Photo shoot with Lisa MacIntosh


Former bloggergal for Alumnae Theatre, Cathy McKim (also a scenic artist, most recently for The Lady’s Not For Burning in January; AND an actor – Wit and Lady Windermere’s Fan, among others) had a photo shoot in the Studio.

Originally posted on life with more cowbell:

Had so much fun on Saturday, spending the early afternoon with photographer Lisa MacIntosh and makeup artist Rebecca Kupferstein up in the Studio at Alumnae Theatre for my white tie and tails vintage photo shoot.

Inspired by Lisa’s shoot with actress Kate Drummond, who sported a fab vintage look, as well as my experience playing Cecil Graham in Alumnae’s production of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan several years ago, I decided to go with a period look as a male impersonator, in white tie and tails. For the makeup, we were inspired by Julie Andrews as Victor in Victor/Victoria.

Here are some select pics from the shoot. Thanks so much to Lisa and Rebecca for their beautiful work!

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April 15, 2014 · 11:15 pm

Raves for “Rabbit Hole”

It’s a tough sell – any play about grief or loss or terminal illness… you get the picture.  A play about parents dealing with the barely-comprehensible tragedy of losing a child, well it takes a brave audience to go there.

Full disclosure:  I am not a parent.  As an actor, I did audition for the role of Becca, the grieving mother in Rabbit Hole, because it’s a fantastic part and I absolutely adored David Lindsay-Abaire’s script, which deservedly won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007.

Alumnae Theatre Company’s production, directed by Paul Hardy, just opened on Friday (April 11), and the audience response after only two performances has been amazing.  Here are a few samples:

“Beautifully acted, elegantly directed production of a moving play. Don’t miss it!”

“…a very moving and often unexpectedly hilarious show!”

“This play was sooo good! Really powerful and real, very sad but funny too. Loved it, highly recommend it!”

“…a brilliant play… It is poignant yet there is a wonderful levity to it too, despite its dark subject matter. The themes and subtext have been rolling around in my brain since I watched it last night… a great production.”

“A talented cast. Very well done.”

“So much substance! So much food! So good! Last night I fell down the Rabbit Hole at Alumnae Theatre and I will be digesting for some time. Go!”

Yes, go!  You will be transported into the family life of Becca (Paula Schultz) and Howie (Cameron Johnston), eight months after the sudden death of their only child, 4-year old Danny.   The actors, including Joanne Sarazen as Becca’s sister Izzy and Sheila Russell as their mother Nat, are perfectly real.  It’s like you know these people; you’re sitting in their very real kitchen (kudos to set designer Jacqueline Costa and the tech wizards who arranged running water onstage!) or sunken living room  eating cake and chatting.  Schultz has the brittle, dry-eyed quality of a woman barely holding it together as she navigates the pointless wasteland her life has become.  When she accuses her husband of thinking she’s “not grieving enough for you”, you can feel the pain of both parents.

Must particularly mention the scene transitions.  Sometimes they can be awkward moments in semi-darkness when actors or stagehands move furniture or place props for the next scene.  In this production of Rabbit Hole,  Hardy has the actors smoothly pick up props, replace a chair into position, etc.  in a sort of gentle dream-state. Meanwhile, Angus Barlow’s original compositions perfectly underscore the moment. As Hardy hoped, “the music is like a character onstage who speaks when silence falls over the performers.”   Exactly.  The silent moment at the end of the play is just stunning.

So’s the whole thing, actually. But you can see for yourself – Rabbit Hole runs to April 26.  Tickets can be purchased online at, or check the site for other options.  There’s a 2pm matinee today – no reservations required, and it’s PWYC.  RUN!

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“Rabbit Hole” opens on Friday!

David Lindsay-Abaire (don’t sneer – he was born David Abaire in working-class South Boston, but he and his wife, an actress formerly known as Christine Lindsay, both use the hyphenated surname) won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Rabbit Hole. This play was quite a departure for him – his previous works tended to be dark comedies – Fuddy Meers, Kimberly Akimbo, Wonder of the World – and although they “did mostly really well” , the playwright noted that “certain critics dismissed them out of hand for being ridiculous and absurdist and cartoon-y.”

He attended prestigious schools like Julliard and Sarah Lawrence College on scholarship. At Julliard, his instructors included playwrights Christopher Durang and Marsha Norman. It was Norman who urged him to “write about what scares you most”. At the time, Lindsay-Abaire was in his early 20s and “honestly didn’t know what that was”.  But after the birth of his son, he heard stories of parents who had lost a child. “I put myself in their shoes — and I experienced fear in a way I never had“, he says. The result was the award-winning Rabbit Hole, which allowed Lindsay-Abaire to “flex muscles I’d never used before as a writer. I had this whole new toolbox at my disposal.”

A few years later, he adapted his play into a screenplay. The 2010 film starred Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as the grieving parents.

Rabbit Hole-website bannerPaul Hardy directs this production of Rabbit Hole for Alumnae Theatre Company. I asked him about the design concepts and he responded:

Our design goals with Rabbit Hole were to create as much detailed reality inside of the theatre as possible. The general concept of the set [designed by Jacqueline Costa] was a dollhouse.  We hoped to create the perception of looking inside a real house – as though the walls have been lifted.

[Composer/Sound Designer] Angus [Barlow] created music based on iconic synth-based film soundtracks of the 90’s. American Beauty, Six Feet Under, and True Romance served as inspiration for me.  We hoped the music would give help us keep the energy of the scenes thoughout the changes. It’s like a character onstage who speaks when silence falls over the performers.

Rabbit Hole - Becca & Izzy

Rehearsal photo (taken by director Paul Hardy) of Alumnae Theatre Company’s production of “Rabbit Hole”. Paula Schultz as Becca; Joanne Sarazen (on stairs) as Izzy.

I haven’t seen any rehearsals but have peeked in at the impressive dollhouse-like set (with an upstairs level!), and absolutely adored the script. It was smart and spare, and so real. It’s easy to imagine you know these people – Becca and Howie, struggling to come to terms with this tragedy (the play begins 8 months after their son’s death) and figure out how they can relate to each other although they show their grief in different ways.   Becca’s party-girl sister Izzy, who’s got more depth than one might initially think. Becca’s mother Nat, who tries to comfort her bereaved daughter and just can’t do it right.  And Jason, the boy who – well, anyway…

The Author’s Note in the script made me laugh.  “It’s a sad play,” he writes. “Don’t make it any sadder than it needs to be.  Avoid sentimentality and histrionics at all costs…. there are, I hope, many funny parts in the play. They are important. Especially to the audience… Don’t ignore the jokes. They are your friends.”

So do enjoy Rabbit Hole, and do laugh at the jokes. It runs April 11 – 26, with performances Wed – Sat at 8pm; Sundays at 2pm. There’s a Talkback with cast and director following the matinee on April 20.

Purchase tickets online at; or reserve at 416-364-4170, xtn 1 and pay cash (2-for-1 Wed; $20 Thu/Fri/Sat; PWYC Sun) at Box Office.


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Perception, alternate & artificial realities, & memories masked in New Ideas Week Three program


Actor Dana Thody (who played Marjorie in Simprov) tweeted last night:

“Our director is awesome. She even stepped into a role tonight. The show must go on. “

Normally the role is played by a man, Michael Scott.  With director Stephanie Williams in the part, it would have given that play  a whole other layer…

Originally posted on life with more cowbell:

NIF2014-banner-1024x725Another exceptionally strong program of short plays at Alumnae Theatre Company’s New Ideas Festival (NIF) this week – Week Three, the final week of the fest.

Here’s what’s on the menu for Week Three:

Polish Your Pole, performed by Brenda Somers, is a hilariously funny, innuendo-filled pre-show piece in the upper lobby, featuring – you guessed it – what remains of the Firehall No. 4 fire pole across from the box office. Somers is brilliant in this very short piece, an added big fun element of the fest with one final performance tonight at 7:30 p.m. Always thought that pole was going underutilized. And it now has a name.

Airport Tale,by Carol Libman and directed by Carys Lewis, has a travelling senior citizen getting some life advice from an unlikely source when she’s detained at the airport. Jane Carnwath is a delight as the feisty, no nonsense Evalina…

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Lost youth, family secrets, modern-day parable & silence speaking volumes in New Ideas Week Two program


Review of Week Two lineup of the New Ideas Festival 2014.

Originally posted on life with more cowbell:

NIF2014-banner-1024x725Back at Alumnae Theatre for the Week Two program of the New Ideas Festival last night – and this is a very strong program, featuring four excellent – and very different – plays.

The Living Library, by Linda McCready and directed by Stacy Halloran is a delightfully funny two-hander about a young woman who comes to the library to take advantage of the Living Library Program to borrow a “living book” for a career conversation. Ann Marie Krytiuk is a treat as the energetic and driven, but lost, Sylvia; and Scott Moulton is marvelous as her interview subject, senior policy analyst Tom.

Better Angels: A Parable, by Andrea Scott and directed by Pomme J-Corvellec, uses both multi-media and traditional storytelling to great effect to present a modern-day morality tale. Akosua Mans (Keriece Harris), a young woman from Ghana who dreams of a better life in Canada, takes a…

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MooneyOnTheatre article: The history of New Ideas Festival – right up to the present

MooneyOnTheatre did a fascinating in-depth interview with this year’s New Ideas co-Artistic Producers  Pat McCarthy and Carolyn Zapf, plus Festival co-founder Molly Thom, and one of this year’s featured playwrights, Charles Hayter.

The article includes a pointed paragraph about the differences between “amateur” and “professional “  in theatre, especially as those definitions relate to the Alumnae.

Alumnae Theatre, 2013

Alumnae Theatre, 2013

Turns out the differences are not that many!


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New Ideas Festival 2014 – Week Two starts on Wednesday

Happy  St. Patrick’s Day!  If you’re planning the week ahead, how about checking in at Alumnae Theatre for Week Two of our 26th annual New Ideas Festival?   Week One closed on Sunday (with a sold-out matinee), and a whole different lineup of world premiere short plays will be presented for your viewing pleasure this week, and another one next week.  They are the best of 96 submissions received from Ontario, B.C., Manitoba, P.E.I., New York, California, and England.

If you enjoyed Joan Burrows’ Willow Quartet (published in 2013 by Playwrights Canada Press, and with several Toronto productions since its 2011 premiere) or her Gloria’s Guy  (produced in Alumnae’s FireWorks series last November), you’ll be delighted to see the first scenes from her new play, Brockfest this week.

Andrea Scott’s name may be familiar – her play Eating Pomegranates Naked was a staged reading in New Ideas 2012, and was then produced at SummerWorks in 2013, where it won the RBC Arts Professional Award.

Other returning names are director Pomme J-Corvelec (last year she directed Catherine Frid’s Over the Edge)  and Steph Ouaknine (a director last year for Adrianna Prosser’s Everything but the Cat; this year a projection designer) – both working on Andrea Scott’s play.

So the WEEK TWO lineup (March 19-23, 2014) is:

The Living Library  (by Linda McCready, directed by Stacy Halloran).   A young woman in search of a career path borrows a “human book” for an open conversation.
Cast: Anne-Marie Krytiuk, Scott Moulton. Better Angels: A Parable (by Andrea Scott, directed by Pomme J-Corvellec).   A young African woman comes to Canada as a domestic worker, and finds a special kind of hell tailored just for her.                                 Cast: Daniel De Pas, Keriece Harris, Hilary Hart.  The Shimmering Odessa Building or Whatever  (by Judith Upjohn, directed by Zoe Erwin-Longstaff).   Along a Great Lake ravaged by drought, three young literary tech-savvy hipsters drive toward their intended demise.                                                               Cast: Tiana Asperjan, Sharon Belle, Janice Yang.

Brockfest  (by Joan Burrows, directed by Eric Benson).  Kitty doesn’t want to be an American anymore, but will the U.S. government pursue dual citizens living in Canada for back taxes? Cast: Justen Bennett, Liz Best, David Borwick, Andrea Lyons, John Marcucci.

SATURDAY STAGED READING at noon only:  Radical  (by Charles Hayter, directed by Darcy Stoop).   The true story of pioneering Toronto cancer specialist Dr. Vera Peters’ brave fight against the medical establishment, which changed the course of breast cancer treatment in North America.  Catch the full production in the Toronto Fringe this summer – dates & venue TBA.
Cast: Neil Affleck, Sheila Russell, Anne Shepherd, Andrew Siwik, Jane Smythe.


SHOWTIMES:  Wed – Sat at 8pm, Sat & Sun matinees at 2:30.  On Saturday March 22 at noon, there will be a one-time staged reading of Radical by Charles Hayter.

TICKETS:  $15 for the weekly program (all four short plays in one night – or matinee).  The reading is PWYC.  Festival Passes ($40 for everything including readings) are still available.

RESERVATIONS/PURCHASES: for online purchases.  Please note that if you have a Festival Pass, you must also make reservations for the specific dates you wish to attend.

To reserve, e-mail or leave a message at 416-364-4170 xtn 1.

If you prefer to pay in person, make a reservation by e-mail or phone, and pay cash when you arrive.  The Box Office does not accept credit or debit cards.  See you at the theatre!

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