Canadian Stage's latest production, THE ARSONISTS, features original music by make-you-swoon singer/songwriter Justin Rutledge. In addition to composing the music J.R. also performs on stage (see a sneak peak in the video above!) appropriately increasing the 'wow-factor' for an already highly anticipated show. He answered a few Qs for me below:
1. You've composed music for a show before (Necessary Angel's "Divisidero"); with another show under your belt, how does writing music for the theatre differ from writing it for an album?
Composing for theatre differs from making an album because I must keep the director's vision in mind at all times. When I'm working on my own material, I get the final say, but in this case the songs need to be looser. In many ways it is liberating.
2. In the same vein, what induces more performance anxiety - playing in a show or playing a concert? I've never been more scared than when I step on stage at the theatre. Playing a show of my own seems very natural now, but acting is a very unnerving thing to me.
3. What advice can you give to musicians who might be looking to broaden their musical-horizons to include working in theatre? (ex. What do you wish you'd known from the outset? What was the biggest challenge for you?)
I don't have any advice for anyone. I am looking for some myself.
4. You've been exercising your acting chops quite a bit recently; will we get to see more of that?
I took a few acting courses this past year, and I believe it to be the most difficult artistic discipline. I would love to act more, but feel as though I have a lot of work to do.
5. Next album - when is it?! (No pressure of course. Ok, maybe a bit.)
My next album comes out in February 2013. It is called Valleyheart.
6. Personal Q: In the musical teaser clip that Canadian Stage released to the masses, you're smoking a pipe - is that a J.R. thing or a "I'm in my character" thing? No judging either way.
Oh that pipe is just a prop that one of my characters smokes in the play. I'm actually trying to quit smoking at the moment and doing very poorly.
7. What's next for J.R.? What's the next thing on your schedule that you're excited about?
I'm excited about the new album, but I'm also interested in working on more theatre. I love the people and the work ethic. It keeps me out of trouble.
THE ARSONISTS is on stage now at the Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front St. W.) until December 9.
The 2011 Dora Mavor Moore Awards took place last night at the Bluma Appel Theatre and it was a lovely occasion filled with members of the Toronto theatre community.
Although there are plenty of cynical cynics who have a hate-on for the Doras, and think that they're political, etc. etc., I do think it's important to celebrate Toronto theatre, and, yes, also to give awards to the select performances deemed worthy. I think it helps to increase the calibre of theatre in our fair city.
For a full list of Dora Award winners, click here.
The Doras also allow Toronto theatre practitioners a forum for networking and comraderie that isn't readily available and given the scandal of the SummerWorks festival losing it's $45K in Heritage Funding 39 days before the start of the 2011 festival, the Dora Awards could not have been more aptly timed. Ben Chiasson, winner of the Pauline McGibbon Award, which is given to an artist at the early stage of his/her career, went even further with his support and promised some of his award money to SummerWorks to help bridge their financial gap. What a peach.
When I heard that I felt good. Really...good about life. Mr. Chiasson made a simple, sincere gesture that reminds us of what we, as humans, are capable of, and that sharing the wealth IS, in fact, in our nature no matter how hard we try to pretend it isn't.
Thank you Ben Chiasson for reminding us of what we need to strive for and thank you Dora Awards for providing a venue for the rivalry, gossip, politics and 'drama' to be put on hold, at least for one night.