Can I Stop Writing This Show Now?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: Yes, for a while.
April 2013 has come and gone, and so has the third production of Bloodless: The Trial of Burke and Hare, lovingly nicknamed “Bloodless 3.0″ by the wonderful people at White Rabbit Productions, who remounted it. Significant changes were made to script and score since the Theatre 20 production in Toronto last October, including the addition of new songs and the restoration of old ones. It was directed by my longtime colleague Sharon Bajer, and presented at Winnipeg’s newest performance venue, Le Cercle Moliere. The space has modular seating, and was arranged in an alley-style configuration for our production. This made the show very intimate and immediate, with the audience facing each other and “becoming” the jury at the trial or the students at the anatomy lecture.
“Bloodless 3.0” was well-received — Good turnout, good buzz, a few sell-outs, and a very favourable review in the Winnipeg Free Press. Even Adam Brazier, Bloodless’s Toronto director, flew in to see it and was very much encouraged by the show’s evolution. What’s next for it? Not a clue. There’s more work to be done towards version 4.0, but for now I’m content to take a little vacation from it and let it cool.
In other news, if you’re an avid reader of The Sondheim Review (TSR), the quarterly magazine devoted to all things Sondheim-y, may I direct your attention to page 21 of the upcoming issue (Summer 2013). There you will find my disproportionately huge mug and about 1,700 words of semi-informed prattling authored by Yours Truly. I was approached by TSR to contribute an essay for their “Following Sondheim” series, where musical theatre writers get to wax with varying degrees of eloquence upon Sondheim’s influence on their work. The reason they would tap an unknown schlub like me to write an article for them is still a mystery, but — like any good Canadian — I was just happy to be asked. I think it’s an okay article myself, but had I considered that one of those avid readers of The Sondheim Review is Sondheim himself, I might have finessed it a little more. Oh well.
My Production Blog
All right… Due to the pestering of my ever-persistent friends, I have decided to write a running blog detailing my Bloodless experience here in Toronto. This blog will not appear on my main page. If you want to see it, go to my WordPress blog at www.josepharagon.com/blog. Yes, I’ve had a WordPress blog all along, but so far I’ve used it only as a convenient way to post news, and never as — y’know — a blog.
I’ll try to post as often as I can, but I can’t promise to post every day, since I may be otherwise occupied with things like… oh, maybe working on my show. And I can’t promise it’ll be entertaining either. But hopefully it will satisfy everyone’s curiosities.
So click here and be amazed!*
* amazement not guaranteed
Countdown to Bloodless
It’s happening! Rehearsals for the Theatre 20 production of Bloodless: The Trial of Burke and Hare are starting, and I’m off to Toronto for a month. Much has happened since my last post (yeah, no kidding Joseph, your last post was in January)…
We’ve had two workshops — one in mid-April and one in August. The April workshop was three weeks long, and I got to work with many of Theatre 20’s founding artists, as well as members of their Emerging Artist Ensemble. That was an amazing experience. We workshopped Act One, and presented it in a formal reading, which whetted everyone’s appetites and generated some excitement. In August, we worked for a week with the wonderful and talented students of Sheridan College’s Musical Theatre program, and hammered out Act Two. Needless to say, the script has changed significantly from its previous incarnation. Scenes have been switched and revamped, old songs have been cut, new songs have been written — I even deleted a major character (sorry, Josh). But I believe it’s all for the better, and although there’s still a little more writing to do, we’re in great shape to launch into rehearsals.
There have also been some changes on the production end since I last posted. First, the dates have changed. The production runs October 12-28, 2012, with previews beginning October 9. Second, you’ll notice that Colm Wilkinson has handed over the directing reins to Theatre 20’s artistic director Adam Brazier. This is actually a good thing, because Adam and I get along famously and we’re on the same page almost all the time. But Colm is still on as our creative consultant (”Colm”… as if we’re buddies or something), and he’s given us some invaluable guidance so far.
So that should get you up to speed. If you’re going to be in Toronto this October, be sure to check it out. Visit Theatre20.com for tickets and information.
Toronto’s Theatre 20 presents Bloodless
Cat’s out of the bag! After months of biting my tongue and keeping friends and colleagues in the dark, I can finally declare to the world that Bloodless: The Trial of Burke & Hare is being given its Toronto premiere by Theatre 20, as the company’s inaugural show of its inaugural season. No pressure at all.
The announcement was made on January 23 in Toronto at a press conference/swanky do hosted by Theatre 20. The musical — about two 19th century serial killers who sell cadavers to Edinburgh medical schools — will be presented at the Panasonic Theatre from October 16 to November 11, 2012. It will be directed by Colm Wilkinson (yes, that Colm Wilkinson) and will feature some of Canada’s finest musical theatre talent (so I’m told; they haven’t actually cast anyone yet).
Needless to say, I am very excited. Scared out of my mind, but excited. I’ve had the great fortune of working with so many wonderful and talented people on this project so far (lookin’ at you, White Rabbit crew), that to now be working on it with the artists of Theatre 20 is almost overwhelming. This is an amazing opportunity, and I’m so grateful for the chance to take this project further.
Guess I should get crackin’ on those rewrites, huh…
Theatre 20 announces inaugural season — The Globe and Mail
Theatre 20 announces its first season in Toronto — Toronto Star
City composer’s fringe hit opens new TO company — Winnipeg Free Press
Adjusting the Timing – Theatre 20 sings — NOW Magazine
Masaganang Bagong Taon Sa Lahat!
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! And whatever other holidays have happened since my last update…
Things have been pretty cool on this end. For starters, I just came home from a month-long stay in the Philippines (see photo left; I took that picture, yes I did). I visited a lot of family, and managed to squeeze in some research for a project on Jose Rizal (if you don’t know who he is, click the link and read about him–absolutely fascinating guy). Though I must say I’ve hit the ground running on my return. Lotsa stuff happening:
- Kiss The Giraffe Productions has been drawn to participate in the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, and work on Illuminati III: The End of the World (the final episode of the Illuminati cycle) is coming along…
- KTG has been invited to create another Steampunk Cabaret show for KeyCon this year off the phenomenal success of the last one, so that’ll be fun…
- I also recently got to sit in on a recording session for the debut album of local a cappella group Those Guys. I contributed a few vocal arrangements to it, and the boys are sounding amazing…
- Finally, really exciting things are happening on the Bloodless front. I’m not at liberty to say what, I don’t want to jinx it, and the bottom may fall out at any moment, but I’m cautiously optimistic. If all goes well, you’ll be hearing about it very soon. (How’s that for a teaser?)
A busy few months ahead. Onward and upward.
The 2011 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival has come and gone, and I have no complaints. Both Hersteria and Illuminati II: The Second One were very well received by audiences and critics alike (from the Winnipeg Free Press, read the 4-star Hersteria review and the 4 1/2-star Illuminati II review). Apparently, there were also reports that Cheers star George Wendt attended a performance of Hersteria and enjoyed it thoroughly. Cannibal: The Musical also did very well, packing in MTC Warehouse and scoring Best of Fest for that venue. So overall, a fruitful Fringe. Thanks to the casts and crews of all three shows for all of their hard work. Amazing runs all around.
What’s next? Some voice acting work, a music project, and more writing on the horizon (which includes work on Illuminati III). Stay tuned…
Illuminati Remount/Fundraiser a Success!
The title says it all. The Kiss The Giraffe remount of my 2005 Fringe show Illuminati: The Musical played to fantastic audiences April 26-28 at the Forrest Nickerson Theatre. Fun show, fun cast, fun crowds–the whole experience was, in a word, fun. Not to mention profitable, which was the whole point. Thanks to everyone involved, our planned 2011 Fringe presentation of Illuminati II: The Second One can go into production with that much less financial stress. Ahhh…
So what’s next? In addition to Illuminati II, which is fully cast and rarin’ to go, I also have Hersteria on the Fringe horizon, with a book written by Sharon Bajer and produced by Winnipeg Studio Theatre. I’m also arranging music for a Fringe production of Trey Parker’s Cannibal! The Musical. It’s going to be a very musical Fringe this summer.
In Like a Lion
A busy couple of months. Some highlights:
Last month, I participated in a reading of Sargent and Victor, a piece created by Winnipeg playwright Debbie Patterson. The script was stitched together from verbatim fragments of interviews Debbie conducted with the residents and businesspeople of Winnipeg’s West End. We performed readings at two West End churches for the very community the piece was about (and for the very people that were interviewed). It was strange and at the same time very cool performing characters based on people you know are in the audience. The cast also featured Arne MacPherson, Marsha Knight and Laura Olafson.
It looks like Hersteria, the musical I’m writing with Sharon Bajer, is hitting the Fringe! Winnipeg Studio Theatre is producing our neurotic-women musical this summer at the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival in the lush and spacious Prairie Theatre Exchange mainstage. So along with Illuminati II, that makes two Aragon-composed musicals you’ll be exposed to this July.¬† Please make sure your vaccinations are up to date.
Speaking of Illuminati II, Kiss The Giraffe Productions is priming for it by remounting the first Illuminati: The Musical, to be produced in late April. This will provide folks with the chance to refresh themselves on the continuing saga, and provide us with the chance to raise funds so that the saga can continue. Stay tuned for more details.
New Year Updates
Happy New Year! Here’s what’s up:
The December workshop and reading of Winnipeg Studio Theatre’s new musical Hersteria was a success! It was an absolute joy to work with such a marvelous group of people, and a lot of really useful stuff came out of both the week-long workshop and the reading to launch into the next draft with. It was also quite a kick to hear my music played by a great four-piece band. Stay tuned for news of a possible full production later this year.
Kiss The Giraffe Productions is presenting Illuminati II at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival! The sequel to 2005’s perplexingly successful Illuminati: The Musical will feature brand new characters, some returning old friends, several new songs, and more conspiracy theories than you can shake your tinfoil hat at. Leith Clark returns to direct what will most likely be one of the strangest shows you’ll ever see. Ever.
And lastly… I’m gonna be a cartoon! Winnipeg’s Da Capo Productions is currently recording the English version of Tayo, a Korean children’s animated series all about talking motor vehicles. It’s my first foray into the wonderful world of ADR. I’m voicing, among other characters, a green dump truck named Max. It’s adorable. My teeth hurt just thinking about it. And my mother told me funny voices will get me nowhere in life…