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)


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