Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Slings and Arrows

Slings and Arrows is a Canadian television series about the theatre starring Paul Gross as Geoffrey Tennant, director at a thinly-disguised Stratford Festival called the New Burbage Festival. Slings and Arrows appear in Hamlet's famous To be or not to be monologue. Richard Burbage was Shakespeare's leading actor and Burbage's father had built the Globe Theatre in London.

Slings and Arrows was introduced to me by Jacob James a couple of years ago and I watched a couple of episodes and then my daughter recently brought the whole 3 season set back with her for the Holidays. Both Jacob and my daughter have acted so they loved the series. They had in fact played Romeo and Juliet together on stage at The Grand Theatre in Kingston, Ontario.

This show is brilliantly written by former Kids in the Hall member Mark McKinney, playwright and actress Susan Coyne, and comedian Bob Martin.(of Drowsy Chaperone fame)

The insights into theatre, both of the creative and the personal nature are bang on. Having directed three of the plays featured from Shakespeare's canon in this series, I can certainly empathize with the process described in the show. I wonder though, if the show, which is so theatre specific could be enjoyed by people who haven't been in theatre. 

But it rings loud and true about what it takes to put on a show and to survive in a world where Paul Gross' character Geoffrey Tennant says that the average Canadian professional actor makes 11,000 dollars a year. 

The last season is about Tennant's production of King Lear which is very moving and so true. William Hutt plays the aging thespian rescued from a senior's home to play Lear. Sarah Polley plays a dedicated young actor who plays Lear's daughter; Cordelia. Great acting from them both. In a parallel story, Don McKellar's outrageously affected Darren Nichols is directing a work-shopped Canadian musical called East Hastings, in the studio theatre. As the last season progresses, the King Lear is fraught with difficulties and that show is demoted to the studio space while the accessible success of the musical sees it take the bigger stage. I think it mirrors the real world. Musicals have risen at Stratford at the expense of Shakespeare's work. Hutt's poignant decline as the series edges to a close, is remarkable and fascinating. 

My friend Jacob who had brought the series to my attention in the first place had acted as Ariel to Hutt's Prospero at Stratford. Ironically, Prospero is the story of a man with magic powers giving them up as the sunset of his life approaches. Shakespeare as writer was also, at the writing of the play, watching the decline of his own powers. Hutt died not long after his performance in The Tempest.

It is refreshing to see a Canadian television show which is so well-acted and so well-written. 

**** stars

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Local youth star in Cinderella

Bottle Tree Productions performance of Cinderella Saturday December 17th at The Kingston Christian School  and Sunday December 18th at the Octave Theatre features some tremendous performances from some rising stars. The young cast are the products of schools throughout the area. John Macpherson, who had attended NDSS and starred in this year's Kinsmen's production of Footloose plays the nerdy Prince Charming with comic awkwardness before becoming the suave prince. His rap is very entertaining. Sara Sturgeon from Marie Riviere is a beautiful Cinderella with a sweet voice. Ian Macpherson, from Prince Charles School in Napanee has had a role practically created for him to accommodate his talent. Only twelve years old, Ian has a great future in front of him and anyone who saw him in The Meistersingers production of Oliver! as the Artful Dodger would agree.

Khira Wieting, from LCVI and Daniel 'Rainbow' Powell from QECVI's Theatre Complete Program are hilarious as the ugly stepsisters. They are both great singers.

Allyson Foster plays the beautiful fairy godmother and sings beautifully. Allyson is attending Theatre Complete.

To round out the cast, Bryden Trapp from Regiopolis High School plays Cinderella's mean stepmother. Daniel Smith from Frontenac Secondary School is very funny in his cameo appearance as the king. Meg Morgan from LCVI makes a funny queen. Ian Lamb from LCVI, Eric Sturgeon from Marie Riviere and Ted Mathers from The Leap program at Calvin Park Public School as various animals round out the cast.

Almost rounds out the cast. Lawyer John Farant is the slightly bemused, slightly foggy Doc Doc who would likely keep personal injury lawyers busy with his unique approach to medicine.

Keep your eye on these people. You will be hearing a lot more from them in the future.

For more info on the show go to Cinderella

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cinderella-A Christmas Pantomime.

Bottle Tree Productions presents; Cinderella-A Christmas Pantomime

at The Kingston Christian School located at 1212 Woodbine Road in Kingston's West End on December 17th, Saturday afternoon at 3 pm and Saturday evening at 7 pm

at Octave Theatre on Dalton Avenue off Sir John A. McDonald Boulevard on December 18th Sunday afternoon at 3 pm and then Sunday evening at 7 pm

Tickets are $15/adults, $12/seniors, $10/children/students, tax included.

This version of Cinderella was adapted for the stage by Charles Robertson with music and lyrics by popular local musician; Michael K Myers.

Prince Charming and Cinderella
This year, it's a Family affair! The talented MacPherson brothers; John and Ian have already recently starred in two big musicals in Kingston. John starred in the Kinsmen Production of Footloose where he starred as Renn while Ian played the Artful Dodger in the Meistersingers production of Oliver! The boys hail from Napanee.

Sara Sturgeon and her brother Eric Sturgeon also had recently appeared in Oliver!

Director Anne Marie Mortensen of her experience with Oliver! said ”Ian, Sara and Eric were great to work with. We feel very lucky to have them perform in Cinderella. They are very dedicated young actors. And what's more to have such a talented young actor as John involved in the show is great.”

Anne Marie's son Daniel also had played in Oliver! Her daughter Hannah will add to the festivities by singing before the show. She recently starred in KCVI's musical Blood Brothers as Mrs. Johnson.

Co-director Charles Robertson said ”Both Daniel and Hannah are very dedicated and talented kids in both acting and singing. They are also extremely high achievers in academics. They have a great work ethic.” He went on to say “Each theatrical production creates its own family where often times life-long friendships are formed. There are never friendships anywhere else like those that are made in theatre. For a show to work, actors and crew need to be able to trust each other, to be able to pull together as a team. I think that after a show is done, many performers feel a great sense of loss. But while it lasts, its a wonderful family to belong to. ”

Anne Marie Mortensen (Oliver!) and Charles Robertson (Romeo and Juliet) co-direct this family-friendly pantomime version of Cinderella; the rags to riches story of a kind young girl forced to work from morning til night by her mean step-sisters and mean step-mother. Forced to wear rags and to sleep, not in a bed but by the fire place, she dreams of meeting the handsome Prince Charming.

But Prince Charming has problems of his own. Prince Charming has no charm. He is a nerd. Boy, is he a nerd! A fun-filled treat for the whole family! Starring John Macpherson (Ren in Footloose) as the shy and awkward prince, and Sara Sturgeon (Oliver!) as the beautiful and kind-hearted Cinderella. Other cast members include John Farant as the malpractice-waiting-to-happen; Doctor Doc and Khira Wieting and Daniel Powell as the ugly stepsisters. Try to guess which step-sister is really a girl. Bryden Trapp is their conniving mother. Ian Macpherson who starred as the Artful Dodger in Oliver! plays the long-suffering servant to the prince. The boot scene alone is worth the price of admission. Allyson Foster plays the beautiful Fairy Godmother who gas a few magic tricks up her sleeve. Daniel Smith and Meg Morgan play the king and queen. Catchy songs and silly dialogue make this a light treat for the Holiday season. Ian Lamb, Eric Sturgeon, and Ted Mathers also star. No actors, animals or pumpkins were harmed in this production. Stage managed by Claire Morgan. For more information and to purchase tickets please go to

Pre-show entertainment will feature songs by 18 year-old Hannah Smith, who teams up with Alex Whitehead. Her great contralto voice is sure to leave you wanting more.

Bottle Tree Productions contact or
or call us at 613-384-8433

Purchase Tickets Below

Cinderella-Kingston Christian School 3 pm

Cinderella-Kingston Christian School 7 pm

Cinderella-Octave Theatre 3 pm

Cinderella-Octave Theatre 7 pm