Tag Archives: Andy Fraser

An erotic, moving & sharply funny piece of storytelling in Aromas

Running in the Studio only until May 2!
Purchase tickets via T.O. Tix, or cash at the door.

life with more cowbell

Aromas 4 Andy Fraser in Aromas – photo by Tim Leyes

It was back to Alumnae Theatre last night, in the Studio this time for the world premiere of the Junes Company’s production of Aromas, written/directed by Andrew Faiz, and starring Andy Fraser. I saw this compelling one-person show when an earlier draft of the play was produced at Red Sandcastle Theatre in September 2014.

Aromas is a solo show that features an ensemble cast of characters, mainly Katalin and her alter-ego Chanel. Ice skater, dancer and party girl Katalin grows bored of her dream job performing with a Swan Lake touring company and stumbles upon the opportunity for a career change – and her working persona Chanel, a professional sex worker, is born.

Throughout her world travels and encounters with diverse people – some of whom have come from extremely harsh and horrific situations, including her Eastern European immigrant parents…

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Aromas: A play about Sexuality, Spirituality and the Self

Now running in the 3rd floor Studio at Alumnae Theatre until May 2:
Aromas by Andrew Faiz, starring Andy Fraser. Described as “A play about sexuality [Andy Fraser plays an escort named Chanel], spirituality and self”, it’s a stunningly lovely solo piece.

This short remount (it previously appeared at Red Sandcastle Theatre last fall) runs only April 28 – May 2, so don’t miss it!

Go to https://totix.ticketpro.ca/?lang=en&server=ww2#def_1110682067 to purchase tickets.

http://aromastheplay.com/

Aromas -- Sex is never just about sex

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Aromas — one woman, many characters, many personalities.

Opens April 28th, 8pm. Alumnae Theatre Studio, 70 Berkeley St.

TOTix.ca

Aromas — a play about Sexuality, Spirituality and the Self 

“What great theatre is all about.” — The Theatre Review

Follow Katalin as she travels around the world, from Dubai to Japan to home, with hints of many stops in-between. She lives in hotel rooms; open the door and she’s in Kentucky, open the door and she’s in Copenhagen. She visits museums and mosques, galleries and churches. She dances, on ice, and on a small stage with a brass pole. She is everything to everybody, in search of herself.

“Andrew Faiz has written and directed a nuanced, thoughtful and intellectually challenging monologue. Andy Fraser gives a very subtle and controlled performance.” — Sprockets and Greasepaint.

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 2.33.12 PMThe incomparable Andy Fraser is at the core of this emotionally riveting onewoman play, inhabiting Katalin…

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Audition notice: “Willow Quartet” (Village Players)

The Village Players are auditioning actors Oct 24 & 25 for Joan Burrows‘  touching play Willow QuartetWillow QuartetIt won The Playwrights of Spring award in 2009 and was workshopped at Theatre Aurora.   The full production premiered at The Papermill Theatre in Toronto in late 2011, directed by [Alumnae Theatre Company member] Jane Carnwath, and featuring Patricia Casey, Andy Fraser, John Healy,  and Chris Owens.   It was produced at The Curtain Club in Richmond Hill in the spring of 2012, and the script was published by Playwrights Canada Press earlier this year.

Here’s the audition notice from Village Players.

THE VILLAGE PLAYERS, BLOOR WEST VILLAGE

WILLOW QUARTET

By Joan Burrows

Directed by Maureen E. Thornton

 Performance Dates:  January 10 – February 1, 2014

Auditions will be held at the Village Playhouse, 2190 Bloor St. W.

                Thursday, October 24, 2013:  7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Saturday, October 25, 2013:  10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Call backs:  Monday, October 28 from 7:00 pm

A husband, wife and grandmother are still recovering from the death of the youngest member of the family two years previously, that had everybody blaming themselves and one another.

The arrival of a violinist from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, who is billeted with the family during a smalltown Arts Fair,  sets events in motion.

 ROLES:

Ben: Mid forties. Ben is a mechanic and married to Kim. Is Josh’s father.

Kim: Age comparable to Ben, she is his estranged wife and the mother of Josh.

Marjorie:  Kim’s mother and Josh’s grandmother.

Jim:  First Violin, Toronto Symphony Orchestra billeted with Kim during the festival. Comparable in age to Ben and Kim.

It is imperative that you read the script before the audition dates. Excerpts from the play will be available for actors to read at the audition. Please bring a resume and headshot – a photocopy will do. The script is on reserve at the Performing Arts Desk, 5th floor, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street.

  For an audition appointment please contact Steve at stvnm@live.com or phone 647-880-2914

Please note:  this is a non-Equity, non-paying production.

Village Playhouse is located one block east of the Runnymede subway station in Toronto.

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Meet the cast of “A Woman of No Importance” – part 4

Lady Caroline speaks!  Gillian English weighs in with her character’s view on  marriage, 1980’s morals, and the infamous gold pleather pants.

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Lady Caroline Pontefract (Gillian English) and her friend Lady Hunstanton (Andy Fraser) in "A Woman of No Importance".  Alumnae Theatre Company, Jan 25 - Feb 9, 2013.  Photo: Bruce Peters

Lady Caroline Pontefract (Gillian English) and her friend Lady Hunstanton (Andy Fraser) in “A Woman of No Importance”. Alumnae Theatre Company, Jan 25 – Feb 9, 2013. Photo: Bruce Peters

Q #1:      Who do you play in A Woman of No Importance?  Tell us a little about your character.

GILLIAN ENGLISH:  I play Lady Caroline Pontefract, Lady Hunstanton’s [Andy Fraser] best friend. She’s very quick, very witty and incredibly sure of her position in society. However, she is on her 4th marriage, and all of her bad luck in love seems to have made the poor dear insecure. Although, with the way Sir John [Michael Vitorovich] behaves, it’s not unwarranted.

Q #2:      Director Paul Hardy has changed the setting of the play from the 1890’s (which is when Oscar Wilde wrote it) to the 1980’s.  What surprised you about making the time switch?  Did you discover issues or social mores that were surprisingly similar (or not) almost 100 years apart?

GILLIAN ENGLISH:   Lady Caroline fits in perfectly in the 1980s. It doesn’t matter if the rest of society has grown past certain social issues that would have been taboo in the 1890s; everything is a big deal to Lady Caroline. If everyone became moral and good, there’d be nothing to gossip about.

Q #3:      Can you relate any anecdotes from rehearsal (e.g: : another actor – in character or out – doing something unexpected)?

GILLIAN ENGLISH:    During one of our final rehearsals before we opened, James [James Graham, as the politician Mr. Kelvil – or “Mr. Kettle”, as Lady Caroline insists on referring to him] and Amy [Amy Zuch, as flirty/ditzy Lady Stutfield] really committed to their Act 3 entrance and James fell headlong onto the stage. I’m very glad I was offstage for that occurrence. Jason Thompson [who plays Archdeacon Daubeny] never makes a weak choice, so it’s never a wise idea to look him straight in the eye on stage, because you will corpse**; or at least I will, I don’t know you.

We always warm up as a group before a run, and once we did an exercise with some deep knee bends. By the time places were called, I was completely stuck to the inside of my pleather pants. It was a very uncomfortable first act.  Speaking of those pants, I can’t actually move when I sit down on the set chairs, because the pleather sticks to the plastic. If I have to pivot or move, I have to actually pick my butt up and swing it around. It’s very feminine.
Q #4:      Do you have a favourite line or moment from the play – yours or anyone else’s?

GILLIAN ENGLISH:   I love when Gerald [played by Nicholas Porteous] says “Hello mother!” at the end of Act 4, it’s adorable. And Mrs. Allonby’s [Paula Schultz] exchange about Patagonia is hilarious, especially because she’s so drunk. And, Mrs. Arbuthnot’s [Áine Magennis] unintentional Brandy and Monica reference when she says “The boy is mine” in Act 2.

**”to corpse”:  theatre lingo for busting out in inappropriate mirth.

Blame costume designer Brandon Kleiman for the pleather pants.

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Lord Illingworth trapped in bathroom

As promised: the photographic evidence of Sunday’s excitement.  On Sunday (Jan 20), the cast of A Woman of No Importance, which opens on Friday Jan 25, had a rehearsal.   After running through the long first half of the play (it’s not really “half” – was written by Oscar Wilde as Acts I, II and III, but we’d call them “scenes” these days.  I’m calling it “half” although it’s 90 mins long because that’s the section before intermission.  Second “half” only runs about 30 mins), actor Andrew Batten (playing caddish Lord Illingworth) took a bathroom break.   When the time came to run the second half of the play, he was not to be found.  What, no one heard his pathetic cries for help; the desperate pounding on the locked door that wouldn’t open?

Well, someone eventually heard him or thought to check the bathroom, and Mike Vitorovich (Sir John Pontefract) broke the door frame in order to free his castmate.  Andy Fraser (Lady Hunstanton) went to a nearby hardware store to purchase a new door handle/locking mechanism.

In the photo, Andrew is the guy bending down, wearing a green or grey sweater.  I’m guessing that the unattached khaki-clad legs belong to Mike.  Jason Thompson (Archdeacon Daubeny) is observing from the doorway.  Thanks to Gillian English (Lady Caroline Pontefract) for the photo.

https://twitter.com/Gillian_English/status/293133052425674753/photo/1

If you can’t see the photo, Alumnae re-tweeted from Gillian: check out @alumnaetheatre.

Any eyewitness clarifications to the events of Sunday would be welcome!

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Meet the cast of “A Woman of No Importance” – part 1

Alumnae Theatre Company’s production of Oscar Wilde’s social satire A Woman of No Importance opens on Friday, January 25.  To get audiences somewhat up to speed, I posed a few questions to the cast.  Here’s the first installment – more to follow, as they submit their responses.

What's a little intrigue between friends? Our upper class of characters bandy politics and morals.  L-R:  Lord Illingworth (Andrew Batten), Mrs. Allonby (Paula Schultz), Lady Caroline Pontrefact (Gillian English, in back row), Sir John Pontefract (Michael Vitorovich), Mrs. Arbuthnot (Áine Magennis), Lady Hunstanton (Andy Fraser, in back row), Lady Stutfield (Amy Zuch, in pink jacket), Mr. Kelvil (James Graham), Farquhar the butler (Daniel Staseff, with tray), Frances the maid (Kathleen Pollard), Archdeacon Daubeny (Jason Thompson), and in FRONT ROW: Gerald Arbuthnot (Nicholas Porteous), Miss Hester Worsley (Sophia Fabiili).

What’s a little intrigue between friends? Our upper class of characters bandy politics and morals. L-R: Lord Illingworth (Andrew Batten), Mrs. Allonby (Paula Schultz), Lady Caroline Pontefract (Gillian English, in back row), Sir John Pontefract (Michael Vitorovich), Mrs. Arbuthnot (Áine Magennis), Lady Hunstanton (Andy Fraser, in back row), Lady Stutfield (Amy Zuch, in pink jacket), Mr. Kelvil (James Graham), Farquhar the butler (Daniel Staseff, with tray), Frances the maid (Kathleen Pollard), Archdeacon Daubeny (Jason Thompson), and in FRONT ROW: Gerald Arbuthnot (Nicholas Porteous), Miss Hester Worsley (Sophia Fabiilli).

Q #1:     Who do you play in A Woman of No Importance?  Tell us a little about your character.

Lord Illingworth (Andrew Batten) flirts with his favourite sparring partner, Mrs. Allonby (Paula Schultz):  "Nothing spoils a romance so much as a sense of humour in the woman."

Lord Illingworth (Andrew Batten) flirts with his favourite sparring partner, Mrs. Allonby (Paula Schultz): “Nothing spoils a romance so much as a sense of humour in the woman.”

ANDREW BATTEN:  I play Lord Illingworth, who I think is really the hero of the whole piece.  Humble, self-effacing, warm, kind – he’s really a remarkable guy.  Some of the other actors seem a bit confused about his character – words like “lech”, “misogynist” and “icky” have been used.  I’m not exactly sure where they’re coming from, but we’re all professionals and I’m sure all the misunderstandings will be ironed out by opening night.

ANDY FRASER:  I play Lady Hunstanton – she thinks of herself not as shallow (see question #4), but as “very practical – and terribly helpful!”

NICHOLAS PORTEOUS:  I play Gerald Arbuthnot.  At first he appears to be a simple, fresh-faced and hopeful young lad with a spring in his step and a song in his heart.  As the play continues, he’s forced to question his most fundamental values. He starts off very Disney and becomes something much more complicated.

Q #2:     Director Paul Hardy has changed the period setting of the play from the 1890’s (which is when Oscar Wilde wrote it) to the 1980’s.  What surprised you about making the time switch?  Did you discover issues or social mores that were surprisingly similar (or not) almost 100 years apart?

ANDREW BATTEN:  I’m surprised by the continued relevance of Elton John’s music.  Apparently Elton wrote the original version of “Tiny Dancer” in 1891, but it was still very popular throughout the 1980’s.  I’ve heard a rumour that the secret to Sir Elton’s eternal life was the sale of his soul to Disney Corp., but I don’t know any of the details.

Q #3:     Can you relate any anecdotes from rehearsal (e.g: : another actor – in character or out – doing something unexpected)?

ANDREW BATTEN: No-one ever really knows what Jason [Jason Thompson, who plays Archdeacon Daubeny] is going to do.  He puts the bold in bold choices.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do the entire show with a raw turkey on his head.

NICHOLAS PORTEOUS:  For one run Paul gave Jason a note to play his character Dr. Daubeny a bit more drug-addled. He ran with it so hard that every character in the room appeared almost as high and delighted as he was. The spontaneous mirror-exercise with Lady Hunstanton was the “high”light.

Archdeacon Daubeny (Jason Thompson- far right) expounds about his saintly wife to anyone who will listen - Farquhar the butler (Daniel Staseff, left), Frances the maid (Kathleen Pollard), and Lady Hunstanton (Andy Fraser):  "Her deafness is a great privation to her. She can't even hear my sermons now."Photo: Bruce Peters

Archdeacon Daubeny (Jason Thompson- far right) expounds about his saintly wife to anyone who will listen – Farquhar the butler (Daniel Staseff, left), Frances the maid (Kathleen Pollard), and Lady Hunstanton (Andy Fraser): “Her deafness is a great privation to her. She can’t even hear my sermons now.”
Photo: Bruce Peters

Q #4:     Do you have a favourite line or moment from the play – yours or anyone else’s?

ANDREW BATTEN:  I really like Nic’s [Nicholas Porteous, playing Gerald Arbuthnot, son of the “Woman” of the play title] line “You know I love Hester Worsley.  Who could help loving her?” just because every time he says it Sophia [Sophia Fabiilli, as Hester] floats a few inches higher off the floor.  Also, I like every time someone says something nice about Lord Illingworth because it makes me feel like they’re finally figuring the character out (see response to question #1).

ANDY FRASER:   My favourite line (my own) is “My dear young lady, there was a great deal of truth, I dare say, in what you said, and you looked very pretty while you said it, which is much more important.”

NICHOLAS PORTEOUS:   I have to give a shout-out to “He picked up the cudgel for that pretty prude with wonderful promptitude.” Half of the amazingness of this line is that it doesn’t even need to be interesting. It shows how unstoppably clever Lord Illingworth is, even when describing his own embarrassing scandals. He can’t help it.

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Hmmm.  Since two of his castmates have now mentioned him,  doesn’t that make you curious to see just what exactly the notorious Jason Thompson gets up to onstage? Let’s hope we hear from the man himself next!  And don’t forget to reserve tickets: reservations@alumnaetheatre.com

 

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“The Drowning Girls” Talkback, Nov 25

Following yesterday’s matinee performance, about half of the almost-sold-out audience opted to stay for a 25-minute Talkback with director Taryn Jorgenson and the cast of The Drowning Girls.

“The Drowning Girls” director Taryn Jorgenson gives the Talkback audience the historical facts behind the case of George Joseph Smith and the “Brides in the Bath”. Photo: Cathy McKim

While the girls got dried off in the dressing room downstairs, Taryn shared the historical facts and fielded questions about the true story of George Joseph Smith and his murdered brides.  See previous posts https://alumnaetheatre.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/the-drowning-girls-a-real-life-edwardian-version-of-csi-part-i/ andhttps://alumnaetheatre.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/oct-3112-the-drowning-girls-a-real-life-edwardian-version-of-csi-part-2/

One thing Taryn mentioned, which I had not previously caught, was that Alice (Jennifer Neales) portrays Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Neil in the play!  Neil investigated the serial killer George Joseph Smith, and eventually arrested him.

A sampling of audience questions:

Q:           Did this story happen in Canada or England?  Why do the brides not have English accents?

A:            It happened in England, but the playwrights (Beth Graham, Daniela Vlaskalic, Charlie Tomlinson) are Canadian, and the script specifies that the brides should not have accents.

Q:           How did the writers find this story?

A:            I [Taryn] really don’t know!  Maybe they found it online – they were looking for a performance piece they could do, back in 1999 for the Edmonton Fringe…

Q:           How much guidance does the script give about the use of water in the production?

A:            The script says the showers are not mandatory, but water is essential.  I [Taryn] consider water to be the 4th character onstage.

Q:           It was so clear when the actors switched the characters they were playing – good flow.

A:            [producer Andy Fraser responded]  Set & Lighting designer Ed Rosing came up with the orange light to indicate George.  And of course the actors are great!

(Around this point, the now-dry actors – Jennifer Neales as Alice, Tennille Read as Bessie, and Emily Opal Smith as Margaret – joined the Talkback)

Q:           Is the water warm?

A:            Now it is!  [Bloggergal’s note:  It took some experimenting during rehearsal to consistently produce a comfortable temperature]  It ‘s piped from a bathroom backstage.

Q:           Were there any happy accidents – finding characters, etc. – in rehearsal?

A:            Yes, we found lots of stuff doing improvs.

JEN:  Figured out how to go from playing housemaid Jane [who erupts comically from tub during the scene with Alice’s mother and sister Amelia] to Scotland Yard’s Detective Neil – “13 steps to the gallows…”.

TENNILLE:  In the courtroom scene, the script mentions that only Margaret [portraying the “practiced swimmer” Miss Brighton] breaks character and is reluctant to enter the tub for crime re-enactment.  It was decided that we’d ALL break character.  [Bloggergal’s note:  it’s a brief but beautiful moment: we see Margaret hesitate to re-live her death, but the other two brides also break character – Bessie is portraying a court reporter; Alice the prosecuting  lawyer – and tenderly encourage her to continue, so she does.]

Q:           The timeline goes back and forth, flashbacks and so on.  Was that a problem?

A:            Yes, we had to be very clear in our own minds when certain events occurred.

Q:           Did any of you know each other before?

A:            No, we all met while working on this production.

Q:           After auditioning the actors, did you know who would play which role?

A:            [Taryn & Andy agree]  Yes, we immediately knew who was who.  This was our dream team!

Tennille Read, Emily Opal Smith, and Jennifer Neales at the post-show Talkback, of “The Drowning Girls”, Nov 25, 2012.
Photo: Cathy McKim

Taryn mentioned something that she thought the audience might be curious about:  Why did Smith kill only 3 of his wives, when he was married 7 times?  The answer may be that Bessie (whom he married in 1910) was the first of his wives who was rich.  He killed her (in 1912) and got away with it, so he just kept going.  There is some thought that he may have used hypnosis on the women – Margaret alludes to this when she realizes how out-of-character she is acting in marrying a man she has known so briefly.

Q:           What did Smith look like?

A:            There’s  a photo of him in the lobby display downstairs.

Q:           What did Margaret mean when she confessed to the other girls that she’d told Smith “everything” on their first meeting?  And what “mistake” was she not going to make again?

A:            [Emily]  Margaret’s previous ‘amour’ had been married, and that is what she spilled to Smith, but she had taken care to ensure that he was not married himself!

Q:           How early in the rehearsal process did you start working with water?

A:            About 3 weeks before opening.  It would have been sooner, but there were problems with temperature, tub seals, and paint from the floor transferring to actors!

Q:           Once you had water, did it change things for the actors?

A:            Yes, a lot!  They had to content with water streaming into their mouths and almost choking them, smearing makeup, etc.

TENNILLE:  Having water made a huge difference in the scene where I play George killing Margaret.  Before, it was like “OK, now she’s dead.” When we did it in water, I get to look down at her, and the splash when I pull her legs up – it’s chilling.”  [Bloggergal’s note:  yes, it is!]

 Q:           Loved that Taryn managed to keep the creep factor high, while still providing moments of humour.

Producer Andy Fraser interjected that her mother, on entering the space to see the splayed and apparently lifeless limbs cascading over the sides of the tubs, remarked “Where did you find such realistic mannequins?”  Then she shrieked when the actors moved to start the play!

Actor Jennifer Neales confided that the time lying in the tub [the actors are already in place when the audience enters, about 15 minutes prior to showtime] is an opportunity to de-compress and just “be Alice”.  Also, since her tub is closest to the audience entrance, she hears the reactions and comments: “I got an ‘oh, Jesus!’ the other day.”

Q:           How do you work with the props?  Do they all come from the tubs?

A:            The props are specified in the script, and are supposed to all come out of the tubs.  Some float, some are in little pockets.

Q:           What’s with the gravestones?

“The Drowning Girls” director Taryn Jorgenson and actor Tennille Read (Bessie), with Bessie’s gravestone and its “Good Bye” message visible in background.
Photo: Cathy McKim

A:            In the script, the

girls write on the floor.  But since the set design concept was that the tubs emerge from the ground like coffins, I took the literal and translated it to the metaphysical, and gave them each a gravestone.  Each girl writes a short phrase to her family – the actors decided what that would be.  [Bessie writes “Good bye”; Margaret writes “Don’t Forget”, and Alice writes “Miss You”]

Q:           Do you ever slip in the tubs?

A:            A few times.  We tried it with rubber bathmats, but some of the scenes (e.g:  Margaret’s death) wouldn’t work unless the tub was slippery.

Q:           Do you have favourites of the characters you portray in this show?

A:            JENNIFER – the lawyer.  He’s so quirky and wants to know everything.

EMILY – Miss Brighton.  She has only a few lines, but is so fun to play.  Oh, and wife #2 who says “You have laid siege to my heart” – when else would you ever get to say that?

TENNILLE – Dr. Billings [who examines Margaret, supposedly suffering from epilepsy].

Tennille also let the audience in on a little backstage ritual:  Emily has a warmup routine in which she counts to 10, using the voices of all her characters!

Fun things that happened at this matinee:

–                      An audible reaction from audience members entering the space (Alumnae’s 3rd floor Studio) and seeing the brides’ legs and arms draped lifelessly over tubs.

–                      Someone wondering aloud if the actors were ticklish!

–                      Gasp from audience when the showers drench the brides for the first time.

Thanks to all involved for a fantastic show and a wonderfully informative and entertaining Talkback!   And thanks to scenic artist Cathy McKim for the photos that accompany this post.

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