Friday, January 24, 2014

Smile Theatre opens "Johnny Belinda"


Sarah Butler as Belinda and Stefne Mercedes as Locky in  Johnny Belinda, Book by Mavor Moore, Music by John Fenwick based on the plays, Johnny Belinda and The Inner Silence by Elmer Harris, adapted by Jim Betts. Smile Theatre production on tour to Senior's Care Homes, January 20 - March 1, 2014
Smile Theatre begins 2014 with a touching, mini-classic production of Johnny Belinda.  Set in PEI, it is an ultimately inspirational story of a deaf and mute girl who overcomes adversity to find love and happiness. The production has all the signature elements of a Smile show - great music and dance and fantastic performances.  The full-length version of the musical has been presented a number of times at the Charlottetown Festival in P.E.I. Smile is fortunate to have director and choreographer Stephanie Graham, who has played Belinda in Charlottetown.  Fen Watkin, former music director at the Charlottetown Festival also acted as musical adviser to this production. The show runs in Senior's Care homes until March 1, 2014.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Creators' Reserve Applications Due Next Week!

Smile Theatre is pleased and honoured to be a part of The Ontario Arts Council’s Theatre CreatorsReserve Fund for 2013-2014.

Smile Theatre welcomes submissions in any theatre discipline, but our priority is to support new Canadian Musical Theatre. Submissions can be made by mail to Smile Theatre188 Lowther Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M5R 1E8, or digitally by email to jim.betts@smiletheatre.com.

Please include with your application 1) a 1-3 page description and synopsis of the project, 2) resum├ęs for each writer, 3) at least 10 pages of script from the project (or from other work by members of the writing team), and 4) at least 3 songs from the project (or from other work by members of the writing team). Smile Theatre is particularly interested in supporting projects with a strong story, solid structure and well-crafted lyrics (we will admit our bias towards lyrics that actually rhyme).
Submission deadline is January 17, 2014

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Smile Theatre - A Charity of Choice of The St. George's Society of Toronto!

Smile Theatre is deeply honored to be chosen as a Charity of Choice by The St. George's Society of Toronto for 2013!

The St. George's Society has a long-standing history as the city's most established charitable institution. The members of the St. George’s Society are passionate about inspiring positive societal change by conducting charitable works; supporting educational, medical, and cultural institutions; and hosting networking and mentorship events across the city. For more information, please visit the society's website here.

Smile Theatre is proud to be a recipient of a generous charitable gift from the Society of $3,800. This gift means that Smile Theatre will be able to perform in 10 locations across Toronto who were previously unable to see a performance. That translates into bringing smiles to about 500 isolated seniors in Toronto through professional theatre.

 A huge thank you to The St. George's Society of Toronto for making our work possible!

 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Smile Theatre's "Gift of the Magi" A Wonderful Christmas Offering

"A great beginning to a truly magical season.  The music was wonderful. What talented players! Merry Christmas!"
- Smile Theatre Patron

Jonathan Tan and Leah Oster as Jim and Della in Smile Theatre's "Gift of the Magi" by Leslie Arden, adapted from the story by O. Henry
A wonderful gift is being given to older adults across the GTA this Christmas season - Smile Theatre's delightful production, "The Gift of the Magi" adapted by Leslie Arden from the classic story by O. Henry.

This heart-warming story about the true nature of giving, set to unforgettable music by one of Canada's most noted musical theatre writers/composers, is touring to Long Term Care homes, retirement residences, hospitals and nursing homes until December 21, 2013. "We make sure our productions reach people who can't get out to see regular theatre performances", says Smile Theatre General Manager Tom Carson, "and we don't let the practical constraints of the places we perform stop us."

Although Smile Theatre appears in some tiny rooms, the talent is anything but small.  This production features performers who have appeared in the major theatres in Canada.  For example, Leah Oster, who plays Della in this 45-minute musical treat, recently appeared as Marian the Librarian at Stratford.

"Our audiences deserve professional quality cultural experiences", says Carson, "and we do everything we can to get to them."  Often, that means approaching individuals, foundations and corporations for funding. Facilities are charged a nominal fee - and in some cases they are sponsored - which only covers a fraction of the costs.

With over 40 years of bringing professional theatre to senior citizens behind them, Smile Theatre continues to give the gift of song and joy to seniors this holiday season.


Smile Theatre's "The Gift of the Magi" by Leslie Arden adapted from the story by O. Henry
Directed by Jen Shuber, Musical Direction by Adam White, Orchestrations by Leslie Arden
Designed by Laura Gardner, Backdrop Design by Cathy Elliott
with Leah Oster, Jonathan Tan and Susan Henley
Stage Managed by Charlene Saroyan and Laura Grandfield
Touring throughout the GTA until December 21, 2013. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Notes From The Road #17

Musical director and performer Scott White writes from his experiences on the road with Smile Theatre's "Sweet Marie", running until November 16, 2013:

Final reflections on the Smile tour as I finish off my last shows of week 8 of the tour. First of all thanks to the creative team. To Sheree Tams for the fantastic costumes and particularly the hats. Those hats made a lot of people happy. Thanks to Jim Betts for reducing the full length show to its essential elements and giving the piece flow and pacing. Thanks to Lesley Ballantyne for doing fun choreography, and for jumping into the show as health challenges hit the tour. Thanks to Kelly Holiff for doing the initial Marie on this tour. Thanks to stage manager Kevin Olson for his sense of humour, for allowing women of a certain age to fall in love with him, and for sharing soul food and 4 very large pieces of chicken. Thanks to Meghan for keeping the tour going in style, transporting us in safety and making sure there was time for Beaver Tails in Ottawa. Thanks to Tom Carson for allowing us all to get paid for the experience. Thanks to Charlene Saroyan for production managing. And thanks to Stephen Woodjetts for trying on the tie. It hasn't been easy, and I can confess to a lot of fatigue. We made a lot of people smile and told Marie's story ... and a very important element of this tour, we allowed Sharon Dyer to see her show ... the show she wrote ... only a few weeks before she passed away. I will carry many fond memories from this tour in my heart. Let's take the tour out in style.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Notes from the Road #16 - Good Night, Sweet Sharon

  Musical director and performer Scott White writes from his experiences on the road with Smile Theatre's "Sweet Marie", running until November 16, 2013:
We finished our final show in Ottawa and arrived back to our hotel to the news that Sharon Dyer the author of our show, and the unstoppable force that toured as Marie Dressler across the country many years ago ... had passed away.

I remember meeting Sharon when she worked at Theatre Ontario when I first came to Toronto ... she was larger than life, had a wonderful laugh and loved artists and theatre in general.

Last month, we took "Sweet Marie" ... Sharon's show ... into the home where she resided. We performed the Smile version for her and at the end of the performance, presented a bouquet of flowers and took pictures. Sharon had dressed up for the occasion and although her speech was greatly impaired due to her Parkinson's it was clear that she enjoyed the show. After the performance we visited, held hands with her and took several pictures with Sharon wearing various hats from the production. It was a special night.

Wellesley Central contacted the Smile offices to let them know that Sharon had passed away yesterday and said that for weeks after our performance, Sharon was once again a star among the residents who were so proud of the fact that she had written such a wonderful show.

In Sweet Marie, Marie Dressler attempts to get into Heaven past an ornery musical angel who forces her to come to terms with her troubled past and find forgiveness before he will let her pass by the pearly gates. I am certain that Sharon will pass through those gates unimpeded. For she brought so much joy to so many.

Thanks for the gift of sharing your talents with so many over the years. Thank you for the privilege of allowing us to perform your show. And even after your passing, your work continues to spread joy to others.

Below is a picture of the show on the night we performed for Sharon in her wheelchair with the bouquet of flowers.

May you truly rest in peace.