Welcome to our Cast and Crew blog.
During our shows you will hear from Cast Members, Production Crew, and the Directing Team, each sharing their thoughts on the production.
JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT BLOG (2016)
[September 25th Update]
I would like to start off by saying every Align Entertainment show I have seen has been unbelievably entertaining to watch. I am so excited to finally be a part of not one, but two of their upcoming productions!
Right off the bat, I could tell this was going to be a fun group of people to work with. Our read through – or should I say ‘sing through’ – of the show was filled with laughs, positive energy, and a sense of companionship. Getting to know the cast through rehearsals has shown me just how diverse the performers in Vancouver are. For some, theatre is a hobby. To others, their career. Some have children, some are single, have an immense amount of training, or are just starting out – But one thing we all have in common is our overwhelming passion to entertain. I thoroughly look forward to when we get to share what we have created with our audiences.
[September 23th Update]
Even though it’s only September 20th, I am having such an amazing time in this production. this is my first show, fresh out of studying Musical Theatre at Capilano University, and I am loving the work ethic and friendly demeanor of the cast and crew. I always enjoy diving into ensemble roles because there is so much work to do and so much to create. I have worked on my character development with my show husband Aaron (who plays brother Dan) to make sure we have tons of chemistry and texture on stage. We try to work this into every aspect of our work including choreography. I find this character development we have going on makes learning choreography a lot easier to retain. I have enjoyed learning the music for the show as well and I appreciate the different genres of music that this show provides. I look forward to every rehearsal and I am already so proud of the work we have accomplished so far.
Dani-Rose Coates – Wife/ensemble
[September 20th Update]
It’s 7:35 pm on a Thursday night. I am sitting in a chair, looking down at music on my stand, listening to musical director Kevin Micheal Cripps give the men of the cast some direction on a line of harmony. When he asks for the second sopranos to join the men I shoot a look up over my nose through my reading glasses and make eye contact. Am I ready? He is asking. ACK! I really don’t want to disappoint anyone in the room. I’ve been focusing so hard. I’m so tired. I’ve no idea if the right notes will come out. Why did they give me this role? I am a farce! EVERYONE WILL KNOW I AM A SHAM IF I OPEN MY MOUTH!
Well, that’s not what happens thankfully, and I surprise myself. In this rehearsal room, among some of the most talented musical theatre actors in Vancouver, I am humbled. And thankful.
Did you catch the part about me looking at the musical director over my reading glasses? At 36 I’m in the veteran section of this amazingly talented young cast. With my hair pulled back, my work clothes on, and my glasses perched on the tip of my nose, you would say I look like a primary teacher. And you’d be right-I usually only have time to finish up my classroom duties, run my kids home, eat a quick dinner and rush to rehearsal on Thursday nights. Why do I do it? Teachers are notorious for giving too much or working too hard, but this is a gift I give myself. I may doubt myself here, and I may fall on my face during those tough dance moves (“Who has a fan kick?” Melissa Turpin the choreographer asks and I have to ask what is a fan kick?), but if I fall I am surrounded by a cast of Vancouver’s most amazing musical theatre artists who are more than willing to pick me up and work with me until we achieve something we are all proud of-Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat!
Because of this deep desire in all of us to be the best singer, the best actor, the best dancer for this show, what you will see on stage when you come see Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be nothing less than MAGIC. When I am here in rehearsal, and certainly when I am up on that stage, I am not just a school teacher looking over her glasses at some music. I am a part of something very special. Please come and enjoy being a part of the Align Family with me as our audience. As you watch this show your heart will hopefully be as full as mine is.
[September 17th Update]
My process for creating a character for a production differs slightly from show to show. It depends on the cast and the feel of the group for me. This will gauge how I feel about my own character and how I want to be perceived. It only differs slightly though because for each show I still create a character description and background. I also find it very important to know other people’s characters and relationships to create my own relationships between characters. Knowing the relationship between your character and someone elses can provide you with enough information to create the story, or stories within the main story. The audience finds entertainment not in seeing us act, but in seeing a world that we created. So I personally try my best to create a small piece of that world you see on stage. In this world, I am the wife of Naphtali. In the rehearsal process I like to play with a few ideas between my relationships before I decide on anything fully. So come to the show to find out who my character really is!
[September 12th, 2016 Update]
We have officially finished learning all the music for the show and I could not be more in awe of the talented, friendly, and just plain awesome people that I get to spend my days with! The talent in the room is beyond belief, and having Kevin as our Musical Director is a dream come true. Even though we were still stopping and starting, and doing plenty of detail work, getting to hear the show all the way through was so exciting! Joseph really takes you on a journey – there are plenty of wild highs and lows, and tons of laughs and excitement. This will definitely be a show you won’t want to miss, and I feel so lucky that I’ll be able to experience it first hand every single night!
CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG BLOG:
[February 8th, 2016 Update]
Recently, I had a conversation with a fellow actor about the notion that actors do “what they do” (sometimes against great odds) for the pure satisfaction of hearing the audience applause. This charming and romantic idea seems to imply that all of our hard work is validated by the response of the audience and that it somehow feeds our souls. Ok, ok, ok… It would be foolish of me to say that I don’t find some truth in that! Fine! I would even say that my ego, myself and I LOVE knowing that we’ve emotionally moved an audience or made them laugh or think or even leave the theatre somehow slightly changed or educated.
But there is something else that fuels my personal actor bug. Something that I think is just as wonderful…if not even better.
Here I am, in my late 30’s enjoying a happy, healthy and blissful romp in the magical land of make-believe and playful imagination! How lucky am I? Each project I work on, I get to play much like I did as a child: creating worlds, characters and stories!
And, what better musical to explore imagination and creativity than Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? A car that flies? Vulgarian spies? Who could ask for more?
I play the role of Caractacus Potts: inventor and father. In real life, I am neither of these things. Caractacus is a man that puts his family first, and does the best he can to provide a loving and supportive home for his children. I am SO thoroughly charmed by Caractacus; his tenacity, positivity and of course his creative imagination. Ian Fleming, author of the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang series, quotes Caractacus as saying: “Never say no to adventures. Always say yes, otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life.” I love this philosophy, and further more, it reminds me of being a kid, some of the adventures I had, and some of the really cool grown ups in my life that seemed to believe in this idea too!
As an actor, I look for examples in life to help me create my make-believe world and character. This time, I didn’t have to look far to find inspiration.
My Caractacus is largely a combination of two of the most outstanding fathers I know. One is my older brother. This is a man who one day told me that he had the potential of taking the day off from work but decided not to. When I asked why not, he simply said: “What would be the point? The kids are at school! That wouldn’t be any fun!” The other is my friend Radek in London who somehow seems to have no end of playful and creative energy when it comes to his 2 girls, and always seems to make things somehow seem like magic! Even I can’t help but feel like a kid when I’m with his family. These two men care for their families above all else, and no matter what happens in life, they do their best to make their children feel loved and cared for.
I said that I was charmed by Caractacus, but I am equally charmed by Dawson and Jaime that play my on stage children. Sometimes their expressions make me melt, and I can’t help but feel just a wee bit parental. They make it easy for me to want to be the best father ever!
Applause is great, but living this life and in this world makes all the hard work and effort worth it!
I hope you enjoy Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as much as I do. Come and play make-believe with us….I promise it’s a lot of fun, and maybe (just maybe) you’ll be transported back to some of the fantasmigorical adventures that gave your childhood a bit of magic and wonder!
Kevin Michael Cripps
[January 30th, 2016 Update]
I have loved the rehearsal process thus far and I am so excited for opening night.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is all about family and it is the Align Entertainment Family that has made this such a rewarding experience. I have grown so much in the past months as an actor because of the guidance of Chad, Brennan, Brent and Melissa. The production team has really created a safe environment that allows me to take risks.
The cast is awesome. I am so pleased to be reunited with Kevin Michael Cripps (Les Miz) and Ranae Miller (Shrek). Working with familiar faces really allows us to relax into our roles as family members. It has been excellent to watch Mark Turpin transform from being my acting teacher at Lindbjerg to the Baron, transforming his classroom teachings into mentor modelling. In addition, the new relationships have brought such great spice to the stage. In particular, Robin and Zach have really made me laugh out loud with their timing and energy and it has been great getting to know my on-stage brother Dawson. I want to also send a big thank you to Matthew for getting us off on the right foot.
Not going to lie, I am a little nervous about the flying car. I can’t wait to see how it all works this week during tech/dress rehearsal week.
Finally, I always love working in a show with my sister Julia. Rehearsal debriefs in the car are where some of our best learning happens. Love to everyone.
We are so proud of what we are doing and can’t wait to share it all with you.
Jaime MacLean, Jemima Potts
[January 23rd, 2016 Update]
I want to be a Producer…..oh wait that’s a different show!
It’s also NOT the most commonly heard phrase around the theatre world. For this show I fill two roles, Producer and Production Manager. Both vastly different in scope and fortunately for me there is a Co-Producer, Chad Matchette who does most of the traditional Producer like duties like securing sponsors .
Production Manager, what is that? The role is likely different in many companies, but in ours, it is the role that tries to solve the daily crisis’ that come up, writing the cheques, working with the ticket vendor on tickets , booking the group sales, securing the production team for the show, ensure everyone is rowing in the same direction and in general putting out fires.
As show time draws closer is tidying up those final pieces, ensuring all the departments are on the same track. For instance, getting everyone on the same page with regard to a set piece. Who ever thought the size and shape of a table could be so important?
The Production Manager role is almost like being a mom, ensuring everyone has their shoes, lunch and homework before heading out the door. Then of course receiving that call that says I left something at home, in the production world that’s akin to “something is going to cost more than expected” and the search is on for more dollars to be borrowed from somewhere else in the budget.
It takes a whole lot of people to put on a huge show like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Our cast and orchestra total more than 50 people, our production team is almost as many. Fom Directors, to designers, to the technical folks, and stage management ,all are an integral piece in the making of a great production. Volunteers are also the backbone of community theatre and we have many of those too.
One thing though that the production manager has no control over is the audience, we can create a magical experience for them, but the audience themselves are the reason we do this work. Next time you sit down to watch a show in Vancouver, remember it is much more than whom and what you see on stage, it’s all that behind the scenes work that makes the show a reality.
We really hope you enjoy the show!
[January 16th, 2016 Update]
If you had asked me as a kid if I would want to be in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, my answer would have been OF COURSE. But at that time this show did not exist. The classic family movie was the only version and it was a favourite! Now it is 2015 and I am so happy that this musical was brought to the world in 2002, (it premiered in London *fun fact*) and that we get to bring this classic to the stage for all of you! I have the honour of playing Truly Scrumptious, and working on this show is just that! I am thrilled to be a part of the Align family again. I had the opportunity to make a dream of mine come true playing Princess Fiona in Align’s first inaugural show, Shrek the Musical. And it is because of that show that I auditioned for Chitty last year. Working with Align there is this instant sense of family. Everyone comes together with a similar goal, to create an amazing show. That happened with Shrek and the same has happened with Chitty. Working with this group of people is so inspiring. Everyone is putting their all into this show, working on choreo on our breaks, helping each other run lines off stage, and simply supporting everyone in their choices and the work they are bringing to the stage.
Truly Scrumptious is becoming one of my favourite parts I have played to date. She is sassy, strong, feminine and independent, but as they show progresses she discovers her soft, loving and fun side. She is someone I have always wanted to play. It is so easy to get trapped in the stereotypical ingénue with a part like this. It has been my goal to stay true to that style of character, but to bring out the strong and quirky side of the role. Truly is an iconic character and it has been wonderful bringing her to life and making her my own.
The directing team is a big reason I auditioned again. Brent is amazing, he brings out the best in me as a singer, he is trusting and confident in me and knows exactly how to make musical magic with his cast. Melissa creates these amazing images and moves the story forward with her choreography. She knows how to challenge her cast and everyone looks amazing on stage. And Chad is bringing the heart to this show. He is bringing out the family values, and importance of family in each scene that happens on stage.
This show is truly amazing. It is fun, exciting, romantic and a great time out for everyone! Bring your family, your loved one, or your group of friends. This show is perfect for anyone who remembers growing up with this movie and a perfect way to introduce the new people to this wonderful story. Come out in February and say hi after the show!
[January 8th, 2016 Update]
THEY go to more Broadway shows each year than just about anyone else, yet they never get to see what is happening on stage. They are the Broadway musicians, and their view from the orchestra pit gives them an interesting perspective.
“A lot of people think we have it made because we are in the pit and nobody sees us,” says a Stamford resident, Bob Zottola, who has been part of the orchestra for “Les Miserables” for nine years. “But the on-stage performers have an advantage because they communicate with the audience and the audience responds. We still have to come up with an enthusiastic performance and we don’t have that response.”
Demattia, Robin F. It’s a Long Trip to the Orchestra Pit. Web The New York Times, 14 Jan. 1996.
Greetings from the pit! Many of the reigning theatre companies in the Greater Vancouver area use live musicians and Align Entertainment is no exception. We are very fortunate to have a Musical Director and production team committed to using as many musicians as possible for the most authentic musical experience.
Having been involved with Align Entertainment since the inaugural show and having worked with many other theatre companies, I can say that there is truly a close knit family feel to this organization. Musicians are chosen carefully and largely comprised of veterans to pit orchestra playing. We also enjoy bringing new musicians into the fold and acting as a training ground for up and comers. This year, we feature a range of talent from a reed player with experience on Broadway in New York to a first year college percussionist to an excellent keyboard player from Charles Best Secondary School, all mixed in with players who have decades of experience performing in musical theatre, some returning for their third year with Align.
As a musician, one of the greatest things I’ve enjoyed about Align thus far, has been the opportunity to play some of the newer scores Broadway has produced. We have been able to bring our audience these fresh musicals with a full live orchestra, giving them an experience as close to Broadway as possible!
Because we perform in a true orchestra pit, out of sight, viewers often do not realize we are down there playing live. It is an overwhelming feeling when people crowd around and lean over the edge of the pit after the show during the exit music. Come on down and say hello! See you soon!
Kevin Woo, Assistant Musical Director
[December 30th, 2015 Update]
It feels a bit strange to be taking a break from the rehearsal process right now, but it’s nice to have a chance to enjoy the holidays and recharge before the last few weeks of rehearsals. I’ve had so much fun watching the show come together piece by piece. It’s a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Little pictures have been put together in chunks and as we are getting closer to the opening, each scene is being joined with another to form a bigger picture. It’s a fascinating process to be a part of and it makes me look forward to getting back to finish that puzzle!
The role of the music director is a special position. Not only have I been involved in casting, preparing vocals, and leading music during rehearsals, but I also get to be involved in the performances. While Chad and Melissa have to sit back and watch, I get to conduct the show and our wonderful live orchestra every night! This year’s group is made up of 11 great musicians who really understand playing for a musical. They appreciate the role the music plays in the storytelling and are able to adapt their performance to specific moments in the show. It will be an honour to conduct them every night.
One of the most interesting comments that I heard during the runs of our first two productions was “I didn’t know the music was live, I thought it was a CD!” At first it felt almost like an insult, “How could people not tell this was live?” But I soon realized that it was actually a great compliment. The musicianship of our orchestra and the great mix that Tim Lang provides makes our sound feel as polished as a recording. If you can’t believe that we are live every night, come take a look into the big hole at the front of the stage and say hello!
Brent Hughes, Music Director
[December 24th, 2015 Update]
Growing up, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was definitely a family favorite! When I found out that Align would be presenting it this season I was over the moon with excitement! Having been so fond of the film growing up I knew that the challenge would lie in bringing the songs and dances that everyone knows to life on stage. My goal throughout this process has been to ensure that I am honoring the film, while at the same time bringing my own unique take to the choreography.
There are a few new numbers that were created for the stage version that have been a wonderful joy to choreograph. One in particular, was the ‘Bombie Samba’. In the stage version, the Baroness of Vulgaria sings this piece to her husband, the Baron as a birthday present. Having studied the dance steps of traditional samba, creating our version of this in the Vulgarian world has been delightful!
The stellar cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has made my job so easy! They are not only all extremely talented actors but are also so hard working. They are always using every moment in rehearsal to review their dance steps. This cast has the tremendous gift of immediately taking the steps I provide them and turning them into a story that brings out the life in this musical. They are such a wonderful team and I am so excited for them to get to show the magic they are creating!
Lastly, I need to mention the fabulous team I get to work with! Brent Hughes the fabulous musical director understands the ‘Melissa choreography language’. I like to name sections of the music in my own terms and sing the instrument parts back to him and somehow he has picked up my language and always knows where I am! I also love collaborating with the Director, Chad Matchette. He is always able to assist me with bringing out the life of the characters in the choreography. I am also starting to get used to the funny looks he gives me when I know the words to every song, like a true fan!
I am looking forward to sharing our world with audiences and continuing with this journey in January!
Melissa Assalone, Choreographer
[December 19th, 2015 Update]
“Oh you, Pretty Chitty Bang Bang
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang We Love You”.
Does anyone over a certain age NOT know that tune? From the amazing feedback we’ve received since we announced Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as our next show I’d have to say, “no”… “EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT SONG!!!”
The wonderful music in this show is only one of the reasons that we chose Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as the third show produced by Align Entertainment, following last years The Addams Family and 2014’s Shrek the Musical.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a show about adventure, fun, and most importantly family… oh, and a really cool car! Actually the number one question we get is, “Is the car going to fly?”… well, you’ll just have to come out to the show and see for yourself. All I’m going to say is it’s pretty cool!
We were actually prepared to build the car from scratch but at the last minute received a call from a company in Kelowna, (who wrap up their production of Chitty at the end of December) asking if we might be interested in buying their car. One quick trip later and presto, we had our car. It didn’t do all the things we were hoping it to but we have some amazing folks who were going to build it from scratch and now they can’t wait to get their hands on it to add all sorts of “goodies” to it… like I said… it’s going to be pretty cool!
Once again we have an amazing group of people working on this production both on stage and off. We have quite a few alumni back as well as some brand new people that we’ve welcomed to the family and have fit right in. As always I’m amazed at what can be accomplished when everyone is pulling the same way and looking out for the group instead of the individual. I am truly blessed to be able to work with such a wonderful group of people.
We hope to see you out at the fabulous Michael J. Fox Theatre in February to witness the magic of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang… until then I’ll leave you to continue humming that familiar song from the top of the page… I’m sure it will be with you for a while J
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
THE ADDAMS FAMILY BLOG:
The Story of our Hearse – An interview with Patti Volk, Producer
Where did you find the hearse?
We found it through Craigslist. It was in Sooke, BC.
Who fixed it up?
My husband, Horst, and his friend, Dan
What needed fixing?
You name it, it needed it! Reportedly just needing a fuel pump, we soon found it needed everything but! A new smog pump, an alternator, a fuel filter, and a tune up and now she runs like a top (well, a very loud top). The window still leaks, hence it can be a little damp in there. It still needs a few things, but we need some dollars to do it up perfectly.
Gave it a spray bomb paint job (it used to be white) now it’s a very spooky looking burgundy!
Worked with a company called Canawrap in New Westminster to apply some graphics to it so we can have it work as mobile advertising, it certainly does turn heads on the street. Many thanks, to Jon and his crew at Canawrap for their assistance in getting it ready for the Halloween parade.
Whose idea was it to use a hearse?
My husband. He’s a car guy and thought the hearse would make a perfect advertising vehicle.
What places has the hearse been?
It showed up at the Halloween Parade and at our first rehearsal for The Addams Family. It will be in the Santa Clause Parade on Dec 7th and of course during the show dates we will have it available for photos at the theatre.
Were there any problems with fixing it up?
Time and space to work on it and a lack of dollars were the biggest factors. Not sure my neighbours were thrilled with the fact there was a hearse in the driveway. We’re still seeking out opportunities for sponsorship to help with restoring it.
Burnaby NOW Halloween 2014 Colouring Contest
One lucky entry won tickets to see our production of The Addams Family! Here are a few of the entries: