Thursday, March 27, 2008

If You Can't Stand the Laughter, Get Out of the Kitchen

Okay so here's the situation... You are the producer/director of your mother's cable-access cooking show. You get the word that the show has been cancelled and during the final episode, your mom's chief rival shows up to disrupt things. After all, her show's been cancelled too, and with the history that exists between her and your mom, she's not going down without settling a few things first. And if that wasn't bad enough, this is the week you've chosen to stop smoking!

Such is the starting point of "Kitchen Witches", Caroline Smith's hilarious comedy. Directed by Denise Gismondi and produced by Jim Monaghan it is the latest offering by Elora Community Theatre. Performances are being held at the Fergus Grand Theatre, 8pm each evening (Sunday Matinee - 2 pm), April 25 - 27 and May 1 - 3, 2008.

Yes, it's shameless self promotion time again, and once more I make no apologies. "Kitchen Witches" is my latest adventure as a soundscape designer. The unique challenge to face this time around is the production of some original music for the show. The play centers around a cable access cooking show and like any good TV program it needs a theme. And simply re-cycling the music from the Galloping Gourmet or even Bewitched isn't going to cut it. Besides somebody, somewhere likely still holds the copyright and they'd want their piece of the action.

Fortunately, I had the assistance of a very talented young man by the name of Ben Leibovitz. He came up with a great theme and with the help of some local singers and my friend Brian's in-home recording studio we're getting the job done. The final mix should be ready some time next week.

The show is also giving me an opportunity to work once more with Ken Cameron. I was privileged to work with Ken on "Death of a Salesman" at Guelph Little Theatre a while back, and in "The Missing Piece/Peace" with In the Light Productions this past Christmas. This time around Ken plays the role of the producer/director in "Kitchen Witches" and has to referee the tussles between the troublesome twosome. I have really come to admire Ken's talent and professionalism and I'll tell you, if I wasn't already involved with the show, I'd be coming out to see it anyway just to enjoy watching Ken do what he does so well.

So if you're going to be in the Fergus/Elora area during the run of the play (again that's April 25 - 27 and May 1 - 3, 2008 at the Fergus Grand Theatre) do yourself a favour and come out for an evening of fun and laughter with Community Theatre at It's Best.

Tickets are available in advance by calling Ralph Basset Associates @ (519) 843-4852 -or- Long Distance (866) 500-6652. The box office open one hour before each performance.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Great Art and A Great Cause

Okay.. there two things that I want to talk to you about.

The first is art. The scriptures say that man was created in the image of God. For me the greatest evidence of this has always been humankind's ability to create. From the earliest cave paintings to the delicate intricacies of an electron guitar, I really believe our obsession with bringing what we can imagine into some degree of reality one of our most God-like qualities.

It's why I've always thought that those who believe in God should support those who make best use of their creativity. To the best of our ability to afford it, there should be art in our homes, original when possible, prints and replicas when necessary, but there must be art. It is an expression of the creative spark that God has placed in all of us. For this reason, I have always made a point of supporting and promoting the artists that come into my life, be they musicians, sculptors, architects, painters, whatever.

Which brings me to my friend Stephen. I have known Stephen Ascough for nearly three decades. And while I have long coveted his friendship, I will confess that what I envy most is his artistic ability. I am proud to have three of Stephen's original nature drawings hanging on the walls of my home. They remind me not only of a great friendship, but of the wonder of God's creation expressed in an act of love and creativity.

I know, I'm getting a little mushy here, but it's hard not too - Stephen's work always amazes me. Sometimes I look at the three pictures I have in my home, (the mushrooms are my favourite) and I still see things in them I never noticed before. But why am I telling you this now?

Because recently my friend Stephen was accepted as a member of Artists For Conservation, a "non-profit, international organization dedicated to the celebration and preservation of the natural world. The Foundation represents the world's leading collective of nature artists and an unparalleled pool of artistic talent focussed on nature. The organization's mission is to support wildlife and habitat conservation, biodiversity, sustainability and environmental education through art that celebrates our natural heritage." Membership is limited and by invitation, I'm thrilled for my friend that he has been included.

As a result of this for the first time, high quality art prints of his work is available on the web. The picture at right is from his home page at AFC where you can see more of his work and purchase a print. On selected works a portion of the purchase price will go to the AFC Foundation to support their work in world wide conservation efforts. I invite you to visit his home page and consider the possibilities. You can use the following link or the one in the sidebar at right.

The second thing I'd like to mention is The Ride to Conquer Cancer. The Ride is a 200km cycling tour from Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Ontario through the Halton Hills, down through the wine country of the Niagara peninsula, to the natural majesty of Niagara Falls, natural wonder and honeymoon capital of North America. The funds raised through this event will help to ensure that the vital cancer research that is done at Princess Margaret (one of the top five such centres in the world) continues.

I'd be surprises if there's anyone reading this who hasn't seen someone in their lives touched by this all to common disease. If you are so inclined to do so I would appreciate it if you would follow the link to my personal page at the Ride's web site and make a donation in support of my participation in the event.

On behalf of the thousands who will benefit from the work that goes on at Princess Margaret, I thank you.

Dennis Gray