Lunchbox Theatre workshop: Calling Out Christmas!

April 4th, 2021|

Calling Out Christmas Workshop

Clockwise from top right: Patti Neice (Lunchbox GM), Lenette Randall (actor), Bronwyn Steinberg (Lunchbox AD/Director), Kennedy Greene (SM), Grant Tilly (playwright), Jeselle Lauren (actor), David Sklar (actor).

Christmas in April, what could be better?

Like a lot of my artist friends, I’ve been muddling my way through this pandemic. I’ve found work online as a simulator (role play, but for business… not that kind of role play people), but I’ve also been keeping myself busy with my own writing of plays, screenplays, and musicals. It’s been a lot of self motivated work, so how great it was to actually work with a team on the development of a new script during this strange time.

The show I’ve been working on is called “Calling Out Christmas! “Here’s a little blurb:

On his left-leaning podcast, Alex is tackling one of his most ambitious subjects ever: the need to stop celebrating Christmas. His partner Terra arrives, challenging him (in front of the audience) to a debate, with the winner deciding whether they will celebrate Christmas or not.

We had a blast during the workshop (over zoom) and had a chance to really dive into the script. What came out was a new draft of the piece that I am so proud of. Lunchbox is where my musical “Bingo Ladies” first got its start, and this Stage One program for new work leads to a lot of new shows and opportunities. Check them out and (if you can during pandemic times) support what they do here: Lunchbox Theatre.

Thanks to all who attended the live reading on April 3rd! I hope to see everyone in real life soon.


A Summer in Newfoundland– Covid Edition

September 20th, 2020|

It was sometime in May and I had been in isolation with my Father in Calgary for about two months when I got the call from Donna Butt, the AD at Rising Tide Theatre in Trinity Newfoundland. Though there would be no public performances for the summer, she was bringing together a small core company that would work at the theatre; going through and organizing archives, writing, workshopping shows, and filming segments of productions from past years. As I’d been a member of the company for seven years, with works in development and shows that I’d performed that would be filmed, would I be interested in coming out? Of course.

Trinity Newfoundland is one of my favourite places, both for the scenery and the people (and the freshwater swimming!) so I jumped at the chance. We had to apply for an exemption which was luckily approved. A few days before my two weeks in isolation was over I got a message that the province had approved the theatre to perform for small audiences.

But how!? It was a lot to figure out. We ended up with a small core company that performed to crowds made up exclusively of Newfoundlanders enjoying a “Stay Home” year. I performed in the “Trinity Pageant” (which has been a mainstay of the company since it started performing in Trinity in 1993) as well as a musical variety and skit show, “Shenanigans” which I helped put together some of the music for. Audiences were socially distanced, wore masked when they came in to the theatre, and the cast got to do what we love: Perform.

I don’t take lightly how lucky I was, to be the sole mainlander in the company and to have even gotten into the province given how many friends and even family members who were denied entry. And it was a beautiful summer, performing, fishing, whale watching, berry picking, hiking, bon-firing, and swimming! (Did I mention I’m a fan of the freshwater swimming?!). I was also given time to write a new draft of the play I’ve been working on “A Summer in Newfoundland” which we read at the end of the summer.

It’s great to be back in Calgary with my Father, but I do miss my Newfoundlanders.

THE CUDDLING SONG, another “Quarantune”

June 3rd, 2020|


So how’s everyone doing out there? One of the things a lot of people miss during these times is human affection. This comes in many forms… so here’s a little song about one of them, Cuddling. Hope you’re all well!

A “Quarantune” for these Strange Times, THE COVID WALTZ

April 15th, 2020|

So much has changed in such a short time. At one moment I was getting ready to tour my new show “Newfoundland Routes and Roots!” to Seniors Longterm Care Residences across Ontario, the next I find myself staying with my father at his house in Calgary. I hope, wherever you are, you are safe and healthy.

And in the meantime… why not listen to a little tune? Here’s a new song I wrote (inspired by one of my favourite NL songwriters, Ron Hynes) that will hopefully bring you a smile!

Neptune Theatre YOCo and Gander Musical Theatre Symposium

September 24th, 2019|

Instead of a direct flight back to Toronto from Newfoundland there were a few stops in between. First, to Halifax (where I weather Hurricane Dorian) to work with the Neptune Youth Performance Company. In 2017 they premiered my musical “My Side of the Country” and it was great to see them all two years later continuing in their learning. We wrote a song together, “You’ve only got your Future to Lose” inspired by the Climate Change protest happening the following week.

Then it was a quick stop in Charlottetown to see the hilarious Steven Guy-McGrath in his show “Spinning Yarns” about growing up in Newfoundland… before returning to Newfoundland for the Gander Musical Theatre Symposium!

It was great to attend the Symposium representing Rising Tide Theatre to get a sense of the musical theatre community in Newfoundland while also hearing stories about the development of Come From Away and learning from top professionals. And now… back to Toronto, to apply what I’ve learned.

The Naming of Port Rexton at Rising Tide

September 1st, 2019|

In 2015 Rising Tide premiered my full length musical “The Naming of Port Rexton”, this past fall the Artistic Director called and asked if I’d be able to reduce the size of the cast.

It was an interesting challenge, finding a way to maintain a story while cutting the cast size from 17 to 10, while also cutting about 45 minutes from the show.

I was so pleased with the results– a group of ten actors ( I mean, look at those beautiful people!) gave a performance that had laughs and tears and engaged locals ands tourists alike– and what a treat to have the first performance for residents of Port Rexton for their Come Home Year weekend (I bought the T-Shirt!). The next step will be part of what’s really fun as a musical theatre writer: figuring out what worked best from both versions and finding the best combination of them.

It was also a summer of performing and new experiences. For the dinner theatre I took on music direction and arranging duties for some of the songs, and was so pleased when some of our cast got up to sing “Out from St. Leonard’s” with Alan Doyle and his band for Mark Critch and Melissa Royle’s wedding that also took place this summer (side note: it’s so wonderful when you meet successful and famous folks and you find that they are such generous and kind people).

Add to that a summer of fishing with friends, picking live squid up from the shore, and leading a song session at Rocky’s in Trinity. It was one for the books. Thanks Trinity!

Just Your Average Canadian Musical Theatre Writer- a Cabaret!

April 2nd, 2019|

I’ve watched as some friends have done Cabarets and always admired them and what they do, but I could never think of doing one of my own. I’ve never really felt that into the re-interpretation of songs to fit my life, or something I want to say. But… Using my own songs to tell my story? Sign me up! It’s so much fun to pinpoint the moment when you left home, made a decision, or had inspiration with the song that you associate (or was even conceived) in that moment.

Using my musical theatre songs, as well as my early folk and comedy songs, the show traced the story of what it is to be a Canadian Musical Theatre writer (which in the grand scheme of things is pretty similar to the stories of a lot of my friends). I traced the line from my first song in high school “Ben” about being a baritone in a tenor’s world, through moving to Toronto, Jersey Boys, meeting so many of my wonderful cousins from Newfoundland, and finally to the decision so many of us face everyday: whether to continue in this crazy business of the arts. 

And what a joy to have so many friends and even some family there.

Just You’re Average Canadian Musical Theatre Writer (Grant, you need to work on the length of some of your show titles) was a great time. And how great to have some of the friends I’ve met along the way join me on stage: Laura Caswell and Lisa Horner (both from the Ontario premiere of Bingo Ladies) and my friend and fellow composer Scott Christian on keys.

Thanks to Jenny Walls for inviting me to be a part of the ongoing Cabaret Series at the 120 Diner.


Best New Musical short list through the Playwrights Guild of Canada Tom Hendry Awards!

November 14th, 2018|

The Playwrights Guild of Canada annually gives out out the Tom Hendry Awards for new work, including the Stage West Best New musical in development, and I’m proud that one of the musicals I’ve been developing “A Jew, a Muslim, a Christian, and an Atheist, Stuck in a Room!” was among three works shortlisted for the prize. This four person musical is one that I’ve tinkering with on my own for the last little while, and as it has yet to be workshopped, I was so pleased to have it included among the works of some very talented people. Here’s what the jury had to say about the piece:

“I love that the meta set up has a contemporary feel and it has a broad appeal. The dialogue was funny and it was clever. I enjoyed this! I had fun with it and had laughs at parts that surprised me! I was not insulted, which I expected to be! The concept is topical and is not a typical form. I could easily see this produced as it has a lot of potential.”

You can hear learn more about the show and hear few demos here, or contact me for more information.

Bingo Ladies coming to Ottawa!

September 24th, 2018|

I was so happy to hear the news that the community theatre group Indie Women Productions will be doing a remount of the musical I’ve written “Bingo Ladies” in the new year at the Gladstone Theatre in Ottawa. Indie Women Productions mounted the show in 2016 in Perth and all profits went to charity, which will also be the case for this upcoming production, with all proceeds going to Amethyst Women’s Addiction Centre. There are currently no other productions planned for 2019, so if you have a craving to see some Bingo Ladies, come on down to Ottawa! The show runs from February 26th to March 2nd 2019, and you can get your tickets here, I will definitely be there to see this lovely group of people put it up at some point. And what a great poster!

On The Radio- A New Musical for Rising Tide

September 8th, 2018|

It was a busy summer for me at Rising Tide Theatre… So busy it seems I forgot to update my website?! Yup. I have never done five shows in Rep before, but between the Newfoundland classic “West Moon” by Al Pittman, to the premiere of “Rebel Time” by Ed Riche (a great two hander that where I shared the stage with Meghan Greeley), the Trinity Pageant, This Marvellous Terrible Place… and the musical that I wrote for Rising Tide this year, “On The Radio” (that I was also acting in), there was a lot going on!

Now, to be clear, “On the Radio” is actually a play with music, where the music accentuates or comments on the action of the play, instead of forwarding it. The play takes place at a radio station in St. John’s between 1946, and uses a variety of american music from the time contrasted with traditional Newfoundland music. I was also lucky to find the original scripts of the Newfoundland Radio Show “The Irene B Mellon” which I adapted and inserted in the script. It was quite the summer in Newfoundland, and I thank all the actors and creative folks involved, and Rising Tide Theatre for breathing life into this new script!

And now… Back to the mainland. Back to writing. Stay tuned!