Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In a Word... Tapeworthy, the man and the mystery

The Mystery of The Theatre Nut

When we got on Twitter, we automatically started to follow people like Kelly Nestruck at the Globe and Mail and Glenn Sumi at Now in Toronto, but being good Twitter denizens we also checked to see who THEY were following and noticed that not only they but damn near everyone who was important in Canadian theatre was following Tapeworthy. From the miniature picture on Twitter (above, at Carnegie Hall), we thought Tapeworthy was a girl. He is not. We also thought he was short. He is all. There was speculation he was independently wealthy, but that was brushed away when he started to talk about deals he was nabbing for seats at shows around the world. It wasn't long before we became fans of the quirky, funny blogger who sees damn near everything everywhere. So it just seemed natural that we would try to unravel the email, of course. (BTW: he's @tapeworthy)

CHARPO: We follow you avidly on Twitter (as over a thousand others do) because - as is your slogan - "You like to watch." You see it all and everywhere. Tell our readers how many plays you saw last year.

TAPEWORTHY: It actually started out as a blog for TV with a friend/co-worker but she dropped out, I started including film and music, and then I started seeing more theatre and now it has sort of morphed into a theatre Twitter (as everyone has switched over to Twitter). Last year I saw 159 stage shows (but that includes Plays, Musicals, Circus - basically Cirque - and other stuff; but not concerts except the Symphony that had a musical lean on it). Last year was my record year, beating 2011 by 1 show, around 112 the year before that. Three years ago it was only around 60, and before that, maybe like 10-30/year at most. I've gone a bit nuts.

I think seeing something live hit all the excitement buttons at once.

CHARPO: You mentioned on Twitter that you pay for your own tickets - so both the seeing and the reviewing are for true love of it?

TAPEWORTHY: Yes, basically I've always loved theatre and there were a few years where I barely saw anything because of university and I was a poor student, but as I started to make a little money, I realized I can totally go more often, so why not? Though I've learned tricks to keep costs low including volunteer ushering and I'm totally willing to line up outside in the cold for hours for rush tickets. And since all my friends always asked me what I thought (and what shows I would recommend), I just started blogging my reviews (and now twittering my thoughts). As the blog/twitter grew, I started getting invites to review shows and some PR people and theatre companies have been very nice to me, despite me not always giving the nicest reviews, so I have gotten some "comps" in the past few years to review shows but it's still only some in Toronto. I tend to get more invites from US shows. But also due to my chaotic schedule, I still tend to pay for my own shows on my own time

CHARPO: Tell us how you became so enamored of theatre?

TAPEWORTHY: I'm not even sure when exactly it started but my first show was Miss Saigon at the Princess of Wales Theatre and while I have always loved musicals and movies, I think seeing something live hit all the excitement buttons at once. I slowly saw more and more shows and it hasn't really stopped!

CHARPO: And lest our readers think you are independently wealthy to be able to see theatre all around the world - we guessed the travel was part of your job. Are we right? Flight attendant?

TAPEWORTHY:  Well done, detective! Yes, I do lead a bit of a double life but part of that is that I'm a flight attendant and thus can easily travel around the world which works out brilliantly for me to see shows in various cities and I take advantage of that fact. I basically live a jetsetting lifestyle on a backpacker's budget. 

On a side note since we're talking about theatre; I also had a brief little theatre stint helping out a show in Toronto once and I had great fun doing it and got to meet some great people, including some major Canadian celebrity talent.

The worst ones are in London. Beautiful old theatres but made for tiny people

CHARPO:  No more trying to guess your secret identity, Batman, but we did notice another thing on Twitter - you're tall as hell. So first, your favourite theatre for comfort...?

TAPEWORTHY: For comfort? While there could be a smidge more for legroom, I've always liked the Princess of Wales [in Toronto] due to sightlines and even being tall I don't (think I) block people behind me due to the rake. (Maybe that's why I've been particularly taken by the news of the POW being torn down). 

The Four Seasons has tons of legroom, though I do wish the seats were a bit more padded, but generally that's also very comfortable.

The worst ones are in London. Beautiful old theatres but made for tiny people and I feel like a quarter of the seats are generally obstructed or will be once an average size person sits in front of you (and I'm already tall and in theory could look over).

This may be a total plug and shoutout but it really it is because Come From Away was one of the best things I've seen.

CHARPO: And now the theatre experience you will never forget...?

TAPEWORTHY: Do I have to pick one? I'm not going to. There have been many, which include Black Watch at Varsity Stadium during Luminato (and then chasing the show to see it twice more in NY and D.C.). Mary Zimmerman's Metamophoses on Broadway (and being remounted at Arena Stage in DC next week!). 

Discovering/experiencing De La Guarda, especially in those first few moments in the dark as the show begins above you above a white sheet. 

Trying out the ballet at National Ballet of Canada for the first time (in recent years) and realizing it wasn't a bore like I thought it would be and was instead thrilled and enthralled and an instant new fan.

Seeing Into the Woods at Canadian Stage many years ago after convincing my entire high school musical cast to go on a PWYC [Pay What You Can] day and all of us turning into Sondheimites through that performance.

Lining up for Rent rush tickets (and making friends in many different rush lines), sitting on the stage for Spring Awakening during previews and realizing it was something special, and being at the first Hair (revival) performance in the park and realizing why that musical was so iconic.

Seeing the workshop presentation of the upcoming Come From Away (which will have a full presentation at Sheridan Theatre this month) at Panasonic Theatre. I think this show (from the My Mother's Lesbian Jewish-Wiccan Wedding team and my friend Michael Rubinoff) has HUGE potential and I was blown away at the workshop. This may be a total plug and shoutout but it really it is because it was one of the best things I've seen. AND IT WAS ONLY A WORKSHOP! So look out for this new CANADIAN musical! [Ed: Come From Away continues at Sheridan College to February 24]

CHARPO: Finally, how many reviews do you think you've written over the years?

TAPEWORTHY: I was a little better at the beginning (of the blog life) and pretty much wrote reviews for almost every show I saw. As I've seen more per year, I've dropped the ball a LOT and moved most of the conversation over to twitter. Also, I started combining reviews of different shows I saw which had a similar theme or issue that could tie them together (or sometimes just all the shows I saw on a trip somewhere). But I've probably written at least 200 reviews? According to blogspot, I have 460 theatre related posts on my blog. Not all of them are reviews (as I had theatre news postings early on) but I guess more than I thought. 

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