An encore for Mermaid’s Puppet Cabaret 

** UPDATED: this event date was changed to Saturday, February 6, 2016.

Prominent community volunteers are lending their support to Mermaid Theatre’s forthcoming fundraising event by undergoing a crash course in puppetry. 

The third annual edition of the company’s popular Puppet Cabaret is scheduled for Saturday evening, February 6 and will feature original vignettes by Cameron Hartley, proprietor of the Schoolhouse Brewery and Kelly Mitchelmore, artist and proprietor of Phoenix Hollow B&B, local residents who are hard at work rehearsing for their stage debut.

Other features of the much-anticipated event include tasty tidbits (prepared by local chef Kerina Dykstra from Let’s Eat Personal Chef Services), a cash bar featuring local brew and wine, a silent and live auction, and cameo performances by former Mermaid puppetry students.  The company’s long-time associate, Mermaid veteran Bill Carr, will serve as host and auctioneer.  In addition to his extensive career as a stage and television performer, Bill is in much demand across Canada as a multi-media artist, humorist, writer, motivational speaker and social commentator.

Struan Robertson, Mermaid’s workshop coordinator, will oversee the puppetry segments of the event, with all staff members working to ensure that guests enjoy a unique “adult evening” in support of Mermaid’s outreach programs for families. Tickets are $60 with a tax receipt issued for a portion of the ticket price. The event is open to adults aged 19 and over. 

The show will be presented on the Mermaid Imperial Performing Arts Centre stage at 106 Gerrish Street in Windsor.  Tickets are available by contacting Mermaid Theatre’s office at 902-798-5841 or puppets@mermaidtheatre.ca.

cabaret-2015(2)-poster

Interview with Jim Morrow

Mermaid Theatre is back on the road again.

One company is in Ireland this month, performing Guess How Much I Love You & I Love My Little Storybook at the Baboró International Children’s Festival in Galway from Oct 15-18, with additional outreach performances at the Hawkswell Theatre in Sligo on Oct 23-24 and the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire on Oct 26-27.

Our Goodnight Moon & The Runaway Bunny show is touring the US and Canada now until May, 2016.  The schedule of performance is on our website at mermaidtheatre.ca/ontour.


 

In preparation for our visit, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, NJ asked us some questions about our work for their study guide.  Our Artistic Director Jim Morrow replied, and a selection of his answers are reprinted below:

jim-headshot-alternateQ: How do your performances “introduce family audiences at home and abroad to the excitement of theatre and the performing arts”?
A: I think Mermaid Theatre is unique in the world of theatre for young audiences. Unlike many other companies, all our shows are adaptations of well-known storybooks that very young children learning to read. We do this because we not only promote excellence in children’s theatre but also promote literature and the joy of reading. It’s a very special feeling to witness a young child clutching his or her favourite book as they enter the theatre to see their favourite characters come to life on stage for the very first time. Our shows are also very detailed, elegant, and gently paced to allow the mind of the child to interact appropriately with the action onstage. And we use puppets which heighten the playfulness of our shows.

Q: How do you encourage literacy and the love of reading?
A: Our companies mission is to adapt universally well-known stories, by some of the world’s best-known authors, into theatre productions that tour around the globe. We have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to adapt some of the best including: The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Guess How Much I Love You; Swimmy/Frederick/Inch By Inch; Goodnight Moon; and Stella, Queen of the Snow. The challenge for theatre creators, regardless whether their plays are adaptations or original concepts, is to produce work that it is elegant, entertaining, and of quality.

Q: How do you select which children’s books to bring to the stage?
shows-sampleA: The very first consideration when choosing a storybook is whether the story itself is appealing to children. Most successful books written for the very young are penned, and often illustrated, by adults who have very special insights into what young children like and how the young mind thinks. These books often include simple text, evocative pictures, and defined characters that are easily relatable. In many of the most successful stories, the message, if there is one, is most often implied and, although an important consideration, it’s often a secondary to the story itself. Masterful children’s authors, and there are many, are able to evoke a sense of wonder and awe through elegant storytelling, delightful pictures, and memorable characters. Stories, pictures, and characters that children want to visit again and again, night after night. Many of these stories also make good plays.

Q: How did you decide to bring Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny to the stage specifically?
A: Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny are two books that have survived the test of time and are considered modern classics. Millions of people around the world have enjoyed the playful antics of Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd’s little bunnies so it was a thrill to have the opportunity to adapt these stories and bring them to life, onstage. Generations of children, and adults alike, have imagined these iconic characters hopping around the outdoors and in the Great Green Room, so it was also a particular challenge to interpret them in a manner that was both appropriate and satisfying to most readers.

Q: Many of your audience members have never seen a theatre performance before. How do they react?
A: It’s been my experience that audiences all over the world respond, more or less the same to our productions, especially the children. I believe they respond positively to the bright colours, the playful action, the recognizable characters and imagery, and the beautiful music – but mostly they are happy simply to be with friends and family, in the theatre, and to have an opportunity to laugh and shout and be entertained.


We’ll offer more of this Q&A at a later date…Have a great weekend!

Latest News from Mermaid Theatre

Photo by Mike Venn

(left to right) Sylvia Bell, Michael Venn, Hilary Adams, Jonny Thompson.

Things have been busy here in the office.  Our production of Goodnight Moon & The Runaway Bunny heads out on the road this week, beginning their 9-month tour with a sit-down run at the Chicago Children’s Theatre.  After that, they’re off on an epic road trip that will take them to over 60 venues and nearly 200 shows.  When they get back to Windsor next May, they’ll have traveled over 30,000 kilometres and visited around two dozen US States and Canadian provinces.

The touring schedule is online here.

We’re also planning a return to Ireland next month.  Mermaid’s poignant adaptation of Guess How Much I Love You & I Love My Little Storybook is returning to the Republic of Ireland as a featured performance at Galway’s prestigious Baboró International Arts Festival for Children in October 2015. The itinerary includes outreach performances at the Hawk’s Well Theatre in Sligo and the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire. First launched in 2004, the double bill has been termed “a magical, meditative experience” by a noted Nova Scotia reviewer.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 12.17.05 PMSam McBratney’s touching bedtime account of Little Nutbrown Hare, Guess How Much I Love You, has appeared in 53 languages, with more than 28 million copies in print worldwide since its publication in 1995. A second adored story, I Love My Little Storybook by writer/ illustrator Anita Jeram, features a whimsical menagerie of animals and imaginary creatures whose gentle adventures celebrate the joy of reading. Mermaid’s creative team has ably captured the enchantment of the storybook characters and their fanciful settings. Jim Morrow served as both director and production designer while Steven Naylor’s lively music score reflects the Celtic traditions shared by Nova Scotia, Ireland and Northern Ireland. The recorded narration showcases the storytelling skills of Beau Bridges.

Touring artists include puppeteers John Allen MacLean and Jeff O’Hara, and Kathryn McCormack in the capacity of stage manager. Morrow and General Manager Lisa Gleave will travel with the company, and oversee workshops and industry seminars. The tour was supported with assistance from The Canada Council for the Arts.

Reflections on Summer 2015

My Summer at Mermaid Theatre
by Chelsey Robichaud, Mermaid’s 2015 summer student

During my elementary school days, I would attend Mermaid Theatre performances with my mother. Ever since, I have been fascinated by the company’s puppetry magic. From the art of the puppets, scenery, loveable characters like Opus the penguin, the caterpillar eating his way across the stage – I was on the edge of my seat! I grew curious of the company and how everything comes together for one spectacular show.

When I saw the advertisement for the summer student position, I immediately applied. The position appealed to me because I’ve been eager to work for a theatre company and learn the business of theatre. My fingers were crossed up until the day I received the phone saying I had been selected for the position. That day was a celebration! I was so excited to start a job that would fulfill my summer with an experience that I am passionate about, and can learn from.

Walking into Mermaid Theatre on my first day of work, I was very excited and not at all nervous. I soaked in the information like a sponge because theatre has always been my favourite thing in the world. When you are in a job that you love, it is easier to learn your tasks.

The theatre world is intriguing – there are several aspects from what happens on stage to behind the scenes! So far, I have learned many things including the history of Mermaid, the building, the roles of every employee, the shows and how everything comes together to bring a children’s story to life.

I can’t even begin to list what my job consists of because every day is different. My large projects involve organizing tour books and other documents for Goodnight Moon/The Runaway Bunny and The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other Eric Carle Favourites as they will both tour North America this season. My job also consists of researching every venue Mermaid tours to make sure that the company has the information they need. My favourite part of the job is giving people tours of our building. The looks on their faces and reactions are priceless because they are amazed at what goes into creating a show. It’s great to have people who have been in the audience and have the chance to see these puppets up close! I enjoy demonstrating how some of the puppets work and explaining how they are made.

What’s fun about my job is it consists of things I actually do in my spare time. Whenever I am travelling to a city for vacation, I do extensive research on local venues so I can attend concerts and theatre performances. That being said, the task of finding ticket sales for our shows was no problem! I enjoy learning about unfamiliar places, their venues and various theatre companies who tour with their shows.

Beyond my desk, the office has busy here at Mermaid. We prepared for Caterpillar to perform in China for one month. We are also in the process of planning the Goodnight Moon & The Runaway Bunny North American tour, and for Guess How Much I Love You & I Love My Little Storybook to go to Ireland! It is interesting to look at the entire process to be able to perform their shows in different countries – Such as hiring the actors, receiving contracts and Visa applications to work outside of Canada, hotels, meals, everything. It is such a remarkable process! I am also interested in how the company works to receive the rights to other well-loved children’s stories.

I am sad to say that this is my last week at Mermaid Theatre for this summer. It’s been an amazing summer, and I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I have learned. Honestly, I cannot think of a summer job that is better than this. I am fortunate to have a job where I wake up feeling excited every morning for what the day will bring – even on a Monday morning. The employees here have been quite friendly and helpful to me as I had to navigate the ‘behind the scenes world’ of theatre. Their stories of their work and how the company came to be are quite inspiring. I have gained so much knowledge from this company, and I wish to continue this summer work!

Explore our New Season

Check out MIPAC’s exciting line-up for the 2015-16 MIPAC Performing Arts Series.  With thirteen diverse performances, MIPAC invites you to join us in a blend of Canadian musical icons and family performances that will take you from a down-home Cape Breton kitchen party to an Indigenous dance-theatre performance based on the traditions of oral storytelling.  We hope you can join us!

The MIPAC Performing Arts Series welcomes back some familiar faces as well as introduces you to some new talent that might just take you by surprise.  Some of Canada’s most popular musical artists will have you singing, toe tapping and dancing in your seats.  With a mix of puppetry, dance, and theatre, our Family Series offers you six professional performances to entertain both the young and young-at-heart.

Launching the Family Series on Sunday, September 20 is Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s gentle stage adaptation of Goodnight Moon & The Runaway Bunny.  October heats up with three musical performances beginning with Polaris music nominees, husband and wife musical team, Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland of Whitehorse.   Annapolis Valley’s homegrown band The Spinney Brothers take the stage on October 17 in their unique style of traditional southern flavoured bluegrass music that led to their Nova Scotia Country Music Hall of Fame induction in 2010.  On October 30, the Joe Murphy Blues Bonanza with Dave MacLean and Watermelon Slim brings together these renowned musicians in a musical collaboration sure to get your blues flowing. 

On November 22, MIPAC welcomes back to its Family Fare Series Motus O in their exhilarating performance Alice. Rich in athleticism and innovative dance theatre, Alice is adapted from Lewis Carroll’s whimsical stories, Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass.  On January 19, Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia returns with its flagship production of The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Favourites.  Maritime Marionettes present The Lonely Leprechaun on February 14.  Hailing from Truro, NS, these regulars to the MIPAC stage tell the story of Sally, whose muse magically appears as Sandy, the lonely leprechaun.  

Like his trademark suit, David Myles’ music is timeless.  David’s only artistic constants are his always growing, shape shifting songwriting, and his exceptional ability to entertain.  Join David on the MIPAC stage March 18 for an evening of vocal harmonies and irresistible energy. 

Springtime blooms at MIPAC with four April performances. On April 2, the Yukon-based Ramshackle Theatre will take your family along for a Sci-Fi Double Feature Cardboard Science Fiction Puppet Show. This all ages cardboard puppet show is filmed and projected live onto the big screen, to create a one-take 1960s sci-fi B-movie.  Joel Plaskett Emergency proves he can be all things to all people, as he rocks MIPAC on April 7 with one of the most diverse and fan pleasing albums of his career.   In a ‘love letter to music,’ 6 Guitars is a pitch perfect blend of music, comedy, and characters. Chase Padgett is one talented musician who delivers a virtuosic performance as he becomes 6 different guitar players each with their own distinct voice, views, and musical style. 

In a tender coming-of-age story, Red Sky Theatre’s Mistatim blends cultural barriers in a story of truest friendships and communication.  With just a simple wooden fence separating Calvin on his father’s ranch and Speck on her reservation, Calvin attempts to ‘break’ Mistatim the only horse no one else could tame in order to prove himself to his father.  Told through the beauty of Indigenous dance and storytelling, don’t miss seeing Canada’s most celebrated contemporary dance-theatre company. 

Are you ready for some down-home good time? On May 14, Cape Breton’s electrifying line-up of East Coast musicians, Còig (Ko-ig) wraps up the season in an exciting show not to be missed.  Originally coming together for the Celtic Colours International Festival, Còig is today one of Cape Breton’s most captivating young bands.  With numerous accolades and awards, these successful solo musicians in their own right come together to bring you one exhilarating ‘kitchen party’ full of banjo, bouzouki, fiddle, mandolin, flute, whistle, vocals and piano.  This is what Cape Breton is all about!


TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets on sale now at Ticketpro.ca, by phone at 1-888-311-9090, or in person at Windsor Home Hardware and all other Ticketpro outlets.

MIPAC has introduced two special options to help you get the most of your performing arts experience:   

THE VIP PACKAGE:
David Myles, Joel Plaskett Emergency & Whitehorse
Attend all three performances for $110

  • Guaranteed seating in first two rows
  • Invitation to post-show reception with complimentary refreshments.

FAMILY PACKAGE:
Pick any four Family Series shows for $48. General seating.
(regular $13 Advance | $15 Door.) 

For full season details on the 2015-16 line up, go to: mermaidtheatre.ca/mipac/current-season

goodnight moonFAMILY SERIES Mermaid Theatre
Goodnight Moon & The Runaway Bunny

Sun, Sep 20 @ 2pm 
whitehorse logo Whitehorse
Sat, Oct 10 @ 8:00pm
 

IMG_2391-300x214
The Spinney Brothers
Sat, Oct 17 @ 4pm
2015-Oct30-joe murphy Joe Murphy Blues Bonanza
with special guests
Fri, Oct 30 @ 8pm
Motus O Alice2FAMILY SERIES Motus O Theatre
Alice in Wonderland 
Sun, Nov 22 @ 4pm
CaterpillarFAMILY SERIES Mermaid Theatre
The Very Hungry Caterpillar & 
Tue Jan 19 @ 6:30pm
lonely leprechaunFAMILY SERIES Maritime Marionettes
The Lonely Leprechaun
Sun, Feb 14 @ 2pm

David Myles David Myles
Fri, March 18 @ 8pm
ramshackle 2FAMILY SERIES
Ramshackle Theatre
Sci-Fi Double Feature: 
Sat, April 2 @ 2pm

joel plaskett emergency Joel Plaskett Emergency
Thu, Apr 7 @ 8pm
6 guitars copy 6 Guitars
Fri, April 22 @ 7:00pm
Mistatim - Red Sky 175FAMILY SERIES Red Sky Theatre
Mistatim
Fri, Apr 29 @ 6:30pm
coig Còig
Sat, May 14 @ 7:00pm

Latest Updates from Mermaid Theatre – June, 2015

Summer is sometimes quiet in our office, but this season, there’s lots going on, including some international tours that are shaping up quite nicely.

  • vhc-china-mapOur “Caterpillar” and his friends will be returning to China next month, with performances in several big cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Nanjing, Changzhou, and several others.  Narrated in Mandarin by Da-shan (aka “The most famous foreigner in China”) the show,《好饿的毛毛虫》in Chinese, begins rehearsals next week for dates beginning July 15 in Beijing.
  • We’re also planning to head to Singapore and Ireland in the coming months with the charming Guess How Much I Love You & I Love My Little Storybook — more information will be posted once the details are finalized.
  • IMG643Chelsey, our summer student, has arrived to help us work on paperwork and give guided tours of the facility.  There’s lots to see, and we’re always happy to show people around.  We’re open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm (if you want a tour, try to arrive before 3:30!).
  • We’re also getting ready for our 2015-16 US/Canada tours, with Goodnight Moon & The Runaway Bunny heading out in September, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Favourites rolls out in January.  We’ll have the tour schedules posted online soon.
  • Our MIPAC 2015-16 Performing Arts Series will be finalized and shared with everyone within a month.  Stay tuned — there’s lots of great shows in our theatre this coming season.
  • Mermaid’s Youtheatre will be presenting their final performance this school year of their show “The Hivemind,” at The Mermaid Loft.  The performance is on Wednesday, June 17 at 6:30pm, and you are all invited (ages 13+ only).
  • In collaboration with other Atlantic Canadian puppeteers, we’ve launched a local chapter of UNIMA, the international organization devoted to the art of puppetry.  Full details are on our website and you can see what we’re up to on our new blog/journal.
  • Finally, just a quick note: because our production team will be so busy this summer getting ready for our tours, we will not be hosting any summer day camps this year.

Have a great week!

Please visit our website at Mermaidtheatre.ca

NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, our main website, mermaidtheatre.ca, is not coming up in search results.  You can reach the site by clicking here.

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia is located at 132 Gerrish Street, P.O. Box 2697, Windsor, NS  B0N 2T0, CANADA

Our main website for Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia is
mermaidtheatre.ca

Our website for Mermaid Imperial Performing Arts Centre is at:
mermaidtheatre.ca/MIPAC

We’re on Facebook at:

http://facebook.com/MermaidTheatre
http://facebook.com/MermaidImperial