It was last summer and I was out on Vancouver Island directing My Fair Lady. I remember the phone ringing very early in the morning. Someone was calling me on Ontario time. I rolled over to look at the screen of my phone and saw TALENT HOUSE blinking wildly. “Oh, my agent?!” I thought, and in a fog I answered the phone. The voice on the other end said, “Can you be in Ontario tomorrow for a Stratford audition? Great parts.” My heart sank. “No”, I croaked out in a morning voice that sounded like I’d smoked a pack of Players, but was merely the result of a 14 hour work day, “I’m in Tech, and the Director can’t exactly… leave”
I sighed and hung up the phone disappointed to have missed such a great opportunity to be seen in the province I had just moved to, but also not lacking any gratefulness for the opportunity I was currently in: Directing and Choreographing one of the greatest musicals ever written. So, I let it go.
When I returned home weeks later I was explaining the situation to my husband Kevin, and I found myself saying, “Well, there will be other shows and other opportunities to be seen at Stratford. The truth is, if I had my pick of what I would want to do this summer it would be to assist Robert McQueen for Man of La Mancha”
Cue “putting it out in the universe” music.
Now for some backstory: I had just worked with Robert on Falsettos in Toronto and I loved being in his rehearsal room. It’s inspiring, safe, and the kind of room that allows the actors and designers to play and stretch and share freely. During that process, Robert and I had many wonderful conversations about Directing. On closing night he gave me a very generous gift. He gave me a fabulous book called, A SENSE OF DIRECTION by William Ball.
There’s the backstory. Now we return to the “putting it out in the universe” music.
So, I’d said this to my husband about wanting to assist… and his response was, “Well, you should call and tell him that… ya never know”. “YES!” I replied, “I will do that first thing tomorrow.”
Are you ready? Because this is my favourite part of the story.
When I woke the next morning there was a message on my phone from… Robert McQueen! Right? What are the chances? Asking me to call him. Well, since it was my plan to do so that day anyway… I got right on that.
After some catch up time on the phone this transpired… or a version of…
Robert: As you know, I am directing Man of La Mancha at Stratford.
Me: I do know. That is awesome.
Robert: Well, they were asking me about an Assistant Director and you came to mind. Would this interest you?
Me: Robert, this is truly kismet. It will seem crazy to you, but I had a plan to call you today and ask you if you would consider an Assistant…
Robert: (laughs) Well, that is Kismet. I will take that as a yes, you are interested.
Me: Yes! And thank you for thinking of me.
After a couple of months of waiting for the definite offer I was finally on board.
It has been a wonderful experience. I have met incredibly kind and talented people in the process. I have watched Robert weave his magic every day, made a wonderful friend in Franklin our Musical Director who has brought the music to life leading the cast and orchestra, have witnessed Marc, our choreographer, create such unique dance movement that is so organic and raw that it truly feels like the actor is just making it up on the spot, worked side by side with Max, Angela and Kim our awesomely funny, organized and welcoming stage management team, and been given the gift to watch Tom Rooney (Don Quixote) work. He is a Marvel to me.
There are several people to name here as this company is filled with talent and heart. I hope I will blog or vlog about/with many of them so you get a chance to meet them. But, for now I will just say, my first season at Stratford has been a positive and wonderful experience.
Now I am off to our first preview!
in photo above: Tom Rooney, Robin Hutton, and Steve Ross (who you can meet in episode 1 of the nosie hosie)