So it happened. It is a thing that happened. The VISITORIUM 4th ANNIVERSARY FOOFARAH LIVE finally became a reality this past Sunday, and I’m still riding the high from it. And I know it might seem weird to be writing a post about it, almost a review of the show I put on myself, but I realized in looking back on it that I kind of have to. Because in spite of me being involved with the whole affair so intimately, it just so happened to be one of the best goddamn nights of local theatre to happen this year, and I dare anyone to challenge that. Or maybe it was just the best theatre night of MY life, and I’m a raving fool. Whatevah, I’m writing a post!
The whole thing got started off in the murky but cozy basement of the Clocktower Brewpub, with the assistance of my official Foofarah Wrangler Rebecca Laviolette, and a ridiculous dance intro by yours truly…honestly, I figured if I could dig up the balls to actually do that bit, then everything else would be gravy. Well, turns out I had dem balls, and here’s the song that kicked things off:
The show proper got underway with a solid half-hour of improv stylings from the newly minted FOOFARAH IMPROV PLAYERS, aka Ryan Walsh, Kevin Mongeon, Kristine Shadid and Brooke Cameron who came through like champs. They took my jerky variation on the ’numbers’ game especially well, and got the room ready for a night of rapid-fire theatre mayhem. Immediately following them was…well, a bit of chaos, actually, as the Dead Unicorn Ink gang arrived en masse after rehearsal and we all just waited for them to get a few drinks in them before continuing. At least they brought the bear. 🙂
Once things settled down, we got rolling again with MADELEINE HALL, reprising her vocal masque from her final year at the Ottawa Theate School. I just all it ‘the Audition’, and it was just as funny as I remembered it from school. Maddy’s got such inspired comic timing it’s ridiculous, and her piece was an excellent start to the more theatrical portion of the evening (incidentally, you can catch Miz Hall at the Ottawa Fringe soon in BY ANY OTHER NAME at Café Alt!).
Next up was MAY CAN THEATRE, which holds a special place in my heart. I’ve been following the steady rise of May Can pretty much since the beginning of the Visitorium, and apparently those little bastards have noticed, because Cory, Tony and Mado came out with their respective musical apparatus and sang an original song…about ME. I hope they don’t mind if I quietly burst into tears every time I think of the phrase ‘You’re not a Visitor…you’re Home’ from now on.
With Jonah Allingham sadly in Toronto for the event, my only remaining TRAGICAL HISTORIE co-star was NICK WADE himself, who took the stage next with an original spoken word/storytelling performance that he encouraged folks to listen to with eyes closed (I tried for about half of it, and ol’Nick does indeed have some magical tones). I especially enjoyed his rendition of the whipping wind.
Nick was followed by yet more OTS alum, this time the gang from LOOSE CANNONS COLLECTIVE, who will be taking the Fringe by storm soon with their inaugural show GETTING THROUGH. Writer director AIDAN DEWHIRST was there to introduce the stars, ALEXA HIGGINS and PHIL MERRIMAN as the performed a short scene from the show…one of the lighter scenes in the piece, I’m told, as they ‘didn’t want to bring the party down’. I’d forgotten what a joy it was to watch these boss 2nd years perform, and it was great to see them in action again. And their show, I do believe, will be a gooder.
A brief intermission ensued, drinks were drunk and food was consumed, before the second half got underway with me doing a thing. And no, even I’m not going to review a performance of my own, so I’ll just say that I came out and presented what would have been my second semester vocal masque from OTS (featuring text culled from Athol Fugard, Sam Shepard and Michel Tremblay), and people applauded nicely at the end and Tess told me I had a rockin’ bod. So that was nice. 😉
Speaking of TESS McMANUS, she and TONY ADAMS hit the stage after me to reprise a piece I saw them do at the OFF THE CUFF event from Red.Collective months earlier, a gonzo physical retelling of the life cycle called LA VIE, and it was messy, hilarious, sexy and grotesque. And don’t forget to check out Tess in her new one-woman show TALES SHE TELLS at Fringe this month!
Next, after declaring a crush on her just before she leaves town for 3+ months, because that’s how I roll, NANCY KENNY hit the Foofarah stage, with Cory Thibert in tow and a short new piece she penned about the importance of Anne Murray to a modern relationship. It seemed to resonate especially well with the Islanders in the crowd, but trust me, it was pretty fuckin’ funny to the rest of us too.
More ladies next, as my lovely OTS heroes HANNAH GIBSON FRASER and JODI MORDEN set up to preview a snippet of their new show RACHEL AND ZOE. Hannah and Jodi are fierce performers, and seeing them in action together like this was a sight to see. I think their show is gonna make you squirm a little, and I am definitely excited to see it.
Smooth Tim Oberholzer took an impromptu leap to the stage next, to read a little something David Whiteley sent in for the occasion, which gave me time to run out and change and get ready to go on as the final act of the night, in yet another thing that I did. For the record, this one was a reprise of my first semester vocal masque, silent ironically enough, called THE FLOWER. I was really stoked to be able to present it to a larger crowd, and I’m still bowled over by the feedback I’ve gotten from it.
It was all over then but the music, dancing and drinking, of which there was much to be had. If you were there, THANK YOU! If you weren’t, you shoulda been. And I apologize to my amazing lineup of performers for how weak and short those little writeups above were, but I was kinda busy behind the scenes the whole night and couldn’t quite pay as much attention to the performances as I would have liked. (And yes, I still owe you all beers…Fringe Courtyard?)
Which leads me to my epilogue for this post. I wore a lot of hats on Foofarah Live! night, many of them new…show organizer and producer, host and emcee, improv caller, solo performer, makeshift underwear model. I can’t claim to be a stunning success, as years of modesty prevents me, but I sure wasn’t a failure neither. And heck, it’s hard to feel bad about yourself in any way when people as cool as May Can literally sing you a song about how swell you are. In fact, fuck it, I was TOO a stunning success! I’m proud as pie about how everything went off for this event, and honestly feel like this was a really transformative evening for me. Accepting the role as the man of the hour was difficult for me…like, crazy hard… but I managed it, goddammit. Part of me kept trying to think that ‘this isn’t me’, but now I think I get it. This is who I am NOW. And if this is what liking yourself is like….then I get the appeal. See you at the next Foofarah, folks, it’s gonna be a gas! Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid, Home at Last (and Winston)