Gil Garratt is the artistic director of the Blyth Festival.
In the podcast we discuss the first time Garratt auditioned for the Blyth Festival. The director Paul Thompson invited Garratt to meet a a coffee shop, but the audition took place at a surprising location miles away. It was an audition unlike any other, one that Garratt will never forget.
We also delve into Garrat’s development work, examining the process behind that brought Mark Crawford’s comedy “The Birds and The Bees” to the stage.
In our conversation Garratt shares his progressive thoughts on the Canadian dramaturgical and development process, adding that working on comedies can be the most divisive of all genres. “I have witnessed, in the rehearsal of comedy, more relationships destroyed, friendships obliterated over the course of the comedy, than I have working in tragedy.
Since debuting at The Blyth Festival “The Birds and the Bees” has gone on to be performed at several theatres across Canada.
Naturally we look at the upcoming season at the Blyth Festival, with detailed descriptions on the background of each production.
Garratt graduated from the National Theatre School’s Playwriting Program and holds an Honours BA from the University of Waterloo, and an MA from the University of Guelph.
Irene Sankoff and David Hein, the co-writers of the hit Broadway show “Come From Away,” are my guests on this podcast.
Irene and David, went from producing a playful musical at the Toronto Fringe Festival to creating “Come From Away.”
Their Fringe show, “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding,” attracted the attention of producer David Mirvish who brought it from the Fringe to a larger theatre.
Mirvish also discovered “The Drowsy Chaperone” at the Toronto Fringe, so the pressure for “Wiccan Wedding” to succeed was high. Things went well with that production and soon they were working on “Come From Away.”
“Come From Away” is a musical set in the town of Gander, Newfoundland, in the week following the September 11 attacks, when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town.
The people of Gander opened their homes and their hearts to the thousands of travelers, from all over the world, who were stranded.
In the podcast Irene and David explain how their creative process began with a trip to Gander, Newfoundland to interview the town’s people and collect true stories that became the foundation for the musical.
They explain the development process, that included meaningful workshops with theatre students at The Canadian Music Theatre Project, at Sheridan College, and Goodspeed Musicals a non-profit organization dedicated to musical theater based in Connecticut.
The students at both locations worked on the script and Irene & David discuss how significant this process was to shaping the show.
In the podcast we talk about the sweet spot between David’s love of folk music and Irene’s love of Broadway musicals.
This intersection is reflected in NPR’s “First Listen” review of the “Come From Away Original Broadway Cast Recording:”
“While the rock influences (or at least the Broadway-rock influences) of “Come From Away” make it feel firmly like a modern piece, there is an echo in the story of classic American musical theater – specifically, “Brigadoon.”
Click for the “Come From Away,” Original Broadway Cast Recording
On opening night Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau attended the show and met with Irene and David.
Click the arrow near the top of this page, or this iTunes link, to listen to this podcast about “Come From Away.”
In 1985 Brooke Johnson met Pierre Elliott Trudeau at a gala event at the National Theatre School where she was an acting student.
It had been a year and a half since he’d stepped down as Prime Minister.
Brooke is an award winning actor who, when she was in her teens, launched her career by working as a production assistant at the Shaw Festival, often driving actors to and from Toronto.
Brooke has an expansive career, but I decided to focus our chat on her solo performance “Trudeau Stories.”
When she met Trudeau at the National Theatre School of Canada they shared a dance and their cheek to cheek moment sparked a relationship that lasted years. Brooke documented the relationship with Trudeau in a journal and in 2007 created the solo performance “Trudeau Stories” for Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival.
We talk about her time with Trudeau and how she developed the solo show.