The Velvet Devil
Market Hall Performing Arts Centre: 140 Charlotte St, Peterborough
February 5, 2009
First produced at Regina’s Globe Theatre in 2000, The Velvet Devil has been revived a number of times, including a production at the National Arts Centre, has been made into a CBC movie, and is now coming to Peterborough as part of a national tour. This captivating work of theatre – directed by award winning director Alanis King – has all the elements of a live concert: The Velvet Devil herself (aka Velvet Laurent), played by Andrea Menard and backed by a swingin’ 3-piece band. In a sensuous mix of song and storytelling, Métis actor and jazz singer Andrea Menard, known for her Gemini-nominated work on the TV series Moccasin Flats, weaves a captivating tale of regret and unspoken farewells. It is a Métis story, a Saskatchewan story, a Canadian story and a human story.
The Year is 1941. Sultry, strong, sexy and sweet, the Velvet Devil – radio diva and “star of the Vaudeville stage”, has returned to Saskatchewan to perform for her hometown crowd. Through blues, roots andjazz torch songs, Menard tells the story of the fictional jazz singer Velvet Laurent, a gifted but rebellious girl from Saskatoon who ran away to the big city lights of Toronto to become a star. Twelve years later, the famous singing sensation of stage and radio returns to her long hidden Métis roots, accompanied by a flood of music, images, and feelings that have been locked away for far too long. As the Velvet Devil, backed by her three-piece band, Menard’s powerful voice portrays the lyrical and raw spirit of ’30s era jazz and blues. Her charged emotional story reveals the conflict and struggles of becoming who you desire to be, and accepting who you are.
Andrea Menard – Playwright, Performer
Andrea is a multi-talented Métis actor, singer/songwriter and screenwriter, is a gifted performer. With a voice that chills your spine, she dazzles on stage and screen, bringing audiences to tears. Her voice is lyrical, raw, and reminiscent of the jazz and blues singers of the 1940s, yet she captures the simplicity of the great folk artists. Andrea Menard is a versatile, powerhouse, mesmerizing in her Gemini-nominated (Best Performance by an Actress) television starring roles, The Velvet Devil and Moccasin Flats. She currently stars in Rabbit Fall and has released two award-winning albums: The Velvet Devil; and Simple Steps as well as her new CD, Sparkle. The Velvet Devil is adapted from her successful one-woman stage play of the same title, performed across Canada including the National Arts Centre.
Alanis King – Director
Alanis is from the Odawa Nation originally from the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve (Canada). She is the Artistic Director of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company in Saskatoon, Canada. Some directing credits include Wawatay, B Dawg, Twentieth Century Indian Boy, Song of Hiawatha, Lupi the Great White Wolf and most recently directed a staged reading Chasing Honey for the Public Theater in NYC. Her playwriting credits include: Bye Bye Beneshe, Song of Hiawatha: An Anishnaabec Adaptation, Order of Good Cheer, Gegwah, Lovechild, Artshow, Heartdwellers, Manitoulin Incident, Tommy Prince Story, If Jesus Met Nanabush, Storytellor, Nanabush of the ’80s, Nothing Personal and Step by Step. Alanis was Playwright in Residence at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto from 2005 to 2007 and at Nightwood Theatre. She is a past Artistic Director of her home theatre company – Debajehmujig Theatre Group. Alanis is the first Aboriginal woman graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada. She is collaborating on three new works, an Anishnaabe opera based on church hymns translated from word bundles – Magnificat, a 1920s all woman cabaret set in Paris on the right bank – Untitled – and a play on 1850s Chief Shingwauk for the Garden River First Nation
Teegan Jeffers – Velvet Devil Band Bassist
Teegan is a talented double bass player from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan who occasionally dabbles in guitar playing and songwriting. She started playing acoustic bass about ten years ago, focusing on mainly classical and jazz. She constantly gets comments on how large the bass is compared to her, but she certainly knows how to handle herself. She loves love folk. She loves bluegrass. She loves rock and/or roll. If I she’s playing music, she’s a happy camper.
Teegan had the privilege of playing with a lot of really wicked players along the way. She’s been fortunate enough to work with some of her idols like Kristin Korb, and Llew Matthews. She’s played with many local artists as well, such as Sexually Attracted to Fire, Roy Sydiaha, Bassavoce, Gillian Snider, Farideh Olson, Mark Dejong, Quartology, Theresa Sokyrka, and the Megan Lane band. You can usually find her on Broadway in Saskatoon, with a glass of wine checkin’ out the live music scene, or hauling her bass around town.
Alan Long – Velvet Devil Band Drummer
Alan Long is a theatre artist and writer who lives and works in Saskatoon. He recently completed an interdisciplinary M.A. in theatre and history at the University of Saskatchewan. Some of his favourite acting roles include: drums/Jerry Allison in Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story and drums/various characters in Fire, both at Persephone theatre. Alan is also part of the theatre collective Press Play Players which toured their show We is Blunderstruck to the Toronto, Winnipeg and Saskatoon Fringe Festivals. He has worked on many shows as a stage manager and technical director including Buz’ Gem Blues and Luff Actually at SNTC. He has also taught acting, movement and stage management workshops at SNTC where he currently works as a director and production manager.
Nate Renner – Velvet Devil Band Guitarist and Band Leader
Nate has performed and recorded with some of North America’s finest jazz musicians. He’s appeared at countless venues and jazz festivals across Canada and the United States. Although he is largely self-taught, Nate completed a Bachelor of Jazz Studies from Humber College in Toronto. At the age of 17, almost immediately after he arrived in Toronto, he began to perform and tour with his world class teachers. In the summer of 2006, while still in university, Nate attended the prestigious Banff Centre for the Arts’ Jazz and Improvised Music Workshop. He was one of less than 60 professional musicians form all over the world who was chosen to participate. In 2007, Nate represented Canada in ElastiCity, a concert series in New York City that features musicians from all over the world. Nate’s latest project took him to Japan, where he worked with the acclaimed Japanese guitarist Kanta Hishinuma and studied the traditional instruments and musical styles of Japan. He has recorded two full length albums of original compositions. The first with Saskatoon musician Don Griffith, and the most recent with Toronto drummer Jeff Halischuk and Juno-winning bassist Kieran Overs. Although Nate can often be found as the leader of his own groups, he deeply values his experience as an accompanist and sideman. He is always searching for new influences to create depth and meaning behind his music, and to fully engage and move his listeners.
Tim Cardinal – Tour Stage Manager, Lighting Designer
Tim trained at Malaspina College in Nanaimo, B.C. and has been a long time member of IATSE. Tim designs lights and tours with various productions, stage manages and works as a technical director. He has been a longtime mentor to trainees at SNTC.