Tuesday, March 10, 2015

"Made in Canada" In the Capital of Canada!

Thanks to Smile Theatre's generous sponsors and seniors across Ontario, this past week we were able to bring our winter show, Made in Canada to audiences of Ottawa. Made in Canada is a tribute to all things Canadian and boy, did we feel the love for our country! 
The team embarked Monday, March 2nd and were all smiles for the van ride.  And the energy did not wain for the eager audiences of New Orchard Lodge, who were our first audience in Ottawa.  

Amelia, the Smile Intern, joined the group the next day. Ottawa was everyone’s first week of three two-show days and we were very pumped to start off on the right foot. Our first stop was at the wonderful Billings Lodge where we made our introductions in both French and English for our bilingual patrons.  Our audience loved joking with us about Canada, and, as you can see in the picture above, we loved bringing our show to them.  Our next stop that day was Laurier Manor, with an equally as engaged audience. Our Ukrainian dance number garnered us many giggles and much encouragement for an encore.

In between shows we were able to see and enjoy many parts of our nation’s capital including the National Art Gallery and the Museum of Natural History. We also had fun bonding as a group over board games and very tasty eats at The Lodge.

Our road trip ended with a final but lively show Saturday afternoon at Starwood. From there, the gang drove back to Toronto for a quick rest and many more big weeks ahead.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

We're Open!

Smile Theatre's "Made In Canada" is now open!  This delightful collection of Canadian songs and stories tours seniors care homes across Southern Ontario until April 18.

The cast and creative team have had so much fun devising this show, based on the "Made in Canada" Series by Tom Kneebone.

The touring team has their ceremonial coffee cards, and are ready to brave the Canadian winter in the van armed with Canadian songs for our Canadian seniors!

The cast, crew and creative team in the rehearsal hall (sporting assorted costume pieces!) for Smile Theatre's "Made in Canada" originally devised by Tom Kneebone, adapted by Jim Betts.  Directed by Jim Betts, Designed by Sheree Tams, Choreography by Lesley Ballantyne, Music Direction by Rosalind Mills, with Trevor Patt and Jenny Weisz. Stage Managed by Kevin Olson and Laura Grandfield.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fun is Made In Canada!

Smile Theatre begins 2015 with a celebration of all things Canadian in its new show, "Made in Canada".  Originally devised by Smile's beloved long-time Artistic Director, Tom Kneebone, and adapted by current AD, Jim Betts, the show leaves no toque unturned in its quest for the Canadian experience.

Rehearsals for the show began on Monday, and the show opens February 10, 2015 and tours seniors' care homes throughout Ontario until April 18, 2015.

An incredible cast and creative team is involved - Jim Betts directs, Sheree Tams designs, Rosalind Mills is the Music Director, choreography is by Lesley Ballantyne, and it features the performances of Trevor Patt and Jenny Weisz.  Kevin Olson and Laura Grandfield stage manage and keep it all together!  We can't wait to share the good times with our audiences. Fun is definitely "Made in Canada!"

A quick break in rehearsal for Smile's "Made in Canada" to take a group selfie with Jim Betts, Jenny Weisz, Trevor Patt, Rosalind Mills, Lesley Ballantyne and Kevin Olson.  Rumour has it the photo in the back is of the infamous Stompin' Tom Carson.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Notes From The Road - A Christmas Carol #26

Performer Scott White writes from his experiences on the road with Smile Theatre's "A Christmas Carol", running until December 20, 2014:
Some days, you simply wonder if the universe really wants you to do a show, and then you get there, and it is all worthwhile. Our afternoon show today was cancelled due to a quarantine connected to a flu outbreak, which meant our evening show was in Whitby at 7 PM. That was a good thing as it meant a later start to the day, but it also meant we would be travelling out of Toronto at rush hour. We left at 4:15, and still managed to hit snags in traffic along the way, taking over 2 hours to get to the venue.
When we arrived, we discovered that the long term care side of the home was in quarantine, but the retirement living section was still coming. We quickly set up, and had the show ready to roll within a minute or two of the scheduled start time for the 18 people who did make it (at the same home there was a concert band performing and it was card night ... so between that and the fact that none of the long term care folk could come, it was a smaller house than usual).
The room was hot and dry and during one of my last notes in one of the songs, my throat went completely dry, leading to a squawk rather than a clear note ... but the audience didn't seem to mind. At the end of the show, they were so delighted we had come and praised the professionalism and the quality of the adaptation.
One woman said that she could not really tell who was playing which character throughout the piece as it moved so quickly, but the story was absolutely clear. She gave up wondering which actor was playing each part and just settled into the story. At the end, she said ... clearly you are all very talented, and whichever part you played ... I really liked you.
Tomorrow ... on to Burlington for a matinee. 4 shows and 3 days left in the tour.

Notes From The Road - A Christmas Carol #24

Performer Scott White writes from his experiences on the road with Smile Theatre's "A Christmas Carol", running until December 20, 2014:
A two show day that was very mixed indeed. Our first show was at a long term care home in Etobicoke. The home was under construction and when we arrived, an ambulance had just pulled up to transport one of the residents to a hospital.
We set up and prepared for a large crowd. One audience member cheered and clapped along in time throughout the entire show. Another got scared and had to be removed half way through the show. Most of the audience stayed and were enthralled.
At the end of the show, a few of the residents had their pictures taken with us, and one woman who used to be an opera singer had her picture taken on the set. She didn't speak a lot of English (I believe Italian was her first language), but when the care giver asked her to sing a "high C", a clear note came out.
I knelt down beside the patron and asked what her favourite song was. The care giver said that she used to sing an operetta that had the word "widow" in it. I said that it must be the "Merry Widow" and started humming the tune to the Merry Widow Waltz. Within seconds, the woman's face lit up, and she sang in a lovely voice, with all of the lyrics, in English, and as she got to the end lyric, she eyed me and sang "I love you." I was deeply touched by this woman, who I was later told is in her 90s and doesn't speak much, but when she sings, she always remembers all of the words.
The evening show started with a bit of fuss, as the entertainment for the evening was supposed to be a movie, and then they realized we were scheduled to do the show. We weren't sure how it was going to go, but the audience was very lively, and Scrooge even had a heckler who booed and hissed when he did something nasty.
When Scrooge was overwhelmed with the ghosts, she said "Oh, poor Scrooge."
The audience tonight was a lot of fun, and we were delighted to see Jim Betts, the Director of the show and Artistic Director of Smile Theatre in the audience. He got a playful performance and the audience was truly delighted with the adaptation.
Tomorrow we have only one show in North York, and then the cast is going to celebrate the start of Hanukkah with a festive gathering and food. We want to make the most of the final week of our tour.

Notes From The Road - A Christmas Carol #25

Performer Scott White writes from his experiences on the road with Smile Theatre's "A Christmas Carol", running until December 20, 2014:
Even though it hurts, the flu shot is still worth it.
I was all geared up to do a show today, but another reality of touring to seniors facilities is cancellations due to flu outbreaks. Our show for this afternoon has been cancelled, as they are not letting outside visitors in to ensure the health of their residents, many who have come down with a flu bug. During the winter months this sometimes happens. We have another cancellation on our afternoon show tomorrow, but worry not ... we will be back at work tomorrow night. In the meantime ... here's a wish to the universe that those effected by the flu heal quickly.