am I right?) Tonight was the first night that I put my script down and delivered my lines completely from memory. My script is my security blanket, I will hold it until the last possible second even if I’m not actually reading from the book in my hand. It’s a real crutch.

So, tonight I put the book down. And it was terrifying. I was anxious all day. Even though there was a support system – our stage manager had the script in front of her and I could say the word “Line” at any time, at which time she would tell me what line I had forgotten – I still didn’t want to do poorly. I didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of my well prepared colleagues who didn’t make the mistakes I made.

Obviously, I love to overthink things.

But I took the risk, I swallowed the fear and I did it. And it was fine.

So, What DO You Mean By Fear?

I may have tipped my hand by talking about taking risks in the previous section… but the fear in theatre is wrapped up in the vulnerability actors need to experience to be successful in theatre.

When you see an actor sobbing, screaming or laughing on stage, they truly go somewhere inside themselves that allows them to experience that emotion.

When you see a ridiculous piece of physical humour, the actor had to test out that physicality in rehearsal. They had to try something out, make a big offer and know that maybe this huge thing they were trying wouldn’t work. The thought might have crossed their mind that if it didn’t work, they would be embarrassed – or something deeper – in front of their colleagues.

No wonder actors drink right? J/k, j/k. (Maybe not j/k…)

In a good rehearsal hall, you take the risk. You make the big offer and if it doesn’t work, you make another big offer and keep trying until something works. It doesn’t matter because you know your colleagues are right there with you – you will just all keep working together to make the show amazing.

I’ve been lucky enough to always be in good rehearsal halls.

Ophelia in Shakespeare's Heroines
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BOOM – Theatre Calgary

boom-final-rgb

(Note: This image comes directly from the Theatre Calgary website, as a girl can only take so many pictures in the semi-darkness of her wine and program in her theatre box before it gets weird and her readers get tired of looking at it.)

Much like Theatre Calgary’s first offering of the season, BOOM crazy surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. I did a little reading on the TC website, as well as a little exploration of Rick Miller’s Official Boom website prior to seeing the show and I just felt like I couldn’t get a grasp on the show. The description made me think of a theme park variety show and, to my mind, did not do it justice.

Of course, I was wrong. Why do I even try to read about shows beforehand? The reason I love theatre is because it hits you in a visceral way, touching something inside you, that is hard to put into words so why do I expect copy written for a website to communicate that?

BOOM is a tapestry, not a variety show. It is a mixture of the sweeping world history between 1945 to 1969 and the personal stories of important baby boomers in the playwright/actor’s life. It is a collection of music, stories, imitations, news clips, advertisements, cultural touchstones. I personally don’t truly have a baby boomer in my life – my mom was born in 1961 so she didn’t remember any of the events referenced in the show, but my grandparents were already well grownup and established by 1945 – but I do love history and I was able to give myself over to the three characters that were growing up over the twenty years the show covers.

I don’t know that I can truly put into words what seeing BOOM is like any better than the Theatre Calgary website can – the show is running until October 29th, though, and tickets are available on at Theatre Calgary. I highly recommend seeing this one for yourself, I can guarantee it is like no other show you’ll see at Theatre Calgary this year. When picking your seats, I would pick ones in the centre section of the theatre (even in balconies) rather than any of the side boxes – though I loved being away from the riff-raff, I felt like I missed the full experience of some of BOOM’s projections from my angle.

Disclaimer: I know it sounds like I love every show I see. This is not the case… I just prefer to write about the shows that I love so that I can get other people to see them which thus gives me someone to talk to about them. I’m really terrifically selfish in that way.

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‘da Kink In My Hair – Theatre Calgary

da kink in my hair theatre calgary poster

Caption: Yaaaasss, Gaga, we got a box this year! We are tired of bozos and just want to enjoy good theatre and that is what the box is for, y’all!

(Note from 2020 Erin: when the blog got hacked, I lost the photo I originally had posted here. I have no idea what I was talking about, so I have included the TC poster – but I was very excited to have a box that year.)

Fall is officially here and that means theatre season is back on in Calgary. Granted, during the summer there is a smattering of theatre offering in Calgary – Shakespeare by the Bow, the Common Ground festival and the Calgary Fringe Festival being some of the most notable – but I tend to take the summer off to regroup and nourish my artistic spirit… by reading a ton of books, laying in the sun and taking fitness classes, I guess? I don’t know… and I actually started rehearsing my current show during August this year so I’m really just rambling now.

tl;dr – Theatre is back and I’m back.

Speaking of the Fringe Festival, the first show I’m writing about this year is one of those stunning Fringe Festival success stories that every theatre artist dreams of happening for them. Fifteen years ago Trey Anthony created ‘da Kink In My Hair for the Toronto Fringe Festival because she was determined to create the type of roles she deserved to play rather than accepting the type of roles that were being offered to her – and it became a runaway hit with productions in the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, across the US and London, and even a tv series. The Theatre Calgary production runs until October 1 and then transfers to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

In the interest of complete honesty, I was surprised by how much I related to this show. When I was a teenager, I was always trying to relate to shows that actually had nothing to do with my lovely Newmarket existence and since I was a teenager in the GTA in 2001, I sort of figured that ‘da Kink In My Hair fit into that box without ever having actually seen it. In the grand tradition of “Erin walking into the theatre with preconceived notions”, I was wrong and I’m very pleased. Bits and pieces of every one of the women resonated with me and Virgilia Griffith as Stacey-Anne absolutely stole the show, leaving me with a lump in my throat as she embodied such a real and joyous little girl. For the skeptics out there, the show does get a little bit “Fringe show”-y as it hits every single “big issue” but the performances are full of such heart and are so honest that I was able to fully put aside my inner skeptic and give in to the story.

It’s terribly on brand for me to love this show – after all, my theatre company was also developed to give a voice to all the incredible young female artists I know – but ‘da Kink was transformative and is important. To horribly paraphrase Craig Finn talking about the experience of performing music… There is so much joy in what they do up there.

‘da Kink In My Hair is a musical in its purest sense – as I remember so many of my best teachers saying, a show should happen in a musical when the feelings get too strong for mere words and you have to sing them instead. That is exactly where the songs in ‘da Kink spring from and though I didn’t walk away singing any of the tunes, I was completely carried away by each of them. (And, confession: I do sometimes catch myself humming “What am I gonna do with this hair? My hair my hair my hair…” as I try to wrangle my hair into a cute 1939 style for my show.) All the women have beautiful voices but Krystle Chance as Sharmaine in particular is just absolutely stunning. Her second act solo is a true standout.

‘da Kink In My Hair is a strong season opener and an interesting choice for a transitional season (Dennis Garnham has stepped down as TC Artistic Director and Shari Wattling has stepped in as Interim Artistic Director). It runs until October 1, 2016 and you can get tickets here… after you come to see my current show, which also closes on Oct 1 and I will be writing about very very soon.

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