On Saturday evening Eastern Front Theatre is presenting Hali-Wood Squares, a fundraiser game show featuring some of the most famous (and Halifamous) residents of our fair city. Based on the long-running American panel game show, Hollywood Squares, the gist of the game is for two contestants to play tic-tac-toe to win cash and prizes. The board for the game is a vertical stack of open-faced cubes (or squares) occupied by a celebrity, the celebrities are asked questions and the contestants have to decide whether their answers are true or a bluff in order to win the game. Eastern Front’s line-up of stars in squares include: Cathy Jones (in the coveted middle square), Heather Rankin, Bill Wood, Cyril Lunney, Megan Leslie, Jeremy Webb, Michael Melski, Brad Dryden and Jackie Torrens. The game show will be hosted by Eastern Front’s Artistic Producer, Charlie Rhindress.
Hollywood Squares first premiered in 1965 and from 1966 to 1981 was hosted by Peter Marshall, with Paul Lynde (Uncle Arthur on Bewitched) as the centre square. In 1998 a revival Hollywood Squares reappeared on television hosted by Tom Bergeron and featuring Whoopi Goldberg as the centre square with Bruce Vilanch, Gilbert Gottfried, Martin Mull and Caroline Rhea as regular panelists. The revival aired until 2004.
On March 16th we will find out how much our Hali-Wood Squares know about a variety of different topics (and how well they are able to keep up their poker faces), but how much does our audience know about them? Here’s a little run-down of some fun facts about Halifax’s famous faces.
CATHY JONES: Cathy hails from St. John’s, Newfoundland and is most famous for starring on the long-running television series (This Hour Has) 22 Minutes. Prior to creating the show in 1992 with Mary Walsh, Rick Mercer and Greg Thomey, Cathy started in the theatre in Toronto (at Theatre Passe Muraille) and Newfoundland with Cod on a Stick, which morphed into CODCO, and became a television series that aired in 1987 and ran until 1992. Her one-woman theatre shows include Wedding in Texas and Me, Dad and The Hundred Boyfriends. She has won 18 Gemini Awards for her work in Canadian Television. Like her here!
HEATHER RANKIN: Heather hails from Mabou, Nova Scotia and is most famous as a member of the multi-award winning, internationally renowned musical group The Rankin Family. A graduate from Acadia’s theatre program, Heather was last seen at Neptune Theatre in Mulgrave Road’s production of Daniel MacIvor’s play Bingo, for which she was nominated for a Merritt Award (and won a TWISI Award) and was hailed “Best Performance” of 2012 by Jeremy Webb at Off the Leash. She has also performed in The Atlantic Fringe Festival, at Chester Playhouse and in Neptune’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar and she played Ashley MacIsaac’s cocaine snorting girlfriend in the film version of Daniel MacIvor’s Marion Bridge. She has also won six Junos, four SOCAN awards, three Canadian Country Music Awards, and FIFTEEN East Coast Music Awards, the most recent last weekend where she and her siblings were honoured with a special 25th Anniversary Award. Follow her here!
BILL WOOD: Bill was a Navy base kid who found his way to Halifax, studying theatre in University and quickly building up his reputation as both a comedian and a magician. He is most famous as a member of the sketch comedy troupe Picnicface and one of the stars of the Picnicface movie Roller Town, and the Picnicface television series which aired on the Comedy Network in 2011. Prior to Picnicface’s success Bill (with Rhys Bevan-John, Chris Kelly and Colin Cowan) were The Hen Men and did sketch comedy (sometimes disrobed) in the Atlantic Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Bill was also a member of Jeremy Webb’s Improv Knights where he once played a satanic goat, a performance that will forever be seared into my memory. He also sometimes does intensely dramatic straight theatre (and very well!), like when he played Hermann, son of a SS Guard, in the 2b production of Hannah Moscovitch’s East of Berlin, for which he won a Merritt Award. Bill also moonlights as a satyr.
CYRIL LUNNEY: Cyril hails from St. John, New Brunswick and is one of the hosts of CTV Morning Live (formerly known as Breakfast Television) where he has been host since 2003. He initially got his start behind the scenes as a camera operator in Moncton back in 1988, but he is currently most well known for his on location segments where he has proven willing to try anything and go anywhere in the pursuit of a laugh (including once playing the theatre game “Yes, Let’s” with me in a segment about Neptune Theatre School’s summer camps). Follow him!
MEGAN LESLIE: Hailing from Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Megan is most famous for being Halifax’s Member of Parliament for the NDP. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Social and Political Thought and History from York University and a law degree from Dalhousie University. Her background is in social justice and advocacy on poverty issues and she’s a founding member of the Affordable Energy Coalition and as an MP she is the Environmental Critic for the Official Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the NDP. A huge supporter of the arts in all disciplines, Megan currently has an art exhibit on display in her office on Gottingen Street inspired by children’s drawings of zombies; she also recently sang a tribute to the late Stompin’ Tom Connors with other NDP caucus members. Most recently she has been instrumental in fighting to get Bill C-389, (the Trans Rights Bill) passed in Parliament, an issue she is especially passionate about. Megan has won a myriad of impressive awards for her work in the community including the Dalhousie Governor’s Award, the Holly House Heroes Award, the Muriel Duckworth Award and a slew of The Coast Best of Halifax awards. Follow Megan!
JEREMY WEBB: Hailing from Cambridge, England Jeremy is most famous for being Jeremy Webb, actor/playwright/director/host/comedian/acting coach/journalist/photographer/man about town. He studied acting at the prestigious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, played Hamlet when he was twenty-three years old, and moved to Halifax in 1998, where he made his Neptune debut in Blood Brothers and Rumours and moved into the Economy Shoe Shop. Since then he has played everything from Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast to Bob Cratchit in Scrooge and Beowulf in Beowulf in theatres across the province. He won a Merritt Award in 2009 for his portrayal of Iago in Shakespeare by the Sea’s Othello. He has directed a slew of plays, mostly with younger performers, and with his production company Off the Leash he has created and toured three very successful original shows Shakespeare on Trial, his one man A Christmas Carol and Fishing. He has also appeared in many television series and in 1999 founded The Improv Knights, an Improv Troupe that played extensively for seven years. Next up: Catch Jeremy in Off the Leash’s Production of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood with Susan Stackhouse, directed by Rhys Bevan John at the Park Place Theatre opening March 19th. He is Nova Scotia’s human theatrical institution. Follow Jeremy!
MICHAEL MELSKI: Hailing from Sydney, Nova Scotia Michael is currently most famous as the director and co-writer of the film Charlie Zone that recently opened in theatres in Halifax (where it was held over due to popular demand), Sydney and Toronto to enthusiastic reviews. My favourite review quote was from Dork Shelf in Toronto: “It is one of the most gripping and powerful movies to come out of the indie Canadian filmmaking scene in quite some time…. It’s one of the more visceral experiences you can find in a theater right now…” As a playwright Melski’s newest play Eighteen opens next month at Neptune Theatre (a co-production with Eastern Front Theatre) and he is also known for writing Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad, which has played in theatres across the country and The Fly Fisher’s Companion, which played at Neptune’s Studio Theatre in 2011. He has also written and directed a number of other films including Growing Op and Touch & Go (which was one of Ellen Page’s very first films) and a documentary about the history of Neptune Theatre. His partnership with Eastern Front Theatre is a tight one as he is their Artist in Residence and is working on a new play that explores the relationship between Canadian gangster Creepy Karpis and American serial killer Charles Manson. Follow Michael!
BRAD DRYDEN: Hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Brad Dryden is most famous as one third of C100FM’s The Breakfast Club, Halifax’s longest running morning radio show with Moya Farrell and Peter Harrison. He joined the Club in 2007 after spending six years in Ottawa as a morning show host and before that working in Brockville, Peterborough, Edmonton and Calgary. Yet, he actually got his start on CBC when he was still in elementary school in Winnipeg, on a show called Anybody Home where he would read scripts and perform little skits. He then went on (after month and a half) to do a nationally televised show on CTV called Let’s Go, based out of Winnipeg. In High School he did theatre and played in bands and started working from the age of 16 at 92 CITI-FM also in Winnipeg, learning on the job. He enjoys football and once jumped out of a plane live on air with a cell phone. He can also, apparently, spin a basketball that’s balanced on a pen that he’s holding in his mouth while reciting the alphabet backwards (which he should be required to demonstrate at some point on Saturday evening!). In 2006 he won a Canadian Association of Broadcasters Gold Ribbon Award for his humour.
JACKIE TORRENS: Jackie hails from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (we have all the Maritime Provinces covered here!) and she is most famous for her CBC radio and television appearances, such as her roles in Made in Canada and Robson Arms, as well as the work she has done with her brother, Jonathan, on the series TV with TV’s Jonathan Torrens. An accomplished playwright Jackie has written the following for the theatre: Fables, Georama and Live! Nude! Animal!, which was filmed for the Bravo! Channel. She has also been in a slew of films including Marion Bridge and The Wild Dogs. She also produces a bi-monthly live event, along with filmmaker Andrea Dorfman, actor Tara Doyle and CBC Radio’s Mainstreet host Stephanie Domet, in Halifax called Blowhard Presents, where members of the local community are invited to share stories based on a theme. Her next venture after Hali-Wood Squares is hosting Halifax’s Robert Merritt Theatre Awards on March 25th.
Don’t be a square, come hobnob with the Halifamous on Saturday and support the exciting theatrical ventures of Eastern Front Theatre!
Hali-Wood Squares is one night only: Saturday March 16th at 8:00pm at Neptune’s Scotiabank Studio Theatre (1593 Argyle Street). Doors open at 7:30pm. Tickets are $30.00 and include a tax receipt. For more information or to book your tickets please phone 902.466.2769 or email Adam Reid at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit this website.