Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In a Word... Ray Hogg, Artistic Director of Rainbow Stage (Winnipeg)

Because they are amazing!
My spirit soars with the knowledge that I will be able to help to facilitate the professional development of some of Canada's finest talents.

Ray Hogg received his formal training at Ryerson University Theatre School’s Dance Program. Upon leaving Ryerson, Mr. Hogg joined the Danny Grossman Dance Company, performing as a soloist in most of their award winning repertoire.  In 1999 he joined CORPUS, with whom he toured Canada, Europe and cable TV (4 Square) as the immensely popular Captain Krankovitch (a role he created for them in 1999).  After spending five years as a concert dancer, Ray decided to embrace his first love - musical theatre.  He moved to Stuttgart Germany to perform as Plato/MacAvity in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, and has since appeared in such shows as: Kiss me Kate, Jesus Christ Superstar, Dreamgirls, Seussical, The Producers, Evita and for the Stratford Festival, Oklahoma, South Pacific, and most notably My One and Only. Ray has also been on the dance faculty at George Brown College teaching Modern, Jazz and Performance repertoire since 2004. 

CHARPO: Tell us a bit about your journey - how does a Montrealer find himself doing musicals in the Praries?

HOGG: My parents were major cultural consumers!  Meaning they brought my sister and I out to see everything. I'm pretty certain I was the only kid in my grade tow class who had subscription seats to the opera.  We saw dance, went to the symphony, the Jazz fest (didn't hurt that my uncle, Aubrey Dayle, is an internationally know drummer and frequently performed at the festival).  I sometimes think that my parents were on a mission to bombard our young minds with beauty. Well, it worked...  In this cultural crusade that my folks were on, we also took in a lot of musicals.  

Despite being so shy that I chose a sewing class over an acting class in middle school, I was eventually convinced by a friend to try out for a school production of Guys and Dolls. That, and tickets to see the Canadian tour of Cats were all it took to get me hooked on musical theatre. I finished up high school in Westmount, doing extremely challenging plays (Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good and Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan to name a couple), and wound up taking ballet lesson in a church basement.  Those ballet lessons on Greene Avenue eventually led me to Ryerson University in Toronto, to Stuttgart Germany (where I performed in Cats), across Canada as a performer and director, and now to Winnipeg as Artistic Director of Rainbow Stage

I live by the line from Mary Poppins: "Anything can happen - if you let it!"

CHARPO: Why these shows for this season?

HOGG: Because they are amazing!  I love the message that each send to young people - Be kind, be true to yourself, believe in yourself, and believe in achieving the impossible.  I live by the line from Mary Poppins: "Anything can happen - if you let it!"  Don't get in your own way!  Allow some magic to enter into your life.  Tenets that I hope my own children grow up to heed.

CHARPO: Do you have a dream show you'd like to do?

HOGG: Beyond Mary Poppins and Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story?  These are really quite dreamy shows to be working on.  I grew up listening to an "oldies" radio station (my mother in her wisdom threw out the television - our options were books, radio or the outdoors) and am thrilled that this music that I know so well will be rocking Rainbow Stage in Kildonan Park!

CHARPO: Large scale musicals at summer houses seem to be becoming the norm but, correct us if we're wrong, Rainbow is the granddaddy. Why do you think companies across the country have now caught on?

HOGG: I think that many artists' greatest desire is to impact the lives of their audience in a meaningful way.  So for a theatre, a group of artists and artisans dedicating to the performing arts, the larger scale shows allow us to connect in real time with our community. To impact our community's lives by moving them emotionally through the stories we are telling onstage.

CHARPO: What are the freedoms and constraints at Rainbow?

HOGG: One of our missions is to support and nurture the development of Manitoban artists and artisans.  My spirit soars with the knowledge that I will be able to help to facilitate the professional development of some of Canada's finest talents.

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