Maybe Tuesday


How are you doing, London theatre community?

It’s been kind of a given for the last two decades that you’re a strong, creative, and active bunch. But you’ve taken some hits in the last little while, and I know it sometimes seems like the whole world—or maybe just the city—is against you. Especially if you’re trying to find your first part, or produce your tenth show, or write your twenty-seventh script. The “theatre pubs” where you’d meet up with like-minded people have been torn down and replaced with condos (we love you, Morrissey House!); there’s a lot less available space to put on shows, not many open auditions, and the venues that are still around are jam-packed with their own programming; everything costs more, there’s less cash around from arts-backing organizations, and crowdfunding is just a different way to ask your family and friends for the

The 2018 Fringe Awards


On Wednesday evening, the annual TiLee Awards were announced from the stage of the Palace Theatre. The TiLees recognize a number of artists who participate in the London Fringe Festival, and are chosen by Theatre in’s team of volunteer reviewers, public vote, and Fringe Executive Producer Kathy Navackas.

To start the ceremony, festival associate producer Christine Gruenbauer presented the award for Favourite Visual Fringe Artist (chosen by Fringe patrons) to Lawrence Addison.

Theatre in editor Peter Janes then presented the eight awards chosen by the review team, who collectively saw and reviewed every show, nominated many for category shortlists, and then saw and voted for every show in the lists. The awards went to:

Outstanding Show
Police Cops
Outstanding Solo Performance
Jon Paterson in House
Outstanding Cast Performance
Patrick Hamilton, Brett Molik, and Daniel Newsom in Before the Fall
Outstanding Storytelling
How I Learned To Hug
Outstanding Variety

The 2017 Brickenden Awards

Catharine Brickenden

Hosts Rod Keith and Tyler Parr hosted the 2017 Brickenden Awards for Theatrical Excellence in London ceremony at the Wolf Performance Hall on Monday night. Celebrating the 2017 theatre season, the awards recognized companies and individuals in production- and performance-based categories.

The winners were:

Outstanding Comedy Production
Jenny’s House of Joy (London Community Players)
Outstanding Lighting Design
Stephen Mitchell, Red (Calithumpian Theatre Company)
Outstanding Sound Design
Graham Mennie and Peter Mennie, Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens (LINK Theatre)
Outstanding Youth Musical
Chicago – The Musical (Original Kids Theatre Company)
Outstanding Youth Drama
Concord Floral (Beal Drama)
Outstanding Male Actor – Youth
Justin Eddy (Pippin, Beal Musical Theatre)
Outstanding Female Actor – Youth
Caitlin Cahill (Chicago, Original Kids Theatre Company)
Outstanding Set Design
Laura Sepulveda, Red (Calithumpian Theatre Company)
Outstanding Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Charlene McNabb, “Frances”, Jenny’s House of Joy (London Community Players)

The 2017 Fringe Awards


The TiLee Awards were announced at the Palace Theatre on Thursday evening, along with a host of 5- and 10-year volunteer recognitions. Award recipients took home Walter Sayers-designed baseball caps similar to the well-worn one pictured here.

Theatre in’s team of volunteer reviewers chose winners in six categories:

Outstanding Show
The Morning After the Life Before
Outstanding Solo Performance
Fool Muun Komming!
Outstanding Cast Performance
Conversations Never Had
Fringiest Show
The Merkin Sisters
Outstanding Technical Achievement
Fish Saw
Outstanding Ballyhoo

The Favourite Visual Fringe artist, chosen by Fringe patrons, was presented to Vanessa Vanderidder by Associate Producer Christine Gruenbauer. Gruenbauer and board member Chris Bennett also presented the volunteer awards.

Executive Producer Kathy Navackas presented the Impresario awards, for highest ticket sales at each venue, to Irena Sendler: Rescuing the Rescuers, Forget Me Not, Bella Culpa, Jon Bennett: My Dad’s Deaths, Riding Hood, …

Entering Eight Worlds a Night: PlayWrights Cabaret 2017

Jeff Culbert and Carolyn Nesbitt-Larking / © 2017 Bob Klanac

When the lights go down on a theatre stage, an audience knows they are going to be transported into a world for a few hours.

That’s the norm.

This weekend, however, those sitting in the McManus Theatre will be transported into 8 different worlds each night.

Eight stories per evening, eight different playwrights, two directors and a handful of actors will transfix audiences ten minutes at a time.

The annual PlayWrights Cabaret was the brainchild of former Grand Artistic Director Susan Ferley and has proven to be a gateway for fledgling playwrights into the world of theatre.

This year for example, London’s Carolyn Nesbitt-Larking makes her playwriting bow with Johannah, a play about the last ten minutes of Johannah (“Black”) Donnelly’s life.

Set in the burning farmhouse where she met her doom, Nesbitt-Larking says it’s about Johanna Donnelly confronting those people who put her down and saying her piece …

The New Grand

At a press conference this morning, the Grand Theatre’s new artistic director, Dennis Garnhum, and a selection of Canadian theatre artists announced the theatre’s new play development program, Compass. Described as an “opportunity for London… to be on the forefront of theatre in Canada”, it currently comprises five new works presenting “our stories on our stages”.

While four of the projects are at a very early phase of conception (two have creative teams attached, and the others are ideas formulated in the last six weeks), one—Vancouver playwright Trina Davies’ Silence: Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell—reveals the first hint of Garnhum’s programming for the 2017–2018 season. Told from Mabel’s perspective as a deaf woman, the play was developed at Theatre Calgary (where Garnhum was previously artistic director) and will be directed by Peter Hinton. The hints dropped about the innovative and modern presentation of this historical piece are …

The 2015 Brickenden Awards

Catharine Brickenden

The winners of the 2015 Brickenden Awards for Theatrical Excellence in London were announced at the Wolf Performance Hall on Monday night in a ceremony hosted by Rod Keith and Matt Loop. Celebrating the 2015 theatre season, the awards recognized productions and performances in a variety of different categories. New this year were awards for outstanding youth actors.

The winners were:

Outstanding Female Actor – Youth
Nadine Cruz, “Ti Moune”, Once On This Island (Original Kids Theatre Company)
Outstanding Male Actor – Youth
Ben Kopp, “Macbeth”, Macbeth (A. B. Lucas Secondary School)
Outstanding Comedy Production
Steel Magnolias (London Community Players)
Outstanding Lighting Design
Stephen Mitchell, Of Mice and Men (By the Book Theatre)
Outstanding Sound Design
Michael James Brown, The Rocky Horror Show (Pacheco Theatre)
Outstanding Youth Drama
Macbeth (A. B. Lucas Secondary School)
Outstanding Youth Musical
West Side Story (Beal Musical Theatre)
Outstanding Set Design
Rob Deman, Of Mice

Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys

Oh What a Night!

Having seen the Toronto production of Jersey Boys three times (touring cast, Canadian cast and once more for fun), I was a little worried that the current production at Budweiser Gardens wouldn’t live up to my memories.

No worries, this is such a strong cast that you forget you’re in an arena with a scaled down touring set. If you want to see this lively show that took the Tony award for the best musical in 2006 and you missed the Toronto production, be sure to take it in at Budweiser.

Jersey Boys is the story of Frankie Valli and …

The 2014 Brickenden Awards

Catharine Brickenden

The winners of the 2014 Brickenden Awards for Theatrical Excellence in London were announced at the Wolf Performance Hall tonight in a ceremony hosted by Harry Edison and Matt Loop. Celebrating the 2014 theatre season, the awards recognized productions and performances in sixteen different categories. (The outstanding ensemble performance, introduced last year, was retired, and there was an insufficient number of solo performances to award that category.)

The 2014 winners were:

Outstanding Drama
A Few Good Men, By the Book Theatre
Outstanding Comedy
Noises Off, London Community Players
Outstanding Musical
Evil Dead: The Musical, Iglesia Productions
Chris Doty Award (previously announced)
London Community Players
Outstanding Youth Drama
The Great Gatsby, Beal Drama
Outstanding Youth Musical
The Music Man, Beal Musical Theatre
Outstanding Original Script
Erin J. Walker, Shadfly, Tinkerspace Theatre
Outstanding Director
Mark Killeen, A Few Good Men, By the Book Theatre

Wally Duffield’s 2007 Chris Doty Award citation

The gentleman I’m honoured to introduce to you this evening, on behalf of the Brickenden Awards Committee, is known to everyone who attends almost any arts event in London! And I can tell you that he is loved by everyone. The accolades I’ve heard have been unanimously glowing in praise of his contributions to the arts and also of his delightful personality.

I’ve known Wally Duffield since the early ’70s. Back then Nonie Jeffery and Barbara Ivey held a meeting at Barbara’s house with plans to form a support group of volunteers for Theatre …

The 2014 Fringe Awards

London Fringe Festival 2014

The 2014 Fringe Awards were announced at tonight’s Fringe Fried awards ceremony. The “TiLees” baseball caps, featuring a new logo designed by Walter Sayers, were presented in eight categories; the first five, selected by Theatre in’s team of volunteer reviewers, went to:

Outstanding Show
High Tea
Outstanding Individual Performance
Jayson McDonald (World War Three)
Outstanding Cast (tie)
Concrete Kid
Judy: Stonewalled
Most Daring Show
I Hate Bill Pats
Funniest Show (tie)
2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Private Dick
God Is A Scottish Drag Queen

The Impresario category of awards is based on the highest ticket sales (i.e. actual dollar amount) at each venue. This year’s Impresario TiLees were presented to:

Venue 1
2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Private Dick
Venue 2
Ladies Room
Venue 3
God Is A Scottish Drag Queen
Venue 5
The Deception Hour
Venue 6
High Tea

The final two TiLees were presented by the Fringe …

London Fringe 15: Opening weekend reviews

London Fringe Festival 2014

As we’ve done for the last several years, Theatre in London will have a team of volunteers reviewing every show in the 15th London Fringe Festival over the opening weekend. Each review will initially be posted to the Fringe website, and they’ll all be archived here after the festival ends. Keep an eye on @theatreinlondon and the #ldnfringe hashtag on social media.

June 4: Due to a glitch in the Fringe website’s comment system, I’ll post the first few here. June 6: Comments are working on the Fringe site again. Go forth and have your say!

Academia Nuts

Academia Nuts is a well-acted piece about sexuality and academia that unfortunately falters thanks to a script too weak to stand.

Elements of the show were appreciable. It was good to see programs printed in Braille and diversity among cast members. The performances were good, or as convincing as they could …

Fringe Binge

London Fringe Festival 2014

To my knowledge, Wally Duffield and I are the only people crazy enough to have seen every show in a given year’s London Fringe Festival. (I’ve only done it once, despite trying for four years; Wally did several times.) It’s not necessarily the best way to see the Fringe—it’s surprising how tiring being entertained for ten straight days can be—but for those who are foolhardy enough to try, it is possible.

Bryan McLennon has come up with one way to see everything this year, and still have time left over:

all shows at Venue 6
all shows at Venue 5
Venue 2
Venue 1
Venue 3
Site A/B

Plus The NO Show each night. You could even fit in the two “bring-your-own-venue” sites on Saturday/Monday and have June 14 entirely free to experience the Dundas Street Festival and Nuit Blanche.

Nicely done, Fringe organizers!…

The 2013 Brickenden Awards

Catharine Brickenden

The winners of the 2013 Brickenden Awards for Theatrical Excellence in London were announced at the Wolf Performance Hall on Monday night in a ceremony hosted by Matt Loop and Jeff Werkmeister. Celebrating the 2013 theatre season, the awards recognized productions and performances in seventeen different categories. New this year were awards for outstanding ensemble performance and outstanding makeup design.

The winners were:

Outstanding Comedy Production
Vigil (A Missing Link Theatre Company)
Outstanding Lighting Design
Karl Goffin, Dream (Paradoxa Theatre Collective)
Outstanding Sound Design
Teighlor Thomson, Dream (Paradoxa Theatre Collective)
Outstanding Youth Drama
Flowers for Algernon (London District Christian Secondary School)
Outstanding Youth Musical
Monty Python’s Spamalot (Original Kids Theatre Company)
Outstanding Set Design
Rachel Dotterman, Ryan Cole, and Sarah Vitali, Dream (Paradoxa Theatre Collective)
Outstanding Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Jessica Ducharme, “Puck”, Dream (Paradoxa Theatre Collective)
Outstanding Original Script
Swing Dance, Lynda Martens
Outstanding Costume Design

Dish Awards 2013

The fifth annual Dish awards were announced last night; the results, as published in the London Free Press, are below. All non-musical awards were picked solely by Donald D’Haene; musical awards were decided by a panel comprising Lynn Davis, Sue Parkinson, Dennis Johns, Iain Paterson, and Charles Martin.

Best Sound, Musical
Rob Richardson, Blood Brothers, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School
Best Sound, Comedy/Drama
John Fellner (Original Music), Picnic at Hanging Rock, H.B. Beal Secondary School
Best Stage Manager, Musical
Stephanie Molloy, Oklahoma!, Musical Theatre Productions
Best Stage Manager, Comedy/Drama
Jen Leack, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Passionfool Theatre Company
Best Script
Lynda Martens, Swing Dance
Best Supporting Actor, Musical
Dale Hirlehey (Jud Fry), Oklahoma!, Musical Theatre Productions
Best Supporting Actor, Comedy/Drama
Colt Forgrave (Robert), Boeing, Boeing, Theatre Western
Best Set, Musical
Stephen Degenstein, Blood Brothers, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary

Stage fright

Doll's head / © 2008 KatherineDavis / CC-BY-SA-2.0

Two exemplars of the “Gothic” style have appeared in London theatres recently: James Reaney’s “Canadian Gothic” play The Easter Egg in May, and Tennessee Williams’ “Southern Gothic” Suddenly, Last Summer, currently in production at The ARTS Project. Both are excellent, effective reminders that the form’s full name is “Gothic horror”, making Suddenly a near-ideal play to produce at Halloween.

Gothic horror, introduced in the 18th century, pervades popular culture to this day, primarily through its monsters: vampires, Frankenstein’s creation, and Cthulhu, among others. While the more visual aspects easily translate to film, stage drama is often much better suited for the sort of creeping horror of Williams’ and Reaney’s work. The audience knows from near the beginning that something is up, and Gothic plays tease out their macabre secrets slowly until the full depravity of their situations are revealed, often with a character becoming completely swept up in a …

The 2013 Fringe Awards

Fringe Outbreak

The 2013 Fringe Awards were announced at tonight’s Fringe Fried awards ceremony, hosted by Michael James Brown. In a change from previous years, the awards were determined by Theatre in’s team of volunteer reviewers.

Outstanding show
Myra’s Story
Outstanding individual performance
Tara Travis (Til Death: The Six Wives of Henry VIII)
Outstanding cast
A Beautiful View
Most daring show
Funniest show
Be A Man

Two awards were presented by the Fringe festival staff: Spirit of the Fringe and the Producer’s Pick.

Spirit of the Fringe
Peter Janes
Producer’s Pick, chosen by Kathy Navackas
Tara Travis (Til Death: The Six Wives of Henry VIII) and Jeff Leard (The Show Must Go On)

All recipients were given caps, to be known as “Tillees”.

A number of achievements were also noted, ranging from “crackerjack” awards (to troupers with notable accomplishments during the festival, such as …

Fringe Impresario performances

Fringe Outbreak

The London Fringe Festival has announced this year’s Impresario shows:

All performances are on Sunday, June 16.

All tickets for each performance are available in advance, i.e. shows can be sold out. Tickets for all Impresario performances are $12 including service charges, and are available in person at the Fringe office or online; there are no telephone sales. Any unsold advance tickets for a performance will be available at its venue’s box office 45 minutes prior to the performance for $10, cash only. No passes of any kind (including comps, multi-ticket passes, trouper, Friend of Fringe, media, etc.) can be used for these special events.

Impresario performances are fundraisers for the London Fringe Festival. All proceeds are split 50-50 with the …

London Fringe 14: Opening weekend reviews

Fringe Outbreak

As has become tradition, a team of volunteers is reviewing all of the shows in the London Fringe Festival on behalf of Theatre in London over the opening weekend. Each review is initially posted to the Fringe website, and they’ll all be archived here after the festival ends. Keep an eye on @theatreinlondon on Twitter for links to each review, and watch for a 2013 edition of The Banner on Thursday.

2 for Tea

Not my bag

Tea, British humour and physical comedy: all the makings (in my opinion) for a brilliant show. Unfortunately, 2 for Tea fell short of that brilliance for me. It started weak and didn’t progress much beyond juvenile humour and utter silliness.

One part scripted, one part improv with added audience participation, 2 for Tea lives up to its “bizarre” description. A certain innocence makes the characters endearing, however I didn’t relate to them …

Dining out on Fringe 2013

Fringe Outbreak

The London Fringe Festival, this city’s annual smorgasbord of theatre, starts on Thursday, June 6, along with the opening of the always exciting Visual Fringe.

The numbers: nine venues, 45 shows, 350 performance times.

Ack, where to start??!!?

If you’re not busy on Wednesday night (for instance, attending the ReThink London event scheduled at the EXACT SAME TIME at the Wolf Performance Hall), attend the performers’ showcase, which starts at 7 p.m. at the London Convention Centre Theatre. Each theatre company will have a few minutes to introduce their shows, giving you a taste of most of the offerings.

Here are a few of my suggestions to start you off on this year’s buffet, based solely on performers’ previous work:

Keith Brown: Exchange (Venue 2): Magic performed by a talented young man who obviously loves what he does. Suspend your disbelief for a while.

Circle (Venue 3): …

The 2012 Brickenden Awards

Catharine Brickenden

The winners of the 2012 Brickenden Awards for Theatrical Excellence in London were announced at a nearly-sold-out ceremony on Monday night at London Public Library’s Wolf Performance Hall. Hosts Sookie Mei and Lesleigh Turner presided over the celebration of the 2012 theatre season, which featured performances by the cast of Saunders Secondary School’s Annie, “Ken Turner’s Mantasy”, and the Dean Harrison Trio.

Following remarks by Dee Dee Lewis, granddaughter of the awards’ namesake Catharine Brickenden, the following people, companies and productions were recognized:

Outstanding Comedy Production
Jenny’s House of Joy (Theatre Soup)
Outstanding Lighting Design
Brian Brockenshire, Joe Recchia, Andrew Rethazi and Ceris A. Thomas, Treasure Island (London Community Players)
Outstanding Sound Design
Andrew Johnson, Three in the Back, Two in the Head (The Passionfool Theatre Company)
Outstanding Youth Drama
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (London District Christian Secondary School)
Outstanding Youth Musical
The Drowsy Chaperone (A.B. Lucas

2012: A banner year for London theatre

Fireworks / © 2006 / CC-BY-SA-2.0

It’s awards month in London, so a bit of cheerleading seems appropriate.

Last year I noted there were 200 theatre productions in London in 2011, and although it wasn’t stated, that was one of the busiest years in recent memory. So one might expect that this year’s total would be about the same, at least within a small margin of error.

Theatre in listed 250 events this year. Two hundred and fifty.

That’s just crazy.

To be fair, not all of those were performances: also included are several workshops, fundraisers, readings and other theatre events. But two hundred and fifty of them.

More than a few of those came from companies that presented their first shows in 2012, including three from SEE Productions, and one each from Studio B Theatre Co., a missing link theatre company, and Shrew’d Business Collective.

Whether they were from …


I can tell you the exact moment I knew I would never be a professional actor.

It was the fall of ’84. A Toronto call-back audition for a national touring production about the Riel Rebellion, a 2-hander featuring the characters of Sir John A. MacDonald and Gabriel Dumont. I was reading for MacDonald. The producer had lived above my brother and sister-in-law’s in Vancouver, so I thought I was a shoo-in.

When I did it, it wasn’t what they wanted. They explained carefully, wanting to help me. I knew what they wanted. I tried again. I couldn’t get it. Even on the third time. They sat there looking at me with thinly-disguised disappointment, friends on the other side of a narrow chasm, urging, “Come on. You just have to jump this far.”

A while later, an acting school friend who knew the company asked me, “What happened? You were considered.” …

London presents the Potlatch Theatre Company

A Global Outlook / © 2005 J. Nathan Matias / CC-BY-SA 2.0

London’s multicultural community is taking theatre to a whole new level. For the first time, foreign-born Canadians in the Forest City will create theatre that is inclusive of different voices, nationalities and languages, and provide a venue for those who have a passion for theatre.

It is an opening for people who perhaps were involved in theatre in their countries of origin and want to experience the thrill of a stage or contributing to it, while volunteering and sharing their experiences about their lives as new Canadians. That’s exactly what Johanna Medina, originally from Nicaragua—who’s employed by the Ontario Works office in London—is looking for.

As a social worker, she has seen a fair share of stories from newcomers, and what they go through while trying to adjust in their new home. The Potlatch Theatre Company along with the Palace Theatre—which welcomed the idea and offered its venue—are not focusing …

Obliterating the Fourth Wall

Wall hole / © 2009 Johann Dréo / CC-BY-SA 2.0

I just had dinner with a friend who suggested that—and I’m paraphrasing here—maybe one of the reasons my one-man Fringe shows have such small houses is because people don’t like to be hauled out of their seats to participate onstage. My reply—and I’m paraphrasing again (isn’t editing wonderful?)—was that I would prefer small houses of adventurous audience members to bigger houses of timid ones.

I’m for taking a truckload of C4 to the fourth wall and obliterating the damn thing altogether. I envision a theatre where you can’t tell the audience from the actors, where people re-read their programs on their way home to make sure that they weren’t, in fact, part of the cast. For over two and a half millennia, we’ve had this invisible barrier separating us from our fellows. Isn’t it about time we shook things up? What’s this barrier thing all about anyway? Some union thing?…

The 2012 Fringe Ballot Results

The results of the 2012 Fringe Ballot, as voted by patrons of the festival, were announced at tonight’s Fringe Fried awards ceremony:

  • Best VisualFringe Artist: Nik Harron
  • Best Actress: Katy Clark, The Fantasticks
  • Best Actor: Tayo Aluko, Call Mr. Robeson
  • Most Daring Production: Little Lady, Sandrine Lafond
  • Spirit of the Fringe: Pi: The Physical Comedy Troupe
  • Funniest Production: The Good, The Bad and The Stupid, Pi: The Physical Comedy Troupe
  • Best Solo Performance: Patrick O’Brien, Underneath the Lintel
  • Outstanding Performer: Jon Paterson and Melissa MacPherson (tie), Letters in Wartime
  • Best Original Work: Call Mr. Robeson, Tayo Aluko
  • Best Show: The Fantasticks, Shrew’d Business Collective
  • Producer’s Pick, chosen by Executive Producer Kathy Navackas: Bookworm

Congratulations to all of the award winners, and many thanks to all of the performers, artists, writers, directors, stage managers, techs, troupers, …

Fringe Impresario performances

The London Fringe Festival has announced this year’s Impresario shows:

Please note that the Venue 3 Impresario performance is on Saturday evening; all of the others are on Sunday.

All tickets for each performance are available in advance, i.e. shows can be sold out. Tickets for all Impresario performances are $10 plus service charges, and are available in person at the Fringe office (no service charge for cash, $2 service charge for debit/credit) or online

Fringe the 13th

Fringe the 13th. Forty-five shows, nine venues (Yes, nine. “But aren’t there 10?” No. Unless you can find Venue 4…), 11 days. Where to start??!!?

Our team of hearty (and possibly foolhardy) TiL reviewers will have a whole mess o’ reviews for you by Monday, June 11; some keeners may post reviews earlier. But you’ll be wanting to start your Fringing before then, of course.

To help you out on opening weekend, I give you my idiosyncratic list of suggestions, based purely on performers’ previous work:

  • Bookworm
  • The Dark Fantastic (which doesn’t open until Monday—be the first to see it!)
  • Debris
  • Epic Pitch
  • Forty Wonderful
  • F***ing Stephen Harper
  • Hard Times
  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • The Italian Lesson
  • The Purdy Boys in “Midnight at Mystery Point”
  • This is Not the End

Don’t miss the performer showcase tonight (Wednesday, June 6) at the convention centre. It’s an opportunity to see most …

The 2011 Brickenden Awards

The winners of the 2011 Brickenden Awards for Theatrical Excellence in London, announced at Monday night’s ceremony:

Outstanding Comedy Production
Men Telling Stories (That Dinosaur Is Blue)
Outstanding Lighting Design
Rob Coles, Picnic (London Community Players)
Outstanding Sound Design
Andrew Johnson, Earshot (The Passionfool Theatre Company)
Outstanding Youth Drama
The Rez Sisters (Theatre Red & White)
Outstanding Set Design
Rodel Manoy, Picnic (London Community Players)
Outstanding Youth Musical
The Phantom of the Opera (Beal Musical Theatre)
Outstanding Supporting Actress
Deborah Mitchell, Chicago (Pacheco Theatre)
Outstanding Original Script
Underbelly, Jayson McDonald
Outstanding Costume Design
Jessica Toso, The Lost Soul Stroll (The London Fringe)
Chris Doty Award
David Long
Outstanding Musical Production
Chicago (Pacheco Theatre)
Bravest Production
The Hero (Black Room Theatre)
Outstanding Supporting Actor
Jordan Henry, Chicago (Pacheco Theatre)
Outstanding Solo Performance
Justin Peter Quesnelle, Earshot (The Passionfool Theatre Company)
Outstanding Actress
Ingrid Blekys, The

Theatre in London: a manifesto

About four years ago I wrote that “theatreinlondon, like theatre in London, is very much alive!” Today I want to breathe new life into the online incarnation with a public declaration of my until-now unstated goals and aims for Theatre in in short, a manifesto.

Call for writers

For over a decade, Theatre in has been about and for the London theatre community. One of the goals I had when I assumed ownership of the site in 2008 was to add “by” to that list, and that’s the biggest place where I feel I’ve failed. If it weren’t for frequent contributors Kenneth Chisholm, who recently posted his 200th review, and Mary Alderson, who reviews productions at the Grand, TiL since 2008 would basically be “Peter’s theatre blog”, which is exactly what I didn’t want to happen. Why’s that so? In large part, I …

2011: Another take

I don’t usually write end-of-year articles (notwithstanding that in 2011 I haven’t written much here at all). However, today’s local theatre in review article in the Free Press omitted almost any mention of London’s independent, school and community theatre productions, and that’s a real shame.

First, though, I do want to call out the Freeps’ inclusion of the Fringe Festival alongside the Grand and Stratford. It’s no secret that I think Fringe productions and performers—both local and from away—have been among the best we see in the city, so I’m glad the paper recognizes the same thing. (One note, though: although the Fringe is indeed a “wild party”, the final highlight listed is actually A Wild Play, by New Jersey-based Odd Act Theatre Group.)

Now, on to some of the 200 productions that form the majority of the theatre presented in London this year, most of it by Londoners …

The 2011 Fringe Ballot Results

The results of the 2011 Fringe Ballot, as voted by patrons of the festival, were announced at tonight’s Fringe Fried awards ceremony:

  • Best VisualFringe Artist: Walter Sayers
  • Best Original Work: Crabcakes
  • Best Solo Performance: Justin Peter Quesnelle, Earshot
  • Outstanding Performance: Melanie Gall, The Sparrow and the Mouse
  • Funniest Show: Men Telling Stories
  • Most Daring Production: A Wild Play
  • Best Actor: Bremner Duthie
  • Best Actress: Vanessa Quesnelle
  • Spirit of the Fringe: Odd Act Theatre Group (A Wild Play)
  • Best Show: The Rocky Horror Show
  • Producer’s Pick, chosen by Executive Producer Kathy Navackas: 6 Guitars

Congratulations to all of the award winners, and many thanks to all of the performers, artists, writers, directors, stage managers, techs, troupers, and Fringe staff and board members. Thanks also to Theatre in London’s opening weekend review team, and to the audiences and patrons …

Two by two (by two, by two…)

The official tag line for the twelfth London Fringe Theatre Festival is “It’s your play!”, but if there’s a theme to the performances it might well be “two”.

Which isn’t to say there’s less choice—with 46 companies participating, including eleven international productions, this is the biggest festival yet.

The festival features: two performance poets, jem rolls (IS PISSED OFF) and Matt. Miller (Skydiving in Suburbia); two dance shows, Love Is… and A Piece of: My Heart (Breaking); two stringed-instrument shows, 6 Guitars and Banjovial.

Two shows from previous Fringe outings are returning this year, archy and mehitabel (2010) and Chaotica (2008). Souled Out, performed as half of Channel Surfing’s Double Play series last year, is also on the boards again.

Two generations of Holowitzes are taking part in 2011: son Adam Corrigan Holowitz wrote and is performing Manor Park, and father Stephen …

LOAF Awards 2011

The awards for the 2011 London One Act Festival were awarded this afternoon at the Black Shire Pub. Thanks to all of the participants, the organizing committee and adjudicator Annette Procunier, and congratulations to the winners!

Outstanding Actor
Philip Cairns, The Judy Monologues
Sam Shoebottom, Revelations
Outstanding Actress
Charlene McNabb, A Serendipitous Reunion
Tammy Vink, Delilah
Outstanding Original Script
Trish West, Bucket List
Outstanding Director
Deighton Thomas, Nicola’s Dream
Outstanding Production
Nicola’s Dream
Special Adjudicator’s award for sound track
Revelations (Sookie Mei)
Special Adjudicator’s award for ensemble
Nicola’s Dream
People’s Choice Award (LOAFIE)
Theatre Ontario Summer Program Scholarship
Margot Stothers

The 2012 festival will be held March 10–17, 2012.…

The 2010 Brickenden Awards

The winners of the 2010 Brickenden Awards for Theatrical Excellence in London, announced at Monday night’s ceremony:

Outstanding Comedy Production
The Love List (Maybles’ Productions)
Outstanding Lighting Design
Peter Pownall, Medea (The Passionfool Theatre Company)
Outstanding Sound Design
Andrew Johnson, Monster (The Passionfool Theatre Company)
Outstanding Youth Drama
The Servant of Two Masters (London District Christian Secondary School)
Outstanding Youth Musical
Fame (Beal Musical Theatre)
Outstanding Supporting Actress
April Chappell, Medea (The Passionfool Theatre Company)
Outstanding Drama Production
Medea (The Passionfool Theatre Company)
Outstanding Original Script
Jayson McDonald, Gunpowder (Stars & Hearts)
Outstanding Set Design
Dean Hall, I’ll Be Back Before Midnight (London Community Players)
Outstanding Costume Design
Andrea Bennett, Anne Humberstone, Becky Lenko, Ceris Thomas, Dawn Davis, Debra Chantler, Joan Bolam, Mary Jane Walzak, and Whitney Bolam-Wilson, The Three Musketeers


Women of Shakespeare calendar cover

One of the newer companies in town, Arcana Theatre, has just launched a fundraiser for its next production: a calendar featuring a dozen of London’s female actors in Shakespearean roles from Juliet to Lady Macbeth. (I’ve purchased two extra copies, which I’ll give away at random to two people who comment on this post. See below for details.)

It’s surprising that having show- or company-related merchandise is a relatively rare occurrence in the city. LCP had a clever idea to sell Three Musketeers chocolate bars at performances of The Three Musketeers earlier this year, but I’m hard-pressed to think of anything else from local companies along those lines in 2010.

On the flip side, it’s more often than not that visitors will have something available to complement their performances. T-shirts and buttons are common, and there’s an occasional CD or DVD. I’ve even seen merchandise worked into a …

Bruce Johnson passes

Bruce Johnson in front of TAP

Updated November 23

From The ARTS Project:

It is with great sadness and we are sorry to confirm that Bruce Johnson passed away last night.

We ask that you give the family and The ARTS Project some time. There will be a time to honour Bruce. We thank you for your condolences.

Bruce became the president of the TAP board in 2008, and has been one of the most visible and gregarious members of the staff. His friendliness, knowledge and candour will be missed.

An update from Teresa Tarasewicz:

Visitation for Bruce Johnson will be held at Millard George Funeral Home on Ridout, this Sunday, 3-5pm & 7-9pm.

A celebration of Bruce Johnson will be held at the Arts Project next Sunday, Nov 28th in the evening.

The ARTS Project has posted details about Bruce’s memorial.


Voting for the arts

Listen to the candidates for the upcoming municipal election, read their flyers and handouts, and look around their websites, and in most cases you’ll notice something’s missing:

London’s arts community.

In late September seven individuals from arts-related festivals, companies, publications and websites met to discuss the lack of recognition for the city’s artists, in the current campaign and in general. (Disclosure: I’m one of those individuals.) Recognizing that there’s a large population of artists and arts supporters in London—if you’re reading this then odds are you’re one of them—the group decided to form ArtsVote London with the goal of raising the profile of artists’ concerns among the city’s politicians and support staff at all levels. Funding is a key issue, naturally, but so are topics such as limited public performance and exhibition space, showcasing London’s arts through the tourism office, and providing affordable living and working space for artists and …


Catharine Brickenden

The Brickenden Awards recently announced several changes to this year’s presentations and the registration procedures.

A new category, Outstanding Drama, has been added to the list of awards voted on by the core panel and members of the public. The previous Outstanding Youth Production has been split into two new awards, Outstanding Youth Drama and Outstanding Youth Musical, with both voted on by the youth panel and the public.

As previously announced, the touring category has been retired; in addition, the award for outstanding ballyhoo will no longer be presented.

The awards for outstanding original script (determined by a new script-reading panel last year), bravest production (previously publicly voted), and the Chris Doty Award (chosen by the adjudication panels and the Brickenden board) are now “discretionary”: they will not necessarily be given each year, and there will be no public nominations or voting.

Finally, on the recognition side, although …

Thirty years of Summer Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Every year since 1981, UWO’s English Department has mounted one of Shakespeare’s plays during the summer. The first UWO Summer Shakespeare production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was overseen by accomplished theatre director Kenneth Livingstone.

The thirty Summer Shakespeare shows, which have been nominated for ten Brickenden Awards since 2001, have included All’s Well That Ends Well, Henry V, Macbeth, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, The Tempest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona; Measure for Measure, The Taming of the Shrew and The Winter’s Tale (twice each); Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night (three times); As You Like It (four times); and A Midsummer Night’s Dream a whopping five times.

Dr. Jo Devereux, a professor at Western who is acting as the producer/stage manager of the current production of The Merchant of Venice, has a …

The 2010 Fringe Ballot Results

The results of the 2010 Fringe Ballot, as voted by patrons of the festival, were announced at tonight’s Fringe Fried awards ceremony. In order of presentation, they are:

  • Best Film-on-the-Fringe: Rev Gone Rogue (Tommy Nugent)
  • Best VisualFringe Artist: Walter Sayers
  • Spirit of the Fringe: Jayson McDonald for The NO Show
  • Most Daring Production: unADULTeRATED me
  • Funniest Production: The Screw You Revue
  • Best Solo Performance: Justin Peter Quesnelle, Monster
  • Best Performance: Mikaela Dyke, Dying Hard
  • Best Original Production: Gunpowder
  • Best Show: Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens
  • Producer’s Pick, chosen by Executive Producer Kathy Navackas: The Screw You Revue

Congratulations to all of the award winners, and thanks to every single performer, artist, producer, director, stage manager, tech, trouper, staff member, board member, and patron who made this year’s festival such a success.

Fringe Impresario performances

The London Fringe Festival has announced the shows for this year’s Impresario Series, as well as a special end-of-festival fundraiser featuring two of this year’s performers.

The Big Word, a fundraising spoken-word performance featuring One Man Riot‘s jem rolls and Fruitcake‘s Rob Gee, has been added at 9:45pm at The Lounge (Venue #7), which also serves as the venue for the Fringe Fried end-of-festival party.

All tickets for each performance are $10 and will be available at Fringe Headquarters (515 Richmond Street) and online beginning Friday, June 25, at noon. Unsold advance tickets will be available at each venue …

The unadulterated Rachelle Fordyce


In 2006 Rachelle Fordyce brought her one-person show netherwhere:etherwhen, in which she played Charon, ferryman of Hades, to the Fringe festival. This year she’s back with unADULTeRATED me, a completely different show.

  1. Theatre in You’ve done some interesting training since netherwhere:etherwhen, including a long “Clown through Mask” program. How have those affected your work in general, and unADULTeRATED me in particular?
  2. Rachelle Fordyce: I loved the “Clown through Mask” workshop and would recommend it to anyone. The process one goes through in the workshop can be applied to more contemporary styles of acting as well as to more theatrical forms, yet the workshop is specifically designed for participants to discover/uncover the 6 masks and 12 facets of their own unique and individual clown. unADULTeRATED me is done in clown, and applying even some of the most basic principles from the workshop has helped

Fringe Preview: Killing Jayson McDonald

Detail from Gunpowder poster

Jayson McDonald’s name and work are well-known to Londoners, and increasingly to audiences and performers across North America. At the same time he’s performing his solo show Gunpowder in London and touring several other solo plays to festivals across Canada, his play The Last Goddamned Performance Piece is in production at the Ottawa Fringe Festival and his most recent directorial effort, Jeff Culbert’s one-man show archy and mehitabel, is also touring the country.

  1. Theatre in As well as being one of the most prolific (pervasive?) people on London’s theatre scene, you’ve also become Mr. Fringe in the last few years. What convinced you to take your shows on the road? Have your travels affected your approach to writing, performing, directing, etc.?
  2. Jayson McDonald: I had been doing theatre in London for about fifteen years before getting serious about taking it on the road. After such a

Fringe Preview: Mikaela Dyke, verbatim

Mikaela Dyke in Dying Hard

If you had to come up with a recipe for a Fringe production, fluorspar miners, standup comedy, Rachel Corrie and a masters degree probably wouldn’t be your first thoughts for ingredients.

Yet all of them contribute to Mikaela Dyke‘s one-woman show Dying Hard, which debuts at this year’s festival.

The Newfoundland native moved to Toronto a few years ago to do a masters degree in drama. A long-time improv theatre performer, she had to promise her parents that she’d give it up because “if you start doing that [in Toronto] you won’t finish your masters. They were probably right.” After successfully finishing her program she “stuck around” to take part in the SummerWorks festival, and has found consistent reason to “stick around” ever since, working in theatre, film, social art projects, and even standup comedy.

It’s the latter aspect that brought her to London in April to perform …

Fringe Preview: Folk-Rock Superstar

The Cassandra Team

A one-person piece written and performed by Briana Brown, Cassandra appeared at the 2006 London Fringe Festival during a cross-Canada tour. The play returns this year, but with a major change.

  1. Theatre in I was surprised to see how much Cassandra evolved over the 10 days of the 2006 Fringe, and in the two months afterwards, so I’m curious to learn how it’s changed in the four years since.
  2. Briana Brown: I did another significant rewrite after the fringe tour in 2006 before performing it at FemFest (Winnipeg 2007). The major change being that there are no longer three sections to the play. All the breaks — which were extremely helpful from an acting perspective — are gone. The pace is better now. It’s a harder piece to perform.

    Since then, I haven’t made many changes apart from updating a few references for this production.

Fringe Preview: The Oneymooner

Christel Bartelse

Christel Bartelse has been to London several times since debuting CHAOTICA here in 2008, most recently as a performer in The Big Comedy Go-To.

  1. Theatre in It’s your second time at the London Fringe Festival and fourth time performing in London. What brings you back to the city?
  2. Christel Bartelse: I had such a great time the first time I came to London. This is where I first performed CHAOTICA, my very first solo show, so it’s special to me, I was overwhelmed with the response. I love the people and the way the festival is run. It’s well organized and everyone’s so nice, supportive and generous. I wanted to come back last year, but I was still touring CHAOTICA, so wanted to wait until I had a new show to bring to this city. Very excited to be back.
  3. TiL: Can you

Fringe Preview: Bad Ass Rev

Tommy Nugent

When I saw the lineup for this year’s Fringe festival, the first thought that came to mind was “look how many performers are back!” Of the 45 companies, fully half are returning for a second, third or even fourth time around; what’s more, half of those are from outside London. I’m always curious to learn more of the ideas and thought processes that go into making theatre, so I asked a few of the folks from away to talk about coming back to London.

Appropriately first up is Detroit’s Tommy Nugent, whose posters for Burning Man & the Reverend Nuge started appearing way back in April.

  1. Theatre in It’s your third London Fringe Festival in a row; why this one, and why so often?
  2. Tommy Nugent: London Fringe feels like my “hometown” fringe (foreign country and all — ha). I’ve made really close friends here over the

“Maggie” to be awarded to Don Fleckser

Earlier today it was announced that the 2010 Maggie Bassett Award will be presented to actor, director and educator Don Fleckser during this month’s Theatre Ontario Festival. More information about the award, including a list of his accomplishments in over 60 years of theatre, is in the full press release.

Mr. Fleckser’s most recent performance was a storytelling revue with Adam Holowitz, who also directed him in last year’s Grimes of the Borough. In coming months he will be directing Marion Johnson’s adaptation of Emma during this year’s Fringe festival, and AlvegoRoot’s October production of Rope.…