Tuesday, 31 May 2011

What audience members are saying about Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons

Here are some responses to our production of Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons.

“Brilliant! We laughed, I cried... all good!” - Kristi Cox, Patron -

“We laughed and cried and laughed a whole lot more. Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons had us all captivated!

One of the best shows our family has ever had the privilege of seeing.” - Amber Link, Patron -

Laughing from start to finish

"If there is only one reason to go see Rosebud Theatre's newest production, W.O. Mitchell's Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons, that reason is Alberta's own Nathan Schmidt's hilarious portrayal of farmhand Jake. Really, that's the only reason one would need.” - The Strathmore Standard -

The Kid and Jake (Conrad Belau and Nathan Schmidt) cutting it up in rehearsal.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

W.O. Mitchell gathers us all together for a great evening!

Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons opened last night to a standing ovation brought on by a lot of laughter and a story that touched people in that sweet spot that brings a tear or two.

I had the privilege of sharing the preshow dinner with Ray and Brenda Shultz, local farmers and long-timer supporters of Rosebud Centre of the Arts; and Jack Hayden, the Minister of Agriculture for the Province of Alberta. The conversation was wonderful, crossing between the subject of new opportunities in agriculture and a lively discussion about the magic of live performance. Ray Shultz is a gifted musician as well as farmer. Brenda has a heart for the importance of story in people’s lives. Jack Hayden loves the theatre and live music.

So, I asked him why he loved live theatre. His response (and I’m paraphrasing) was that there is nothing like a live performer putting it out there on the stage. The energy is infectious. We went on to talk about great musicians we’d seen in concert - Neil Young, Van Morrison, and others. And we came back to the magic on the stage in Rosebud - the conversation driven in large part by the Agriculture Minister’s passion.

And then we watched the play, each in our own worlds, alone, yet together. That’s the magic that happens when the lights go down and a story is lived out in front of you. It’s a marvelous coming together of people of all aspirations and professions. It makes a person believe the world can really work together if held by some kind of common story.

Jack Hayden told us at dinner that he once had a conversation with W. O. Mitchell in an airport line-up. He said W.O. was a real gentlemen.

W. O. Mitchell loved the theatre as well. He gathered people of all stripes around stories that were in some way common to all of them. Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons has gathered us all together to hear his voice again - the wise-cracking and cantankerous gentleman who reached out and touched the whole of this country through words on the page, on the stage, and on the CBC.

It was a good night.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Old men arguing over running water, twirling weathervanes, and sputtering rain machines - Jake and the Kid is coming!

Well, Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons is alive on the stage, rehearsing and technical rehearsing it's way to opening night this coming Friday. I'm always amazed at how much it takes to get a show ready for the stage. Sound cues programmed, light cues programmed, staging tweaked to match the set, the addition of running water, twirling weathervanes, sputtering rain machines, and the storytelling editing that makes it all seem like it's for real. It's magician's work, really. And there are a team of them under Karl Sine's direction, working out details that are often fleeting moments that add up to something magical when they're integrated into the story. And ... a lot of faith in the notion that all of these elements will come together to make some real magic an audience will enjoy!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Brad Graham, Jake and the Kid Stage Manager shares ...

Everyone involved in making a play is a storyteller and observer of life. Here's something from Brad Graham - an observation of inspiration.

"Karl Sine, the show Director, said something in rehearsal today that has so closely echoed some things that I’ve been thinking about throughout rehearsals and for the few weeks leading up to them, as I was reading the stories from the book and preparing my script and the rehearsal hall.

The people in Jake and the Kid are our people. They are our parents or grandparents, the people who invested in us and who lived harder lives than we have to so that we don’t have to. They might be people who are a bit hard to take sometimes, either because they were a bit more crass than we wanted them to be or more stern or a bit more demanding that we do our best. They weren’t, aren’t, perfect people, but they belonged to us, so we find grace for their faults. The fact that they aren’t perfect is what makes them genuine.

Somehow W.O. understood that. I suppose in spending so much time watching prairie people, listen to them, that he felt a bit of ownership, of family, towards them. It’s something that good writers seem to do; watch and listen. I think the other thing he did was be honest about them. He could see the beauty & magic in two old men who just couldn’t get along but who also couldn’t get along without each other’s friendship.

Its been so much fun watching our own little family figure out who’s who so far in the rehearsal process. The things I’m enjoying most are the unique ways this team of artists have been problem solving. The ingenuity and creativity that’s coming to bear every day in the shop, in the recording studio and in the rehearsal hall under the very encouraging direction of Karl Sine has been thrilling to watch and contribute to. I can’t wait for people to see it and enjoy it as much as we are enjoying putting it together!"

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Jake and the Kid: The stage in miniature

Steve Waldschmidt is the Designer of this bit of prairie. What you see is the set model that Byron Linsey (Scenic Carpenter) and Cheryl Daugherty (Scenic Artist) are delivering onto the stage in a day or so from now. It's a simple looking set, but the intricacy and detail is phenomenal. And Karl Sine's staging in the middle of this bit of prairie sweep is a delight. I just watched a run-through of the play this morning. Opening is just under two weeks away!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons rehearsals underway!

A post from Karl Sine - Director of Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons

We just officially finished our second full day in the hall rehearsing Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons and already I am just thrilled and excited about this story. It so wonderful to be given a script that does half the work for you. W.O. Mitchell’ s wit and humor just jumps off the page and then you marry that with actors that understand timing, and deliver and you have a recipe for hilarity. I have caught myself getting the actors to repeat scenes not because I have a particular note that I hope them to achieve but instead because it was so funny I just want to see it again. What a delight it is to work with these performers. In addition to this the masterful work of my designers is also making this project such a joy, one thing in particular that I would like to mention is the original music written and composed by Paul Zacharias, just today we were implementing some of the music; which happens to be performed by the actors live on stage, and I found myself being so inspired by Paul’s work that it would lead me to places I had never thought of. This is one of the many reason I love theatre. The final product always becomes so much more then the sum of its parts.
What a great pleasure this is , I can’t wait to share more!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Theatre - What a life! A Bright Particular Jake and the Kid

We had a full day in Rosebud yesterday. It was the first rehearsal for Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons and the first read of the play - that moment when virtually the whole community in Rosebud gathers in anticipation to hear the next show. I haven’t had such a good laugh in a long time. And then I was on the edge of tears, because W.O. Mitchell has the most remarkable celebratory voice for the humor and the simple understated pathos of life. The story is simply wonderful.
Nathan Schmidt, whose rendering of Daddy Sherry in W. O. Mitchell’s The Kite some years ago is playing Jake, while Mike Thiessen, who is still on stage playing a very funny Mark Twain in A Bright Particular Star, plays Old Man Gattenby. It was worth the drive to Rosebud yesterday just to hear these guys argue. It brought the house down! Karl Sine, who directed the riotous and out of control We Won’t Pay, We Won’t Pay last spring, is directing the show, and his passion for the celebration of the story is infectious. We’re on to a great summer offering!

And it’s just two weeks until A Bright Particular Star ends its run. I love this play. I love our people in it. I love the heart of a story that’s all about a young woman catching her life and lifting off with it. It’s inspiring and full of light. And the audience hangs on it like it’s a movie - metering out passion and love frame by frame. Of course, it’s not a movie, it’s a play, so its emotional ride is even more immediate. These are flesh and blood people in front of us! They actually feel what they say. And that's the magic of it. They live it, and in this story, they live the way they live in real life - this company of bright and particular actors with the courage to hang on to the dream of it all onstage and off!

I do love the theatre! What a life!