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)

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

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

2012: A Season Odyssey

To produce a show, or not to produce a show?  That is the question… Well, not really, I always want to produce a show.  But what show?  And when?  Isn’t it so fascinating and telling what theatre companies pick what shows, and why?  I think so.  In our case, it’s pretty simple actually.  First and foremost, we love creating new shows, so we produce them quite frequently.  And that doesn’t involve choosing a show at all.  But this year, for the first time, we found ourselves in the situation of wanting to do someone else’s show, and also, wanting for an additional show.

We decided fairly early on when choosing what we were going to do in 2012 that we would like to do a ‘season’ at the Marble Church Arts Centre in Tweed.  The venue and the town have definitely situated themselves in our hearts as our home venue.  And we couldn’t be happier.  We also decided early on, or knew from the get-go, that we wanted to do more with our production of ALECK BELL.  This problem solved itself relatively easily, when the Stirling Festival approached us to do a co-production, and the rest of the venues kind of fell into place after that.  The Brockville Arts Centre is really like my second home as a performer (after the Stirling Festival) having spent a large chunk of three years in that building while I was attending St. Lawrence College.  We are incredibly grateful to Peter Dunn for all of his help and encouragement in booking our show there.  And then, the next obvious choice seemed to be to bring the show to the Bell’s Canadian home, Brantford, Ontario.  It is in Western Canada, which is a new and exciting frontier for us as a company, but a place I have enjoyed tremendously in the past as a performer.  I was back in Brantford performing with a company earlier this year, and visited the Bell’s homestead site.  I knew instantly that I wanted to bring the show there.  And then of course, we will bring the show to Toronto!  The hub of the Canadian Musical Theatre community, many of our friends and closest connections are in the city, and it is really a proving ground for us, and hopefully a launching pad for future endeavors.  We love the enthusiastic response we get when we tour there, and will go back as often as we can.  And this year in an exciting new venue…

But, back to Tweed.  Last year really solidified the fact that we are part of the community, and we are looking forward to a long and happy life there.  So, we knew we wanted to do a season at the Marble Church.  Now, we have also known that although our mandate is the creation and production of original Canadian Musical Theatre, for our experiences, our audiences, and our creative juices we want to produce some big Broadway shows!  We have been talking about it more and more over the past few months, and I finally decided it was high time we do a Broadway show.  So, one that I have always wanted to play with, is Stephen Schwartz’s GODSPELL.  Long before he penned wicked, Mr. Schwartz wrote this beautiful, hysterical musical, that has had a long history in our country, and a fantastic following to boot.  This show fell into place.

But then, our planning hit a bit of a snag.  We were not planning to write a show this season.  Instead, we were going to do the fantastic Canadian Musical ‘Billy Bishop Goes To War’, and well I’m sure we will produce this show someday in future, it was not to be this season.  So at this point, this is where we were at.  We knew that ALECK BELL would be touring, great.  We knew we were doing GODSPELL in Tweed, great.  We wanted a season in Tweed, hmmm.  At this point you could find me locked in the reference library for hours, reading Canadian plays, and actively discussing with all of my comrades in the industry what they would like to see on our stage.

Then, I went on a little trip out to New Brunswick.  I spent the past month in the really amazing, and ridiculously fun FLINT improv house in Sackville, NB.  My good friend Justin Collette, who many of you will recognize from our production of ALECK BELL as Mark Twain, etc, had invited me to come out and take part in this project he was doing.  We were doing TWEED the musical at the time, and I had mentioned to Justin that I planned to take November off to work on the company, plan the season, etc, and Justin invited me out to the house.  I gladly agreed, and when November rolled around I hopped on a flight to the coast.  Little did I know what an amazing and necessary experience this trip would be. 

It was only a few minutes after I had stepped off the plane when I mentioned my conundrum to Justin and asked if he had any suggestions for what other show we should do in Tweed this season.  Almost immediately Justin said, ‘Well, let’s write one’.  Knowing the man’s talent, and the talent that I was about to spend the month with, I of course replied with a triumphant YES!  We went straight to a restaurant in Moncton, sat down, had a bite, and started to come up with ideas.  It was here that Justin had the stroke of Genius.  About mid way through our meal, after boycotting a couple of earlier suggestions, and having been silent for several minutes, Justin pitched ‘STALKYARD HURTS’.  I loved the idea immediately, and the more he explained, the more excited I got.  The show leapt from Justin’s mouth, and by the time we finally got to the house that night, a good portion of it had already written itself.

The next day we told the idea to our good friend Danielle Leger, who eagerly agreed to help us write the show, and gave us many great ideas of her own.  Over the next few weeks, we locked ourselves in ‘the writing room’ on several occasions, and wrote and wrote, played and played, and STALKYARD HURTS was slowly born.

I could not be more excited about this show, and should also mention some of the other amazing cast members who joined us in Sackville, miss Tricia Black and miss Karine Berube.  Tricia trained with Justin at second city Chicago, and after seeing her on stage with FLINT several times, I am so excited to have her as a part of this show.  The girl is FUUUNNY.  Just wait… And of course, the beautiful and talented Karine Berube who played Mrs. Mabel Bell in ALECK BELL last season, and will be reprising her role this year.  Karine is an exceptionally talented performer, and we count ourselves lucky to have her as part of our team.

FLINT was an amazing experience all around.  Basically, Justin and his friends Luke and Scott, two other hysterically funny people, have collected the best improv performers and stand up comedians from across the country, put them all in a huge house together, and all day every day they create great comedy, and perform two to three shows a week at the local theatre.  It is an amazing place, and if you get a chance to check out one of their shows…DO IT!  I am so happy to have met and worked and played with all of those people, and I hope very much to do it again soon.

But wait!  I will!  When we mount a fully realised production of ‘STALKYARD HURTS: The 2012 End of the World Reunion Tour’ this May.

So that, my friends, is how IANA Theatre Company plans their seasons.  At least it’s how we planned this one, but I can assure you, next year will be totally different.  Oh, and by the way, an odyssey is defined as a long series of wanderings or adventures, especially when filled with notable experiences, hardships, etc.  I think the perfect way to define the planning of our 2012 season.  But boy, I couldn’t be happier.  See you at the show!