In memoriam: Ed Rosing

Ed Rosing – during a break in scenic painting on The Lady’s Not For Burning at Alumnae Theatre

Ed Rosing

March 11, 1929 – September 12, 2016

Ed Rosing (aka Eddie, Eduardo) was a creative soul with a quick, sharp wit, and a great love of classical music, opera and theatre. He played piano, was an original founding member of Cabbagetown Theatre, and worked as a respected interior decorator (into his late 80s, he still had two clients!), as well as a theatre set and lighting designer, scenic artist and director.

Ed and Cody Boyd, working on the lighting for The Lady’s Not For Burning at Alumnae Theatre

I met Ed at Alumnae Theatre and got to know him during a production of Lady Windermere’s Fan, where he was the lighting designer and I was playing Cecil Graham. His gorgeous lighting plot included a gradual sunset during the opening scenes and a lovely fireplace lit room for Lord Darlington’s apartment (a cast and audience favourite). After that, I had the pleasure of painting sets he and others designed, as well as his apartment at PAL Toronto, and being directed by him in a New Ideas Festival reading of Jamie Johnson’s Falling.

He was a good friend, and a generous and knowledgeable mentor – and I will miss him.

Ed & Bailey at Kensington Hospice – photo by Brett Guenther

Memorial donations can be made to Kensington Hospice, where Ed spent his final days, surrounded by loving friends and family (and even a dog or two), and caring staff and volunteers. A home away from home, Ed appreciated the comfortable and beautiful surroundings – and especially enjoyed the food – listening to classical music and watching movies and TV shows on Netflix (Murdoch Mysteries was a favourite).

Wherever he is, I’m sure he’s already coming up with ideas to make it even more startlingly beautiful.

Below are some snaps I took of some of his Alumnae Theatre sets: Cosi, The Drowning Girls, The Lady’s Not For Burning and Blood Relations:


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Fond farewell to The Drowning Girls

Alumnae Theatre Company’s production of The Drowning Girls closed on Saturday night to another packed house at the end of an incredible run – and I was lucky to be able to see it one last time before our closing night celebration at Betty’s and the inevitable set strike the following day.

Bessie’s grave stone (written by actor Tennille Read)

I have to say, this was a sad strike for me. For some reason, I’m going to miss this set a lot. More paint under my fingernails today, but I don’t mind.

DG set strike 007
Set & lighting designer Ed Rosing surveys our progress
DG set strike 005
Centre tub – pre-strike
DG set strike 004
One last look at those beautiful birch trees
DG set strike 003
Stage left tub shower head with ivy snaking around it
DG set strike 002
DG set strike 008
The magic shower switch
DG set strike 009
Shower head detached
DG set strike 013
Love this window. Up centre of the stage, it was blacked out with a curtain for the show.
DG set strike 014
Lamps down awaiting transfer to the main stage for the Bravo Academy rental. They’re doing Into The Woods.

Revelation & redemption – The Drowning Girls

When we enter the theatre, the three women are already onstage, splayed out in the semi-darkness in the three bathtubs. Drowned. The bathtubs emerge from jagged-toothed holes in the ground, yawned forth like coffins – each with a blank foot stone facing downstage. Vines snake around the shower plumbing above each tub. Beautiful white birch trees stand sentinel in the background. Silent witnesses.

The Drowning Girls, written by Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlinson and Daniela Vlaskalic, and directed for Alumnae Theatre Company by Taryn Jorgenson, opened last night in the studio space. The play is inspired by the real-life British murder case, dubbed The Brides in the Bath Case, which revealed how George Joseph Smith – under the guise of different names – married seven women between 1908 and 1914, swindling each of her savings and drowning three of the last four in the bath: Bessie, Alice and Margaret.

Lives horribly and tragically cut short by a man they loved and trusted, the three women tell their stories – reliving them along the way, and feeling all over again the elation, fear, anger and shame at being taken in. Each blaming herself for her fate. Moving from story to story, the three women move with dance-like precision through time and space, shifting in and out of a variety of characters – playful as cleaning ladies and Scotland Yard officers, and malevolent and ever-watchful as the husband murderer, who is also present in eerie whistled snatches of “Nearer My God To Thee.”

Jorgensen has a marvelous cast for this piece, with outstanding performances from Tennille Read (Bessie), Jennifer Neales (Alice) and Emily Opal Smith (Margaret) – each taking on multiple characters throughout, including the women’s killer husband. Read is dreamy, romance-loving and sensuous as the 33-year-old Bessie, surrendering to her adoration of Henry. Neales is playful, youthfully irreverent and naively daring as the 26-year-old Alice, ignoring her family’s protests as she is drawn to the “devil” George. And Smith’s 38-year-old Margaret is proper, prudish and full of longing, taken in by John’s promises of love and security. What all three women have in common is that they live in a time and place where women need a man for survival, and face strong social pressure to marry. And they don’t want to live out their lives alone as lonely, pitied spinsters.

And all acted in and around bathtubs – in water and under working showers. Each dons a wedding dress at the beginning of the play and as the play unfolds, each woman takes ownership of her story and casts aside the self-blame for how her story ended – the dresses cast off in the end as each curls up, relieved and relaxed, in her tub. And on the foot stones: Good Bye; Don’t Forget; Miss You.

Gripping, moving, playful and superbly performed, The Drowning Girls is a story of murdered women refusing to be victims and finding redemption in becoming their own storytellers.

For background info on the real-life murder case, check out Tina McCulloch’s posts from the Alumnae blog:

With shouts to assistant director Antara Keelor, producer Andy Fraser (assisted by Brenda Darling), stage manager Laura Paduch, ASM/sound op Jeremy Loughton and marketing/publicity/bloggergal Tina McCulloch, as well as design team Bec Brownstone (costumes), Rick Jones (sound), Jennifer Oliver (props), Mike Peck (master carpenter) and Ed Rosing (set and lighting). As always, a wonderful opening night reception nosh, helmed by Sandy Schneider, with Bev Atkinson, Razie Brownstone, Brenda Darling and Martha Spence.

The Drowning Girls runs at the Alumnae Theatre Studio until December 1, with a talkback with the director, cast and creative team following the Sunday, November 25 matinée. For reservations and more info:

Behind the scenes – the offstage plumbing
The onstage plumbing
Emily Opal Smith, Jennifer Neales & Tennille Read – photo by Dahlia Katz

The Drowning Girls – production pics are up!

Hey all –

Check out the gorgeous production stills for The Drowning Girls by photographer Dahlia Katz.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Due to a family emergency with one of the cast members, opening night for The Drowning Girls has been moved to Saturday, November 17. If you booked tickets for Friday, November 16, please contact the Alumnae box office to reschedule: phone 416-364-4170 (Box 1) or by email:

p.s. – Just updated the post about Supertash’s Before The World Ends CD launch with the names of the Supertash band members. Thanks again, Supertash!

The Drowning Girls – OPENING NIGHT MOVED to SAT, NOV 17

Important theatre-related alert regarding a date change for the opening night of Alumnae Theatre Company’s production of The Drowning Girls. Message from the producer:

Due to a family emergency with one of the cast members, it is unfortunately necessary to postpone the opening of “The Drowning Girls” by one day. There will be no performance on Friday November 16; instead the show will open on Saturday November 17.

Please contact to re-schedule if you had already made a reservation for Nov 16.

Some theatre shouts – ongoing & upcoming shows

Hey all – lots of theatre happening in Toronto right now. Here is a selection of some school, community and indie productions on right now or coming soon:

George Brown Theatre School’s production of Saturday Sunday Monday (by Eduardo De Filipo with English adaptation by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, directed by James Simon) continues this week at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, running until November 17. Check here for details:

Amicus Productions’ Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (adapted from the Robert Louis Stevenson novella by Robert Hatcher, directed by Harvey Levcoe) runs November 15 – 24 at their temporary home at the Papermill Theatre. For more info (you also can scroll to the bottom of this page for a map):

Alumnae Theatre Company’s production of The Drowning Girls (by Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlinson and Daniela Vlaskalic, directed by Taryn Jorgenson) runs November 16 – December 1 in the Alumnae Theatre studio space, and features a talkback with the director, cast and creative team following the Nov 25 matinée. You can find more info here:

Dawna J. Wightman’s one-woman show Life As A Pomegranate (by Wightman and directed by Ginette Mohr) has been revised since its early run back in the spring – and will get a one night only performance at 7 p.m. on November 23 at the Flying Beaver Pubaret (488 Parliament St., Toronto – near Carlton).

And now I’ll leave you with a photo of The Drowning Girls set, designed for Alumnae Theatre by Ed Rosing.

The continuing love affair with burnt umber – The Drowning Girls set

I have often said that the set ain’t finished till the burnt umber goes up. Often used in finishing touches, especially with dry brushing and distressing techniques, burnt umber is a gorgeous, warm dark chocolate brown on the reddish side of the brown spectrum.

Imagine my glee when The Drowning Girls set designer Ed Rosing told me he’d purchased a gallon of it to paint the burlap-covered floor of the set. That’s where I’ve been for a few days this week – two weeknights and yesterday late morning till mid-afternoon: up in the Alumnae Theatre studio space, playing with burnt umber, feeling its creamy brown smoothness as I dip a styrofoam cup into the bucket to pour it into the funnel, channeling the paint into squirt bottles – and going home with bits of it still under my fingernails.


I’ve included some in-progress shots of the set. Yep, those are three old-fashioned footy bathtubs – fibre glass so they were less cumbersome to cart up to the third floor of the theatre. The floor is painted burlap. We required a little practical problem-solving yesterday: the latex paint was coming off on the actors, who are wet from the tubs. Thanks to Peter Fortier at Prime Time Paint & Paper, Ed found a solution: a hybrid oil/water varnish that we can use to glaze the floor.

Set in progress
Post-paint – base with a bit of texturing

Also with thanks to Daniel Gamper at White Lamb Finlay Inc., who gave us a good deal on the burlap. And to producer Andy Fraser for coming to our rescue with a second gallon of burnt umber yesterday. Here are some pics.