Saint Aggie's '84

The history of a new musical as it comes to be…

Saint Aggie’s ’84: GCS Newsbreak

Here’s a story on the show that aired in Greensboro today.

Saint Aggie’s on WFMY News

Here’s an interview on KFMY television in North Carolina with Keith Taylor, Saint Aggie’s ’84’s director, and Katie Sessoms who plays Hattie in the show.

Adventures in North Carolina

Last week I ventured to the state of North Carolina to witness the opening of the premiere of the two-act version of SAINT AGGIE’S ’84 at the Weaver Academy in Greensboro. I flew in on Tuesday night (it was supposed to be Tuesday afternoon – thanks United Airlines) caught the dress rehearsal and watched the first two performances, which continue on through this weekend.

It was my first time to this part of the USA and I have to say I will definitely be back…if they’ll have me. The people are really generous and warm (thanks to the booster club I was want for nothing and was taken out for some tasty meals (and picnics) in some fine restaurants (and grassy patches)), not to mention they are passionate and talented in the business of theatre…and the weather doesn’t suck, either. Too bad I didn’t pack appropriately.

Much thanks to Keith Taylor (director) Jason Kraak (musical director) and Lindsey Clinton-Kraak (choreographer), who all did an amazing job in pulling this crazy show together and making it look and sound fantastic.

In the days leading up to the opening I got to hang around the school, meeting with classes, checking out what they were up to and talking about a life in the arts. It was a busy time but I met some exceptional young people and found myself quite inspired by the place. I was interviewed by Mr. Tyler Hardin, a sophomore (I love US school terms) with his own local TV show. I’m guessing this kid will be on CNN in few years!

The show had a distinct visual style, entirely plaid, well represented in the program, setting the play in a conceptual West-Coast-of-Canada-in-the-fall-of-1983 boarding school. I thought it worked really well.

Also of note, the score was not performed by a live band. Instead, music production students at the school created backing tracks from midi files exported from my score writing software, SIBELIUS. Very interesting to hear.

Here are some photos from the show that I stole from the Saint Aggie’s ’84 Facebook page. Thanks to the photographer. I will credit you. I promise.

For the record, here’s an entire cast list. Over 60 in the company. Amazing.

Hattie Navarre: Katie Sessoms
Emily Berowne: Bonnie Flannery
Grace Longaville: Rebecca Evans
Alexis Dumaine: Cara Farlow
Adriana De Armado: Peggy Wasmund
Dull: Zina Card
Costard: Bridget Lavender
Boyet: Taylor Beyrer
Theresa Moth: Annanoa Kaufmann
Jennifer: Laura Peterson
Christine: Jenna Caporossi

James Prince: Isaac Powell
Keith Smithers-Jones: Kyle Kite
Marcus Sellar: Nick Relos
Ross McDonald: DJ Gayles
Holofernes: Caleb Taylor
Juan Gonzales: Isaac Powell

Company Females:
Giselle Abreu
Brittney Bailey
Sara Bedingfield
Joy Ben-Israel
Sarah Bernstein
Sarah Broyhill
Jada Castillo
Sydney Champion
Rachel Cumberland
Stephanie Dawson
Samantha Gates
Katy Fields
Emily Franks-North
Kyla Garland
Aliya Graves
Emma Hamel
Sarah Harrill
Kestyn Harris
Chappell Hartsell
Spencer Hodges
Juli Jackson
Ines Kaushe
Caroline Knisley
Abi Lambert
Tess League
Mariana Lehoucq
*Sarah Catherine Lucus
Emily Madden
Shannon Mann
Ellen Marion
Kerrington Misher
Zoe Murran
Taylor Neese
Kathryn Nieri
*Hannah Marshall
Cameron McClellan
Meagan McFarland
Logan Pace
Autumn Rainey
Tehya Ramey
Zoe Shirk
Suramie Slay
Roxanne Snider
Cecelia Swayne
*Carmel Tajeddini
*Hayley Turner

Company Males:
TJ Bossier
Tyler Hardin
Web Farabow
Grayson Frazier
Smith McLean
Hayden Moses
Phillip Wells
Jaevon Williams

I had a chance to look around the wonderful historic Carolina Theater (sic). Just fascinating.

I also managed to venture down the I-40 to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill to meet the affable Mr. Bland Simpso, one of the creators of the musicals, DIAMOND STUDS and KING MACKEREL AND THE BLUES ARE RUNNING (among others), two shows I’ve happened to work on as an actor. As it turned out Bland was entertaining South African playwright, Althol Fugard (ROAD TO MECCA, MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS, MY CHILDREN! MY AFRICA!) who was doing an artist in residence at the university. He was a delight to meet and I even got to sit with him as some playwriting students read his short play, THE COAT. It was quite an incredible experience to say the least.

SAINT AGGIE’S ’84 runs tonight through Saturday so if you happen to be in the western North Carolina you should drop by. There will be a cast recording at some point, which will be made available…and also a good quality video, which is exciting.

Well, I’m home now. Getting back to work on my new Edinburgh Fringe bound musical, MEASURES TO MEASURES, in production right now at LORD BEAVERBROOK SCHOOL in Calgary. But before I get completely submerged back into that, there’s still one more NORTH CAROLINA experience to take in: Ben Folds with the ESO!! Tonight!!

A photo from another world…


Here it is. The first glimpse of the next cast of Saint Aggie’s ’84. Yes, the photo is bit grainy and slightly unclear, reminding me a little of a photo from early space exploration, an early moon probe, transmitted back to earth slowly via radio waves and taking hours to receive, decipher and print. Of course, this picture was emailed to me by one Heather Foley, the stage manager of the production, using radically more advanced technology from a point very much located here on planet earth. Earth or not, however, there is still something other worldly about this picture for me, and these awesome young people who will embody the words and become the characters in my play. The picture is as exciting to me as those firsts glimpses of the moon probably were to those NASA folks back in the 1960s.

More will follow in the days to come. But enjoy this first look!

On Our Way

My new EP has on it (among other things) my version of ON OUR WAY from Saint Aggie’s ’84. You can check the song out or download it alone or with the whole EP at bandcamp.

***ALSO*** Watch for progress reports from Greensboro NC, where rehearsals are underway at the Weaver Academy for the debut of the full two-act version of the show, opening March 22nd!

Ready to Go at the Winspear

Tech went well at the Winspear Centre this afternoon. An hour an twenty-five minutes to showtime. Better get ready. More pictures later.

Saint Aggie’s ’84 at the Winspear Centre

Just a quick note to remind everyone to come and see an excerpt from SA84 at the Winspeare Centre on Monday, April 11. We’re there as part of the 24th Annual, Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts. It’s such an honour to be a part of this amazing night and to perform in such an incredible venue.