WHAT DID THE AUDIENCE THINK?

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)

“Outstanding”

-Richard Turtle (EMC)

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

-@wickedlyinlove

“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”

-@morningman09

“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”

-@missalyssaross

“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!”

-@BMewett

“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)

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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)

STALKYARD

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!

Tim

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

www.JoelMacMeekin.org

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, www.ianatheatre.com.

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!

Tim

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 BroadwayWorld.com 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!

Tim

Building Quality: IANA Steps Forward

It is one of our goals to constantly increase the quality and entertainment value of our productions.  This year, we will be taking many more huge steps forward in this respect.  But before I go into them, I want to take a quick look at where we started.

We founded this company to provide opportunities to Canadian creators, performers and audiences, and a big part of that was making sure we started by doing the best work that we could, and that we grew on that every year.  In our first season we asked the most talented people that we knew to come on that journey with us and we have never looked back.  We are lucky enough to count some of the best young creative minds in the country as part of our team, and we add more people to this list every year.  This list includes people like writer/videographer/actor Joel MacMeekin, who you can read all about in an earlier post, choreographers Emilee Nimetz, Stephan Dickson and Ashley Earl, and some of the best actors in the country.

We pride ourselves on finding the best people for the job, and giving them the opportunity to shine.  And then come all the other elements of a production.  We started out with 8 lights, no microphones, and essentially no stage.  We now have a fully functioning stage, twice the lighting instruments, and this season we will be purchasing a full set of microphones.  We will also be adding additional lighting effects, and enhancing our stage space yet again.

And of course, we can’t forget our sets and costumes.  We have built a large portion of our costumes since the beginning, but this season will see our biggest set and costume budgets to date, with additional time and materials being put into all of our costuming.  We are also very lucky this season to be joined on a regular basis by incredible set designer David Butler.  Dave worked on our set for ‘Tweed: The Musical’ last year, and we don’t plan on letting him get away any time soon.  His designs for ALECK BELL are going to blow the audience away.  I am so excited to take that huge step forward.

We believe in being the best that we can be, and constantly pushing our boundaries and making more of our work.  We are so excited about all of our productions this season, and we can’t wait to show you everything that we have in store.  2012 is going to mark another major season in our development, so come on out and check out some quality original Canadian Musical Theatre!

See you at the show!

Exploring Our Audience…IANA’s 100KM Reach

This weekend I am going on a great adventure.  Thursday morning the adventure begins.

We want to make sure that everyone in the area knows about our season this year and has the opportunity to visit us at the Marble Church.  For that reason, we are starting a 100km reach from Tweed.  Our new posters have been designed and printed, the routes all planned, and the rental car is booked.

I have to say I am incredibly excited to see many towns that I have never had the reason or opportunity to visit, and go on a little mini vacation road trip around Ontario.  I also plan on stopping in at many local theatres (Some I have coffee dates with) and seeing how we can all better promote our events and get more people in the theatre!

At the end of my trip, or possibly throughout, I will write another Blog post to tell all about my grand adventures, and what I discover on my trip.  Thursday will take me from Tweed, to Napanee, to Kingston, to Perth, to Sharbot Lake, to Tamworth and everywhere in between!

Friday will start in Actinolite, head to Kaladar, Queensborough, Bancroft, Peterborough, Hastings, Campbellford, Marmora, Madoc and again, everywhere in between.

Saturday begins in Stirling, heads to Frankford, Trenton, Carrying Place, Bloomfiled, Picton, and finally ending in Belleville, and, you guessed it, everywhere in between!

I am very excited, and can’t wait to see all these little hamlets, visit with the people there, shop at local stores, eat at unique restaurants and put up our great new posters!  I would love to hear any suggestions of favourite haunts of yours and hear about your favorite spots in Eastern Ontario.

I will be tweeting regularly during my adventure, and writing a big blog post about the trip.  And if I don’t see you this weekend then I’ll see you at the show!

Tim

How we’re doing things differently…and how that involves you…

As 2011 winds down, I thought we would take a little retrospective on our season, and look at how we’ve changed, where we’re headed, and new things that we’re trying in 2012.

2011 was a massive year for us.  We produced our second full length original Canadian Musical ‘ALECK BELL: A Canadian Pop Rock Musical’ which received much critically acclaim, and is going on to tour the province next year.  As I have already said in a previous blog post, it is my proudest accomplishment to date.  Then, we took a huge leap, and brought our production of ‘TWEED: A New Canadian Musical’ to the Papermill Theatre in Toronto.  This show has meant so much to me over the last four years, and I can’t even describe how it felt to bring the show to the city.  Huge.  It felt amazing, and I loved every minute of it.

This year saw our highest attendance ever, it started the great tradition of our GALA opening nights, another great tradition that we will hopefully see in many future seasons our Dark Night Cabaret series, the addition of a stage, dressing rooms and bar to the Marble Church Arts Centre, Our first foray into the world of Toronto theatre, the most actors/creative/crew we have ever employed, and our nomination for 20 BroadwayWorld.com awards.

And now, before the year even begins, our preparation for the 2012 season has already seen another round of drastic changes and accomplishments.  We now have a huge social media presence (Check out our blog-obviously you are, our twitter, our facebook group and fan page, our YouTube channel, our wicked new website, and our presence on hundreds of tourism sites and event listings).  We have also started partnerships with the Stirling Festival Theatre, the Brockville Arts Centre, and the Sanderson Centre in Brantford, all of which will hopefully lead to lasting lifelong associations.  We are also working on our third full-scale original Canadian Musical which is so exciting.  Every time we get to work with hilarious, dedicated, incredibly talented new teams I get overwhelmingly excited.  We are also so happy and so fortunate to have Jon Deighan join us as a permanent member of our team.  This Communications wiz, and awesome guy(seriously, he’s the best), will make all the difference in our continued success.  And, we are so happy to be working closely with the municipality of Tweed this season to take things to the next level, and ensure the success of our community and our company.

And possibly even more important is our good fortune to be able to continue to work with our fabulous team, members, sponsors and friends who will be joining us again this year.  We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our patrons, and of our fabulous General Manager Emily Mewett, our incredible ensemble of actors and creators, and our amazing volunteers!  We consider ourselves so lucky that we will once again have the assistance of so many incredible people in putting together an incredible season of Canadian Theatrical Entertainment!

We have a lot of really cool new initiatives starting this year, and I’m going to fill you in on one of the things I’m most excited about.  This year we are introducing a new way of supporting IANA, and a fun new opportunity to be involved in our productions.  It’s called a Show Sponsorship, but it is so much more than that.  We wanted to find a way this season to really get our patrons in on the action, and we came up with a real cool idea, that I can’t wait to continue to build on and grow in the future.  We are the only company that I know of that does this, and I think it is the most fun!  This year, for very small amounts of money, you can sponsor a specific element of a production.  SO say you have always been fascinated with the sets of plays, and say you are so excited for our brand new Canadian Musical STALKYARD HURTS.  I know I am.  Well, for $350 you can become the set sponsor for Stalkyard.  That means that you can take sole credit for the amazing new pieces we are creating for that production, and you can tell your friends, ‘Hey, that set?  Yeah, I sponsored it.’  Or something along those lines, how you gloat is up to you.  And then, the coolest part.  IANA will find some way to incorporate your name or something about you or your personality into the element you sponsor.  For example, part of the STALKYARD HURTS set is going to be the addition of several of the bands old show posters, maybe one of those posters features you as a model?  Maybe the title of that album just happens to be your full name?  Possibilities are endless, and you literally get to see you name up in lights!  AND..yes, there’s more…every single one of our show sponsors will receive a poster signed by the cast.

There is a lot of cool and exciting stuff happening right now, much of which I can’t discuss at the moment, but that is going to take this company to the next level yet again, and bring Canadian Musical Theatre right along with it.  We hope you’ll join us this season as we continue to build, grab life by the horns, and put it on stage!  Happy holidays, have a fun and safe New Years, and..we’ll see you at the show!!!!

Tim

IANA on Tour: ALECK BELL Takes to the Road

In 2012, ALECK BELL: A Canadian Pop Rock Musical is going on tour.  Here’s where it all began…

At the end of 2010, when I sat down to plan our next season, I knew it had to be big.  We were coming off a really amazing year, with our first full season of production in Tweed, and our first full-scale original Canadian Musical.  We had already decided that we would be bringing our musical ‘TWEED!’ to Toronto, and we wanted to create another new show for our season in Tweed.

I had been wanting to do a musical using Canadian pop rock music, but as of yet had not found the right subject.  As it got closer and closer to the time to settle on a season, I still hadn’t really come up with much.  I was scanning through a list of famous Canadians one afternoon, and stumbled upon Alexander Graham Bell.  For some reason, out of all of the amazing people on that list, Aleck Bell jumped out at me.  The next day I went out and bought a biography of Mr. Bell.  What I found there was amazing.

Alexander Graham Bell led a fascinating and incredible life.  He was an incredible man with a brilliant mind, and his story was meant to be told.  I decided that this was the show I wanted to do.  I began to make notes about what we would want in the production, and almost immediately approached my good friend Joel MacMeekin to help me write the show.  We sat down shortly after and started to figure out a plot line, and choose music from the huge Canadian Pop Rock Cannon.  Before we knew it we had a solid story line, some great tunes, and a beautiful story.

Joel took that away, and over the course of the next couple months wrote a brilliant show.  We sat down a few more times, figured out some details, polished the show, and finally had something that we were ready to put on stage.  We had our auditions, we booked our dates, we rented the instruments, and we were ready to start.

How we found the cast that we did, and how they all agreed to do the production will forever be beyond me.  This group of people is really better than we could have ever imagined, and we were instantly, and continue to be, in love with them.  They took every little bit of this story to heart, and told it with a truth, talent and integrity like I have never seen before.  The brilliant Emilee Nimetz agreed to choreograph the show, and exceeded our expectations.  All around, this production is my proudest moment to date.  The show came together like magic, and blew Joel and I away.  We knew instantly that this show would be going places.

Over the course of our run, several members of the Stirling Festival Theatre’s board and staff came to see the production.  We are lucky to count Stirling Theatre as our friends, and shortly after our production had closed, Stirling approached us to include BELL as part of their 2012 season.  We were honoured and excited and of course ecstatically agreed!

We then began the process of booking other venues and planning where else we would like to take the show.  We already knew we wanted to bring the show to Toronto after our success there with TWEED, so that was an easy one.  We then sat down to think where else the show would fit, and where else we would like to take it.

The next easiest choice was the beautiful city of Brockville.  Joel and I both attended St. Lawrence College and had done all of our productions there at the Brockville Arts Centre.  The BAC was like a second home to us, and we were so excited when the whole team there jumped on board with us.  We are thrilled to be spending four days at the beautifully renovated Brockville Arts Centre.  I think this show is really going to hit home there, and I literally can’t wait to show it to them.

Next, came our last stop, and again, a fairly obvious choice.  When the Bell’s first crossed the Atlantic and came to Canada, they settled in a beautiful little town in regional Ontario.  That town was Brantford.  I have performed at the Sanderson Centre in Brantford on numerous occasions, and it has got to be one of the most stunning, well maintained, kindest venues in the country.  We pitched the show to them, and again, they were very excited to welcome us in.  We set the dates, and confirmed the production there.  I can’t wait to bring this show to the city of Brantford, and tell the story of this remarkable man in his Ontario home.  I think it is going to be a really magical experience.

So the tour was set, and now it’s time to get the show ready!  We are incredibly lucky and excited to be welcoming back most of our original cast, with a few new people who are sure to blow your mind.  We also have a really exciting new set designed by Mr. David Butler.  Dave has created something that is really going to be the perfect home for this production, with lots of surprises and stunning inclusions.

And there’s lots more in store as well.  We have already purchased our first beautiful antique piano that will be touring with us, we have our wicked new drum kit, and there is loads more in the works!  New lighting effects, microphones, additional costumes, this show is going to be huge!  The biggest we have ever produced!

We are so excited about everything that is happening this season, and we are insanely excited for this tour.  We are going to four theatres that we love, four towns that we love, with a show that we couldn’t love more.  This production means the world to me, and hopefully you will have an opportunity to come and experience it with us.  See you at the show!!