If you’re on twitter, (and if you’re not, you’re late to the party), you know Kelly Cameron. Better known as broadwaybabyto, she keeps us in-the-know with her coverage of the T.O. theatre landscape. See below for a preview on how she makes that happen.
1. What do you do for the theatre world? Can you sum it up in 3 sentences or less?
I can’t do much in three sentences or less! I’m the Toronto theatre correspondent for NYC based BroadwayWorld.com – currently the largest theatre website on the net. Which means that I’m a crazy redheaded Canuck dedicated to promoting the fantastic theatre scene of “Broadway North” so we don’t get eclipsed by our pals to the south.
2. Why the arts? What’s made you focus your extra energy on theatre?
I chose theatre because it was my first great love. I saw my very first commercial theatre production at the age of 5 when I saw the original Canadian company of LES MISERABLES and I was hooked. Theatre has this amazing ability to bring people together and spread joy and love, especially during tough times. Now more than ever, I think it’s important to focus as much energy and attention on the theatre community as possible because this is where people find comfort and solace during difficult times.
When we were faced with the severe economic downtown in 2008 many people thought that the theatre community in Toronto would die, and instead we have seen it thrive. I think this illustrates just how important theatre is to the masses – it’s an escape, a joy, and an experience second to none.
3. When you began to write about theatre, what was the feedback/reception like from the arts community?
Extremely warm. I still fondly remember the first piece I ever did, which was for the Toronto company of JERSEY BOYS reasonably early in their run. Everyone I dealt with, from the PR representatives to the staff at the theatre to the talent themselves, were accommodating, welcoming and encouraging. Many of the people I encountered on that first day stayed in regular contact with me, giving me advice and nudging me along when I was ready to give up.
I feel my experience getting started clearly illustrates what is so wonderful about Toronto’s theatre community – they take care of their own. They are so welcoming of anyone who wants to become involved and support the art form, and most people would do anything to help you out.
4. What’s the best thing about theatre in Toronto?
See my answer to question three! The people are definitely the best thing about theatre in Toronto. We boast some of the most talented theatre professionals in the world in our city, as is evidenced time and time again when people from around the world come here to produce shows and leave raving about our incredible “triple threats”.
5. What’s the worst thing about theatre in Toronto?
I think right now the worst thing would be the notion that as a city, we aren’t producing any new Canadian works. People seem to be living in a vacuum where they assume that since the city has seen a lot of touring productions in the last little while, Toronto isn’t churning out anything original. It’s a shame since there are a lot of wonderful, local productions being mounted every year that Torontonians deserve to see. So I think that the misconception is one of our downfalls. Hopefully with more attention and awareness to the works that are being created, 2012 will see more large-scale, all Canadian, original productions.
6. What’s an adjective that can describe most of your days at your job?
Caffeinated? Does that count as an adjective? And inspiring. Every day is inspiring.
7. Describe (in 3 sentences or less) what your favourite memory is from your current job.
My favourite memory would be of the evening I spent covering the Theatre Museum fundraising gala last winter. Many of the Toronto theatre scene’s biggest supporters joined David Mirvish and members of the original Canadian company of Godspell for an intimate evening (that included a private acoustic performance by Colm Wilkinson) to raise money for what I feel will be an incredibly important and vital part of our cities theatre scene going forward. It was an honour to be a part of that evening – and inspired me to do whatever I can to raise the profile of the wonderful theatre we have in Toronto.
8. What’s the last play that you saw that really made an impression on you?
Studio 180’s production of THE NORMAL HEART. All plays make an impression on me in one way or another, but this one resonated on a personal and visceral level. I went in afraid that the material might be somewhat dated and therefore not pack the emotional punch it would have in the past, and was pleasantly surprised. That production was a perfect example of what happens when you combine well written material with talented, dedicated and committed actors. It was a show that pushed you to think, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
9. If you could do any other job, arts professional or not, what would it be?
I always wanted to be on stage. When I was a little kid I had big Broadway dreams, so I suppose if I wasn’t writing about it, I would love to actually be on stage performing. That said I’m a bit crap when it comes to singing…
10. If the Toronto theatre scene was a woman, what advice would you offer her?
That’s easy, the same advice I offer actual women! Don’t settle. The Toronto theatre scene is far too valuable to settle for anything less than exactly what she deserves. This city is a remarkable place full of heart, talent and amazing people – and I hope that 2012 brings us even more recognition on the international stage.