Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Here's the quiz answer! Show tonight with HANK, We Take Lovers, Kathleen Phillips, and Gentleman Reg!!


We hope to see you tonight at Sneaky Dee's (that's at the corner of College and Bathurst). Magali and Shayna kindly organized this event, which is one of two fundraisers we will be having to make the NY trip possible. I am sure you've heard the phrase "as poor as church mice" but rarely spoken of, as it is so horrific and dire, is the extreme poverty of the theatre rat. At least church mice have Sunday school snacks to munch on, and pews to sleep beneath. But theatre rats must survive on the crumbs left behind by starving artists! So, we lowly theatre rats hope that you might join us this evening for some music and enjoyment, for a good cause.

Gentleman Reg has something up his sleeve: a paw!

Gentleman Reg Vermue has been charming audiences since he was a little boy, but it was in Guelph in the late 1990's that he adopted his stage name (he used to be called 'Rogue Reg Vermue'). In 2000, he started releasing albums on Toronto's late, great, Three Gut Records label. Wowing critics, and amassing cute fans in Canada and across the Atlantic too. He comes by his shocking blonde locks naturally, and was recently seen showing the famed curls off in John Cameron Mitchell's film Shortbus. He has performed with everyone from The Hidden Cameras, to Broken Social Scene. Basically, Reggie is adorable.

The Daily Rat: How did you get involved with The Rat King?

Gentleman Reg: Well it's so long ago now.....I was recruited for the very early edition of the play that was performed in the basement of the Drake, with my good friend Kit, and Luis Jacob, and Jonny was there. I think it was all my past musical experience in productions like Fame and A Chorus Line that Maggie knew of and just couldn't resist.

Rat: What is your role in the show?

Reg: My role for this version of the show is Leader of the Rat Pack. It's changed over time, since last year I was galavanting around Vancouver at the Out On Screen festival when they remounted at Harbourfront. But I like the choral and group work of the rats, and let's be honest, I'd be lost without Shayna.

Rat: What other creative and/or political projects have you been involved with?

Reg: Well I've just finished a new album with my band Gentleman Reg. Am looking for a label to release it, and forming a band, slowly. And also working on a dance music project with Dan Werb of the wonderful Woodhands. And that will materialize soon enough. And then some secret little things that might spoil if I chat about them too soon....also, trying to figure out how to incorporate more eye makeup into my life. Also, trying to figure out why it is that I eat when I'm not hungry. And accepting that even though I'd never felt better than when I was on the twelve day fast i completed two months ago, that at some point you just have to eat again, even if my body is telling me otherwise....it's confusing.

Rat: Of the themes in The Rat King, which do you feel a strong connection to?

Reg: Well it's interesting. Because recently i'd been trying to re-introduce all of my environmental ethics that i seemed to have put aside since moving to toronto from Guelph. So even simple things like only drinking fair-trade or fairly-traded coffee, shopping at markets, buying local,,, really basic every day things that are so easy to let slip when you're confronted with every possible choice in every neighborhood around town. And ulitmately i just found i'd gotten lazy and complacent about the little things... which are often the most important.

So it's interesting timing for me, that coming back to the Rat King with all that in my head every day, because there is so much in this play about environmental destruction and mutations and cancers and death. And ultimately subjects which are actually pretty topical on a mainstream level too, since everyones talking about global warning.....weather or not hey agree it's a concern is another issue. So yah... I'm relating to the environmental concerns the most. I want little bits of the activist fire I had in my belly when i was a teenager to come back.....just little bits though.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Fundraiser Cabaret - Saturday August 4th at Buddies in Bad Times!

The lovely people at Buddies have been kind enough to have us over for a fundy on Saturday night. Keith Cole will host, so get ready to gasp. There will also be comedy, music and songs from the show performed by the cast. Only 5$!!

There will also be an event that some cast members are organizing on Wednesday. The Daily Rat will be posting the flyer for that one shortly. (Hint: It's at a place that rhymes with Leaky Bees...)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Magnificient Magali Meagher

Magali Meagher has been playing in bands for most of her life, adding her voice to numerous projects in both Guelph and Toronto. Captivated by Magali's mournful songs, the author wrote the part of Carlyn with Meagher in mind to play the role. Since the first Toronto production of the show, Magali has released recordings, toured North America and worked for Canada's leading breast cancer charity. Though she has many talents, it is her unique and powerful voice that sets her apart amongst the hinterland who's who (photo by Lee Towndrow.)

The Daily Rat: How did you get involved with The Rat King?

Magali Meagher:
Maggie and I were in a sinking ship and before I jumped she threw me a line, opened her journal, showed me her charmed pen and ink drawings and told me the story of the king of the rats. With a little palavering, she asked that I play Carlyn Canon. I could nay say nay.

Rat: What is your role in the show?

Magali: I play Carlyn who is "the girl" and "the daughter" and "the sister" who are the same person.

Rat: What other creative and/or political projects have you been involved with?

Magali: I am working on participation, patience, posture, photoshop and the phonemes - all the p-words! The last of which is the name of my band. We just released our first full length CD "There's something we've been meaning to do"! We are playing some shows in Southern Ontario in September and I will be touring in Europe in the Fall with Bob Wiseman. Check it out at www.thephonemes.com or myspace.com/thephonemes

I am also sailor in the good ship HANK which is the musical project of Jerry Singer, my father in the play and sometimes I play in John Tielli's band, Metal Kites.

As a member of the Blocks Recording Club worker co-op, I am a part of the promo committee. I guess this falls under "participation" in my list of p-words. Blocks is really innovative as it's one of the only cooperative record labels owned by its artists. The tasks involved in making the label run are done my the members so that everyone benefits. Who thought this sh*t up?!

Rat: Of the themes in The Rat King, which do you feel a strong connection to?

Magali: Hope.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Glen Sheppard: guiding us to greener pastures

Glen Sheppard is the Rat King- onstage. Off stage he doesn't associate with rats so much, but living in Paris for most of last year, he probably chanced to encounter a few along the canals. He is an ever-active multi-talent: actor, novelist, musician. The Daily Rat has it on good authority that as soon as Glen walked into his audition in late 2005, Stephanie and Maggie knew he was the one! He has played Boy, The Rat King, in both Toronto productions of the show, and is looking forward to reprising the role in Manhattan.

The Daily Rat: How did you get involved with The Rat King?

Glen Sheppard: Michael Balazo, the lover of Kathleen Philips who plays Carson. incidentally, Iam sleeping in their living room as we rehearse the show. I believe it had something to do with Bob Wiseman as well, suggesting Michael and Michael suggesting me. The three of us went to theatre school together although Michael bailed after a year. I sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic in the hall outside of Maggie's office in Hart House. [That was his audition!]

Rat: What is your role in the show?

Glen: I play Boy, the Rat King, a mutant child reared by rats.

Rat: What other creative and/or political projects have you been involved with?

Glen: I've done a great deal of theatre over the past ten years since finishing theatre school and throughout I suppose. A lot of new plays and musicals, some experimental stuff, some pseudo-performance art projects, a dirty underwear ballet with tampon marionettes for a feminist theatre festival, etc. I do a great deal of writing as well but haven't found the energy or angle to promote any of it enough to get it published, so I have a few novels that are pretty well ready to go but are going nowhere. And some poetry and screenplays and a lot of theatre pieces. Similarly I write songs that no one ever hears but I do a lot of singing my own songs in my apartment. Politically. well, I'll run somewhere someday but for now I get angry a lot and overreact to emails that my father sends me.

Rat: Of the themes in The Rat King, which do you feel a strong connection to?

Glen: This shit is happening already. there are three-armed boys being born in china. Fertility rates are down. arms races are out of control, all over. Women are still being controlled by men as property and servants. Ce could understand the rats as an analogue for diseases that defy the science we have developed to best them (and then there's the business of unpopular generics and the intentional obscurity of potential cures for future profits). Although I'm not sure that this was an intentional theme of yours. and this whole section likely reads like something the unabomber would write in birthday cards.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Foxy Heidi Fox Lange

Heidi Fox Lange is an indispensable member of our team. She has been part of the Rat King family since January 2006. Always full of ideas, this incredible choreographer is also a world traveler, who spent much of the last year living in China. Now that she is back in Canada, we are happy to have her working on the show again, brining us all the jazz hands and tap moves that are required to convey a sense of urgency about the state of the world we live in.

The Daily Rat: How did you get involved with The Rat King?

Heidi Fox Lange: My lovely ex-roomie, Stephanie Markowitz, asked me to choreograph the original production.

Rat: What is your role in the show?

Heidi: Choreographer, a.k.a, jazz-hand and box-step co-ordinator.

Rat: What other creative and/or political projects have you been involved with?

Heidi: None. My previous shows are light and fluffy pieces of entertaining song and dance. Unless you count being pregnant in the 50's as Rizzo in 'Grease' as being political...definitely not creative though. [Rat: Here Ms. Lange displays a typical Canadian modesty.]

Rat: Of the themes in The Rat King, which do you feel a strong connection to?

Heidi: Having recently spent a year in a poor province in China, my major concern is with the pollution that is taking over our pure world as we know it. Can you even believe that my Chinese friends don't think stars are real, because they have only seen them in movies!?

Monday, July 23, 2007

The One and Only Bob Wiseman!

Often referred to by his fans as "Bobby" Wiseman, Bob is a Canadian treasure. A gifted musician who is always generous with his talents, Bob can do just about anything with a piano, accordian, and many other instruments. He also makes films, writes soundtracks, and comes up with new melodies in the blink of an eye. He's also hilarious, and has the healthiest posture in Canadian music. In need of a little entertainment? Take a moment to visit Bob's wonderful website: www.bobwiseman.com (Photo of Bob in his "counselling" role by Lee Towndrow)

The Daily Rat: How did you get involved with The Rat King?

Bob Wiseman: I got involved with the rat king behind the back of my wife, who actually got involved with him as well which was especially complicated because we assumed each other monogamous. The writer of this thing, Maggie, is probably even more implicated. I think she sent the first email or placed the
first telephone call or sent the primo telegram so it is all her fault.

Rat: What is your role in the production?

Bob: I was in the first production and wrote some songs and nourished little bits leftover, and sadly sitting in a corner to feel free to blossom in new forms. This with a midi piano, accordion, organ and much white face make up (see photo above). Hence my role was Counselling.

Rat: What other creative and/or political projects have you been involved with recently?

Bob: I am on the board of directors for the blocks recording club (blocksblocksblocks.com) former member of the board for the hamilton arts council and the hamilton artists inc.

I also used to work at Greenpeace in education and have been a member of Amnesty International,

I have played benefits:
to help Leonard Peltier,
to help the people of the Six Nation stand off,
to call attention to the death of Anna Mae Aquash,
to further knowledge of Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont
for Amnesty International,
for people living with AIDS,
for Greenpeace,
to help grizzly bears,
World Wildlife Fund,
Animal Voices
to stop nuclear creations
to help the community radio stations that get the best news out there
to help magazines about environmentalism or literacy or politics

and performed in theatrical works about corruption in politics
("hys on authorised life and tymes"), and about racism ("cowboys and indians")

and I have made 10 cds which sometimes touch on political, environmental and human rights issues.

Here is a sample:


Rat: That's a lot! Thanks for all your hard work Bob!

Friday, July 20, 2007

He's selling all of his records!!

Jeremy is having a garage sale tomorrow (Nassau St. two doors east of Ideal Coffee, 1 p.m.). I hear there are some Factory Records items for sale. Be there - or save your money, Vinyl junkie.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mike Follert: the Baritone Sociologist

Mike Follert is an academic superstar with powerful pipes. From singing with Tafelmusik to teaching Sociology students about Judith Butler or Slavoj Zizek at Toronto's York University, Mike has one of the most diverse bios of all the Rat King cast members. Often he comes to rehearsal with new philosophical interpretations of the script, notions which he generously imagines that the author had in mind all along. When the author heaps compliments on him, PhD Candidate Follert confesses, "I am bashful." He will be at NYU one week before the Rat King Rock Opera opens, presenting a paper about "Catastrophe and the City," specifically about Hurricane Katrina, at the IVSA Conference. (Mike Follert potrait by Lee Towndrow, 2006)

The Daily Rat: How did you get involved with The Rat King?

Mike Follert: Maggie asked me after i ran into her at her book launch party a couple years ago.

Rat: What is your role in the show?

Mike: Bashful rat.

Rat: What other creative and/or political projects have you been involved with recently?

Mike: I co-starred in a series of black and white posters advocating healthy relationships and respect toward queer and/or interracial couples for Queen’s University during my final year there. The nudity was tasteful.

Rat: What themes in The Rat King resonate most with you?

Mike: INCEST! well, more as a backdrop to the story than anything that we really witness; but to my mind it is such a core theme. In a strange way (and i appologize in advance for geeking out) societies have historically imagined their origins through incest. if we consider Greek mythology, Gaea bore Uranus and later mated with him to produce most of the original gods. We can also think about the Adam and Eve parable, which suggests a kind of necessary incest by some initial 'begetting' (and this litany of begettings is imitated by the father in the show, Ed, in at least one version of the Rat King script...).

Ed takes on the status of one of these mythical figures - like the primal father who has access to all women in the 'tribe'; the kind that Freud supposes to have existed before there was 'society' (and therefore, before there ever was a social taboo around incest). Yet Ed exists in this strange space of aspiring to be a great progenitor and living in a society that he has not himself begotten; society or some administrative body, though somewhat in ruins, still exists around him in some form (someone must be administering the person's cards; someone or something must be keeping the phones running...even if this remains a mystery); his goal is to resuscitate an existing, though weakened, social order.

Seeing himself in such vaulted, mythological terms, he proceeds perversely (or père-versely, i.e., in the 'version of the father'), in his first attempts to repopulate the human race, to violate the primordial taboo around incest - the one taboo that social anthropologists find to be universal and, in a sense, foundational to society [foundational to the psyche even, if we think about the Oedipus crisis (i.e., no mother-fucking)].

More importantly, though, the state of the family in the Rat King imitates the very crisis afflicting the West, which by the hubris of science and rationality comes to shoot itself in the foot. crises are ironically brought about under the pretenses of progress: technological advancement in the past leads to some great environmental catastrophe; incest in the present intended to repopulate the species threatens to blur the very familial distinctions (father, daughter, mother, sister) that are constitutive of the stable kinship structures of a society; and the pesticidal machine intended to vanquish vermin in the future is doomed to further destroy the fragile ecosystem (lest we forget Marx: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”).

All dark humour aside – plentiful as it is in the script - the incest alluded to in the show brings catastrophe to its most intimate, disturbing level; ecological catastrophe becomes embodied by the devolving relations of the Cannon family.

Oh, cannibalism, the three-armed mute boy and the flamboyant suitor are also great themes...i wish i could choose more than one...a testament to the richness and intelligence of Maggie's script!

Rat: Never apologize for geeking out! You've hit the nail on the head. Again!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Super Kate McKay

Kate McKay is a wise and worldly pro. Probably the most organized person I have ever met, this wonder from down under has the answer to every panicked question a director or actor can pose. She is a lighting designer and stage manager extraordinaire who has worked on many shows in Canada and Australia. Her Recent lighting design credits include City of Angels and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Toronto Youth Theatre), Godspell and The Wiz (Randolph Young Company), and Femcab (Nightwood Theatre). She is also a vegetarian.

The Daily Rat: How did you get involved with The Rat King?

Kate McKay: Well, Daily Rat, I was the venue technician at the original theatre where the Rat King performed and as soon as I heard that first song I knew I had to sly my way on board The Rat King Express! Nyaaaaahhhhh! (Evil laughter)

Rat: What is your role in the show?

Kate: I am the Lighting Designer and Stage Manager and the general All-Round-Techie-Tool-Carrying-Ladder-Climbing-Theatre-Girl

Rat: What other creative and/or political projects have you been involved with?

Kate: I've been working as a techie theatre girl since before the time of the Circus in Long Summer (that's a long time). I'm all about independent new productions that challenge the audience - though I certainly like my fluff and twinkles as well - which is why The Rat King is such a good fit. It's got a little bit of everything; love, revenge, Jazz hands, three armed mutants, that kind of thing.

Rat: Of the themes in The Rat King, which do you feel a strong connection to?

Kate: First of all, it's really a brilliant piece - the writing, the music, the cast, the creative team - everywhere I look there are the buds of new ideas growing. Each production improves on the last and the relationships between each of the characters grow deepen. Oh and did I mention the music is really catchy.....

I also especially relate to Carlyn and her sneaky subversive ways to get around her sexist megalomaniacal father- being a techie girl in a man's world is very similiar in a lot of ways. It teaches you to be wily and find your own power in ways other than sheer strength.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cut the alarm: It's Jeremy Singer

Jeremy Singer (yes, that's his real name) has been with the Rat King since we first presented a set of scenes at Tin Tin Tin in 2005. His character Ed Cannon is named after Edward Teller, father of the Hydrogen Bomb. Unlike Edward Teller, Jeremy Singer is best known as a musician and songwriter. This Mancunian candidate can be spotted singing with the great Toronto band HANK, who recently released a 7" single as part of the Alphabet Series on the German label Tomlab. Read more about HANK at: www.tomlab.de or www.weepingtruckers.com

The Daily Rat: How did you get involved with The Rat King?

Jeremy Singer: The writer asked me to be in it because she fancied me. [She fancied him a good stage performer.]

Rat: What is your role in the show?

Jeremy: Ed Cannon [Ed is a scientist at work on a pesticide that will kill every living rat. He is the father of Carlyn Cannon, and a good dancer too.]

Rat: What other creative and/or political projects have you been involved with?

Jeremy: I have been involved with many music projects over the years, the latest being a pop group called Hank. I also act as chairman for the political branch of H.A.N.K. (Heterogeneous Anti-Neronian Knowledge).

Rat: Of the themes in The Rat King, which do you feel a strong connection

Jeremy: I've always been interested in the essential idiocy of M.A.D. and so am intrigued by The RK's fatalistic treatment of the post-apocalyptic world. I also like romance.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Introducing Keith Cole

Keith Cole is a man who needs little introduction. Many Torontonians know him *very well* as a stage performer, or as one of his many drag characters- often short-haired, tough looking ladies with purse-fulls of gold one-liners. He is also a tap-dancer, activist, and film maker, and was feautured in Luis Jacob's film "A Dance for Those of Us Whose Hearts Have Turned To Ice" which was screened at this year's Documenta International Art Fair in Kassel, Germany. He is also a tireless supporter of many other Toronto artists. Basically, Keith is a Toronto icon.

Daily Rat: How did you get involved with The Rat King?

Keith Cole: I was the media contact for the first production in January 2006.

Rat: What is your role in the show?

Keith: In the summer of 2006 I was asked to play the role of ‘the suitor’ and the ‘strong man’ for The Harbourfront Centre production

Rat: What other creative and/or political projects have you been involved with?

Keith: All art and artists are (hopefully) political and (hopefully) creative. Being an artist is being an activist. And, there is no such thing as a gay Conservative – they are simply living in denial.

Rat: Of the themes in The Rat King, which do you feel a strong connection to?

Keith: I have several ‘loves’ of “The Rat King”. The writing is beautiful. The music and lyrics are beautiful. This is perhaps one of the kindest and most generous group of people I have worked with in a long time. This ensemble just seems to lack ego’s which is truly rare and wonderful – I have work with ensembles where NO ONE would give an inch – quite the opposite with this ‘Rat King’ bunch.

The theme that grabs me the most is the patriarchy – straight, white, rich, men really gross me out – I like it when those lose power for a second, a minute, an hour, a day, an afternoon or…..It kind of is a sexual turn on for me.

I also love the fact that I have a love interest which is supposed to be the girl but turns out to be the man – and what a man! Perfect casting (Maggie & Stephanie)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New York, New York

Welcome to the Rat King Rock Opera blog!

Thank you for coming to visit us. This blog will feature news and notes about our production and our cast and crew. First, a disclaimer:


The people who took over our former site are posting dirty words that His Royal Highness The Rat King, due to his semi-ferral childhood, is not familiar with. Our new website is:


The Rat King Rock Opera will be staged in August at the New York International Fringe Festival. We will be at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Christopher Street from August 20th to 25th, 2007.

Needless to say, we are all terribly excited. I, the lowly author, recently had an audience with HRH The Rat King, and he told me that he is especially looking forward to meeting so many of his subjects, as NYC is a noted metropolis and major port city of the Rat Kingdom.

As for the cast and crew, we are working hard at rehearsals. This production will feature the same Toronto cast that you've come to know, with a few new additions to the team. In the coming weeks I will be posting stories about the artists and musicians who've put this show together.

I hope you will enjoy our new production. We look forward to seeing you in New York, or here in Toronto as we rehearse in Kensington Market.

All love and best regards,

Maggie MacDonald