john pippus


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stories from the stage

Fringe, Day 10 July 23, 2010

Two performances left. Tonight at 9PM and tomorrow (Saturday) at 5:15PM. It's hard to maintain the energy doing eleven shows in a row. But what keeps my spirits up is the reaction I get from individuals who make a point to talk to me after the play ends. Every night, people come up to me and quietly tell me how much they enjoyed the show. This comment posted on the CBC website is just one example:

"I loved this performance! I saw the Sunday evening show, and was pleasantly surprised by the honest and humbling story of pursuing your passion. It was touching and funny and I especially loved how he followed the musical time line with his own."

The overall turnout is not what I expected. With over 150 plays and 20+ venues, it's hard to stand out in the crowd. Dealing with smaller houses has been challenging, but the response from those who DO come is really what keeps me in the game. So thanks to all those who have made a point to come up after the play, or stop me on the street, and tell me that the play resonated with them in some way. It means a lot.

Fringe, Day 6 July 19, 2010

The local paper published an online review of the play today. Three and a half stars, not enough to "butter my turnips", as Jem Rolls (a Fringe veteran), likes to put it when he gets less than a four star review. But the review itself is quite encouraging, and should help to bring out an audience:

"With a shock of silver hair that makes him look like Nick Lowe, the musician/actor ably plays the characters who shaped his early life, backed by illustrative slides and accompanied by his musical performances of songs of the day, or his own quite lovely folky tunes, on acoustic guitar. The revelatory moment when he learns how to play blues harmonica is quite electrifying.

The woman next to me said, "You’re probably too young to really appreciate this," but Pippus’s passion makes everyone feel the lightning bolt that rock music was to a teen in the ’60s, when CKY-AM blasted out of turquoise transistor radios."

"Electrifying" and a "Nick Lowe" comparison? Hey I'll take it.

Fringe, Day 4 July 16, 2010

CBC radio interviewed me earlier in the week and aired it today. Twice in fact, on their morning show and then again in the late afternoon on a show that focusses on Manitobans. Or ex-Manitobans in my case. You can have a listen to the six minute segment HERE. I talk about how the play was named, early memories of Winnipeg, etc. and finish off by playing a song from the play, "Jack Knives and Cannonballs".

Fringe Impressions July 15, 2010

OK, the ice is broken. After not doing the play since last fall, I wasn't exactly sure what would happen when I opened my mouth, but bingo, there it was. The whole play tumbled out of my little brain to an almost-full house (!). Tons of applause at the end. Funny how you "hear" an audience when they laugh or applaud, or even shuffle or cough during the quiet bits. Every audience is different. And unlike when I'm playing my music in a bar, this theatre-setting is a much more intimate pact between performer and audience. Needless to say, this old ham, loves the limelight. And the attentiveness that only a theatre crowd brings.

Jerry Augustin, the lighting guy, did a fine job, considering it was the first time he had seen the play from beginning to end (during the tech, we just did the lighting cues in bits and pieces). And Pam Searle, my full-time wife and erstwhile Stage Manager, hit the sound and visual cues like a pro. OK, a couple of interesting sound cues, but I just rolled with it. And in some cases, like where the phone rang too early, it actually worked better. IE. I'm talking, the phone rings. I ignore the phone and keep talking, and THEN go and answer it. Like in real life.

So thank you Winnipeg! We're off to an auspicious start. Brisk merch sales after the show didn't hurt any either. Tonight, I play a 45-minute set of my music (mostly from the new album) at the Old Market Stage. I've invited all Fringe performers to come down and join me for a jam session on a tune or two. I hope some take me up on the offer. Then my one and only late show. A 10:45PM curtain call. In between, I'll be out "flyering the line ups". That's fringe-talk for schmoozing the folks standing in line to get in to any one of the 154 shows happening at 24 different venues. And giving out my flyers and telling them why they should come and see "Oh Winnipeg!".

"Oh Winnipeg!" Opens Tonight!!! July 14, 2010

We spent all morning yesterday doing the tech rehearsal. We've got the lighting and sound cues fine tuned and now we're ready to open the doors. The theatre space has great acoustics and just like Goldilock's bed at the Three Bears house, it's not too big and not too small - just right for a good theatre experience.

Not too much on the schedule today. Just work the crowds, hand out my handbills and encourage Winnipeg fringe-goers to come and see my play. I've got advance copies of my new album, "Born A Genius", and "BAG" T-shirts to sell after the show. Thursday night I'm playing solo on the Old Market Stage right in the heart of the action. Pitter patter, let's get at 'er...

"Oh Winnipeg!" on YouTube, December 28 2009

I've posted the opening scene of "Oh Winnipeg! A Surprising Musical Memoir" on YouTube.

See my "theatre" page for more background on this play of mine. I'll be performing it in Winnipeg in July 2010 at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. The video was produced and edited by Andres Salas. It was taped during the run at the Firehall Arts Centre in October.

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