Artist

In Defence of the Comfort Read.

Books have always defined me.   When I was a kid, the local library had to set a limit on the number of books I was allowed to check out at one time.   The limit was set by one incredulous librarian who had never encountered me before, and arbitrarily set the limit of books I could take out to 34.   I remember her even more incredulous look when I was back in just over two weeks, all 34 read and ready to be returned.  A good vacation was one where I could get through at least a book a day.   I often walked home from school with a book in front of my face.   When I started having problems sleeping at a very young age, my mother always told me that it was OK to stay awake, as long as I stayed in my bed, and so I would often read through the night.  Beloved books were often re-read, countless times.  

And I read anything and everything, even if I didn't understand it.  I read Jane Eyre in Grade Three.  At that age,  I thought it was purely a horror novel due to the scary room Jane's aunt locks her in, the terrible atmosphere at Lowood School, and the crazy wife locked in the attic - only subsequent re-reads as an adult allowed me to see the powerful romance between Jane and Rochester as the driving force of that novel. Anything by L.M. Montgomery was a particular favourite of mine, although I much preferred the aspiring writer, Emily Starr, to Anne Shirley.  I read every popular murder mystery and thriller my parents read:  Mary Higgins Clark, Patricia Cornwell, Sidney Sheldon, Nelson De Mille.  Nothing was off-limits from their bookshelves.  If you asked me what my favourite book was at age 11, I would have told you it was Gone With the Wind, and meant it.  As I entered my "teen" years, I added romances: Jackie Collins, Danielle Steel, The Judiths (Krantz and McNaught) and the very disturbing catalogue of V.C. Andrews to my repertoire.  At the relatively late age of 15, I discovered Jane Austen and life has never been the same. 

Given the prominence of books in my life, there was never any question that I would study literature.   All through my English degree, I spent my off-hours working in an antique bookstore.  I was never not talking about, thinking about, or reading, books.  Books are what I know best of all.  I still don't know what possessed me to leave the English department after completing my undergraduate degree, to push off to the very unknown world of law (well, I do know what possessed me, and it wasn't a very good reason - but that's another post for another time),  because I loved studying English.   The language of literature - of novels, poetry, drama - was, and is, one that I speak fluently.   I know, inherently, in my soul, the magic of language.  

However, somewhere during and after my studies, both undergraduate and postgraduate, and during this past decade of building my law career, my relationship with books subtly changed.  Not only was I reading so much for work that I had little time to read for pleasure, but, I became a huge snob about it.   As a member of the esteemed Faculty of English, I couldn't read Danielle Steel, for goodness sake, and these books went out the door to be surreptitiously dumped in the nearest charity drop-off bin.  For a good chunk of time, I only read biographies and non-fiction, and could only stomach a novel if it was "acclaimed" - if it wasn't on an awards long or short list,  or mentioned breathlessly on CBC Radio as a must-read, I wouldn't touch it.  I would privately sneer at Sophie Kinsella or JoJo Moyes books that well-meaning loved ones had bought me as gifts.  How I chose what I read was less about whether I thought I would enjoy it, and more about whether I thought I was *supposed* to enjoy it, whether it was something my professors would read, or, worse, what it said about me as a person to have that book on my shelf.  My pleasure reading intake tapered dramatically, as my GoodReads list of books read helpfully, and publicly, illustrates.

This fall, I started looking at the online books offered by my library.  I loved that I didn't have to try and schedule a library visit to find books to read.  I could browse the catalogue and download something to my iPad whenever the mood struck.   Before I went home to Victoria for the holidays, I downloaded a book by an author I'd never heard of, Jenny Colgan, that I thought looked like fun.  It didn't look like it was going to win any awards, but it didn't have a cotton-candy pink cover with a high heel on it, either. Because it was free, downloaded on a whim (and, OK, I admit, it could be read in secret on my iPad) my usual concerns about whether it was "literary" or "noteworthy" didn't seem as pressing. 

The book was called The Bookshop on the Corner.  The premise involves a heroine who has been made redundant at her job at a local library in Birmingham in the UK, so she buys a bus that she turns into a travelling bookstore, and moves to a tiny village in Scotland, where she of course finds love with a hunky farmer and her bookstore is a dazzling success.   I found Colgan's writing witty, charming and romantic without being saccharine.  I devoured it in a night, relegated to the air mattress in the den at my brother's house.  I instantly wanted to read more.   Up next: her series (yes, there was more than one!) about a London woman who is fired from her job in marketing and starts a successful cupcake bakery (and of course finds love with the local banker who gave her her small business loan).  Then it was onto the series about the London lawyer who leaves behind her job in a corporate firm to return home to her Scottish Isles home to run a bakeshop with her cheese-making brother, and the series about the woman whose design business with her boyfriend goes bankrupt, so she moves to Cornwall to start a bakery and live in a lighthouse with a pet puffin (and has a romance with the local beekeeper).  In about a three week period, I read every rom-com novel Jenny Colgan had ever written, and tweeted her to ask when her next book was coming out.  I also took to Indigo and Amazon to do the "If you liked Jenny Colgan, you'll love X/People also search for" searches, to find authors who might write similar kind of stuff.  At my local used bookstore (which also serves coffee, because THEY KNOW), I asked for Jenny Colgan books, and was directed to Jill Mansell, Emily Giffin, and Cecila Ahern. I dove into some YA greats, and re-read childhood favourites I've had on my shelf forever.  Since January, I have enthusiastically, unashamedly, had my nose in a book 24/7, and I love it.

I am enjoying reading again, in a way I haven't in years, and it's because I'm reading things I enjoy, rather than things I think I ought to enjoy.  I've discovered a whole Twitterverse of other people, including both authors and readers, who enjoy this type of writing, and I enthusiastically bookmark recommendations from favourites.  In March, the author Jasmine Guillory (whose book The Wedding Date, a romcom about a couple who meet cute in an elevator in San Francisco is delightful - and if you don't believe me, Roxane Gay did the blurb) asked Twitter for recommendations for "soothing books" and I have been methodically working my way through the list of romances, mysteries and YA novels that other people subsequently recommended.  I am yet to be disappointed.  Reading is a comfort again, in a way that is hasn't been in a long, long, time.  

I am using the words "comfort" and "comfort reads" deliberately to describe these books I am now in love with.  I only want to categorize a book based on the feeling it gives me, rather than on a preconceived notion of who the audience of the book should be.  Using the sneeringly misogynist term "chicklit," or the oft-used "trashy romance", really means making pre-judgments on an entire genre's worth by limiting its audience.  To dismiss YA novels as only for children means to miss out on some wonderful stories that adults could learn a thing or two from.  To say that rom-com or mystery or YA books are not literary, or well-written, is ignorant and untrue.  There is some masterful writing done in these genres.   There is also terrible writing done in these genres, but there is terrible writing done in Canlit or more high-brow fiction - I know because I've slogged through a lot of it. 

What these "comfort read" books do for me, which my previous reading habits did not, is to invite me to escape a little from my real life.  I've always fantasized about quitting law, to start a decorating business, or a clothing boutique, to become a novelist or run my own bookshop, and in reading these books, I can live that life, just for a few hours.  It always turns out happily in the end, there's no worry about paying car payments and mortgages, and there's always love.   The prose isn't too challenging, nor is the plot hard to follow, so I can turn my exhausted brain off for an hour or two after a long day at work and just enjoy the story.  Why this had any less merit to my former self than a Giller Prize nominated novel, I don't know. 

I'm not trying to say that I no longer enjoy more literary, prize-winning novels.  I still can, and do, read these.  I've been slowly making my way through the latest Giller Prize shortlist, and this year's Canada Reads nominees.   But I also know when a book is too challenging for my current state of being, and I also don't feel bad putting down a book that I'm finding it difficult to get through, to turn to something I might enjoy a little more. 

This rediscovered love of comfort reads makes me wonder how we determine the literary merit of a book to begin with. I know my English student self would say that it's about the craft that has gone into the work (although that somehow implies there's no craft in rom-com or YA, which is patently false). That it's about hearing stories that urgently need to be told, that might not have happy endings but that hold up a mirror to society and make us question ourselves.  But my late thirties, world-weary lawyer self would reply that right now I can't contemplate re-reading The Handmaid's Tale without having a panic attack about how close it is to real life, that I am all too aware of the horrors of society to need it spelled out in the latest post-apocalyptic bestseller.  That reading a book about a woman baking bread while chatting to her pet puffin named Neil seems like it would be relaxing, something to be done perhaps while having a glass of wine (or whisky).   

Maybe to have merit a book just needs to make you feel...something.  And right now, what I want to feel is happy, so I welcome the comfort read with arms (and eyes) wide open.  There will be no more book snobbery from me.   My comfort reads will  take up equal space next to the Pulitzer and Man Booker Prize winners, and I will read them with the covers out, loud and proud.  

 

blur-books-close-up-159866.jpg

Brief Encounters 19.

This week I'm performing in Brief Encounters 19.  Produced by The Tomorrow Collective, this performance series pairs 10 artists from different disciplines together, gives them two weeks to create, and then throws them onstage for three nights to perform.   I was contacted by the producers a few months ago.  They had seen me onstage before, and knew I could sing, act and (somewhat) dance, but they were intrigued that I was also a lawyer.  They wondered, would I be interested in being one of the Brief Encounters artists with my lawyer hat on?

The thought of meeting another artist, writing something (I don't usually write music or plays - this blog, my columns and the odd short story are about as far as I go), and then performing it - well, frankly, it terrified me, which is why I had to say yes.  So I did. 

I was pretty sure (and some of the artists have since admitted) that the person who got the lawyer as their partner was going to be choked and feel like they had to carry me through our 15 minutes (max).  And when I got paired with comedian Wes Borg, I was quick to reassure him that I had some artistic background to help us out. 

The first challenge for our pair was that Wes lives in Victoria, and I'm in Vancouver, and really stupid busy, between my jobs and Spamalot.  On my last free Saturday I flew over to Victoria to meet with Wes at his place to write our piece.  Instead, we ended up brainstorming a few ideas and then going to the Beacon Hill petting zoo to look at the baby goats and baby pigs.  Wes seemed unconcerned with us having something written that day, so I didn't press the issue.  It felt like a weird first date.  

Anyway, tonight's our first show, and I think it'll be fun.  Before we even met, Wes had the idea of us doing "Copyright Infringement: The Musical," and he kept going back to that throughout our brainstorming and writing process, so that's what we're doing.  I think you'll like it.  I've been sitting in dress rehearsal watching other pairs today and the other pieces are fascinatingly eclectic and cover a diverse array of themes.  It's really worth checking us out.  It's like the Pick n' Mix of art - if you don't like one piece in the bag, reach down a little further and you might find one you enjoy.

Brief Encounters runs tonight through Saturday at Performance Works on Granville Island.  Tickets are available online here.  Use promo code "DANIELLE" to get a discount.   Be sure to listen to North by Northwest this Saturday morning on CBC Radio One, as Wes and I will be talking about our collaboration. 

Post-Show Blues.

It's been a busy year for me so far

in all respects, but it

's been particularly packed with theatre,

having appeared in three shows since February.  It's always a bit of a let-down when a show is over, but in particular, my last two shows, Assassins, with

Pipedream Theatre Project

, and then Spamalot, the

2013 Lawyer Show

in which I played the Lady of the Lake (and which closed its sold out run last night), were fantastic experiences with great casts, and the end of each production has caused some major post-performance blues.  It's tough s

aying good bye to people you'

ve become used to seeing every day - yes, you'll see each other again, but

it's never the same, and the i

n

-jokes become a little stale as time goes by

, and you each join other casts and bond with new people.

So how does one get over that?  There are a few tried and true methods:

1) Lots and lots of gin at the cast party on Closing Night.  That way, the next day you are too hung over to feel anything but, well, hung over.   Beware, though - you walk a fine line between a "comfortable" hangover - meaning one where the effects can be somewhat easily remedied by McDonald's and re-runs of Buffy - and wretched misery the next day.  This was my chosen method for Assassins and worked out quite well, except for the miserable 9 a.m. walk back to our party location to pick up my Modo car the next morning. 

2) Abject wallowing.  Sleep in, refuse to get out of your PJs or brush your hair, re-live the "glory days" on Facebook, eat Goldfish crackers incessantly and talk to your cat.  This is what I've done today, as I only had one (!) scotch on the rocks at our Spamalot hijinx last night.  

I think my mom suspected that the post-show blues would be kicking in and acted accordingly.  She and my dad were here this weekend to see the show, and she quietly left a bottle of her perfume, which she has worn my whole life and which I refer to as "Momma smell," on my vanity, next to my own signature scent: 

Sometimes a girl just wants a hug from her mom, and when that isn't possible, well, at least she can SMELL her mom. 

The bright side of this whole shows-ending thing is that my roommate and common-law kitty is extremely pleased to have me at home:

I know I'm just being my melodramatic self, and I'll be fine (meaning highly functional though melodramatic) tomorrow.  But I'm having a good old fashioned sulk tonight while watching UK police procedurals in my jammies.   There may even be gin involved.

Come see Dani in Assassins, April 3 - 13, 2013 at Performance Works

There are a few shows that end up on any musical theatre performer's bucket list. 

Assassins,

by Stephen Sondheim, is without a doubt one of them...which is why I'm so pleased to be appearing in Pipedream Theatre Project's production of the show, opening next week at Performance Works on Granville Island.  I'm featured in the ensemble and also playing Emma Goldman, the radical feminist and anarchist who inspired Leon Czolgosz (played by Dane Warren) to assassinate William McKinley in 1901.

Assassins

first opened Off-Broadway in 1990, and the 2004 Broadway production won five Tony Awards, including Best Revival.

This innovative piece of musical theatre uses the premise of a murderous carnival game to present a revue- style portrayal of nine men and women whoʼve attempted or succeeded to assassinate American Presidents. The rules of time and space are bent, taking us on a nightmarish roller coaster ride in which assassins from different historical periods, from John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, meet, interact and inspire each other to harrowing acts in the name of the American Dream.

Assassins

examines societal violence and its contributing factors such as social and economic inequality, political corruption, lack of resources and care for the mentally ill, and gun control. It is Pipedreamʼs hope that this show will keep the discussion of these issues open and inspire the kind of critical thinking in our audience that can lead to positive change.

The casting for this show has been nothing less than inspired and all of the performers have been a delight to rehearse with. 

Assassins

stars:

Victor Hunter as the Balladeer

Alex Nicoll as John Wilkes Booth

Cameron Dunster as Charles Guiteau

Dane Warren as Leon Czolgosz

Alex Dafoe as Samuel Byck

Kurt Schindelka as Giuseppe Zangara

Ben Bilodeau as John Hinckley

Missy Cross as Lynette 'Squeeky' Fromme

Keri Smith as Sarah Jane Moore

Nikolai Witschl as Lee Harvey Oswald

Matt Hume as the Proprietor

Danielle Lemon

Steffanie Davis

Ryan Scramstad

Martin Story-Kapusta

Eric Biskupski

Produced by Keith Opatovsky

Directed by April Green

Musical Director Kerry O'Donovan

Choreography by Meagan Ekelund

You can buy your tickets online here.

On Curtain Calls

I'm appearing in 

The Rimers of Eldritch

at Jericho Arts Centre until Saturday.  This Lanford Wilson drama takes place in a decaying Bible-belt town in Missouri.  The entire 17 member ensemble is onstage for the entire play.  Our director, Ryan Mooney, made what I think is a really interesting choice, to have all of us "town folk" onstage when the audience arrives, doing "town business" (my character, Martha, is cross-stitching and gossiping with her best friend, Wilma), and to stay in "town mode" during intermission.  At the conclusion of the play, in which a number of shocking events happen in quick succession, we do not bow or have a curtain call - we simply return to our activity in the town, and then quietly leave the stage, one by one.

The result has been that audiences have not really been clapping at the conclusion of the show - I think because they are not sure the performance is over until we have all left the stage.  From an audience point of view, we have been told that it's an emotionally powerful ending that leaves the audience feeling tense and uncomfortable - which is what we want them to feel.  However, as an actor I have to admit it's a little bit disconcerting.  I like the catharsis of stepping out of character, and being acknowledged by the audience for my work.  So the result is that I also leave the performance without resolution, feeling a little bit tense and uncomfortable.  It takes me an hour or so after the show to really let it go and shake off the emotions of the performance.

Don't get me wrong - I think our director, Ryan Mooney, made some brilliant choices in terms of staging, and I think it's been an interesting experiment that subverts tradition in a way that works for the piece.   And there is a history of shows that have no have curtain calls (

Showboat

?! Who knew?!), and I found lots of discussion on the Internet on this point (

Exhibit A

), and Ryan has had some very interesting conversations online with other directors who have concurred that in the right context, the lack of a curtain call can be extremely powerful.

What do you think?  Have you ever been to or in a show where there was no curtain call?  Did you see Rimers?  How did it make you feel?

If you'd like to see the show and experience what I'm talking about for yourself, we have performances until Saturday.  You can can buy tickets online at the Jericho Arts Centre's

website

.

Talking about Redemption on Definitely Not the Opera

I am featured on this week's episode of CBC Radio's "Definitely Not the Opera."  The theme was redemption, and I had been contacted by a producer who thought it might be interesting to talk to - she had read this blog and noticed that I had viewed the Stanley Cup Riot cleanup in 2011 as a kind of redemption for our city.

You can find a summary of the episode, as well as a link to the podcast, here.

I felt privileged to be ask to speak on behalf of the hundreds of volunteers who came out to help last year, but I also feel humbled and a little bit sheepish at the inordinate amount of attention I have personally gotten for being just one of many people out on the streets - it's not like the clean-up was some operation that I directed or inspired. I just chose to be a part of it.  So I wanted to just state for the record that I acknowledge, appreciate and salute all of the people that were a part of our riot cleanup crew.  Special shout-outs to my friend Kate, who I spent the day with, and the many friends we met that day: Katelynn, Tim, and countless others, some of whose names we never knew.  Thank you, all of you.

You can view my photos of the cleanup and my account of the day here.

Many thanks to CBC producer Jenna Cameron and the rest of the DNTO team for the opportunity to be a part of the show.

My First Fringe

My first experience with a fringe festival was growing up in Victoria.  As a poor student, I didn't have the opportunity to go to tons of theatre unless my parents paid (which they often did).  Also, Victoria was (is) a small-ish town and there wasn't always tons going on.  So I loved the Victoria Fringe Festival, where I could buy a relatively inexpensive pass and skip from show to show to show.  I spent hours flipping through the Fringe guide, plotting and planning the shows to see.    Some of the shows were fantastic.  Some were transformative.  Some were god-awful.  But that "pick-n-mix" aspect of Fringe was liberating, inspiring, exhilarating.

This year is my first Fringe as an artist.  I am performing in a new musical work called CAPS LOCK, which is a modern office romance, appearing on the main stage at Studio 16 (1555 West 7th) during the Vancouver International Fringe Festival.  We've been working hard all summer on this show - hence my relative silence here on this blog - and tonight was our opening.

What I never realized before is that the sheer volume of shows put on by Fringe, in a limited number of venues, means: a) very little time in your actual venue to rehearse; and b) a mere 15 minutes at the top and tail of each show to get in costume, get your set ready, and post-show, strike the set and get the hell outta dodge so the next show goes up in time.  YOWZA.  For a theatrical control-freak like me, today - our tech day in our venue and also our opening, within 2 hours - was the epitome of stressful.

The CAPS LOCK team had its first look at the venue in which we'd be performing at noon today, with our opening scheduled for 5 pm.  This means that at 12, our production team first laid eyes on the stage it now had to dress, the lighting board it now had to program, and the screen where we wanted to project various slides during the show (oooh, fancy!).  It meant we had to figure out where to squeeze the 7 piece orchestra.  Just how far apart we could place the characters' desks in the "office."  Where we had to stand for lighting cues.  Whether our choreography was going to fit on the stage we had.  Whether the technical effects were going to be timed properly with our performance.  Whether the sound cues would happen on time.  You know.  No big deal.

Well, actually, very big deal.  The screen wasn't high enough for the audience to see.  There wasn't enough room for the cello.  Was the double-bass going to be able to see our music director/composer?  If I stood here would I still be in the light?  By 2:30 p.m. we had just finished setting props.  There was no time to do an actual run in the space - we'd have to just rehearse particular cues, do as much of a stop-and-start of problem areas as we could, and then hope for the best for our opening at 5:00 p.m.   So that was it.  We were going to go on, in front of an audience, having not fully rehearsed the show in our venue.  I was literally sweating bullets from anxiety. 

At 3:15 p.m., when we were firmly shown the exit by a Fringe official, some of us went for a very subdued bite to eat before we had to be back at the theatre for 4:30 p.m.  I could barely eat, I felt so sick with nerves.  Not for my performance - that I could control - but for how everything else was going to somehow come together in time.  As I got into costume and make-up, I could hear a buzz of arriving audience members outside the dressing room.  I peeked out to see that there were audience members lined up out the door of the venue.  My hands started to shake.  What have I gotten myself into?

As it turned out - it turned out.  The audience laughed.  They applauded.  No one forgot to sing.  Nothing fell apart.  There were a few technical glitches, but in the end, it was a show, and an entertaining one, too.   And I have never felt so exhilarated after a performance in my life.  The stress and urgency of the earlier part of the day, the anxiety at the lack of rehearsal time in the venue - it all melted away and I felt just a tremendous sense of pride and relief that we had made it happen.  And no one had killed (or even maimed) anyone else in the process!

One of the additional perks of being a Fringe Artist is the Fringe rush pass - I have access to as many shows as I can possibly cram into my already incredibly-busy schedule (surprisingly - ha - Fringe doesn't pay enough for me to leave the practice of law). 

My fellow cast member (and Danielle), Danielle St. Pierre, and I, have always joked about her propensity to look for the silver lining in every show, always finding something good to say, whilst I tend to be overly critical.  "We should write a theatre review blog called 'Good Danielle, Bad Danielle'," I said one day, jokingly.

Well, we've decided to do just that - although, truth be told, sometimes I'm Good Danielle and she's Bad Danielle (you won't even know which - sneaky!).  But we've set ourselves an ambitious schedule between now and the end of Fringe on September 16, and plan to say something on this blog about each of them.

In case you're in Vancouver and interested in checking out CAPS LOCK, or seeing another one of the shows with Good Danielle, Bad Danielle, here's our schedule:

Saturday, September 8

12:50 - Chlamydia dell'Arte - Performance Works, Granville Island

2:30 pm - Underbelly - Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island

4:30 pm -  Burnt at the Steak - Peformance Works, Granville Island

9:30 - Romance, CBC Studios (Hamilton & Georgia)

Monday, September 10

6:30 p.m. - Fishbowl,  Performance Works, Granville Island

9:45 p.m. - CAPS LOCK: THE MUSICAL (starring ME!), Studio 16

Tuesday, September 11

1:00 p.m. - Zanna, Don't!,  CBC Studios (Hamilton & Georgia)

5:00 p.m. - CAPS LOCK: THE MUSICAL (starring ME!), Studio 16

 7:45 p.m. - Loon, Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island (after our show)

Wednesday, September 12

5:30 p.m. - Saints of British Rock, Firehall Arts Centre (Main and Cordova)

7:15 p.m. - Riverview High, Firehall Arts Centre (Main and Cordova)

10:00 p.m. - My Aim is True, Revue Stage, Granville Island

Thursday, September 13

6:00 - Intrusion, Carousel Theatre, Granville Island

8:30 p.m. - Welcome to My Wake (Site-Specific, Granville Island Parking Garage)

Friday, September 14

12:30 p.m. -  RIOT - Woodwards Atrium, Gastown

5:00 p.m. - The Histories, Carousel Theatre, Granville Island

8:40 p.m. - CAPS LOCK: THE MUSICAL (starring ME!), Studio 16

Saturday, September 15


2:20 p.m. - CAPS LOCK: THE MUSICAL

5:20 p.m. - The Best. Man - Carousel Theatre, Granville Island

Happy Fringing, everyone.  It's the best time of the year.

Adventures in Theatre

Last night was Opening Night of

The Lawyer Show 2012: Guys & Dolls

, in which I play nightclub singer Miss Adelaide, who has been engaged to her man, Nathan Detroit for 14 years, and has developed a psychosomatic cold as a result of being kept on the hook so long.   Nathan is played by my friend Jonathan, who I met in last year's Lawyer Show.  On Tuesday night, J's very-pregnant wife was sitting in the audience during dress rehearsal.  "That's nice," I thought.  "She came to watch a rehearsal!"  Well, it turned out she also came because her water had broken (three weeks early) and she was going into labour.

Fast forward to yesterday at 4 pm.  An email came from our director.  Baby was not yet here, and Jonathan was likely not going to make Opening Night.

We have no understudy.

 So - who was going to go on as leading man?

Well, a woman.

That's right - it turned out that our best choice for Nathan's understudy was actually our assistant director, Skye - who went on in a suit, fedora, and with a book in her hand.

I was stressed beyond belief, but it actually went really well.  The audience was very supportive of our last-minute casting change, and gave us a standing ovation at the end of the night.  We were told later that it was the most well-attended opening night performance of any show in the history of the

Waterfront Theatre

!

There are only two more chances to see the Lawyer Show - tonight and Saturday (Friday night is completely sold out).  You can buy tickets

here

.  The show is a fundraiser for Carousel Theatre for Young People and Touchstone Theatre.  You get a tax receipt with your ticket purchase.

Roger Watts as Sky Masterson.  

Photo: Ryan Alexander McDonald

L - R: Me as Miss Adelaide, Jonathan Weisman as Nathan Detroit, Ashley Syer as Sarah Brown, and Roger Watts as Sky Masterson.  

Photo: Ryan Alexander McDonald

Miss Adelaide and the Hot Box Debutantes sing "Take Back Your Mink."  

Photo: Ryan Alexander McDonald

L - R: Michael Airton as Joey Biltmore, Andrew Pilliar as Rusty Charlie, Jonathan Weisman as Nathan Detroit, Rhona Lichtenwald as Big Jule.  

Photo: Ryan Alexander McDonald

Nathan reads a letter from Adelaide's mother.  

Photo: Ryan Alexander McDonald

Jonathan Weisman and George Gregory (Nicely Nicely Johnson) and Linda Leong Sum (Jenny Southstreet).  

Photo: Ryan Alexander McDonald

"Adelaide, baby, don't ever do that to me again! We'll get married, we'll have a little house, with a white picket fence."  

Photo: Ryan Alexander McDonald

The Lawyer Show 2012: Guys & Dolls

CAROUSEL THEATRE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE   

and TOUCHSTONE THEATRE present

GUYS AND DOLLS

MAY 9 - 12, 2012 

At the Waterfront Theatre (1412 Cartwright Street on Granville Island)  

Gamblers, gangsters, and gals in the city that never sleeps! The slickest high rollers are in town, and they're depending on Nathan Detroit to score a secret spot for their floating crap game. Trouble is he's $1,000 shy. Throw in Sarah Brown, who's short on sinners at the mission; Sky Masterson, who accepts Nathan's $1000 bet that he can't lure Sarah Brown to Havana; Miss Adelaide, who's desperate to marry Nathan; the meddling Police Lieutenant Brannigan; and lively songs like "Luck Be A Lady" and you've got an evening to remember- you can bet on it!

One of Broadway's favourite musicals, it premiered in New York in 1950 and was immortalized by the 1955 film starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra.

THE LAWYER SHOW -  GUYS AND DOLLS

Fundraiser Benefit for Carousel Theatre and Touchstone Theatre 

May 9-12, 2012 8:00PM

The Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island

(1412 Cartwright Street on Granville Island)

TICKETS:

 Tickets are $75 each (including at $45 tax receipt);

Groups of 6 or more

 are $60 each (including a $30 tax receipt).

Contact the Carousel Theatre Box Office for tickets and information at 

604-685-6217

.

Tickets are not available for purchase online.

One of Vancouver's most important legal events and a valued tradition, The Lawyer Show is a fundraiser for two of Vancouver's most cherished theatre institutions: Carousel Theatre for Young People and Touchstone Theatre, both registered charities. Every year, twenty or so lawyers take to the boards to prove that acting and the practice of law have way too much in common. Lines are learned, songs are sung, audiences applaud, money is raised, and fun and friendship abound along the way.

GUYS AND DOLLS

A Musical Fable of Broadway Based on a Story and Characters of Damon Runyon

Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser

Book by Jo Swerling & Abe Burrows

Directed by Katrina Dunn & Carole Higgins

CAST

Michael Airton, Hoogbruin & Company

Rob Burns, North Shore Law LLP

Dominique Carrier-Robb, UBC Law Student

Laura Cundari, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

George Gregory, Gregory & Gregory

Steven Jung, Steven Jung Law Office

Gerald Lecovin, Lecovin & Company

Danielle Lemon, Danielle Lemon Law Group

Rhona Lichtenwald, Law Society of BC

Kristine Mactaggart Wright, BC Securities Commission

Dasein Nearing, Ministry of Justice

Andrew Pilliar, Graduate Student UBC Law

Jim Poyner, Poyner Baxter LLP

Elizabeth Reid, Boughton Law Corporation

Stephen P. Robertson, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Amanda Robinson, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

Dwight Stewart, Dwight Stewart Law Corporation

Linda Leong Sum, Langara College

Ashley E. Syer, Syer Law

Vista Trethewey, Dolden Wallace Folick LLP

Sean Vanderfluit, WorkSafeBC

Lyndsay Watson, Caroline & Gislason Lawyers LLP

Roger Watts, Boughton Law Corporation

Jonathan Jacob Weisman, Hamilton Duncan Armstrong & Stewart Law Corporation  

Credit:   

Danielle Lemon (Miss Adelaide), Jonathan Weisman (Nathan Detroit), Ashley Syer (Sarah Brown), and Roger Watts (Sky Masterson) in GUYS AND DOLLS. Photo by Ryan Alexander McDonald. The 2012 Lawyer Show - a joint fundraiser for Carousel Theatre and Touchstone Theatre.

See me in the Mikado - running until May 5th at Presentation House

This blog has been woefully neglected over the past few months, as I have been rehearsing for both the

Lawyer Show 2012 - Guys & Dolls

, and The Mikado, presented by North Shore Light Opera at Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver, which opened April 19th and closes on May 5th.  The run has been a blast so far, although the houses have been smaller than we would like, despite this

great article

from the North Shore News.   Anyway, between rehearsals, performances, and work at DLLG going full speed ahead, I've hardly had a moment to sleep, let alone blog.  Today my understudy goes on at The Mikado so I'm taking an afternoon off before heading to a Guys & Dolls rehearsal tonight.  Time to catch up on blogging, sleep and laundry.

Our Mikado is set in a cabaret in the present-day and my character, Yum Yum, spends a lot of time on her iPhone - which has allowed me to Tweet, Facebook and text during the show, and also take some great photos onstage and off.  I thought I'd share a few here.

The Mikado runs until May 5th.  I won't be performing on Friday, May 4th, in order to give my understudy a chance to go on, but come see me any other night!  You can buy tickets online

here

.

Katie Collins (Peep Bo), David Wallace (Ko Ko), Jessica Wright (Pitti Sing) and my big blue eye, singing onstage.

The bar at the Mikado Bar & Grill.

Your table is ready, sir.

Adrian Duncan performing as the Mikado.  Who we affectionately refer to as the Big Mik.

The Reviews Are In - A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum is a hit!

I'm currently playing Domina in Stephen Sondheim's "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum" at the Jericho Arts Centre until October 22nd. We've been getting some great reviews from local media, with kudos especially for our director (and my pal), Cathy Wilmot, and our Pseudolus (uh, and my pal - noticing a trend?!), Ryan Mooney, who's better known as artistic director of Fighting Chance Productions:

The Georgia Straight said our show brims with playfulness, and raved about Ryan's performance, although I don't know if I like being called a shrew or brainless - or maybe I should take this as a compliment to my performance, since I'm neither in real life?

The Vancouver Courier said Ryan was amazing as "con man" and "snake oil salesman" Pseudolus, that I "dominate with my big operatic voice" and was amazed at how funny the show still is, after all these years.

Gillian Lockitch from Review From the House said I was "awesomely dominating" and that Peter Stainton, who plays my husband Senex, was the "best henpecked husband anywhere" (I agree).

Review Vancouver noted that we earned a "well-earned standing ovation" on Opening Night, and picked out my darling Cameron Dunster, who plays my son Hero (hilarious as a) I'm not that much older than him and b) he's probably at least a foot taller than me - if not more) as the standout of the show.

David C. Jones of OUTtv pegged Ryan as the star of the show as the "sardonic and witty" Pseudolus and rightly called out Mike Wild's performance as Hysterium as well.

So seriously, what are you waiting for? The show's a hit! Get your tickets online at Jericho Arts Centre - we have 7 shows a week, you really don't have an excuse not to show up.

Previews and Good News

Tonight was our preview night for Sweeney. While I think it was generally OK, there were a few minor disasters. Last night we rigged up this great mechanism from the catwalk that allowed blood to drip onto the stage while the audience entered. The problem was, it left moisture on the floor, and when Cathy, our Mrs. Lovett, strode out to make her first entrance, she slipped on it and fell right on her butt. She was shaken and understandably upset and it threw off her concentration. Then, as a group of cast members turned one of the enormous scaffolds that form our set, they ran into the piano bench, knocking Caitlin, our assistant MD and pianist, right off, and reducing the bench to shrapnel. Somehow Caitlin didn't miss a beat and kept on going. Tomorrow is our official opening, when all the reviewers will be an attendance, so thank goodness these major kinks were worked out tonight.

And the good news is that I've been cast in my next project, which is...Good News, a 1927 musical about college life during the Roaring Twenties, which is being presented by Applause Musicals. And even better news, I've been cast as a college student! 30?! Bah! The show will be presented in November at the CBC Studios in downtown Vancouver; more info to follow.

OK, to bed. Must actually work before Opening Night...