An Interview with Benjamin Elliott

February 7th, 2011

Rehearsals for our upcoming production of Munscha Mia begin a week tomorrow (February 15 to be exact). We are so excited to get started and wanted to find out some more about the people that will be working on the show. First up – Musical Director AND Actor, Benjamin Elliott! We asked Ben a few questions, which he so kindly answered for us.

Here they are for you- but first, a little bit more on Benjamin!

Benjamin Elliott

Its a thrill for Benjamin to be sharing the stories of Robert Munsch and acting with the Carousel Theatre family once again. Past Carousel credits: Various characters in Munsch Alley (Carousel). Recent credits: Danny in Christmas On The Air (Midnight Theatre Collective), co-musical director/co-writer of the critically acclaimed musical The Park (Studio 58), Charley in Where’s Charley? (Studio 58), and Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale (Studio 58). Benjamin is a graduate of Studio 58, a Toronto native, and the proud owner of a Tek Deck skate-park and 8 Tek decks. Nbd.

The Park (L-R: Anton Lipovetsky, Benjamin Elliott, Spencer Schoening)

What do you do as the musical director on a show?

As musical director, I oversee all the live musical material that occurs during the show. When we begin rehearsals, I act as “rehearsal pianist” and help the other actors learn their music. When our production is finally up and open to the public, I act as the live musician that accompanies the cast. I also work alongside the director to make sure the story that is being told through the music is clear and full of expression!

When did you first get involved in music and theatre?

Though my first role in musical theatre was Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie, I’ve been playing piano ever since I can remember. The first time I began using my musical skills theatrically, was while I was working at a summer camp in Ontario called Kilcoo. I played for counsellors as they made daily announcements in wacky ways, I played for kids performing on skit nights, and basically played for anyone who needed accompaniment.

What instruments do you play?

Piano, guitar, mandolin, bass, harmonica, slide whistle, xylophone, shaker, recorder, melodica (breath powered piano), keyboards, and kazoo.

Tell me a bit about the music in Munscha Mia. Is it influenced by the music of ABBA?

The music was written by Debbie Patterson who also adapted Robert Munsch’s stories for Munscha Meeya. And yes the music does indeed have flavours of ABBA even referencing certain musical themes that ABBA uses. For instance the opening borrows from “Dancing Queen”.

What is it like being a musical director and actor on the same production?

I don’t know yet! Though I’m excited for the challenge.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about this show?

I have already had the pleasure of working with the other two actors in the show, Samantha Currie and Laura Jaszcz. We all love having fun and acting together, so it should make for a very playful dynamic on stage.

Benjamin Elliott and Laura Jaye in Munsch Alley, Carousel Theatre 2009. Photo by Tim Matheson.

Benjamin Elliott in Munsch Alley, Carousel Theatre 2009. Photo by Tim Matheson.

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