When you first meet Calli Armstrong of Beautiful City Theatre (BCT), you are instantly taken with her openness and passion.
The arts have been a big part of Armstrong's life for as long as she can remember. She has always been drawn to something in theatre that has to do with self expression and connection with other people. That is one of the reasons she co-founded BCT. To Armstrong, it feels like a necessity to be part of the arts. The idea for BCT began 10 years ago when Armstrong, a drama therapist by trade, currently finishing a doctorate in psychology, felt there was something missing in the productions she was working on. She didn't feel challenged and was extremely frustrated with the politics and egos she was dealing with. She knew there was more to theatre than what she was experiencing. She wanted to create a company where the process was as important as "the product."
Three or so years ago, Armstrong met Natalie Gershtein and things clicked when they realized they equally valued the process of creating a production. While Armstrong had the idea, it only came to fruition when she met Gershtein. Beautiful City Theatre was formed.
BCT's goal is to create and celebrate community through the sharing and exploration of theatre processes and the performance of theatre productions.
Though the decision to name the company BCT was independent from choosing GODSPELL as their premier production, the idea, mandate and values of the company fit in with the lyric, "not a city of angels, but finally a city of man."
GODSPELL, originally conceived and directed in 1971 by John-Michael Telebak, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, is the perfect choiceas BCT's premier production as it is ultimately a tale about a group of people who come together and build a community.
2011 brought a Broadway revival with new, updated versions of some of the songs. BCT's production will feature contemporary arrangements and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, from the 2001 US National Tour. This production will also feature select arrangements by Michael Holland from the 2011 Broadway production. BCT is the first company in Canada to acquire the rights to use this new music.
In order to establish "community" Armstrong arranged for the actors to complete clowning and ensemble building workshops before they began to work on the text or music.
With Armstrong's passion along with BCT's mandate and values, this production of GODSPELL is certain to push BCT to the forefront of independent theatre in Montreal.
GODSPELL opens January 24 and runs through February 2 at the Centaur Theatre, 453 St. Francois-Xavier, Montreal. Showtime is 7:30 PM. For reservations, call (514)288-3161 or visit www.centaurtheatre.com
For more information on BCT, visit www.beautifulcitytheatre.com
Photos by Tristan Brand