Photo from Bluffs Monitor.
Nonnie Griffin and I became mutual fans, from opposite sides of the stage, while working on two different productions at Alumnae Theatre in 2008: she as the formidable Irish matriarch in Lucy Brennan’s Daughter of the House and I as the compassionate, no-nonsense oncology nurse in Margaret Edson’s Wit.
I had the pleasure of seeing and reviewing Nonnie’s work in the years that followed; and particularly enjoyed her own one-woman shows Sister Annunciata’s Secret and Marilyn—After, both brave, resonant portraits of older women navigating life’s joys and heartbreaks. And she came out with two friends to see me perform in The Sad Blisters this past April (on Easter Sunday); she enjoyed the show very much and sent me a lovely email, along with a big virtual hug.
Nonnie was to launch her new one-woman show, Before Scarlett—about the creation of Gone with the Wind, told from the perspective of author Margaret Mitchell—for one performance at the Heliconian Hall on June 19. Now that she’s gone, we’ll be celebrating her life and work instead.
She was a classy, brave and frank professional; funny and insightful—and supportive of fellow artists. Her candid, creative spirit will be missed.
Hey all—It’s that time of year again!
A many of you probably already know, every June the cowbell blog and I take a month off for a bit of R&R before some big fun, busy times at Toronto Fringe.
This year—with the exception of a few shows I’ve already committed to reviewing—I’ll be taking the month of June off (hence, the “pseudo” hiatus). This will be some real time off, as the March-April hiatus from the blog was replaced with work rehearsing/performing The Sad Blisters. (Thanks again to Sam Mooney at Mooney on Theatre for the lovely review/shout-out!)
Stay tuned for a few reviews coming up in June. I’ll be back full force in July for Toronto Fringe (check out the program guide for the 2019 line-up).
In the meantime, enjoy the end of Spring and the beginning of Summer—and make sure to get out to support local theatre!
Seated: Bonnie Gray & Esther Thibault. Standing: Cate McKim, Andrea Lyons & Anne McDougall. Set design by Alexis Chubb. Lighting design by Liz Currie. Photo by Victoria Shepherd.
And that’s a wrap! The Sad Blisters took its final bow at The Commons Space on Saturday night. Huge thanks to everyone who came out and/or supported us through shout-outs on social media/word of mouth!
This is my favourite photo of the Blister sisters, taken by director Victoria Shepherd to post on National Siblings Day.
Big love and shouts to Debbie Batten and Victoria Shepherd for trusting us with Andrew Batten’s words; to Tina McCulloch for stepping in to multi-task with co-producing, marketing/promo, ticket sales and box office; Liz Currie and Jamie Fairfoull for their work and watchful eyes throughout rehearsals and in the booth; Alexis Chubb, John Stuart Campbell and Livia Pravato for their design excellence; Ryan Armstrong for getting us into fighting form; and to Brent Shepherd and Gord Thibault for helping to put it all together.
And to my Blister sisters Bonnie Gray, Andrea Lyons, Anne McDougall and Esther Thibault — so happy to have had the chance to work with you and get to know you. xo
It was a bittersweet pleasure and an honour to bring Andrew’s story, lovingly based on his beloved Debbie’s family, to life. Blister!
The Sad Blisters poster/postcard uses real-life images of the cast, taken at weddings over the years. Here’s the story behind my photo:
This photo was taken in 1998, at my brother Brian and sister-in-law Anne-Marie’s wedding reception. It was a great day, with one notable omission: my youngest brother Sean, who was to be Brian’s best man, was unable to attend. He was at Sunnybrooke Hospital, recovering from serious but non-life-threatening injuries sustained in a car accident.
My brothers were both heart-broken that Sean couldn’t be there, but we were able to record a best man’s speech to play at the reception. I took a tape recorder to the hospital and Sean nailed it in one take! My sister Colleen McKim transferred it to CD and I have a copy of it; I just listened to it for the first time since the wedding. It’s hilarious, poignant and full of memories, plus it’s at a wedding—just like The Sad Blisters!
Also, I think I’m pretending to be Secret Service at the reception.
Hope you can make it out to The Sad Blisters in Toronto (April 12-27 at The Commons Space)! Advance tickets available on Brown Paper Tickets or reserve by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and pay cash at the door; $20 regular and $15 student/senior/arts worker.
Connor O’Hegarty, Cate McKim, Patrick Brown & Andrew Batten in Lady Windermere’s Fan (Alumnae Theatre, 2007). Photo by Duncan McAllister.
It’s now been a week since we lost our friend and theatre colleague—former lawyer, beloved teacher, and talented actor and playwright Andrew Batten. I posted this on Facebook and Twitter last week, and thought I’d repost here:
I met Andrew Batten while working on a show at Alumnae Theatre in the Fall of 2006, when we were rehearsing Lady Windermere’s Fan (Jan – Feb 2007); he played Dumby and I played Cecil Graham. He was a delight to work with; whip-smart, wicked sense of humour and a twinkle in those piercing blue eyes. And he looked damn good in white tie and tails.
He had so much love around him and his light will be missed. Honoured and happy to be acting in the upcoming production of his play The Sad Blisters (April 12-27 at The Commons). This one’s for you and your love Debbie, Andrew.
Photo: Esther Thibault (from her wedding)
Poking my head out of hiatus to jump onto the blog with details of Glass Hammer Productions’ upcoming run of Andrew Batten’s The Sad Blisters, directed by Victoria Shepherd, and featuring Bonnie Gray, Andrea Lyons, Anne McDougall, myself and Esther Thibault.
It’s a hilarious, poignant dramedy about family, memory, love—and a wedding!
The Sad Blisters runs April 12-27 at The Commons (587a College St., Toronto). Performances run Thur/Fri/Sat at 8pm, with matinees Sat & Sun at 2pm. Running time: approx. 80 mins. Tickets: $20 regular; $15 student/senior/arts worker. CASH ONLY at the door.
Check the Facebook event page for more info, photos and wedding anecdotes, as well as advance ticket purchase (Brown Paper Tickets link pending as of this posting; in the meantime, there’s a reservations email).
I’m honoured and happy to be working with this team of amazing, talented theatre artists. Hope you can join us!
As promised, I’ve got some news, including an accompanying Spring hiatus for the blog…
Back in January, I was invited to join the cast of an indie production of The Sad Blisters, a new play by Andrew Batten, directed by Victoria Shepherd. It’s a quirky, funny, poignant family dramedy with an all-female cast—so, of course, I loved the script immediately. Our first read-through is tomorrow!
It’s been almost 11 years since I performed in a theatre production (Wit at Alumnae Theatre); I’ve done staged readings, stand-up and singing performances in the meantime, as well as seeing/reviewing a lot of theatre. So I’m very excited to be returning to the stage—and working with this team!
Since we’ll be rehearsing and performing on weeknights and weekends, I’ll be putting the blog on a two-month hiatus for March and April so I can focus time and energy on the play. I’ll still be seeing a few shows—and shouting out shows on social media—just not reviewing or interviewing.
The Sad Blisters runs April 12-27 at The Commons—so save the dates! Stay tuned to Facebook, Twitter, etc. for details, including performance dates/times and advance ticket purchase info. I’ll be posting info here on the blog as well.
Happy March! Here’s hoping Spring arrives soon.