So much to do! So much to do! Just keep swimming… just keep swimming…
In the past month and a half I have:
1) performed in two very different showings of BALLS! at the rEvolver Festival,
2) workshopped two separate musicals: Carry On (the show being birthed from the 24 hour SMACKDOWN competition) and TITUS: The Light and Delightful Musical Comedy of Titus Andronicus,
3) acted out several parts of TITUS as part of a public reading for further feedback,
4) officiated my sister’s not-actually-official wedding on an island,
5) Opened The Most Honest Man In The World in an extended 75 minute edition as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival.
Phew. Six more performances here in Toronto to go, as well as preparations for William vs The World in less than a month’s time in Saskatoon, plus more fringe stops in Nanaimo, Victoria, and Vancouver, as well as another TITUS draft sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Now to go handbill some more lines. Wish me luck!
(if you wish to come see The Most Honest Man In The World in Toronto, my facebook event page is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1619597668286790/ and I just received an excellent review from Mooney on Theatre, who called it “engaging, emotional, and oftentimes very funny.” Check out the review here: http://www.mooneyontheatre.com/2015/07/03/the-most-honest-man-in-the-world-spired-theatre-2015-toronto-fringe-review/ )
Hey Vancouver Fringe! Here are a few things people have to say about my show, The Hatter:
“A frenetic explosion of a well loved literary character…This was one-man theatre as I’ve never seen it… You must buy this ticket. You must take this ride.” – The Marble Theatre Review (Victoria)
“Andrew Wade shows fantastic range, flipping a switch between wackiness and depression… you’d be mad to miss this play. 4.5 / 5 stars! ” – The Saskatoon StarPhoenix
“Wade embodies the character of the Mad Hatter perfectly.” – Apartment 613
People’s Choice Award! – Alberni Valley Fringe Theatre Festival
“The effect is phenomenal… It hits the right notes: it never takes itself too seriously; it shows a clear mastery of the style and text… a fascinating, frantic, engaging character who can draw our attention by simply being in the space… the Jabberwocky alone is worth the price of admission.” – Mooney On Theatre (Toronto)
“Wade’s performance as the jaded, lonely Hatter is a delight, convincing and poignant, not quite what one would expect, which is perfect for a Fringe festival… you quickly learn to expect the unexpected, which can only be attributed to Wade’s fine acting skills.” – London Free Press
“Clever and funny, with a polished, lyrical style.” – The Beat Magazine
“Wade’s charm is undeniable.” – Production Ottawa
It is hard to find the time and energy to blog between performing, flyering, radio interviews, flyering, promoting, flyering, prepping, seeing shows, and trying to escape the Saskatoon sun! As is, I’m writing this at 3am. That said, I did want to mention that my highly experimental, Sam-Mullins-esque-but-weird personal storytelling show, The Most Honest Man In The World, has received a four star review from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix! And from the reviewer whom other performers had warned me about, no less!
For me, the fact that this show works… HUGE confidence boost. One one-man-show (William vs The World), well, that’s an experiment. Two one-man-shows (The Hatter), that could be a coincidence. But to have three now under my belt… that shows that I’m really doing something here.
(Not that I want to keep doing nothing but one-man-shows, but hey, maybe one day I’ll even strike gold and put together a show that actually sells well enough to make fringe touring the profitable choice as well!)
Anyway, onto the review! : http://www.thestarphoenix.com/Review+Most+Honest+World/10086802/story.html
Andrew Wade, who had a Fringe hit last year in The Hatter, bares his soul in this romantic tell-all that spans his childhood, adolescence and early adulthood… The content itself is cleverly arranged… It’s a pretty brave experiment, in both theater and life. If it’s true.
All I can say is, I aim to be truthful. I aim to be honest. I wanted to try a storytelling show, be myself onstage. The idea of that terrified me. I also knew I would have to plan for a quick turnaround between festivals this year… I would need to make a show anchored in genuine connection rather than complex artifice. A blank page is the hardest thing in the world, so I threw away the page instead, and grabbed a stack of flashcards. 🙂
This rather positive review also has what has got to be the best/worst anti-pull-quote I have had… “His life experiences are just as banal as 99 per cent of the population’s. What we usually see in non-fiction is the one percent, stories so amazing you can hardly believe them.”
He then said that it was this very fact that made my show intriguing. Relatable, I hope.
So… I am the 99%? Sure. Let’s go with that.
I am also the FOUR STAR REVIEW. Let’s go with that too. 🙂
I don’t really have a blog post to go along with this, other than to say that for all we artists aren’t supposed to listen to reviews, it is SO validating to see the work I’ve put into this show over the past couple of months take it from a three star show in London to 4.5/5 stars here in Saskatoon!
Actor Andrew Wade shows fantastic range, flipping a switch between wackiness and depression.
“Why can’t we let fantastic things be,” he asks in tears.
Perhaps because they weren’t meant to last, is the silent reply.
In short, you’d be mad to miss this play. – The StarPhoenix
I would like to contrast this with the first review I ever received for a fringe show, back in 2011, when I performed William vs. The World at Victoria Fringe, and my only review said that “Even sympathetic narcissists should avoid this show.” Why do I want to contrast it in this way? Because I love the feeling of progress, I suppose.
The Hatter began as a cobbled together series of experiments in Vancouver, two years ago, and then went on to London Fringe, where for three of its first four performances, THERE WASN’T A SINGLE PAYING AUDIENCE MEMBER IN THE HOUSE. That’s right, three of my first four performances this summer went to tiny houses of strictly media/volunteers/other-performers, all of whom were watching it for free. And since then I have worked on the show, refined elements of it, added in a scene previously cut, and through Ottawa and Toronto, figured out just what its emotional core, its soul, really is. Financially, in both cities I didn’t quite break even, but the show was progressing. I could feel it. And my pitches on the street were also improving.
Not going to lie, I am loving it here in Saskatoon right now. The street festival atmosphere is fantastic, people yell things at me left and right on the street (due to my costume), the locals are lovely, I’ve had many people ask to take photos with me, people are enjoying my show, and now a review that just blows me out of the water.
Well played, Saskatoon. Well played. I shall certainly come here again. And I get to enjoy your company for four more performances and seven more days!
Allison Vanek at Apartment613 didn’t love everything about the show, but they did enjoy quite a bit of it:
“Inevitably, solo shows live or die on the abilities of their performers, and The Hatter is no exception. In that department, writer and performer Andrew Wade doesn’t disappoint.“
Wade embodies the character of the Mad Hatter perfectly. He’s high-energy, even with a pretty low-energy audience, he never breaks character, and his impressions of the Caterpillar and the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland are fantastic. He’s also really wonderful at improvisation.
The themes are dark, powerful, and frighteningly mundane.
And Josh Chenoweth at Production Ottawa loved the show, but didn’t care for the venue. Widely varying venues is always a danger of Fringe.
Despite suffering from an overly large venue, Wade’s heartfelt performance shines through.
Andrew Wade’s The Hatter takes the titular character… and humanizes him right before the audience’s eyes.
From the start, the appreciation Wade has for the character and the source material is very apparent… You honestly feel for him as his sanity begins reconstructing itself.
It’s a fun journey and Wade’s charm is undeniable.
I look forward to seeing what Toronto and Saskatoon have to say!
And now, a quick look at some of the kind comments I’ve received about The Hatter.
The Hatter drew an enthusiastic applause at the showcase.
Yes, well, that’s all good, but what about the show itself? Well, according to Susannah Joyce at Beat Magazine, who gave the show three out of four stars…:
Much of the writing is… clever and funny, with a polished, lyrical style. An invitation to sing “A Very Merry UnBirthday”, with words thoughtfully printed out in the Program, was well received by everyone.
Story is important to the Hatter.
The battle with The Jabberwocky is enjoyable theatre, with very good use of audience participation and well designed costumes and props to enhance the visual effect.
The Hatter is an admirable effort and a worthwhile visit inside the mad workings of Wonderland.
The London Free Press and Joe Belanger later followed up with a review of their own:
Wade’s performance as the jaded, lonely Hatter is a delight, convincing and poignant, not quite what one would expect, which is perfect for a Fringe festival.
The Hatter is a fun show that children might find entertaining, although their parents are sure to feel a little on edge from the tea party upon their arrival through to the opening scene and the show’s poignant conclusion.
You quickly learn to expect the unexpected, which can only be attributed to Wade’s fine acting skills. To maintain that tension for 50 minutes is no easy feat.
The Hatter is a show well worth catching.
During the run, perhaps my favourite comment which I personally received was:
At the end there, it really got me in the feels.
And finally (for now), I received a lovely email after my last performance in London:
Hi Andrew or Hatter or Ernest.
My boys (one of whom put ketchup in his tea by choice) and I really enjoyed your show at The London Fringe.
You have a great voice, a terrific imagination, good tea and hilarious songs.
We loved your impromptu song about trying to get elephants to fly.
Thank you for the story about the Albatross. It gave me an opportunity to tell my boys about The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Hope you enjoyed your time here in London and made some good dough.
And we hope you continue to act and sing and create.
Come back to London next year.
Makes all the hard work worthwhile. I look forward to seeing how Ottawa receives the show! Thursday beckons! (Tickets available here!)
(These reviews are now up on The Martlet’s website at http://martlet.ca/2013/05/machete-avenue-and-tortoise-boy/ )
About four or so years ago, I took a CD and a chamber play from the box-of-things-to-review in The Martlet’s office with the promise to write up a review and send it in.
Two years ago, I graduated. Tonight, the CD and the play still sit on my desk. So these reviews are a story about my inability to finish a to-do list or work without a deadline. They are also a story about how stubbornly honest I am. I made a promise. Here I am fulfilling it. Far too late to matter to anyone but myself, but here we go:
Chad Michael Stewart‘s Machete Avenue
(save me from myself.) When I first picked up this CD, with its darkened image of a person seemingly drowning as roots reach out through his cheeks, his hands, and the hollows of his eyes… I was worried it’d be full of screaming metal tracks attempting to summon angry parents into their teenager’s basement bedrooms. (please don’t fade.) A CD like that I would have listened to once, written something about how the CD wasn’t ‘for me’, and sent off a review within a week. Machete Avenue isn’t like that. (another blank face calms the angry crowd.)
Machete Avenue exists in the room just beside ‘I really like this album’, which is to say, there are moments in life when it just feels appropriate. (beautifully broken.) Right for what’s happening in my life. Stewart writes plaintive, sad, spiritual odes to doubt and something which isn’t quite heartbreak, but rather, the loss of slowly drifting apart. (I’ve become your sad song.)
(without hope there is nothing left but empty frames.) With song titles like Crosses and Mercy of Angels, there is something inescapably Christian about this album, but rather than bursting into praise, it sings the stories of a man in despair. (we have to find a way to let the grace remain.)
His emotions are real, raw, and relatable, which is why I keep coming back to these tracks when I need music to share in my darker thoughts. (what takes years to build takes seconds to fall.) After at least four years, I still listen to this CD. And now I can do so without such a lingering sense of guilt.
Tortoise Boy, a chamber play by Charles Tidler
In my defence, not long after chose this play from the box of items-to-be-reviewed, I was placed in a class with Charles as my professor. Reviewing his work in a campus newspaper seemed to me to be a tactically and tactfully poor choice at the time. But no more!
Chamber plays are works written as though for the stage, but which are either intended solely to be read, or are intended to be performed in the sparsest manner, without sets or costumes. In Tidler’s case, this play takes the form of stories told by the characters, rather than scenes. Within the first fifteen pages we hear innocent voices and dark tales of alcohol and child abuse, murder, and Clifford Olsen. Hints of dialogue litter the pages, with moments of interaction between the characters, but we are never allowed to sit in any present moment or breathe in a scene. Instead, we stay detached, living within the current storyteller’s memories and point of view.
Sing me any song you want to sing except the song I cannot hear.
Like poetry, the play jumps, flits from moment to emotion to moment, all while forcing us to move at the pace of performance.
Does juxtaposing a sad story with a laugh track make it even sadder?
The drowned man is the only one still allowed in the pool.
Many of his phrases are brilliant, witty, and poetic. The tales the characters tell have the ability to tug on your heartstrings. But it all comes together like a book of short stories – all with the same author, and a similar style. I like the parts, but when the poetry and form separates everything into its own world, a concluding, satisfying sentiment is difficult to find.
And now I can clear a corner of my to-do table, and breathe a little more freely.
UVic Alumnus (BA, BFA)