Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ON THE SPOT with Shannon Blanchet, Scott Shpeley & Garett Ross

Before Nevermore opens at the New Vic, we caught up with the cast, many of whom are experiencing New York City for the first time! Our Canadian friends are looking forward to exploring the city, and in the meantime, telling you about themselves and life in Canada! 

New Victory: Where did you grow up?
Shannon Blanchet: I grew up in Kingston, Ontario, other wise known as “The Limestone City” because most of the buildings downtown are made of Limestone. Interesting tidbit: It was the first capital of Canada.
Scott Shpeley: I grew up in Beaumont, Alberta, a small town just south of Edmonton.
Garett Ross: Born in Edmonton, raised in The Philippines.

NV: Favorite hometown tradition?
SB: About 30 minutes out of town there are an insane amount of apple orchards where you can go and pick your own apples. I used to love it when my parents would take us out there. We’d climb trees and eat apples until we were sick. Maybe that’s why the ride home always seemed to take so long…
GR: The legislature grounds in winter.

Scott Shpeley

NV: Favorite hometown food?
SB: Chicken fingers in the courtyard of a little restaurant called The Toucan. I get them every time I’m in town visiting my sister.
GR: Coffee from the High Level Diner - sometimes coffee is a food. 

NV: Favorite hometown haunt?
SB: Kingston is surrounded by water…so anywhere on the shore does it for me.
GR: The Empress Pub. 

NV: Favorite NYC haunt?
SB: This is my first time here and I can’t wait to find out!
GR: I'll tell you after I get there.
SS: It’s my first time here, but I’m sure I’ll find a few.

Garett Ross
NV: When you travel, what do you miss most about home?
SB: My parents. When I’m at home I miss traveling.
SS: My fiancée!
GR: I'll tell you what I DON'T miss.... 6 months of winter!

NV: Favorite family activity?
SB: Watching football with my mother. She is an especially cheerful woman but gets downright violent when it comes to Canadian football…it’s hilarious.
GR: Insulting my brother.

NV: Most memorable theatrical experience as a spectator?
SB: Catalyst Theatre used to host international performers and I will never forget a production they brought from South Africa called The Well Being. It was so spare (two performers, a roll of newsprint and a watermelon) and beautiful. In one scene a woman fell in love with a dolphin. The man playing the dolphin spoke in clicks (you know, like a dolphin…) and I understood exactly what he was saying. I was in first year of theatre school when I saw it and I remember sitting in my classmate’s car in the parking lot after the show and crying because I didn’t know what else to do…THAT’S how amazing it was.
SS: Sitting in Azimuth Theatre in Edmonton, a theatre that holds about 20 people, and watching Shadowplay, an experimental collaboration by the Et Cetera Collective.  The play had no dialogue, but through the sound design and the actors it was incredibly captivating.
GR: Warhorse... go see it.

NV: Most memorable theatrical experience as a director/performer?
SB: Nevermore. Hands down. I can’t begin to describe how much I love working on this piece with these people. It is truly a gift to be a part of this project. If I type any more I might cry…so yeah…Nevermore. Anywhere. Any time.
SS: Performing Nevermore for the last two years!  The experiences I’ve shared with this company are priceless, and I wouldn’t trade or change a single second of it.  I’ve had the chance to grow as an actor and a person with the encouragement and inspiration from this cast and company.
GR: I got to sing in front of Adrian Zmed.  I felt weird about it.  For some reason it's burned into my brain.

NV: If you weren't in theater, what would you want to do with your life?
SB: I think I’d like to be a vet. I love animals and once when I was young I got to help my best friend’s dad drain a surgical incision on their 100 pound golden lab. I remember being scared at first but then surprised at how fascinating it was.
SS: I would want to be a glassblower.
GR: Graphic Designer - or maybe a Pizza cook - no a Fireman.  Wait... stuntman.

NV: Favorite saying or slang term?
SB: “Chuh.” It means “Yes, obviously.” It was in a play I did last spring and has become my go-to expression.
SS: “Yes and no.”  Great way to agree and disagree at the same time.
GR: "That's what she said."

NV: Something interesting/unique others may not know about you.
SB: I have an annoying habit of blurting out the breed of every dog I see and I often joke that if and when I have a baby it will probably be a puppy because that’s what I would take the best care of…hmmm… that sounds a lot weirder than I meant it to…
SS: I play many musical instruments, I am part of a traditional Ukrainian Hall band called Zorepad, and I am part of an electro-pop-dance band called Christian Hansen & the Autistics.
GR: Whenever I go to sleep at night I NEED to have the covers wrapped around my neck.  Vampires. Horribly afraid of them as a child.  And still, perhaps, a lil' bit.

NV: Do you do anything else to earn a living?
SB: LOTS! I work as an Assistant Director on movies and tv shows as well as recording voice over for video games and television shows. Yup. I get paid to make funny voices. Am I maybe one of the luckiest people in the world? CHUH!
GR:  Mooch off my family

NV: What is your educational background? Training background?
SB: I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from The University of Alberta in Edmonton…I am still paying off the student loans but it was well worth every penny.
SS: I trained in acting at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
GR: I went to a the Musical Theatre Program at Grant MacEwan College and then got my Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Alberta.

NV: What is your cultural heritage? Has it influenced your work, and if so, how?
SB: I’m a bit French, a bit Irish, a bit English…the Irish side of me has to work extra hard at not losing its temper, sometimes.
GR: Hmmm I'm Scottish, and part Greek...if anything it's just confused my work. 

NV: Which 3 people have influenced you the most?
SB: My mother and father take top honors in this category. I had an amazing high school drama teacher named Ian Malcolm (I hope he’s reading this) who was the first person to tell me could be a professional actor and that if that’s what I wanted to do I should follow my dream no matter what…Thanks, Ian.
SS: My mom, pops and my high school drama teacher.
GR: John Cusack (seriously), My Mother and a teacher none of you would know.

NV: Why do you like performing at the New Vic?
SB: Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think my first trip to New York would happen because I was performing. Like Ryan says, it was a dream, but not a goal. Being in New York performing this play that I love so much with my some of my closest friends is one of the highlights of my life and I’ll never forget it. Uh-oh…here come the happy tears again…
SS: It has been a dream (that I thought would never be realized) to perform in New York, and I am glad it’s with this show!

GR: Either because it's an amazing, breathtaking theater or because of the streetmeat outside.  I'll tell you later.

Thanks, everyone! To find out more about fellow cast mates Beth Graham and Ryan Parker, look for a new ON THE SPOT next week. In the meantime, join us at Barnes & Noble in Lincoln Triangle October 28th for a discussion with the show's creators! More information here. What's the show about? Watch the trailer here.

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