elvis-viva-las-vegas-deluxe-edition-dvd-1964-140832301IANA THEATRE COMPANY and the TWEED AND AREA ARTS COUNCIL are thrilled to present:


Officially partnering for the first time ever, IANA and the T&AAC are thrilled to be presenting NEW RELEASE FEATURE FILMS at the MARBLE ARTS CENTRE in Actinolite for the next twelve months, on the big screen with big sound!  Starting this August, we will present some of your favourite films, movie marathons, brand new films just out of theatres and more!

MOVIES AT THE MAC is a brand new venture and we could not be more excited about it!  No more driving to Belleville for dinner and a movie, or heading as far as Ottawa or Toronto to see films not shown at major theatres.  We will be programming features throughout the year, and want to hear from the community of Tweed and the whole county to get your input as well!

The program will begin at the end of the month with the classic Elvis feature ‘VIVA LAS VEGAS’ to coincide with the culmination of this year’s ELVIS FESTIVAL.  It will show Sunday, August 25th at 7 PM at the Marble Arts Centre.  Tickets will be $5.00 for adults, and $2.50 for youth (under 18) or anyone with a pass to the Elvis Festival.

MOVIES AT THE MAC will continue in September with a MOVIE MUSICAL MARATHON & CANADIAN CULTURE EXTRAVAGANZA as part of Culture days 2013!  Come and see the best movie musicals ever made, as curated by the staff and ensemble of IANA Theatre Company, as well as some of the decades best Canadian Feature films that you may have missed in theatres.  This event will be the OFFICIAL OPENING of MOVIES AT THE MAC and will be an all-day event on Sunday, September 29th.  In honour of culture day’s mission to have everyone EXPLORE, DISCOVER and PARTICIPATE in arts and culture in every community across the country, admission to this event will be by donation only.

Come and witness some of the best films the world has to offer, right here in your home town, in the beautiful atmosphere of the Marble Arts Centre (with a little extra flair) on the BIG SCREEN!  Popcorn and Pop will also be available at our concession during the events.

The proceeds for the entire MOVIES AT THE MAC program over the next twelve months will be divided evenly between IANA and the T & AAC, allowing both organizations to continue to grow and develop the important work they do throughout the community.  Come on out and see some great films, and support two fantastic local organizations at the same time!

We would also like to graciously thank our first sponsors of MOVIES AT THE MAC, BUSH FURNITURE, POPLARS GOLF CLUB, TWEED IDA & THE GREAT STOCO AND MOIRA FOOD COMPANY.

Thank you for your continued support, and we can’t wait to see you at the next MOVIE AT THE MAC!

Big Movies, Big Screen, Small town!

MAKE ‘EM LAUGH! An IANA Fundraising Concert!

melWell, summer is here, we finally have some nice weather, and it’s time for some live theatre at the Marble Arts Centre!  IANA is in the middle of a year long hiatus, after exploding into the eastern Ontario theatre scene last year, but we just couldn’t resist getting together to put on one little show!!!

MAKE ‘EM LAUGH is an IANA Theatre company original creation, conceived by myself, Tim Porter, and written by the hilarious Tricia Black and Joel MacMeekin.  The show takes a hilarious trip through the early days of Broadway, with Musical Theatre and Standard favorites, sung by this fantastic cast of IANA all stars.

We spent several months combing through all the classics, and we put together the show that we knew would entertain the socks off of Tweed, and let everyone have a fun, relaxing evening in the beautiful ambiance of the air conditioned Marble Arts Centre.

This evening is going to be a great one of magic, laughter and music.  We’ve lined up a terrific cast of characters, created a beautiful projection setting, hired one of the most talented pianists in Toronto, we’ve got a cash bar, refreshments, 50/50, and more!  We can’t wait for this magic night and we are so excited that the community in Tweed is coming out in droves to support us.

MAKE ‘EM LAUGH stars Tim Porter, Tricia Black, Joel MacMeekin, and Danielle Leger, with special guest Julie Kevan and Musical Direction by Julia Sunay.  What’s your favourite song from the early 20’s or 30’s?  Chances are, you’re going to hear it and more in MAKE ‘EM LAUGH!!!

Tickets are $25.00 and are available at the Food Company in Tweed, or online at  The show takes place Saturday, July 27th @ 7:30 PM, and all proceeds go to directly supporting IANA’s future endeavors.  Don’t miss this amazing evening of world class talent in one of the funniest shows you will see this year!!!

Time for some beautiful summer theatre in Tweed, our favourite place to be!!!  And don’t forget to join us for a drink and a chat after the show.  This show is sure to delight!  Don’t miss it!!!

When an Ambitious Little Theatre Company Tries to Be BIG…


For the first time in months I am sitting in my home in Toronto with a tiny bit of down time.  I can’t really recall the last time I had consecutive days off, and now I find myself with several, which I could not be more thrilled about.  Besides giving me the opportunity to go to New York for a much needed dose of inspiration, I also have a few hours today to it down and write, and do some housekeeping.  I decided this morning while I read my paper that some of that housekeeping should be checking in on this blog, writing a little piece about our year off, and just keeping up to date.  When I logged onto the blog this afternoon, I realized that I somehow massively ignored it for the past year almost.  I DIDN’T EVEN DO A BLOG ABOUT ALECK BELL!!!  I feel tremendously saddened that in all the stress and pressure of last season I didn’t even take time to write a blog about the show before it happened, and then even worse, I didn’t write a blog afterword to sum it up.

We as a company have acknowledged that we maybe tried to go a bit too big, a bit soon last season, and while putting all of our time towards quality of production and struggling to keep up with basic bookkeeping and planning, we were left with very little time for that all important aspect of promotion and putting butts in seats.  And there’s the rub.  Rub a dub dub.  I fully intend to write a much more in depth article about what we are doing now, what happened all of last year, what our plans are for the future, etc, but that is not what this blog will be about.  Instead, I want to pay a little love to our best show to date, ‘ALECK BELL: A Canadian Pop Rock Musical’.

Then, before I started writing this article, as I searched through my laptop today ( Something I also haven’t done in a while), I discovered that I had actually written a post during rehearsals for BELL, and had never finished it, and also neglected to post it.  I skimmed through it, and although most of it is irrelevant now, it features some very important thoughts to me, so I have decided to post it in its entirety here.  Unfinished and all.

It is important to point out of course that this tour proved very difficult for a company of our size.  While I remain confident that this is the best show we have ever done, we simply didn’t have the manpower or the money to fill the venues, and when push came to shove we had to cancel our Toronto dates.  It was the hardest decision of my life, but turned out to be the right one.  I am also confident that this show has not yet seen the last of the Canadian Musical Theatre Stage.

We are still building back up from the ashes of last season, and most of that fault lies with me and my overly ambitious nature, but here is some food for thought before I enter into future posts about our introspective season this year, and my hopes and dreams for the future.  I promise I will try to be more adamant about my blogging, and keep you all up to date with what is happening in this very exciting transition year for IANA.

READ ON past this little ALECK BELL post for reviews from the Stirling production, and come back soon to check in!!!  Happy winter Canada!!!



ALECK BELL THE MUSICAL!!!  This show has been a crazy, wild ride, and the excitement seems to be never ending.  With a week of rehearsals now under our belt, the 2012 production is really shaping up to be something special.  It’s a terrifying thing really, remounting a show.  There is so much work to be done, so much to consider, so much that could be different, and so much that could change.  And what would that change bring?

Well, with ALECK BELL it has brought inspiration to our staging, it has brought brilliant and passionate new cast members, and it has brought a renewed sense of urgency and life to our production.  It’s so easy to second guess your choices leading into a season, and it’s a very difficult thing to predict the outcome of a product in an endeavor you have never attempted before, and I have to say, we at IANA are being truly blessed to create this production.

It began with a call from the Stirling Festival Theatre.  The folks over there saw our production of ALECK BELL in 2011, and in the fall of that year I got a call from the GM asking if we would be interested in bringing the show to Stirling.  Of course, we were thrilled.  For those of you who don’t know, I grew up at the Stirling Festival Theatre.  I worked there for six fantastic seasons, starting in the young company and slowing working my way up as an apprentice and finally into the professional company.  It is a very special place to me, and really, it is home.  The fact that I now get to return to my home as a director and producer is one of the most thrilling points of my career thus far.  This show is going to blow the roof off the Stirling Festival, I really can’t wait.  It’s been a little while since a cast this size and a production this big has taken to the stage there, and it is an experience that the people of Stirling and surrounding area will not want to miss.  And not just because the show features Stirling favourite Allan Gillespie.

This tour also features another very important spot to me.  Every young actor with a dream of a life in theatre starts their career at a professional training program.  My dream began at St. Lawrence College in Brockville, Ontario.  I had auditioned for most of the major programs, and with about an even number of acceptances and rejections, I went into my audition for St. Lawrence.  I immediately felt involved, alive and a part of something.  I was welcomed into St. Lawrence with open arms, and Brockville soon became my second home.  We were incredibly lucky at St. Lawrence to have the privilege of doing our shows at the beautiful Brockville Arts Centre.  This state of the art professional theatre has seen major musical productions for decades past, and you can feel the history and the past of the building breathing as you walk that stage.  Once we had decided we would be remounting the production, I thought what a huge shame it would be to only do it in one place.  So, we made a list of a couple cities we would like to go to, one of which was Brockville.  I approached the Arts Centre and they again welcomed us with open arms.  There is a fantastic appreciation for musical theatre in Brockville that is unrivaled in most other Canadian cities, and we are again lucky to be performing in this fantastic venue.  We have built our set to thrive in this stunning venue, and I can’t wait for the audience to experience the epic beauty of Alexander Graham Bell’s attic laboratory in all its glory.

And finally, we decided that we couldn’t re-create this show and not bring it to Toronto.  I have never been prouder of a production, and I have never been more sure of a show needing to play in this city.  ALECK BELL is a story that needs to be told, and it’s a show that needs to be told to Toronto.  We are thrilled to be back at the beautiful Papermill theatre at Todmorden Mills Heritage site, a building straight out of Bell’s own time, and one that I’m sure he would have appreciated the beauty of.

One of the most thrilling things about this production is that we are performing entirely in venues that Bell himself could have toured to.  Two of them wouldn’t have been theatres, but the buildings themselves are as rich with history as this production and this story are.

This show is magic.  It is life and death and joy and pain and love and loss and passion and energy.  It is my proudest moment to date.  This production will be epic and it will be amazing.  We are so passionate about what we do, and so excited to be bringing a Canadian Musical on tour in an expansive and fully produced way.  What we are doing is a rare thing, and we are proud of it, and in love with it, and hope you will come and share that with us.

I can’t even describe the feeling I get every day in rehearsals with this show.  I have goosebumps every day, I can’t sleep at night because I’m so excited to work the next day.



“If You Only See One Show This Year, See Aleck Bell!  If I could say that this team excels in one area in particular, it would be their vocal talents.  I dare you to see any professional production in the city, and pay hundred of dollars, then come and see an IANA production for less than a quarter of the cost.  I can guarantee that they are easily equal in talent.  If you went to see this show for nothing other than the music, you would have gotten your moneys worth.  When the cast sang Fare Thee Well Love, I actually wept, it was beautiful.  The rendition of Hallelujah sent chills up my spine, and set all the hair on my arms and neck on end.  This is an insanely talented group of actors.  I laughed (thanks to the ever dependable Danielle Leger, Tricia Black and James King), I cried, I didn’t want the show to end.  Tim Porter has created a piece that should tour the country to sold out shows!    Christopher and I have done nothing but talk about Aleck Bell.  There was certainly no dead silence on that car ride home.  The word genius was thrown around a lot.  There are not enough nice words to describe our evening out.  We LOVE Aleck Bell.  If we could, we would attend every single show both in Stirling, and then chase them to Toronto’s Papermill Theatre.   I feel like I should be going door to door telling people the good word about Aleck Bell.  I feel like strong arming people and threatening to rough them up, if they don’t go and see this amazing production. You need to go and see this show!  I think our sentiment was best summed up by a fellow patron that we overheard.  He told the person that he was sitting with “I would have gotten my money’s worth, even if I’d left at intermission.  What a fantastic show!””

-Tristan Lindsay, The Middle Aged Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

“A simple outing to the Stirling Festival Theatre between now and Sept. 1 will produce a true Canadian theatrical gem in the pop rock musical, Aleck Bell by the IANA Theatre Company. Give this youthful, talented cast a plot and they’ll act it out; give them a musical instrument and they’ll play it; give them some stage space and they will show you colourful choreography, give them a song and they’ll sing it – often in rich, a cappella, full-bodied harmony. One can’t say enough about the versatility and audience-warmth of this cast in what is a warm, gripping, colourful, often humourous and audience-appealing show. This show more than deserves audiences of all ages. They will be glad they went.”

-Jack Evan, The Trentonian

“I recently attended IANA’s Aleck Bell performance at the Stirling Theatre.  All of us, including the kids, were blown away by the performance. This musical remains one of my favorites for a number of reasons: the historical context of Alexander Graham Bell’s life; the incredible talent displayed by all cast members – singing, dancing, acting; the comedic overtones throughout the play; the fact that it appeals to young and old alike; that it is an original Canadian production; and that it is being staged and directed by one of our own – Tim Porter.”

-Don DeGenova, Tweed Councilor

“With a stellar cast of nine who pull off some stunning versions of iconic Canadian songs, Mac-Meekin and Porter have lucked out in the talent department.  This group proves its onstage flexibility entering into something of a guessing game with the audience over who will play what instrument next.  Neatly choreographed, the show offers a lively, colourful and highly entertaining retelling with more than a ring of truth to it.”

-Richard Turtle, EMC News



Although this post isn’t even really a blog, I thought what better way to share some of the great reviews that we got from both the audience and the critics than through our great blog!!!  GODSPELL was our most attended show to date, our biggest tourist audience thus far, and was a creative and artistic success beyond our imagination!  So, without any further ado, here’s what the audience had to say about our recent production of GODSPELL!!!

“As good as anything I’ve seen in Toronto and on Broadway”.

-Bill (Tweed, ON)


-Richard Turtle (EMC)

“Saw #godspell was AMAZING! Maybe one day ill be on that stage 🙂 @IANATheatre”


“If you have attended IANA productions in the past but have yet to watch their rendition of Godspell, you are in for a treat.  The first thing you will notice is the rise in production value in everything from the set to the seats.  While this adds to the performance greatly, it is in fact the dynamic cast that really puts this show a step above IANA’s past productions.  This show has amazing choreography, humour and a healthy splash of drama that adds up to a show you will not want to miss.”

-Lacy Meeks (The Tweed News)

“A must see!”

-Delima (Belleville, ON)

“Saw Godspell last night it was hot, crazy and delightful all at once.  What a talented bunch. Didn’t even mind staying up late.”

-Robert (Madoc, ON)

“Congratulations on a fantastic production.  Your Godspell was energetic, beautifully performed, and innovative.  My friends and I loved it, and we were so glad that I stumbled across your website.  I saw the original Chicago company of Godspell, the movie (of course,) a local church production, and a production done by a group of my former drama students (and considering my favorite people did that, it was hard to beat in my eyes.)  I think your production was the best of all I’ve seen.  You breathed new life into the show.  Kudos! I was particularly blown away by the accompaniment.  Your pianists seamlessly took over from each other without a hitch.  Wow!  And to see the other actors play so many instruments…you are indeed blessed with a talented group!”

-Russell (Houston, TX)

“@IANATheatre Great Show tonight!!! What a performance. Very talented cast….. #Godspell”


“Just returned from Godspell…what a wicked performance and to a full house…yeah Tim and another hit!!!. At intermission everyone was raving about all the actors, their energy and their wide variety of musical and acting talents. You got to get out and see this musical. Congratulations to one and all”

-Don (Tweed, ON)

“You have a VERY TALENTED & lovely troupe!!! ~ CONGRATULATIONS to each & every one of you for all your hard work, your dedication & committment to your craft…it shows!!! WELL DONE!!! Thank you for sharing your exuberant hearts, your talent & passion!!! You really “brought it!” ~ Blessings & Cheers to you! =)”

-Tammy (Stirling, On)

“Godspell was terrific! Amazing job as always! @IANAtheatre”


“Well Porter, you’ve done it again (with tremendous help from your wonderful cast and crew)! Great show!”

-Katherine (Tweed, ON)

“WHAT A TALENTED CAST!!!!!  I know very few bible stories, but I know that this cast is so talented.  I was impressed by the way Tim made full creative use of such a small stage.  I was extremely impressed by the crucifixion scene.  “Oh God, I’m Bleeding”, brought me to tears.  James King did a beautiful job.  This talented cast could easily be in any Mirvish production based on their talent.  Their voices blew me away once again.  They were all just so very, very talented.  Amazing AGAIN.   It’s obvious that Tim knows talent.  We need to show Iana our love.  We need to show them that we appreciate their hard work, and extreme talent so that Tweed continues to be blessed with high quality theatre.”

-Tristan (Tweed, ON)

“@IANATheatre saw Godspell last night. Amazing show put on by amazing people. Everyone should go experience professional local talents!”


“The youth and energy of the IANA team under the able direction of Tim Porter provided a compelling performance at the Marble Church Art Centre. The audience experienced live theatre as good as one would have in Toronto or New York at a small fraction of the price. They rewarded the casts’ delivery with a substantial standing ovation. Bravo IANA!”

-Wayne (Tweed, ON)

We Entertain Thee, Hear Us!

Oh My Godspell! In a long line of successful shows IANA has produced over the years, GODSPELL is the next big show in their 2012 Season.

A few days ago, Tim Porter (Godspell Director / IANA AD) and a few other members of the cast took the two hour car ride from the big city to Tweed, Ontario. Every trip we take to Tweed, I have so much going on in my head. Most of the words that come to mind, when I know what is to come during the rehearsal process or an upcoming show are excitment, fear, curiosity, positive, numb, inadequate, exuberant, tremulous, and of course, happy. Then we actually arrive and everything changes. Not for the better and not for the worse. It just changes.

IANA projects are always bigger and better than the production previous. With this comes sweat, laughter and tears. And, that’s only on the first day of rehearsals.

GODSPELL will be my seventh show with IANA. I really feel like there will be a lot of work put into this production only because there are so many elements to the show that are new to the company and new to us as performers and staff. For one, many of the actors in this show are learning to play the music on instruments they’ve never played before. This is a major test to a person’s motivation. But at least one thing that keeps you motivated is time. I will admit that the rest of the cast, beside myself are so ahead in the ‘playing an instrument’ category. Whoops!

Also, the other amazing thing we gradually see happening during the first few days of rehearsal is the development of the set. I won’t give anything away but you will love the costumes!

In my opinion, this cast is probably one of the most friendly and relaxed casts IANA has ever had. I have made some amazing relationships being a part of this company and I don’t see that trend coming to an end anytime soon.

Being a videographer for IANA, it’s hard sometimes to creat videos for an upcoming show if I’m cast in it. In this case, I’m really trying to film rehearsals to help build more of a following before the show even opens. A video for Godspell each week before it opens may help a bit. Videos shared on social networks can go a long way. The first video of week one of rehearsals is already done and it is posted on youtube and the IANA website. It turned out better than I had planned!Image

I’m sure the cast can agree with me on this, Godspell is bringing great moments and great memories for all of us. I am very curious for what will come in the next couple of days. Apparently, local press are already starting to come by to do stories on the new IANA show. The Tweed Fair is coming up and the Godspell cast will be performing at that! Oh oh AND, on Canada Day IANA will have it’s own float and the cast will be singing songs from the show. It’s all very exciting.

I call myself lucky to be involved with this classic, spiritual, and beautiful show. One of my favorite songs I’ve ever performed in a show is a song I’m singing in Godspell. It’s called ‘We Beseech Thee’! This song makes me very happy and I can’t wait to sing it live for an audience.

Keep posted on upcoming posts and videos on the IANA website or IANA YouTube Channel. Hopefully you’ll find them almost or just as entertaining as the show! Interviews featuring Tim Porter, Danielle Leger, Emily Mewett, Ashley Earl, funny and serious moments, and more…

A bit of the Godspell Set. Photo by Joel (Me)


APRIL 6TH????  What???  Has it been so long?  I mean, I knew I had been absent, but April 6th???

Anyways, as I sat down tonight to unwind from a long day of hard work, glass of red wine in my hand, the IANA blog flittered across my mind.

It keeps getting shoved aside, pushed back, left in the dust, as I prioritize it completely out of my mind.

But I miss you blog.  I think about you often.  And I know you’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been, and who I’ve been hanging out with, but let me tell you, I’ve had good reason to be away.

That good reason was a new show called STALKYARD HURTS.  And that great reason is the only thing I want to talk about in this post.

Let’s start at the very beginning.  This season was planned before the first leaf fell off the first tree last fall, but come late October, plans suddenly changed when we found out we couldn’t in fact do one of the shows we had planned.  I was stumped.  We were a couple weeks away from announcing our season, and now there was a gaping hole in it.  What could fill this void?  Where would our Canadian Musical Theatre inspiration come from.

And then I flew to New Brunswick to visit with a few of my good friends who were running an improv company in Sackville.  I took a couple short bumpy plane trips, and arrived at the Sackville airport where I was picked up by two of those fabulous friends, Justin Collette and Karine Berube.  We weren’t in the car more than five minutes when the question was raised about what we would be doing for our 2012 season.  So I blew through our big drama, and how we had no idea what would be a good show to take that slot, etc, etc, when Justin simply replied ‘Well, why don’t we write one?’  Now, had that car been driven by anyone else, or had that question come from any other source I probably would have laughed it off as not even a possibility, or shrugged it away with a maybe, or a we’ll see, but coming from that man, my quick and easy response was ‘Okay’.

And so, the process of STALKYARD HURTS began.  We sat down at a pub in Moncton and started throwing around ideas.  It was a few ideas in when Justin pitched a live Rock band Mockumentary.  Sorry blog, but I fell immediately in love.  The more we talked about the idea the more my faith in it grew, and the more I was convinced it would be a fantastic concept.

As soon as we arrived at the house, I was given a quick tour, I blew up my bed, and we immediately enlisted the help of the amazingly talented and hilariously funny Danielle Leger.  Danielle and Justin began working on the music immediately and obsessively, and within days of my arriving in New Brunswick they had several pieces to show me, most of which remain in the show today.

While I was there we figured out the bare bones of the script, continued to write some music, and build on ideas we had for the show.  Also we watched a bunch of rock band documentaries.  Very informative and very entertaining if you get the chance.  By the time I left I was confident we were going to have a hit on our hands.

Months went by…the writing continued, the planning progressed, and the cast began working on the show.  At the end of April, we sent a young man, one Colin Jones, one of the BEST singers I have ever heard out to New Brunswick to begin working on the show with them.  I then didn’t see anyone until we started rehearsals in Stirling the first week of May.

The first day I walked into that theatre, and they played the bare bones of the first couple songs for me, I literally fell in love with this show.  The more I watched this group rehearse and the more I sat back and listened to these songs, the more I fell.

Then, the time came to share our work.  To present this incredible product that Danielle and Justin had created to the world.  We were doing a show at Revival bar in downtown Toronto.  The doors were opened, the house started to fill up, the opener went on, the audience was riled up, and when the time came, STALKYARD HURTS took the stage.  And they literally TOOK the stage.  That night was pure magic.  The audience was blown away.  I was blown away.  I think the band was blown away.  What happened in that bar that night was one of the most exhilarating things I have ever experienced.  This group of people set fire to the stage, and wowed a group of people to a point of pure excitement.

We trucked it back to Tweed.  We rehearsed for our final week, and we finished building the show.  The show opened.  The audience sat enthralled for the entire 2 hours and 45 minutes that is STALKYARD HURTS.  And at the end, they stood, they cheered, and STALKYARD HURTS was born.  The first band to have a reunion tour before they even began, the first band to release a greatest hits album as their first release, the first band to create from scratch, in a matter of six months, one of the most remarkable, moving and exciting shows I have ever witnessed.

Although STALKYARD HURTS has now closed at the Marble Church, I have the most faith that this show will live on, and on, and on.  I can promise you that you haven’t seen the last of STALKYARD HURTS.

This show needs to be shared with the world, so watch out, cause STALKYARD HURTS is coming for you…

Be sure to check out our YouTube channel for our promo video from the show, as well as our Flickr to see all the great production shots courtesy of the wonderful Kelly Brazeau.  Thank you to everyone who came out to check out this show, and for everyone else, we look forward to seeing you in the front row next time around.

So Blog, I’m sorry I’ve been cheating on you for the past couple months, but I promise I will do my best to be faithful from now on, although with how well GODSPELL is coming along, I can guarantee you I’m going to be cheating with her as well.  She’s hot.  Just wait.

See you at the show!


Hashtaging Hastings?

Recently, I attended one of the cultural planning meetings for Hastings County.  It was a great discussion, with some great people, and some great ideas and opportunities came forward.  Some other things became increasingly apparent.  So I thought I would write a quick blog post and get those creative juices flowin!

I am so excited with all the fantastic things that have been happening in Hastings County that are right in tune with the new Cultural Plan, and with all of our economic development.  The Creative Hastings Events, the Arts Route, packaging workshops, and more!  We are right on track to be a premiere ranked tourist destination!

I am also excited by all the live theatre and performance that has been thriving in the region.  From the Stirling Festival, to The Classic Theatre Festival in Perth, and the Elvis Festival in Tweed, we are quickly becoming a hub of live performance, and that is only going to grow!  We are in fantastic shape.

This year we are striving to have our most successful season in IANA’s history and we are right on track to reach that goal.  We have a fantastic season lined up in Tweed and across the province, and I’m very excited to continue our improvements to the Marble Church Arts Centre, and to continue to build our relationships in the community.

Now, really, this is only a very small portion of things that are happening in Hastings County.  Our county has been blowing up the press lately, winning awards, and gaining recognition across the country.  So let’s help spread the word about this great region!  Spread this post, check out to find out everything that’s happening in the region, tweet about something great that you know from the area, and get social!

My great hope is that everyone in the region will get on social media, start tweeting and blogging, and help get the word out about this fantastic tourist draw.  If you’re a local cultural enthusiast and your on the TWITTER, or the Facebook, drop us a line, and lets connect!

If you’re one of those people who has never been to Hastings County, then come on out this season, check out a show, buy some antiques, see some art, get some cheese, check out a farmers market, head to a winery, go kayaking, go golfing, go fishing, the list is endless!!!  Check us out today!!!  We look forward to your visit, and we’ll see you at the show!!!

This Is All Very New

I must be completely honest with all of you, I have never blogged before…please bare with me. Nothing I have ever written has been professionally published, so it always makes me nervous when I put my writing out there to the public eye. The only proof of my writing being close to successful is found in IANA Theatre Company’s 2011-2012 season.

I am an actor, singer and writer happily living in the busy GTA of Toronto. I can safely say I am currently working as an actor more than anything else, which makes my parents happy and relieved. A huge reason for my resume’s growth the past few years is because of IANA’s Artistic Director, Tim Porter. Or as I humourously call him…Timberly! He hates it when I call him that, so of course I continue to do so. Tim and I went to theatre school together. This is where I first got the chance to work with Tim and notice his strong understanding, and passion for Canadian theatre. Little did I know that we would continue working together as much as we have after college. I am so proud of Tim’s success with becoming the founder of IANA. IANA is a non-for-profit theatre company that proudly showcases new strong Canadian talent with brilliant new Canadian work. Tim has also given me many opportunities to work in the theatre, and in many different ways. Lets just say, me giving Tim an IOU note won’t cut it in my opinion.

I’ll never forget the Jack Astor’s lunch me and Tim had when he popped the question, if I would help write Aleck Bell. Of course I said ‘YES’ with excitement. However, in my head I felt worried. I didn’t feel worried about the idea. Even though his idea was pretty out there with turning the life story of Alexander Graham Bell into a staged Pop/Rock Musical. Believe me when I say I really thought Tim’s concept was interesting and a hit. I mostly was worried about myself writing the book for this epic musical. This was the challenge put upon me that day. Before then, I had written more than six plays. One of which was part of IANA’s 2008 season as a staged reading. As theatre playwrights know – the writing structure of a musical is much different from a standard 1-2 act play. I took on the challenge with an open mind and an open heart. Having gone through meeting after meeting with Tim, and several months of writer’s block, the show came to me as a clear vision. For four months straight, my laptop never left my lap. No one heard from me (sometimes for weeks). I knew this was going to be a big deal for IANA. I also knew this may be a big deal for my career.

Skip to May 26, 2011! Opening Night was quite insane – for me and everone else I believe. Besides my nerves, the night could not have gone better. The community loved the show, and so did the local press. This was a load of my back. But, [drum role] now comes the most exciting part of this whole process. Because of the huge success of IANA and the show in general, we are able to take this Canadian gem on a province wide tour. I get goosebumps just thinking about the Aleck Bell tour and what it will look like. What I’ve been told so far by Tim is that the show will be unbelievable. ‘Bigger and better’ is what is to be expected this August. I also think of how many people we will be reaching with this show. Not only is this show entertaining but it’s for all ages. I can’t wait for when my nephews get to observe from the audience, so they can tell me how much they learned. Oh, who am I kidding…they’re 7 and 10. Mostly they’ll just enjoy rocking out to a character from the 1800s singing a Hedley Medley!

I don’t really know how this has all happened. Since the opening I have had many people write me or openly tell me that the writing was wonderfully done and that Aleck Bell: A Canadian Pop Rock Musical has “comfortably found it’s room” in the Canadian Musical Theatre house. I feel very proud of myself, but more importantly the Bell team. I don’t think this show could have grown to what it is, without of course the IANA team, and the cast. The cast is what will make you stand up at the end of the show every night. What this cast can do in two acts is nothing short of brilliant. Tim has done it again and I for one feel blessed just to be a part of it all. My hope is that this show continues to grow, entertain, and teach. What the future has in store for me…who knows!? One thing is for sure, I can look back and say I did something great that will hopefully live on forever. I know that last sentence sounds like something Aleck Bell would say…. but it’s true.

~ Joel MacMeekin

Setting the Stage

Well, we continue to get closer and closer to our season, and as we approach our first production of the year, it is almost time for one of my favorite things.  Auditions.  I am excited for numerous reasons.  A) We get to find and work with a bunch of fantastic amazing new people, as well as some of our favorite people from past seasons.  B) We get to sit in a room for two days and immerse ourselves in the considerable talent this country has to offer.  C) I love meeting new people, and I love hearing people sing. 

This year most of the casting will be for our brand new production of GODSPELL.  I can’t tell you how excited I am for this show.  I really want it to be a representation of Canada, our culture, our background and our talent, so I am really looking forward to these auditions, and meeting some amazing new artists.

The notices will go out this week, and because we will be focused on GODSPELL, I thought I would focus a little bit more on it today, and more specifically, our cool new stage.

Before last year, the Marble Church Arts Centre didn’t have a stage, per-se.  We were still using the original Altar from when the building was a church.  When we started planning ALECK BELL, we decided this wasn’t going to be sufficient.  So I, along with some help from two fantastic local carpenters, Peter and Scott Mewett, designed a new playing space, that would be usable and adaptable for all of our productions, as well as anything else that may come through the Arts Centre.  We had to work around several restrictions.  A) We had to build dressing rooms into the current space.  B) Patrons have to be able to have total access to the back room, which is located behind stage left.  C) We needed to add some overhead lighting.  We took all of these factors into account and created the fantastic stage (Marvin, as we like to call him) that currently resides in the space.

We will be using this stage forever into the future, and essentially exactly as it is laid out currently for our production of STALKYARD HURTS.  However, for GODSPELL, we want to do something different yet again.  Because of my concept for the show (Which I can’t tell you about just yet, but is very exciting) we want to really open the space back up, so that we can fill it in and use it in a different way.  The bonus of this is that the stage will now have two totally convertible set ups, one that looks almost like a little house (The ALECK BELL configuration) and one that will act much more closely to that of a typical proscenium arch (For GODSPELL).  With a LOT of added features and bonuses.  This is going to take this space to a whole new level, and the set up for GODSPELL is going to blow your minds!

I love the Marble Church for its uniqueness, and its versatility, and I can’t wait to keep enhancing it and re-inventing it into the indefinite future.  We are so lucky to have this beautiful space in Tweed, and if you haven’t been yet, check out a show this year, or look it up online, drop in for a visit, or check out some of the pics on our website,

I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS SEASON!  I can’t wait to get going, work with some new people, create some new stuff, and share it with all of you!  Thanks for checking us out, and I will see you at the show!


So Much is Happening!

IANA has a big meeting tonight, and as I sit in my office, reviewing things to go over, I realize that because they may not constitute a whole blog post, there are a huge number of things that I have not talked about!  So, heres whats been going on!!!

First off, we were so excited to learn earlier this month that IANA Theatre Company had won the Best Independent Production of 2011 at the awards!  We are incredibly honoured to have won, and would like to thank everyone who came out and supported original Canadian Theatre this year, and we would also like to thank our fantastic sponsors who made all of this possible.  We couldn’t have done it without you!  Thank you so much! (Music starts playing, Tim is ushered offstage).  And congratulations to all the other winners, especially former IANA performers Melissa O’Neil for her Jesus Christ Superstar win, and David Light for his nomination as part of Billy Elliot.

The award has helped us get a lot of press coverage, you can read some of the articles here, and here, or you can check out the Municipality of Tweed’s website here, where we are currently the homepage story!

We are getting ever closer to our production of STALKYARD HURTS, and preparations are well underway.  Starting soon we will be looking for willing participants from Hastings County to be a part of the audio-visual elements of this production, watch out for that!  We are going to be including a lot of local talent in these videos, so watch out for your favorite area celebrities!

We will also be holding auditions in the next couple of months for our upcoming season.  We are always thrilled to meet and work with new talent, and we are so excited to add even more fantastic performers to our already incredible ensemble.  Here’s to 2012!

I also have a meeting tomorrow with our ALECK BELL set designer, the amazing David Butler, who has some colour renderings for me that I can’t wait to check out!  Maybe he’ll let me take a teaser photo…who knows.

And coming very soon we will be announcing our final production dates and venue for ALECK BELL in Toronto!  We are so excited to be bringing this show around the province.  If you are in any of the cities we are coming to, let us hear from you!  We are going to be doing quite a bit of promotion in Brockville, Stirling, Brantford and Toronto, and would love for you to be involved.  There are lots of great surprises in store for this year’s tour, it’s gonna be the best!

IANA will also be taking over the Canadians for Canadian Musical site on facebook and carrying on the great work that Robert Missen started over there.  Robert has been growing busier and busier (which is fantastic considering he represents all Canadian work!) and we are very excited to be continuing this great group.  Watch for lots more to come with that!

It is a great time for theatre in Ontario right now, with a tonne of shows extending and selling out, theatres announcing their very exciting seasons, and people gearing up for a great summer of theatre adventure!  And on that note, we are also incredibly excited to be members of ASTRO for the first time in 2012!  ASTRO is the Association of Summer Theatres Round Ontario and they do amazing work to promote regional theatre in the province.  We could not be more excited to be joining them.

What else, what else…I’m sure there is so much more, but it will have to wait for another time!  I’ve got to get back to work, and this is getting long-winded!  Check in at our website for loads more info about our upcoming season, and be sure to head out and take in some Canadian Theatre this month!

See you at the show!