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Posts tagged ‘Jay and Shilo’s Sibling Revelry’

“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!

L-R: Joseph Zita, Justin Bott, Hailey Lewis, Jennifer Walls. Photo Credit: Msarookanian Photography

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.

L-R: Justin Bott, Joseph Zita, Jennifer Walls, Hailey Lewis. Photo Credit: Msarookanian Photography

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.

L-R: Joseph Zita, Hailey Lewis, Jennifer Walls. Photo Credit: Msarookanian Photography

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)

15 Devonshire Pl

14th July – 10:00am
16th July – 1:30pm


A Chat with Barbara Johnston & Byron Laviolette on “Maddie’s Karaoke Birthday Party” at the 2017 Toronto Fringe

Interview by Hallie Seline

If there is a dream collaboration in the Fringe not to miss, it’s the Fringe queens of new musicals – Barbara Johnston and Suzy Wilde (Summerland, The Fence) teaming up with interactive-theatre maven Byron Laviolette (Morro and Jasp) with Maddie’s Karaoke Birthday Party. We spoke with Barb and Byron about collaborating together, the excitement of trying something new in the Fringe, and how we all need a little more fun in our lives.

HS: Tell me a bit about the show and where the idea for this show came from?

Byron Laviolette: Brian Goldenberg, our producer, approached me with the idea that maybe we could find a way to take the best of current musical theatre (ie. Suzy Wilde and Barbara Johnston) and meld it with the interactive experience stuff I have been doing with Morro and Jasp. I was instantly intrigued. I’m not much of a musical guy, but had some experience with them working at Hart House on Rocky Horror and Reefer Madness, so I said yes.

HS: You have a stellar team involved. Can you speak a bit about working with each other?

Barbara Johnston: It was kind of a unique experience because the songs were written before the rest of the show. We had a song guide and character outlines to draw from, but essentially we had to build songs without knowing exact plot details – which was a challenging but really fun experience. The script was built in rehearsal with Byron and the actors, so Suzy and I didn’t even know the show until we saw it all starting to come together a couple of days ago.

Both of us are big fans of Morro and Jasp, so when we found out that Byron was on the project we were really excited to see where he was going to take this really cool concept. Suzy and I have worked together our entire lives and are constantly collaborating on projects (we’re also involved in True North Mixtape at Fringe this year) so us working together is “old hat” – in the best way possible! We have a short-hand with one another – we can read each others minds, so it makes working together heaven. It has been extremely exciting to write pop/karaoke songs for a cast of powerhouse singers who have all been so great with working with a short timeline and with our last-minute changes. Byron is an excellent collaborator – giving us lots of room to be part of the creative process and has done such great work with the actors, essentially building this show from the ground up. We have had a blast.

L-R: Jeigh Madjus, Tess Barao, Erica Peck, Kelly Holiff, Shane Hollon, Joseph Zita Photo Credit: Alex Nirta

BL: It’s been an interesting ride. There are a lot of differences in process between improv comedians, interactive performers and musical theatre actors. There are a lot of similarities too, but making sure that all processes are being honoured while trying to form a new methodology is challenging. I’m really happy with where we’ve landed though, and a lot of that credit goes to Suzy and Barb for giving us such stellar songs to work with.

HS: Why were you drawn to create this show for the Fringe? What is it about the show that makes it the perfect fit for the Fringe environment?

BJ: The concept of a site-specific Karaoke show was Brian Goldenberg’s idea, and it is a great one!

BL: I’ve done the Fringe now for something like 10 years and I was excited to try something new in the place where I believe new things have the best chance to soar and be seen. In different environments – like Morro and Jasp in Stupefaction at Crow’s – the opportunities to risk have very different stakes attached to them.

L-R: Kelly Holiff, Erica Peck, Jeigh Madjus, Tess Barao Photo Credit: Alex Nirta

HS: What do you hope audiences walk away with?

BJ: Hopefully with our tunes stuck in their head and maybe a slight hangover the next day.

BL: The tunes WILL be stuck in their heads. They are certainly stuck in mine. Like most of the work I am involved in, I hope that people have fun. We all need more fun in our lives. And meaning and feels and all that too, but I want to help build a space where people can feel invited in, involved in ways that doesn’t suck, and inspired to go out and share that sense of joy and wonder with the world around them. Keep the party going, you know?

HS: 100%! Love that. What is your go-to Karaoke song?

BJ: Mine changes, but either Sunday Morning (No Doubt) or Man! I Feel Like a Woman (Shania Twain). Suzy’s is always Sweet Child of Mine.

BL: I’m not much of a singer, but probably something from Disney. . .

HS: Where is your go-to Karaoke spot in Toronto?

BJ: Well I actually won 3rd place in a giant Karaoke contest 10 years ago during Pride lead by Foofer – the greatest Karaoke host in the city. She used to host at Crews and Tangos every Wednesday night and my friends and I would go religiously because there were always GREAT singers in the crowd. Now she has a night at WAYLA bar in Leslieville that we like to go to.

HS: Best advice you have ever received /current mantra you are living by?

BJ: When working in collaborations: The best idea wins.

BL: Yes, 100% Best idea wins. Also, find the balance in your work/life. This show is the third creation process I’ve been involved in since March (including Morro and Jasp and Pearle Harbour’s Chautauqua) and you have to keep perspective as the dreams (and nightmares) swirl around you.

HS: Describe the show in 5-10 words:

BJ: Tony and Tina’s Wedding meets Company in a Teenage Dream.

BL: A Musical Mockumentary about the plight of the North American Millennial in the Modern Age.

HS: What other show(s) are on your must-see list this Fringe?

BJ: True North Mixtape (We’re in that one, but if we were not we would want to see it!)
Wild/Walled, Lipstique (both dance shows with some great dancers/choreographers).
Jay and Shilo’s Sibling Revelry!

All of them. ALL OF THEM!! Go risk. Go discover. Go play.

Maddie’s Karaoke Birthday Party

Company: Charcoal Sketch Productions
Playwright/Creator: Barbara Johnston, Suzy Wilde, and Byron Laviolette
Director: Byron Laviolette
Cast: Tess Barao, Kelly Holiff, Shane Hollon, Jeigh Madjus, Erica Peck, Joseph Zita
Producer: Brian Goldenberg, Jeff Jones

It’s Maddie’s 25th birthday party but something’s not right – the guest of honour hasn’t shown up yet! Join five of Maddie’s best friends as they try to sort out where the birthday girl is at while they fight to keep the party’s spirits high (and struggle to keep their own dark secrets hidden). This intimate, interactive story unfolds over a series of hilarious and heart-breaking Karaoke-style songs in a party environment where the audience are fellow guests.

12 Clinton Street, Toronto

6th July – 8:15pm
7th July – 7:00pm
8th July – 6:30pm
9th July – 6:00pm
11th July – 8:00pm
12th July – 8:45pm
13th July – 8:15pm
14th July – 7:00pm
15th July – 7:00pm
16th July – 6:00pm


t: @maddiesparty
f: /MaddiesParty