Hello all and welcome back!
With the closing of Suburban Motel on the horizon, I just wanted to take a moment to recognize and thank everyone that was involved in the creation of this great show! Shout out to our esteemed crew: Director Leonard Mario Zgrablic; Stage Manager Heather Stonehouse; ASMs Matt Mustin and Min Ling; Technical Director Matt Walsh; Props Master Alex Schmidt; Costume Designer Esther Aitchison; and co-producers Nicole Lemieux and Chris Lolas. Give it up for our wonderful cast: Nike Abbott as Shirley; Peter Aitchison as RJ; Tim Finnigan as Rolly; Brian Fox as Phillie; Stephanie Kraus as Amanda; Nicole Lemieux as Helen; Karly Snoddon as Denise and Shawn Vincent as Stevie. And lastly, special thanks to everyone that helped out with set build, front-of-house, etc. and to all of you who saw the show! You are all rock stars! Thank you!
And now let me introduce you to the man who stars in both shows as the lovable drunk Phillie, Mr. Brian Fox! Brian has been a member of our community for many years and this is his first main role in a KWLT production!
(Meet Brian Fox as Phillie)
What is it like working on both shows? Is Phillie the same throughout or different?
“I find that in both [shows], he’s kind of the comic relief. He comes in, says a few lines to kind of break up things, and then everybody else says their thing[s]... and in scene 2 [of Criminal Genius] I’m laying on the floor for half the scene, which I did not expect. In Problem Child he’s a little more serious. In scene 6, [he] and RJ have a one-on-one that’s kind of serious, but when rehearsing, we added a little more comedy to it. Criminal Genius is pretty much all comedy! Problem Child is the downer, very serious, and Criminal Genius is suppose to lighten everything up; this is the screwball dark comedy kind of thing.”
What are Phillie’s motivations in each show?
“In the first [show] he’s sympathetic to [Denise]; he’s sympathetic to her cause and what she’s trying to do. In the second [show] he just wants to get paid! ‘Hey guys you wanna stay one more night? PAY ME!’ And then he gets… sucked into the world of these not very good criminals... He’s along for the ride... which leads to hilarious consequences. The show is called Criminal Genius but no one actually is one!”
What kind of tactics or methods did you use to get into the mindset of Phillie?
“Well, most of the time, he’s drunk! So, I’m just trying to play him spaced. Just kind of wander off; play it light-headed. Through out a lot of it it's, ‘Oh, he's a brain-dead drunk’, but in Problem Child, I’m only really drunk in the first scene. Whenever I come out after that, I’m a bit more sober, so I’m just kind of more angry with the world.”
(No more booze. Brian as Phillie)
What kind of backstory did you create for Phillie? How does that relate to him being sympathetic to Denise?
“So the backstory I created, a lot of it was trying to figure out where this guy came from, like how did he get here? How did he end up being the manager of this place? What lead to his circumstances? I played around with a lot on that. So [I’m] thinking something traumatic happened in his past. Maybe he was in the military and has PTSD. Maybe he was in the service, something happened, he came back… and now he’s back in the real world and he can see [injustice] all over the place. He’s whole stick is that [he believes] there’s no justice in the world. He talks about his cousin Edward giving him the job, and maybe [Edward] just wants him to run the motel to kind of keep him out of trouble. Like, [maybe] Edward is doing this as a favour or just a way to keep him out of trouble. That’s kind of the backstory I created; he saw things and when he came back he couldn’t handle it, so he hid in the booze.”
You have been with this theatre for a while. Is this your first time acting on the stage?
“First time as the main player on the stage.”
What other things how you done for the theatre?
“It’s been a lot of builds! I’ve done a LOT of set building. I starting in I believe 2012 or 2013. I just kind of got roped into doing a lot of set building. In 2014, it was the first time I did acting, I was in Dover Road. It required four serving characters: two female, two male. They just kind of go around [the set] and don’t say much. We were also tech crew as well, so we were also on headset at the back, and [making sure props and things got to places on and off stage]. I had to wear this very snug [waiter] vest, so we were the best looking tech crew. I liked doing that; it was fun being a part of that show. I saw the work that [the actors did], like learning their lines and I was like, ‘Wow, I don’t think I can do that. It seems like a lot of time and a lot of work.’”
So now with this show being your first big role, how has that been?
“It is tough! It is a heck of a lot of work! I kind of expected that, but I still find myself surprised like, ‘Wow, this is a lot of commitment and a lot of work’. At my job, I use my brain all day… so when [I] get home and [I] want to turn [my] brain off, [I can't]; I got to go over lines… I got to remember those lines! But I managed to find [the balance]... I got to it in the end.”
Do you prefer one show over the other? Is there a side of Phillie you like more?
“I’m not sure which side I like… Honestly, my exchange with RJ in scene 6, I really like. I really like the whole [thing] and that we put in little bits of comedy into it. But I feel like it's really serious and dramatic; and I really like that whole exchange that we have. I really like the little comic relief bits too… I dig comedy more… But this one time I have this dramatic exchange [...] I really dug that as well. I don’t know which one I’d rank over the other.”
(Karly Snoddon as Denise, Brian Fox as Phillie)
Would you ever want to play another character from these two shows?
“I read for Rolly at the audition… Rolly is a really interesting character. If I got to do it all over again, I can see myself [playing] Rolly."
Now that you’ve been a main character in a show, did you see yourself acting more or just staying in tech?
“I will always do tech! I’ll tell you, the bathroom side of the set, the whole setup, I did that entire thing, and that sucker is solid! And for it to stay up during the run of the show… I’m very happy with that. Just to toot my own horn because I’m very proud of that. I can’t see myself not doing tech.”
With the acting part, right after this show, it’s going to be a long period of do nothing. I’m going to sit down and chill and figure out what I’m going to do after that. With rehearsing three times a week for ten weeks and then tech weekend and the run… I find I’m kind of drained. I don’t know [when I will do this again].”
Would you do it again?
“It depends…. If I do another show, I’d want to be more familiar with the text… This show I came in a little cold… In the future if I audition for something, I’d like to be more familiar with the text, before going ahead.”
What kind of advice would you give someone who wants to do community theatre? (Crew, acting etc).
“For acting part: find the time! You really got to find the free time. Realize the commitment. For tech: I’ve done so many builds, and every time I do a build I learn something new. If you really want to get into the set building or just building [set pieces] for the show, [my advice] is to just go to a build day. Go to a build day and do stuff and see how things are done, and just watch and help. It’s always good to have handy people. The more help the better... For anyone who’s unsure, just come out to a build day and help and watch.”
(Pay the man! Brian as Phillie)
Good ol' Phillie! Standing up for justice and listening to whatever harebrained scheme the other characters come up with! You should check it out for yourselves! Problem Child/Criminal Genius has three more shows this week until it is gone forever! Tickets are on sale at Eventbrite (https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/kwlt-presents-problem-child-and-criminal-genius-tickets-69261177045) or at the door! For more information, please check out our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/KWLTheatre/) or continue searching this website. You can also find my other blogs at https://www.kwlt.org/blog and be sure to check out more blogs to come in the future!
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Coming soon: Undecided.. Stay tuned for more info!
That about wraps up my Suburban Motel blog series. It's been great! Now I leave you with Brian's final remark:
“Let me tell you a story. In FASS 2006, I got the character that had the most stage time; I was the main antagonist, the blowhard, thespian actor, and I really hammed it up. A lot of people afterwards told me. ‘Dude, you should be doing more mainstage productions. You should go out and audition for stuff.’ But I had other things going on, and I always was like ‘I’m not familiar with the text’; I didn’t feel comfortable auditioning. Fast forward many years later, now I’m finally kind of [ready]. I auditioned for something, even though I wasn’t familiar with it, and I got in both! There’s a part of me that’s like ‘Maybe you should have done this sooner.’ But you know ‘Better late than never!’ It’s been a tiring experience; a little stressful at times, but I don’t regret it. I’ve enjoyed my time doing all this. The one thing I’ll take away from this, is the people I’ve worked with. I mean, it’s too separate casts and I got to work with both of them, and I love them all! They are great people!”
In short: “Better late than never!”