“Trying Something New, Working Together as Partners & Theatre for Young Audiences” In Conversation with Anthony Bastianon & Denise Oucharek on JAY & SHILO’S SIBLING REVELRY at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Kids Fest
Interview by Hallie Seline
It was such a pleasure to catch up with power-duo Anthony Bastianon and Denise Oucharek about their latest collaboration on Jay & Shilo’s Sibling Revelry at this year’s Fringe Kids Fest at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival. We spoke about the excitement of trying something new with the Fringe Kids Fest, the strength of working together as partners, when they get the chance, and the mantras they are currently living by in their careers.
HS: Tell me a bit about the show and how it came together.
Anthony Bastianon: Ali [Alisse Lee Goldenberg] approached me about a year ago to write a couple songs for a children’s show concept. I brought along lyricist Brett McCaig (with whom I’ve written several shows). We wrote a few things and she went away and did some more work on the idea, script and characters. Along came an opportunity to try out this show at this year’s Fringe Kids Fest and we fleshed out the script and added a few more songs. We have a delightful 35-minute show that focuses on siblings Jay and Shilo, who happen to live in a theatre full of magical characters. Ali had several ideas for this show, but we decided to go with the story of Tallulah, a fairy who has stage fright! It’s up to Jay and Shilo (with the help of the colourful narrator) to find a way to help Tallulah live out her dream and be a star on stage!
HS: Why were you drawn to work on a show for Fringe Kids?
AB: The Fringe Festival is a fantastic opportunity to try new things in an environment where the audience wants to see exactly that – new things on stage. The development process is always educational and having the opportunity to perform the show several times in a well supported festival is ideal. I’ve only ever written for the main Fringe festival. I’ve seen a couple of the Kids shows (I have a couple children of my own) and thought that it was the exact same excellent opportunity to try new material in front of an audience full of the perfect demographic.
Denise Oucharek: Children provide you with such honest feedback, they will REALLY let you know what is or isn’t working. I have been directing theatre with and for youth for almost 3 decades (I, ahem, clearly must have started when I was a newborn…) and I hold those experiences and productions near and dear to my heart.
HS: Tell me a bit about working together as partners.
AB: No comment… Kidding! We actually don’t get to work together too often. I’m usually off music directing shows and Denise is usually off performing in shows and it’s rare that our two schedules actually coordinate to do a show together (where, simultaneously, the MD position is open and there is a role for Denise). However, we’ve done a lot of work together teaching and working with children through our theatre company, Theatre Atoms (formerly The Mississauga Youth Theatre). This is something we’ve been doing for over – ahem – 25 years. I think we make a good team and it would be great if we had more opportunities to work together with Denise as the director.
DO: I love working with Anthony, as he mentioned, it does not happen that often. After all these years, we can usually anticipate the needs of the other and save time. We have a rhythm together when we work which I enjoy. There is always lots of laughter and knowing how the other works and what they require… it saves time in rehearsals!
HS: Why do you think festivals like The Fringe are important for both artists and patrons?
DO: The Fringe is key for the development of new works and offers a wide range of material and genres to the public at an unbelievably affordable price. There are always opportunities for artist and patron to mingle before and after performances, as well as at the Fringe tent, providing ample opportunity for feedback, networking and fruitful discussion.
HS: What are you hoping young audiences experience during your show?
AB: First and foremost, I always hope that children love the theatre experience and want to come back to the theatre to see other shows. Developing an audience is always on our mind. For our show, Jay & Shilo, I hope that kids get the sense that being creative and using your imagination is as awesome and normal as going swimming or reading a book!
DO: I want kids to be fully engaged in our story as it unfolds. I want them to feel empathy for the characters and I hope that they laugh, laugh, laugh!
HS: Dare I ask… What’s your favourite musical?
AB: Favourite score is “Candide” by Bernstein. There a few shows I could see again and again, like West Side Story, Joseph, Fiddler On The Roof.
DO: Sorry, can’t do it. For me, musicals are like potato chips, I can’t have just one.
HS: Best advice you have ever received/current mantra you live by?
AB: Regarding my career and the music theatre industry, I would say that hard work and preparation are the cornerstone of any success that I may be fortunate enough to enjoy.
DO: Don’t be so busy running toward your next goal that you forget to look back and thank those who helped you reach your last one.
HS: What other shows are on your must-see list this Fringe?
AB: Unfortunately, Denise and I are actually on one of those rare opportunities to work together as we will be out-of-town during the Fringe Festival and will be missing the shows (aside from the opening of Jay & Shilo). But I think Derrick Chua always provides a superb list of “must-sees”.
Jay & Shilo’s Sibling Revelry
Company: Triplets Theatrical
Playwright/Creators: Alisse Lee Goldenberg, Anthony Bastianon, Brett McCaig
Director: Denise Oucharek
Music Director: Anthony Bastion
Cast: Justin Bott, Hailey Lewis, Jennifer Walls, Joseph Zita
Producers: Brian Goldenberg, Jeff Jones
Imagine if the creatures from NARNIA found themselves in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA… Sibling Revelry is a fun, musical romp for the whole family revolving around siblings Jay and Shilo; two kids who live in a theatre populated by magical and musical creatures. Drawing on their creativity, the brother and sister duo use their strengths to help their friend Tallulah the fairy find her bravery and take centre stage. (Ages 3-12)
GEORGE IGNATIEFF THEATRE
15 Devonshire Pl
14th July – 10:00am
16th July – 1:30pm