Billy Elton

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

BILLY ELLIOT is incredible!!!!! Not just the execution of it, but the story and the way its written is so so so well done. I heard it was good but I really wasn’t expecting it to be THAT good.

I wanted to share what the opening night experience was like.

So we get to the Canon and were told to go to the entrance on Victoria St. because the Yonge St. entrance is blocked and full of cameras because of Sir Elton! So that’s all fine, we get our seats, visit with friends, and wait for the show to start. We were row S in the orchestra and just before the show starts a parade of suits come walking in and people start clapping and standing, and sure enough it’s Elton John walking to his seat! He of course is with David Mirvish and other important people and they sit in the prime seats at about C or D.

The first act goes by and it’s bloody brilliant and the closing number of the act I was so moving I was speechless. There were points that the show stopped and we gave a standing O right then! That seems like it only happens in New York for people like Patti Lupone or Bernadette, and here we are standing for this incredible 14 year old kid who literally carries the entire show! Granted it was opening night and full of friends and family. That may not happen with a regular audience but I damn sure hope it does. Those kids deserve it.

We didn’t leave our seats during intermission because it was so packed and we figured Elton wouldn’t be out in the lobby with the ‘common folk’ anyway. It was funny, two ladies behind us were chatting to the woman beside them telling her that they got their tickets by accident. They were outside just waiting to get a photo and autograph from Elton and some random guy comes up at says he needs to get rid of two tickets and do they want them! Amazing! They feel bad because they’re in jeans and the one lady was worried about her dog at home, but man, to get free tickets unexpectedly must have been pretty awesome!

The end of the show was fabulous, they got all 4 Billys to come up to do a dance together during the curtain call to welcome them all on the stage. Everyone in the cast is in tutus. Then Sir Elton comes on stage in an tutu to bow with the company!!! It was wild.

Afterwards, our inside posse sneak us on one of the buses that’s going down to the Westin hotel for the after party so we didn’t have to cab it. We get on and realize we’re on the bus with most of the cast. I’m sitting amidst Billy’s family and two seats away from the kid himself. I, of course, am in awe and starstruck over this 14 year old who looks like he’s having the time of his life. I wonder if all the kids get how crazy this is? It was a school bus and I felt like we were going on a school trip with all the kids on board then a bunch at the back starting singing 99 Bottles of Beer. It was quite funny. We got off the bus and I finally had the courage to tell the Billy how wonderful he was. He was all “Thank you very much!” with a brilliant smile, something I could tell he knew he was going to be saying a lot that night.

So we get to the party and its wild and lavish and free food and drinks all around, little salad and seafood sandwiches with no crusts, a full dessert bar complete with chocolate fountains and a make your own sundae section where I saw most of the kids that night. Roast beef that melts in your mouth and fish and chips classed up in a little glass to look like a delicacy!

I heard Sir Elton was there but it was so packed I didn’t even see him. So no meeting of the celebrity star. Which is fine, what the hell do I have to say to him that hasn’t already been said a bagillion times! I know right now I can hear my mom “Who the hell cares!! Just say it anyway!” My friend who is one of the child handlers in the show introduced us to another Billy who said he gets to do the ‘hangover show’ tomorrow because they had a matinee the next day! Too cute.

I’m realizing right now while thinking of what pictures to post with this entry that we didn’t take any! I think I posed for one flash that I can remember. People just don’t take cameras anywhere anymore! I guess they’re all on people phones now anyway. Mine is too big to fit in my little clutch. And my phone is still a phone, not a multi-functioned toy.

All in all it was a huge success not just for the cast and crew but for Toronto. I think it’s absolutely perfect for us right now. It’s an amazing story with so much heart and the talent of everyone on stage was brilliant. I was proud to see the few Canadians on stage blend effortlessly with the members that have been doing it for a while. Congrats to all involved and I hope it stays a long time. Besides, you have to go see each Billy anyhow, so that’s at least 4 times right there, and then when they recast…

TBay and Technicolor Coats

The cast of Joseph with Dina from BT!

The cast of Joseph with Dina from BT!

Hi there! Remember me? I used to write a blog every once and a while.

I left things off after the Fringe Festival with some divorcees and have done a few shows since. Back in September I headed to the great North to Thunder Bay where I was doing an amazing little show with the music of Leonard Cohen. Appropriately titled The Light Gets In: Words and Music by Leonard Cohen.

An Indiana Jones bridge up north!

An Indiana Jones bridge up north!


Thunder Bay is a pretty cool place. Especially in the fall when there are so many trails and outdoor activities you can find in and around the city. We hit all the good touristy places, though I did miss the Amethyst mine, but I’d say we saw a good portion of the area. It was the farthest North I had ever been. I was especially fascinated with the stars, and the fact that you could actually see a lot of them! (Damn you Toronto!) I was hoping to see either a bear or a moose, but sadly saw neither. I did see a pretty fox though.

Anyway, about the show. It was one of those rehearsal processes where as soon as I walked in I had the feeling that I was supposed to be there. It’s funny because I tend to be a bit skeptical when it comes to the idea of fate or anything related to it.

First off, I have to admit I was never a Cohen fan. I didn’t enjoy his voice, I thought the only song I knew was beautiful but insanely overplayed and overused, and I don’t usually get poetry the way that it should be enjoyed. But after performing in this show and seeing how the other actors (we’ll get into them in a second) interpreted their own stories and hearing the words sung by beautiful voices…I have to say I am now hooked. I think I need to stop thinking that I don’t like poetry and accept that there is about 10% that I do love. I feel like I have to sift through a lot of BS to get to the good stuff. I was staying up in Tbay in someone else’s house and had no piano with me, so when I got home one of the first things I did was sit down and play all the songs for myself which then gives me more of an appreciation for the music.

So the cast. Um, kind of brilliant. I was the youngest and most inexperienced therefore was pretty much a sponge during the whole run. I watched, listened, imitated, enjoyed, but most of all learned from these amazing performers. I even got my Diva certificate while I was there! (I was a diva in training…) Each person was so unique and had such amazing strengths as people and performers. I would do any show with any of them in a heartbeat. Not to mention our inspiring director and music director who made us feel like we were cherished, precious people that had something worthwhile to share.

A section of the painting so far...

A section of the painting so far...

I also had a few of my art pieces shipped up to sell in the lobby of the theatre during the run. I had some business cards printed up at a nice family store with a cool dog and had about 5 pieces hanging with other pieces from local artists. There was another piece in particular that I really liked. The artist fused various pieces of junk wood together (like old doors or window frames) and the paint style was very much what I enjoy. I’m a loser and didn’t write down the name of the gentleman but he did inspire me to create a piece for my own living room that I’ve been dying to create. Also being up Tbay during the fall, I started collecting coloured leaves for the painting and I’m in the process now of creating a painting specifically for my home. Being an artist you’d think that would happen more often, but funny enough I don’t have anything on my walls that I’ve made.

My commissioned piece.

My commissioned piece.

Speaking of paintings, I was commissioned to do a painting for a friend a few months ago of a painting of his girlfriend and father from when she was a baby. Its a gorgeous photo and I was really excited to get started on it. We wanted it to look like an old painting, as real as possible, but I realized when I started it that its pretty hard to do with acrylic paint rather than oils. But I have no experience with oils at the moment and he wanted it within a specific time frame, so I did what I could. And I think it worked out pretty great! He was very please and said she loved it. I hadn’t done a painting like that in a while so I was impressed that I still had it in me. Yay painting!

Ok, so after the change my life Tbay experience, I move back home in time to relax a little then start the amazing technicolor rehearsals out in Mississauga. Which means carpooling from downtown. During rush hours. Gross on so many levels. Damn you city life.

I am now working on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (I loathe typing that title) with Liam Tobin who came into The Sound of Music as one of the Rolfs, and this killer cast of brilliant dancer/singer/actors. The rehearsal process for this show was more fun than I can even describe. It didn’t feel like work. It still doesn’t feel like work. I guess most theatre feels that way because you love it, or any job you love for that matter.

Being the narrator is difficult in a way that most people wouldn’t think. Yes yes, I have all these words to remember, but that’s never been a problem for me. Though knock on wood, I haven’t blanked on a lyric yet, and considering I do tell the story, I can’t just mutter jibberish until the next line! Let’s not think about if that time will come! ;)

No, the lyrics aren’t a problem for me, but deciding when I come in and out of the action is the issue. Being the puppet master of the show and knowing what happens before it happens while at the same time being present in certain moments and feeling for the characters at darker moments is a bit of a balancing act. But the best part about live theatre is that it can be and is different every night! What you felt yesterday, you may not feel today. But you may feel something else entirely today you haven’t felt before. I wonder how many people actually recognize all these details that go on in a show, aside from others actors that come to see it. It might be one of those things that if the detail is there its what turns a great performance into an amazing one.

I updated a few thing on the site too so go check them out if you missed them. The cast of Joseph… was on BT on Jan. 1st (yes we got up at 4:30 to rehearse and sing live on the air) that I added to the video section of the site then I had a radio interview with Heart FM that is in the press section. I am still trying to get more pictures from Joseph and also some from the Leonard Cohen show.

As for now, I’m sitting here staring at my Christmas decorations that I still haven’t taken down yet because this week has been very busy and in my free time I just want to be lazy. But is it wrong that they still put me in a good mood?

See you next time. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!

Fringing with seven divorcees…

The cast of Joe White...

The cast of Joe White...

Who doesn’t love the Fringe Festival!!

Summer in the city, everyone sharing and supporting their art, cheap tickets, a communal beer tent to meet up, and best of all, new Canadian shows being born!

I had the privilege of being part of a charming little show called Joe White and the Seven Divorcees. First off, the title alone had me hooked. Then I met up with the creators John Mitchell and Brock Simpson and fell a little in love. Then they told me certain cast members who were going to join and I was completely sold.

The best part about rehearsing a new show is that things change ALL the time! Right up until opening night…and sometimes after. We were lucky, I think our last major change was only a few days before we opened. But in rehearsals the script is always changing, songs are getting added or cut, and characters morph into different people. Isn’t that what makes it exciting? In our original reading of the script the song that everyone keeps talking about (the hit of the show, ‘The Ex’s song’) wasn’t even there yet. What is also great about writing with the cast in front of you is that you can get ideas and opinions from the characters themselves. What they think they want to say. How they think they might react to something.
It was a stimulating and thrilling process each day we came in to work and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it. I don’t think I stopped laughing for three weeks straight. Good times.

So now here comes the scary part. We have to open the show and see what people think of it. Now as only a performer in the show I don’t think that part is as scary for us as it is for the writers. Though they’ve done it before and maybe it gets easier for them. I still get extremely nervous before performing, so I can’t image those nerves are easy to toss aside. Sharing your art is a funny thing. I’m terrified to do it, yet I chose this career…strange.

Anyway, opening night. We were all nervous. We hadn’t had an audience before. What if we’re not funny? What if we forget things? What if we start saying lines that we cut two days ago? What if they won’t get it? What if we suck?!?!

Joe and Charming in love!

Joe and Charming in love!


But we made it. And felt good. There were kinks…oh there were kinks! But we made it! And I felt proud and relieved and very eager to plunge into the next one. Sadly the way the Fringe schedule worked we had two days until our next performance! WTF? Two days is plenty of time to mull over what you did wrong opening night and surf the internet for reviews.

Now, I have to thank good ‘ole CBC and the Maria hunt for helping me grow a thicker skin when it comes to reviews. I remember once some advice Jayme shared that someone gave her, and that was that you can’t believe the good stuff and not the bad stuff, so its better not to believe any of it and concentrate on yourself and your performance. Truth is, I learned that not everyone is going to like you. End of story. We didn’t get bad reviews by any means, but they were average. And what NOW says affects many people’s choices for Fringing. Yet the more performances we did, we started to love it more and more. I mean really love it. I was having so much fun on that stage I didn’t even care that audiences were there to share it with us. By our last Saturday night we had sold out and had to turn people away! As Brock wrote online, “starting to see ‘Joe White and the Seven Divorcees’ as the tender infant who – having survived the murderous assault of malignant forces – grows to be the awesome warrior and liberator of his people!” Hells yeah.

So now what’s that you say? You’re sad you missed seeing it? Well have no fear my friends, because we’ve been asked to be a part of the Best of the Fringe – Uptown!! That means we have three extras shows at the North York Centre for the Arts Studio Space this week! Wed July 14 at 9:00pm, Thurs July 15 at 9:00pm, and Friday July 16 at 7:00pm. Visit the link above for ticket info. Please don’t miss this chance to see a great show! And if you love it and want to support us, you can donate to the production on our website: www.joewhite7.com.
Or if you’re feeling extremely excited about it and are either filthy rich or have a rich relative who’d love to produce a new amazingly awesome Canadian musical, let us know!!!

Thank you thank you thank for everyone who came to support not just us but the Fringe Festival itself. Between that, Pride, and the World Cup, I think we can say we’ve surpassed the G20 downfall and have risen victorious!

Colours, Pirates, and Music!

We actually belong in 1915. The Colours in the Storm cast.

We actually belong in 1915. The Colours in the Storm cast.

I know, I know, I know. It’s been a while. How are we friends?

I haven’t blogged because I didn’t really feel like I had much to say there for a while. I’ve done a few things since closing TSOM and had a blast, so what better to share than some good memories.

We left off with Costa Rica (which I still think about a lot) and eye surgery. Lets move onto some jobs. I can’t remember if I talked about doing The Decameron workshop. Well I did. And it was beautiful. The Decameron was based on a novel that explores a group of Italians during the plague and what they do to enjoy life when they are so close to death. It gets told through a series of stories. Very funny stories. And mostly sexual. Good times.

There were a few of us from TSOM that were in it which I think helped make the transition of leaving that show easier. We had two concert style performances of the show, then done and done. Now we’re waiting to hear if anyone who has money wants to give them some to create a real production of it. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? In any case, thank you to those who came to see it, we really appreciated the support.

On the jumbotron at the Skydome!

On the jumbotron at the Skydome!

Then there was Woodstock Day at the Skydome. Singing the anthems. So fun! Woodstonians can cheer like the mad herd of dairy lovers that we are!

Next came a show in Barrie, and again it was a concert performance of a Canadian musical called Colours in the Storm. I felt very connected with this one because I remember doing a project on Tom Thomson in high school and have loved his work since. Based on Tom Thomson the Canadian painter, the show explores his few years in Algonquin and ultimately what may have happened in regards to his mysterious death.

The cast was awesome, and starred two of Canada’s top leading musical men Adam Brazier and Evan Buliung. I was nervous and excited to work with them and we all had way too much fun. Not nerve wracking at all, but incredibly nice and stupidly talented. Everyone was. I was also working with a fellow Sound of Music family member Jeffrey Huard, who was our music god and conductor. The two performances were put on by Talk is Free Theatre up in Barrie, which is a great company that produces shows that are exciting, unique and relevant rather than your basic money grabbing hits. Check out their site and if you are in the Barrie area, drop in. And again, they’re probably looking for anyone who would like to finance a real production of the show…

Next comes the elaborately fun Pirates of Penzance which just finished last week. Oh man, that show is crazy! Gilbert and Sullivan are comic geniuses. Though I have to say the storyline is weird and at parts hard to follow but the comedy and modern references make up. Ours did anyway! I was performing with the Woodstock Choralaires and various big names from the Woodstock area and some out of town professionals. The Choralaires were such a joy to work with and really knew their stuff!

I don’t have much operatic training at all so this show was a bit of a challenge vocally for me. The only way I could sound decent was to, in my head, imitate an opera singer. Funny how that works. Good thing the show had to be over the top too. That helped. They even rented some costume pieces from Stratford and I had the coolest bonnet ever! It was its own star.

Also between those shows I was working on a website for a vocal group I am a part of called Good Company. The group stemmed from the bunch of us that performed at the St. Lucia benefit concerts in Oakville for the last two years. Most of us were in TSOM and our strength is that we have all at some point been in all the mega musicals that have hit Toronto over the years. If anyone you know is looking for entertainment for a special event, check out the site and give us a shout. We can be anywhere from 6-12 performers and can base our sets on what music you’d like to hear.

My version of Thomson's Spring Ice.

My version of Thomson's Spring Ice.


So that’s pretty much where I’m at right now. Working on some things for the summer and I’ll post something as soon as things are a go. Still hoping to get an art show going but I need to paint to start that. I think I have painters block right now. I got to do the paintings we used for Thomson’s boards in the Colours… and I thought that would get me inspired again but sadly not yet. It’ll come.

Oh! And next week I’ll be singing back up vocals for a wonderfully talented singer/songwriter Sara Kamin! She’s performing at Hugh’s Room downtown this Tuesday the 25th. If you’re in the city and want to hear some great local music, come visit! Go listen to her stuff on myspace or just buy a cd. Her songs tell captivating stories, her music flows like water, and her voice sounds like butter. I met her through my college roommate and another fantastic singer/songwriter Trevor Campbell. He just had a cd release party and his new album is great. Cute song called More Bridges that I can’t get out of my head. Go check him out too. And while you’re at it check out The Rising Hedons and Ben Kunder. (I recently created a playlist a they’re all in my brain right now)

Movies: How To Train Your Dragon – um…probably one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. It was spectacular. It was touching, gorgeous, thrilling, wild, the music was perfect, voices were genius, and the dragon was pretty much my cat. I think they were secretly studying Smeagol to get ideas for him. You don’t need kids to go see it. Just go. I am an avid Pixar fan, but this better take an award for better animated movie.

Lost. Fan? I love it. I love it more the more it doesn’t make sense. I love how things couldn’t possibly be explained to our satisfaction at this point. Or can they? Will we be satisfied after the finale? Wouldn’t that be amazing? I’ve never been this devoted to a show. I even stopped watching 24 after dubbing it the best television show I’d ever watched. But Lost…is a drug.

Until next time…

Costa Rica…with more detail.

View from the balcony at Pedro's Place.

View from the balcony at Pedros Place

Costa Rica was absolutely beautiful. The leaves were green, the air was moist, the people were relaxed, the beer was refreshing, and the sand crabs were really really cool.

The journey started with a 3:30 am pickup from home to get to the airport for a 6:20 flight. Awesome. US customs guy was really mean. Though I think I would be if I was working at 4:30 am. Flights were fine, stopover in Miami was fine. Finally got to San Jose at about 2ish. We arranged a pickup from the airport to the bus station that was halfway across town. Our driver told us that there is around 5 million people in Costa Rica and 2 million of them are all in San Jose. Crazy. Grabbed a bus at 4 and spent the next 4.5 hours getting to the Caribbean coast. There was a delay in the mountains because of a lot of atmospheric fog! We finally arrived in Puerto Viejo after 19 hours of trying to get there. Good stuff.

Finally settled in to Pedro’s Place, an amazing studio apartment right on the

Balcony at Pedro's Place.

Balcony at Pedros Place

Playa Negra beach (black sand beach). The managers are Susana and Rene. Rene was extremely nice and also provided us with taxi service when we needed it. We didn’t meet Susana or Pedro the owner, but we had a wonderful time there. The place was clean and spacious and the balcony overlooking the back garden and ocean was breathtaking. When we woke up the first morning and looked out, we knew we picked the perfect place to stay for our first 3 nights. We found all the places we stayed from www.puertoviejosatellite.com. It is an amazing site that helps you plan your whole trip in Puerto Viejo and the surrounding area with helpful info on anything you’ll want to know.

Once we decided to actually do something with our day, we walked on the beach for 20 minutes into town and had some breakfast. We were going to rent bikes but realized we only brought enough money to barely cover breakfast with us. So back to Pedro’s we went. Though with full stomachs we decided to do some swimming first. Warm warm warm!! The ocean was beautiful and the black sand is gorgeous, a little thicker than normal and sticks to you a bit more, but gorgeous. After laying in the sun for a few minutes I saw a bit of sand beside me move. I looked over and out popped a little sand crab.

Sand crab!

Sand crab!

The beach is covered in them. I found them fascinating and took more pictures than necessary. Back into town we went, rented our bikes, explored a little, had our first beer of the vacation, and got some groceries for the next few days. We pretty much only drank Imperial and Pilsen which are the local beers. We also found out that Costa Rican breweries don’t make kegs because not enough people like draught. Interesting.

The evening was spent on the balcony listening to the ocean, enjoying the Imperial, relaxing on the hammock, and watching all the fireflies that glistened around the trees in the garden.

The jungle is a noisy place. We kept finding ourselves waking up so early because of the light and the birds. Not just a regular bird chirp, but a distinct rhythm that you couldn’t tune it out. I couldn’t even tell you what we did the next day. More beach, more food, more exploring. There are great little shops in town. One I enjoyed was called Lulu Berlu, a local art gallery. I saw a print there I should have picked up and I’m still trying to find out the artist’s name. I know it was Nicholas something. We also went to eat at The Beach Hut that had a piece of art I loved immediately. But I couldn’t have put it in my luggage without it getting wrecked from the airport so I just admired it from afar. But I still think about it…

I just went to the Facebook group to ask about if they’d ship and how much it would be. I should have just bought it!

Anyway, once our three nights were up at Pedro’s Place we headed over to Rocking J’s. The most elaborate hostel you’ll ever stay at. All the floors and pillars are covered in mosaic tile art and all the wood for the
lockers are painted vibrantly.

One of the Rocking J's common rooms.

One of the Rocking Js common rooms.


All the picnic table tops and benches are plastered with pictures and memorabilia from J’s life. There is a restaurant attached at the entrance called @ E’s and is owned by J’s brother Erik. Everyone who works there is beautiful and kind and you could tell loved their life. The first night we stayed, there was a huge party. Apparently a national television station was covering a story that Rocking J’s was one of the top 3 interesting places to stay in Costa Rica. Because of that we got a show! Lots of fun people, lots of booze on the dance floor, live music, fire dancers, and a bonfire in the back right on the beach. We stayed in a tent for $6 a night and they provided bedding and everything. Not that you need anything other than pillows because of the heat.

We explored a little more while we were there and through a short jungle trail found the main beach that the surfers went to called Playa Cocles. We decided we’d go there the next day then woke up to rain. All day rain. So into the hammocks we went and read for the afternoon.

Our only mildly nerve wracking issue was that we needed to get from Puerto Viejo to Arenal Volcano (a 5 hour drive) and stay somewhere in La Fortuna (the town right beside the volcano) for a night. Thankfully, the company we were using the whole time for transportation, Gecko Trail Adventures, was brilliant. We pretty much told them what we wanted to do and they arranged all the transportation and events for us. If anyone is planning a trip to Costa Rica, I highly recommend using their assistance.

So we booked a package: a shared van from Puerto Viejo to La Fortuna, overnight stay in La Fortuna at Hotel Jireh (with volcano view), a few hours at the famous Tabacon Hot Springs with a buffet dinner, a drive up to the volcano at night to see the lava, and a horseback ride to a waterfall the next day. Perfect.

Our driver with the Interbus was very familiar with the roads and got us there earlier than expected. We had a few hours to rest before heading to what we thought was a hike but turned out to be the hot springs visit. We arrived too late in La Fortuna for the hike to the lava so we got the night time drive instead.

So about Tabacon. Not overrated at all. One of the most beautiful places I have visited. Natural volcano heated springs and about 12 of them. All ranging from really hot to lukewarm. Carl was dealing with sunburns so he wasn’t enjoying the extremely hot ones as much but we found some perfect temperature pools. There was even a place where you could sit behind a waterfall and it was like a sauna. So cool. And the buffet was great!

Fed well and relaxed we got picked up, just the two of us, by a driver and a guide and headed up the road to the volcano. We turned off the highway onto a road with more potholes than you can imagine. In the dark. All the while our guide was telling us the really cool history of how no one knew Arenal was a volcano until 1963 when it erupted and all the damage it caused and how La Fortuna is only a city now because of tourism. A very bumpy 10 minutes later we park the van and turn off all the lights. For a brief second I thought…Okay, alone in a van on a back potholed road with two strangers in the dark. I guess we’d be dead by now if this turning into a scary movie. Obviously not the case! We were staying in the dark to see the lava better and hear the thunderous clap of the rocks bursting from the volcano.

Well all this would have happened if it wasn’t so DAMN FOGGY!!! We didn’t see a single red glint of lava nor heard the thunder. Mother nature and I were not on good terms after this incident.

Back the hotel we went and woke up the next morning at about 6 am for a horseback ride! I was really excited for this part and I didn’t realize until we were finished how much was included in the tour. Our guide’s name was Robin Hood, and we were with another couple name Lee and Kristen from Chicago.

On horseback!

On horseback!

We got our horses and helmets and set off into the jungle. Our horses knew the route so well and seemed to be in competition with each other. They would be bump into each other to get ahead which would leave its riders leg to leg for an awkward moment. We were on horseback for about an hour then let them rest while we went ahead on foot. We hiked down a very steep mountainside on stairs, across an amazing Indiana Jones-esque bridge to get to the waterfall. It was breathtaking. We had to cross a river and climb a bunch of rocks to get to the base of it.

Gorgeous waterfall.

Gorgeous waterfall.

The hike back up the mountainside was certainly daunting but not as difficult and I thought it would have been. Back onto our horses we go to a recreation of a village of a traditional Costa Rican tribe. They were selling local artist masks and pieces. We bought a rain stick!

The last part of the tour after galloping our horses back to their stables was to visit the butterfly and frog shelters of certain species they are trying to protect. And the gardens of beautiful flowers surrounding the area!

A worthwhile package and I highly highly recommend it! Needless to say we were exhausted by the time we took a taxi to our last destination: The Springs Resort and Hotel. The money grabber.

But it was completely worth it! A gorgeous resort full of natural and man made mineral springs complete with a spa floor, exercise room (yeah, didn’t set foot there), 4 restaurants, free internet, swim up bar, all with a gorgeous view of the volcano. When you can see it. When it isn’t foggy. Which it barely wasn’t.

Our terrace at The Springs.

Our terrace at The Springs.

Our room was insane. Hugh bathroom with jacuzzi, giant king bed, full bar, flat screen, living area, and the terrace. Oh the terrace! Two hammocks, rocking chairs, a little patio furniture set, a volcano view, and oh yes, a private mineral spring hot tub. Just for us. Did I mention we were there accidentally on valentine’s weekend?

We spent only two nights there but loved every minute. We received a complimentary hour massage just for booking when we did, spend the whole afternoon in the pools and springs (mostly at the swim up bar) and the evenings eating and drinking and relaxing.

The best view we got of the Arenal Volcano.

The best view we got of the Arenal Volcano.

The ride to the airport the day we were leaving was fine and the whole trip home was decent. It wasn’t 19 hours like the trip there but we were exhausted and very sick of flying by the last flight. Which had 4 babies on it. Awesome. All in all it was a brilliant trip with only one major downfall. No monkeys!!! I didn’t see a single monkey the whole time I was there. Didn’t even hear one! As far as I can tell. I guess I don’t know what monkeys sound like, but from what I’m told you can’t miss them. I was anxious to be back in my own bed, but waking up the next morning made me crave the Costa Rican air again. I hate the sinus congested, dry lip/skin/eyes/ of Toronto winter. All of that went away in the south.

Anyway, a worthwhile trip and one I’ll always remember. Beautiful, warm, lazy, and fun. I’d say a perfect vacation! Oh, and I absolutely LOVED having normal eyes for the vacation! Every time I saw someone in glasses or putting in contacts I smiled to myself. Hells yeah!

Pura Vida!

Costa Rica!

Our private beachfront!

Our private beachfront!


I don’t have much time at the moment. We’re in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica at an internet cafe with 23 minutes left.

So far the trip has been amazing! No getting lost in the jungle, no getting lost on the roads on our commute here, no sickeness, no theft, no being bitten by monkeys. Yet, I suppose. The small town we’re in is awesome and completely laid back, as are we while relaxing on our private beach and porch from the rented studio apartment. Travel time was long but 19 hours later, we arrived two nights ago safe and sound and tried to sleep amidst all the nocturnal jungle noises. Travelling by bike, we zip around town picking up the necessities: beer and…well, beer. Not sure where we’re staying yet for the next few nights but we’re heading to find out after this. On Sunday we’ll be taking a 2 day one night tour to Arenal Volcano that includes a horseback ride through the jungle to a waterfall. (So excited!) Then our last two nights will be spent relaxing in some hot springs and getting pampered by complimentary massages.

Good times. Carl’s already burnt after one day on the beach and my calves hurt from either the bike ride or the 20 minute walk on the beach we did 3 times yesterday. We came into town for breakfast and realized we brought a significantly small amount of money with us, just enough to cover breakfast. Back to the room we went.

Already saw one wild horse in our backyard this morning. Got some pictures. Plus some great pics of little sand crabs that pop up all over the place on the black beach. Which is gorgeous by the way. Just as nice as white sand.

Last night we tried to sleep during a mega downpour. It was loud but beautiful and has made for a nice day today. Not so hot and sticky as yesterday.

I think that’s all for now. To family, love you lots and stop worrying! We’re having a blast and are still in one piece.

I can see!!!

golf

On the green...

I’m sitting here at home in Woodstock for a visit…though my family is all working. Except my sister’s dog. He’s keeping me warm. I am here because I needed time off to heal properly from getting NEW EYES!!

My lasik procedure was amazing. It went off without a hitch and I couldn’t be happier. For the first few weeks my vision will come and go in both eyes, but that’s normal. There are halos around lights at night time and my eyes will feel strained if I read, watch tv, or look at a computer screen for too long. As in right now. I’ll be writing this blog all day at the rate I’m going!

The procedure itself literally took 8 seconds in one eye and 12 in the other. I was farsighted with a bad astigmatism in the left. I have been wearing glasses since I was 4 and I just can’t stand wearing contacts on stage. I can’t wait until my next show and how freeing it will feel to not have to worry about contacts! (And NO I don’t know anything yet about any new gig! I’ll post when I do!) So they froze my eye with drops then I went in the surgery room. I really felt like I was in some futuristic alien ship getting experimented on. All very cool.

So now I have bagillion drops to put in my eyes for the next few days then in about a month I should be fully healed. Which will be amazing when my boyfriend and I are in Costa Rica for vacation! I can’t even express how nice it will be not to have to worry about glasses/contacts and just be able to put sunglasses on. Hopefully if I have time and there is an internet cafe somewhere, I could post a little blog while I’m down there.

Now I suppose I should mention what it feels like to close The Sound of Music. I think I was ignoring writing about it because I was pretending it wasn’t really happening for a while. Though to be honest, I think I’m handling it quite well and when I’ve missed it or thought about it, it hasn’t been in a negative way. I really believe it was time to end. My last show was heartbreaking but beautiful and I had such a blast. It was difficult to perform because every time I wanted to relish in the moment of “this is my last time doing this part,” I would get choked up and couldn’t sing a note. I found that out at the top of the show: “My day in the hills has come to an end…I know.”

My last bow

My last bow

The rest of the show felt very business like because I could only think about Maria and her life to stay on track and not think about Janna’s issues. Which in turn made out for a really great show! I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers during the curtain call and and giant group hug from the cast. It was tearful and amazing and a moment I will absolutely never forget. My fantastic and gorgeous dresser took some great pictures for me, and while I’m here in Woodstock I’m hoping to make a scrapbook of all the pictures, cards, fanart, and mementos I collected during the run. It may turn out to be gigantic.

I was completely exhausted and zoned out after the show, and because I had already celebrated with my friends and family the week before, it was a little uneventful! Though I did have an amazing dinner with a tiny group of close friends and then went back to the theatre at night to watch the evening show.

The real closing night show the following evening was strange. Not the show itself, but an odd atmosphere. Maybe just for me, but I felt like we were all just trying to make it through the show without breaking down! I spent the show hanging out with the kids who closed their personal show that afternoon and we just took pictures and played in the Princess Suite, then we all went down to the wings of the stage for the curtain call. It was a magical moment. I’ve never experienced closing a show that ran for as long as we did. But because of that length, I think I was ready for it.

Thank you to those who came out to The Decameron workshop in Toronto, it was pretty successful and we were surprised by the incredible turnout. It was inspiring to learn and perform a script and music that wasn’t Maria related and completely different. That rehearsal process was very stimulating and I felt very humbled by the talent that was performing with me. It was very much an ensemble piece and being a workshop, our opinions and questions were always welcomed. I sincerely hope something positive will come out of the presentations…preferably a chunk of money to put on a real production of the piece!

That’s all for now. I think I’m looking at the screen too long. OH!! Completely forgot. Go see Avatar if you haven’t. Don’t see anything except 3D and definitely go if you have an IMAX close to you.
I was blown away. I love being a witness to historic moments that are changing the future. Very cool.

We’re extended!

So Jan. 2 . . . technically not my final performance anymore!

We have officially been extended for 8 more performances so get out there and swipe some tickets if you really want to see The Sound of Music before its done. I will be doing my usual Wed. evening the 6th and Sat. matinee the 9th of the final week.

There will still be a bash after the Jan. 2nd show this Saturday matinee to celebrate the run, so join if you can. Details are below in the previous post.

I hope everyone had wonderful and productive holidays and have a fantastic New Years!

xo
Janna

Final Performance!

Hello friends! I just copied and pasted what I wrote in my news section but I think more people notice a new blog over new news.

ONLY 3ish WEEKS LEFT to see The Sound of Music!

January 3rd is fast approaching which means I have only 5 shows left! Please book your tickets to come the see show for your first, last or 20th time!

My performances for the holiday weeks:

1:30 – Tuesday Dec. 22/09
7:30 – Wednesday Dec. 23/09
7:30 – Wednesday Dec. 30/09
1:30 – Saturday Jan. 2/10

My personal final performance will be on January 2nd, the Saturday matinee before it all ends. I have a large group already planning to come but I’d love to see more! Come celebrate my final performance with me and some of my family and friends. Jan 2nd, Saturday matinee, then after the show we will be heading over to The Elephant and Castle at King and Simcoe for a little partying.

Click here for tickets, or call TicketKing at 416.872.1212 or toll-free at 1.800.461.3333

If anything changes, I’ll post it here. Hope to see you soon!
xo
Janna

What a night!

Meeting the unbelievable Colin Mochrie!

Meeting the unbelievable Colin Mochrie!

I spent my evening yesterday in the company of some of the most magnificent and brilliant talents to come out of Canada. And all for the amazing cause to support Gilda’s Club; a company founded in memory of Gilda Radner who sadly died of ovarian cancer. She wanted to create a place where people could go and interact to be sure no who has been affected by the disease ever has to be alone.

It was an amazing event. A gala, so of course it was spectacular anyway. But the line up was as follows:
Russell Peters as host, ChumFM’s Ingrid Schumacher as announcer, Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood most notably from Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Dave Thomas as in Bob and Doug Mackenzie, musician Steven Page the former Barenaked Ladies member, the gorgeous (in more ways than one) Canadian Tenors, fantastic recording artist Divine Brown, comedians Sean Cullen and Irwin Barker, the cast from My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding (which is a very heartwarming and funny show, go see it!), and a very entertaining Bollywood dance troupe Divine Heritage Artistry. Eugene Levy wasn’t on the bill but apparently he just wanted to get up and say a few things too!

So needless to say, it was an extremely entertaining variety show. It was at The Princess of Wales so at least I wasn’t nervous about performing in a house that size because I’m so used to it now. I was in my usual dressing room shared with Ingrid and Divine. Both sweet and talented women! When I walked in for sound check I noticed we all had little suitcases with our names on it. Later I opened mine to find a whole goody bag full of free awesome stuff! I suppose that’s a common thing when you are volunteering your time for a great cause. Inside was a whole array of gifts from a Tiffany’s box to coffee beans!

My vintage gown.

My vintage gown.

A funny note about the outfit. I found this amazing army green satin gown at a vintage shop on Queen. I don’t think it was over $30 and I got so many amazing compliments on it! It was a tiny bit short in length but other than that perfect. My only issue was that the boobage just didn’t look right! Ladies, I’m sure you’d understand my issue! I didn’t have the right undergarment to fix things so I was a bit at a loss until the boyfriend comes to the rescue. “How ’bout duct tape?” he says. Yep. Duct tape worked. Amazing. Let it be known that the straight man saved my fashion crisis.

Anyway, the dance troupe opened the show, then Russell was to come on and then I was next! Thankfully I was near the beginning because I didn’t want to watch the show with my intestines wrapped up in a disaster of nerves. So Russell went on while I pre-set myself, and then I waited. Well, little did I know I was waiting to go on for about 15 minutes as Russell began his whole opening act! At least listening to him was keeping my mind off of any crazy nervous thoughts jumping into my head. Plus I had extra support behind me from the band. Elaine Overholt’s husband Glenn was in charge of all the music and got Elaine to come play the grand piano for me! He was on strings and then Lou was on another keyboard. Lou was actually our conductor for the Maria show! So it was comforting to have friends up with me. I sang Memory, a song I don’t think I’ve ever performed aside from my shower and karaoke machine when I was a teenager. It was such a magical moment for me. I kind of felt a little Celine-y at a mic stand in a long gown, singing my face off. It was nice!

Then I watched the show free of nerves! I was hoping to get pictures with all these amazing performers but I totally chickened out. Mostly I convinced myself that maybe they wanted to “prepare” and get in a head space for their act and they don’t want some lame girl asking for their picture! I can convince myself of anything if I’m scared of it. So I didn’t take any pictures backstage. There was even a part of the evening where I was almost secluded in a room with Colin and Brad, but I was frozen with awe. But really, what do you say that they haven’t heard before? “You guys rule!” “You’re so funny!” “I watched you all the time!”
I think the lack of alcoholic beverages was to blame.

The show itself was so funny and entertaining and it was great to see all those amazing people live.
When we were waiting to come on for the finale I was standing with Steven Page while the Canadian Tenors were onstage singing Hallelujah and we were both harmonizing along. In my head I’m thinking “I’m totally singing with Steven Page!!!” Isn’t it amazing how someone who can call Andrew Lloyd Webber a friend is still hesitant to tell a simple Canadian star how wonderful they are?

Dork.

Hanging with Russell Peters.

Hanging with Russell Peters.

So we hit the party afterward where with the mix of wine and the boyfriend urging me on, I got my pictures with Colin and Russell. It was an evening I’ll never forget and I will always be proud to be a part of it. It was a night where I shared a stage with some of my favourite Canadians in support of something so loving and helpful.

Also on a completely unrelated note, Burke Moses is leaving the show in a few weeks! He will be undergoing surgery and will be out for the rest of the run. I suppose it’s great for him, but I will miss his Captain! Every show I warm up to him more and more and it’s really fun and oddly easy playing his wife! I heard he’s going to throw a party at his wicked pad downtown before he leaves. That’ll be awesome!
Coming in to be our new Captain is Australian Simon Burke. Funny, two Burkes. He was the Captain in London and the one I saw perform when the Marias were there. We start rehearsals with him next week and I’m quite excited! He was wonderful in the show and very nice when we met him afterwards. This should be a fresh new transition for the cast that may pop a positive spark in between thoughts of our dreaded closing! ;)