Sharing confidences with director Jason Watt

Dartmouth's Jason Watt directs Confidential Musical Theatre Project
Dartmouth's Jason Watt directs Confidential Musical Theatre Project
Dartmouth’s Jason Watt directs Confidential Musical Theatre Project

Do you want hear a secret? TheatreSpeak is bringing a musical to the Grafton Street Theatre stage on September 21st, and you’re not going to know which one, until you get there!

The concept is called Confidential Musical Theatre Project and it’s being directed by Jason Watt, a teacher and academic support worker with a passion for theatre that stems from childhood visits to plays at Neptune and Prince Andrew High. Watt has worked in theatre for a number of years as part of the independent theatre community in Ottawa.

“I’ve been wanting to get involved in theatre again since moving back to Dartmouth, and I had friends who performed in Confidential Musical Theatre Project shows in Toronto and I thought they sounded amazing,” explains Watt. “I contacted the company’s founder, Marion Abbott. I was thrilled when she told me that Kyle Gillis and his company, TheatreSpeak, were planning to do shows here, so I contacted Kyle and told him I wanted to be involved.”

Find out more about what Watt calls “a spontaneous and exhilarating night,” and why you’re not going to want to miss it:

Describe the concept of the Confidential Musical Theatre Project

JW: The company chooses a show and casts it and there are no group rehearsals. Actors can work one on one with the director and musical director, and learn their parts on their own, but they never rehearse together as a group. Also, the audience does not know what show they are going to see, until it starts. So they are taking a big leap of faith along with us. I like to say that it is like taking the excitement of the first time you read through the script with all of your actors and the energy of opening night, and cramming them together. It really puts the ‘live’ back in live theatre.

It has obviously struck a chord with people. The company has only been around for a year and it has expanded to 12 cities, including Ottawa, Vancouver, Montreal, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Did you choose the musical that’s performed? How?

JW: The concept is that the company chooses a musical that “doesn’t get done very often, but should.” Which means there are a lot of shows to choose from. Kyle Gillis, artistic producer of TheatreSpeak, chose the debut show, and it is a fantastic first choice! Without giving too much away, I think a lot of people will be at least somewhat familiar with it, and I think they will be very happy when they find out what it is.

Having said that, I’ve got my wish list of other shows that I would love to get to direct in this format.

Are there costumes and a set?

JW: Confidential shows are generally very minimal, although each city can make them as simple or as elaborate as they want. There are elements of a staged reading (for example, the actors are all visible throughout the show, and they may have their script with them on stage) and elements of a full production. Costumes can be suggestive of the character, and are what an actor already has, or can easily acquire. Scene changes are read aloud, or explained in some other way, so that the audience can follow the action, even if they are unfamiliar with the show. Having minimal set pieces and props forces us to be creative in how we tell the story.

How was the cast chosen for the production?

JW: There are no auditions and casting is done through online submissions. Actors submit their headshot and resume, along with any performance clips they have. CMTP encourages casting solely based on talent, vocal ability, etc. This means that someone could be cast in a role regardless of age, physical appearance, race or gender. It’s sort of the musical theatre equivalent of “The Voice.”

What can the audience expect to see?

JW: The audience will get to see a great piece of musical theatre, performed by a talented and brave group of actors. The energy that the actors get from performing in front of an audience can help bring a show alive. And in this case, we will all be seeing the show unfold and develop together, which is really, really exciting.

Why will they enjoy it?

JW: I like to point out that in theatre, we spend so much time saying the same lines over and over again in rehearsal. And the goal is always to make it sound like you’ve never said this line before in your life. With Confidential, it really is the first (and only) time that these actors will be saying and singing these lines to each other. And you have to be in the room in order to see it.

There will be spectacular moments. There will be fumbles. But it will all be spontaneous and genuine and a lot of fun!

Halifax – The Confidential Project Debut!

September 21, 2015, 7:30pm

Grafton Street Dinner Theatre

Bar opens at 6:30PM – show starts at 7:30PM. Tickets are $15 and can purchased on The ‘Confidential’ website or can be purchased in person at the door – Cash Only!