Friday, June 9, 2023

For New Comedy Company, End With a Kiss Is Just the Beginning

Imagine a modern-day fairy tale. Specifically, the kind you see on the Hallmark channel. 

A single big city woman with a busy career goes to a small town, meets a conveniently single, conventionally handsome man. They fall in love while saving the big event in town and learn that small-town living is better than the hustle and bustle of city life. The final scene is their first kiss.

New Hamilton comedy theatre company, Red Brick Theatre is banking on this premise, but with a twist. For the 2022 Hamilton Fringe Festival, their adaptation, End with a Kiss, will be fully improvised. A spinning wheel will help determine the season or holiday that the performers will present, but there will be no script, no advanced knowledge of the city that the story could unfold in, the key events or plot- other than the popular formula that spurs over forty original TV-movies yearly. 

How the story comes together and the leads find love will be a surprise to the performers and audience, which, says End with a Kiss Director Brie Watson, is all part of the fun. The well-known comedy Director was excited to join the production due to a love-hate relationship with Hallmark movies, something she feels a lot of audience members might relate to. 

“It’s going to be everything you love about these rom-coms, and everything you love to hate about them.”

Watson’s work has been seen and adored by thousands of audience members- and she’s been working with her cast to ensure that End With A Kiss is no exception. Watson’s resume includes time on the faculty at The Second City Training Centre, the founding of Improv Niagara, and international tours at NYC Sketchfest and Boston Comedy Arts Festival

“As a comedian, instructor, and creator, it’s wonderful to establish a new platform in Hamilton for a certain standard of improv comedy audiences will find engaging and enchanting.”

For Watson, a further part of the appeal of this production is in its future potential. 

“I’m always looking to spread my wings as an improviser, perform in different spaces, share my knowledge and skills with enthusiastic students of the craft.” says Watson. “Niagara and Hamilton are so close, I look forward to collaborations, exchanges and creations from these communities and performers looking to present the art form they love, without getting stuck on the Gardiner in order to do it.” 

Watson currently travels regularly to Toronto for comedy work, but like many others, would prefer for her work to be closer to home. While End with a Kiss may premiere at this year’s Fringe Festival, Red Brick Theatre is planning to do exactly that. The new company plans to have an ongoing presence in the city, producing both scripted and unscripted comedy year-round.

Cast member Kristi Boulton, a longtime member of Hamilton’s improv comedy community, agrees on the benefit of a year-round comedy company in the city. Boulton has performed extensively at The Staircase with troupe The Understudies. Her improvised podcast, Civilized is also featured in this year’s Fringe Festival. 

“Toronto’s scene is incredibly talented, but it can be quite competitive, and Hamilton has always felt like a community of people working together to build each other up. It’s a collection of comedy entrepreneurs, really.”

The cast reflects this commitment to Hamilton and a growing comedy scene. In addition to Boulton, cast member Jo Anne Tacorda and Producer Craig Logue both hail from Hamilton, while Aaron Boyd and Watson come from St. Catharines. 

For Boulton, it’s just the beginning.

“[Red Brick Theatre is] producing shows that are built around creating opportunities for Hamilton comedians, particularly improvisers, to play and grow, to get substantial stage time and meet other performers that they might not have had the chance to otherwise.” 

Editor’s Note: In keeping in line with our values, it is noted that the producer of End with a Kiss also manages elements of the Beyond James website. They were not involved in the writing of this article.

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