visitorium

Party On, John K!

In Theatre on April 13, 2011 at 12:16 am

As I sit at the computer, waiting breathlessly for a callback on my audition (are you supposed to wait?  I have no idea), I’m watching rather incredulously as the hits on my site reach an all-time high for the Rideau Awards story I just posted.  Not bad considering I didn’t even mention any of the winners.  Turns out name-dropping and girl-watching really ARE what it takes to get ahead in the world of online blogging.  No problem, I can do that.

Or maybe people just love a party.  Which would ALSO be good, since I have one more of those to blather about.  Once again quite late, but there IS a purpose to even a tardy bit of coverage, twofold even.

Reason the First:  The party, held this past Friday at Arts Court, was celebrating the sixtieth birthday of a young up-and-coming actor by the name of John Koensgen.  If you’ve never heard the name, welcome to the wonderful world of Ottawa Theatre.  John, while I’m woefully unfamiliar with much of his repertoire and credentials, it is safe to say is at the very least a Grand Poobah, if not flat-out big Muckity-Muck in the Ottawa Theatrical scene.   He stars in big shows, little shows, wins awards, gets the job done and leaves’em cheering.  He’s a grand, talented, classical actor with a tremendous presence and charm, and now that I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with him a few times, I can safely say he’s one of the sweetest, nicest guys you’ll ever meet (note: if your name is Denis Armstrong, you MAY disagree with this last statement).  He actually went to the trouble of personally inviting me, a weird internet nerd whom he’d met once or twice, which blew me away.  Who was I to refuse?
It was a dandy spread, with a cool orchestral trio bopping away live tunes and booze flowing at a solid pace.  Bumped into fellow scenesters Nancy Kenny, Simon Bradshaw, Smooth Tim Oberholzer and Andrew Snowdon straightaway.  A tasty catered spread was laid out, pretty impressively too…yummy munchies!  The theatre crowd gobbled it up…they call them ‘starving artists’ for a reason, y’know.  After a while a few other familiar faces showed…Trevor from GCTC in a rare moment outside of work; Catriona Leger, returned from her travels; The Bedberts; and actor/playwright Geoff McBride…all very cool.  And, thanks to some gentle nudging/dragging from Nancy, I even met a couple new folks, like Messr. Pierre Brault, and the divine Mary Ellis.  Later on, as the evening was winding down, I got a chance to shake hands with the birthday boy himself, who said some really, really nice things to me.  i’m still blown away whenever ANYONE does that, but Koensgen..?  Humbling.  It’s MY honour, sir.

John in last year's amazing BLACKBIRD, with Rideau Award-winning co-star Kristina Watt.

Reason the Second:  The birthday party doubled as an introduction to the new season from NEW THEATRE OTTAWA, the company for which John is Artistic Director.  They are one of the new resident companies at Arts Court starting with the 2011-12 season, along with Evolution Theatre and…who else?  Somebody help me, here.  But anon…the evening was also used to give us a preview taster of scenes from their upcoming shows/plays/whatevers (John was deliberately and gleefully vague on the matter), with readings by himself, Greg Kramer and Brian Stewart.  Each piece entertained, and I’m especially tickled to see Greg Kramer on board.  I’ve been a big fan since HAUNTED HILLBILLY last year at Summerworks.  John also outlined the NTO mandate of fair pay for actors, and a commitment to producing all-new, locally produced work, all of which sounds like music to my ears.  It also gets me inspired to start working a little harder on all those plays worming around in my OWN sick brain.  A Visitor can dream, after all…

A great evening, great theatre to come, and I left just tipsy enough to have trouble waking up in time for work the next morning.  Awesome.  And once more for the road, a very happy birthday to John Koensgen, and much success in the exciting year to come.   Peace, love and soul, Killer,

The Visitor (and Winston…both fans)

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