Rebecca Klassen Wiebe (Music Director / Accompaniment) is a recent graduate of CMU where she received a Bachelor of Music concentrating in collaborative piano performance. While studying there, she had many exciting performance opportunities including two credit recitals and the Verna Mae Janzen performance competition, which she won in 2014. Her years studying brought her in collaboration with many fine musicians and she has been privileged to study underthe fine teaching of Dr. Cheryl Pauls, Dr. Darryl Friesen and Shirley Elias. As a sensitive collaborative pianist, Rebecca has had much experience playing with singers, instrumentalists and choirs as well as playing for university opera productions, such as Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado (2011). She currently works with high school choirs, teaches piano and enjoys playing in Winnipeg’s vibrant music scene. She is excited to be working with the Little Opera Company for their production of Kismet!
Odette Heyn, C.M. (Choreographer) as Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Professional Program of The School of Contemporary Dancers, has choreographed works, both nationally and internationally, for various performances including The Festival of Canadian Modern Dance, the Olympics Danscene (Calgary 1988) the Kuan Du Arts Festival in Taipei, The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2006, Odette was nominated for the “Woman of the Year” award for Arts and Culture through the YWCA. In the past four years Odette created two full-length works, which were hailed with glowing reviews, for the WSO’s La Noche de los Mayas and the Rite of Spring . She also choreographed for WSO’s Adventures in Music and Soundbytes and for other performances, the latest in January 2016. In 2012, Odette choreographed for the off-Broadway production Requiem for a Lost Girl and, in 2013, Mata Hari , in New York City. In 2000, she was the choreographer for the More Than the Love of Women opera, and in 2011, she was the director and choreographer for the Little Opera Company’s Amahl and the Night Visitors. Odette performed in WCD’s Rachel Browne Tribute Tour in January 2013. In June 2013 Odette was the recipient of the Winnipeg Arts Council’s “Investors Group Making a Difference Award – for extraordinary contribution to the arts”. On December 30, 2015, Odette was honoured to be appointed as a Member of Order of Canada for her “contribution to contemporary dance in Canada and the development of the next generation of dancers.” She was also the recipient of Dance Manitoba’s “Lifetime Achievement Distinction Award for Excellence in Dance”, January 30, 2016.
Ted Stebbing (Director) has been directing for 65 years. He started young with backyard circuses - with proceeds to the Red Cross. He is directing, in this production, the son of one of his actresses in Sundog Productions in the seventies. He loves observing humanity and putting those observations onstage for an audience to be recognised and entertained. He is especially pleased to be working closely with recent graduates of his Alma Mater, The University of Winnipeg. This is his fifth production with the Little Opera Company.
Spencer Duncanson (Artistic Director) Kismet, or Fate as it is better know in the western world, is a concept that has puzzled philosophers for centuries and it is the basis for one of the lushest musicals of the twentieth century that garnered a great deal of attention and admiration both on Broadway and in London’s West-End in 1954. The story revolves around Hajj, the poet beggar who finds that his life takes him to unimaginable heights after he stumbles into a series of unexpected circumstances and is left to ask the age-old query “Is fortune really predicated upon tiny turns of event?”. The success of the musical at the time was not just due to the human quest to understand the mysteries of the plight of life nor the clever turn of phrases that comically told the story, but it was due to the fact that the production was a cornucopia of sensory indulgences. Alexander Borodin’s lush romantic melodies, supported by glamorous harmonies along with the actor-singers and dancers moving to innovative choreography while clothed in brilliantly designed costumes adorned striking sets, all of which combined to sweep audience members off to exotic lands. Today the musical, Kismet, provides the perfect opportunity to showcase some of the exceptional talent we have here in Winnipeg; our captivating singer-actors and dancers clothed in brilliant costumes designed by the talented and imaginative Robert Butler, the artistic choreography by nationally renowned choreographer, Odette Heyn, the skillful musical support of pianist, Rebecca Klassen Weibe, who, along with our talented crew of pit musicians, will tantalize you with the beautiful music of Borodin as adapted by Wright and Forrest. And, of course the ever thoughtful stage direction of Edward Stebbing. All of these people along with our production staff and technical crew combine our talents to bring you an evening of delight. We’re pleased to be back at Cercle Moliere Theatre and take this moment to extend our gratitude to the staff and crew for their help in making this production a success. I hope you enjoy it.
Andrew Nazer (Percussion 2) is a percussionist studying at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Music, entering his fourth year in the performance concentration. He is currently studying with Brendan Thompson and Victoria Sparks, and has previously studied with Jeremy Epp, Principal Timpanist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. As a freelance percussionist, Andrew has performed with the University of Manitoba Symphony Orchestra, and the Mennonite Community Orchestra. On top of his studies, Andrew also teaches percussion privately.
Cam Denby Percussion 1) is making his debut with the Little Opera Company. He has just returned from a tour to Banff with the U of M Wind Ensemble, and he is also a member of the U of M's percussion ensemble. He has also performed with the university's symphony orchestra, the Chai Folk Ensemble at Folklorama last summer, and is a member of the Winnipeg Police Pipe Band. He is currently looking forward to a summer of cycling tours before beginning his third year at the Faculty of Music.
Phil Corrin (Synthesizer, Instrumental Arranger) recently retired from a twenty-five year career teaching instrumental music at the middle school and high school levels. He has served as music director for over thirty musical theatre productions and also directed the University of Winnipeg Downtown Jazz Band and the Manitoba All-Star Junior Jazz Band. Phil received his training at Brandon University (music education) and the University of Calgary (conducting). Favorite shows as music director include Pippin, A Chorus Line, Chicago,and Urinetown.
Julie Husband (Flute, Clarinet) Diversity has been the hallmark of Julie Husband’s professional musical odyssey manifested in the instruments she plays and the musical styles she has inhabited. Julie's three-decade career as a jobbing musician, music instructor, clinician and adjudicator is founded on her outstanding instrumental proficiency with all the instruments in the flute, clarinet, saxophone and bassoonfamilies. A graduate of Manitoba's renowned Brandon University (BMus.), Julie's high performance standards and advanced technical knowledge have combined to make her a first-call hire for gigs as diverse as Rod Stewart, Rainbow Stage, MTC, Winnipeg's Gilbert & Sullivan Society, The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Duo a la Carte and Saxology Canada. The sheer range of talented musicians and performers Julie has played with - and for - is truly breathtaking: Red Skelton, Kenny Rogers, Arturo Sandoval, Dianne Schuur, Bill Watrous, Jon Faddis, Jodi Benson, Bob Newhart, Wayne Newton and Winnipeg jazz icon Ron Paley would represent a short list. Julie's musical muse has taken her from classical to summer theatre to jazz, with the latter category including a live CD with The Kerry Kluner Big Band featuring Paquito D'Rivera and The Swing Cats, having recorded 'Live Every Night and Every Day' with them. You can hear Julie on her new live CD 'Bach to Bolling and Beyond' with fellow musicians, Will Bonness, Tony Cyre and Nenad Zdjelar.
Samarah McRorie (Ababu Princess - Samaris) is in her fourth year of the School of Contemporary Dancers Senior Professional Program. She plans to graduate in the spring; having completed a BA honours degree majoring in dance. The School of Contemporary Dancers has facilitated opportunities for her throughout the dance community. Coordinated by New Dance Horizons Artistic Director, Robin Poitras, she preformed in Regina’s 2014 Fire and Ice Festival, dancing a work choreographed by Davida Monk. As well as more recently performing in New Dance Horizons 2016 Stream of Dance Festival, performing a work by Darryl Tracey. Samarah has participated in performances at the Human Rights Museum lead by Stephanie Ballard and dancers. On multiple occasions she has taken part in Landscape Dancing also under the direction of Stephanie Ballard; which includes preforming at the Manitoba Parliament Building, Manitoba Hydro Building as well as multiple Culture Days venues. Samarah worked with Lise McMillan in the Young Lungs Dance Exchange 2014 Performance Series. Upon the new year, Samarah had the pleasure of performing in Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers Emerging Artists Company, Verge. Alongside a performance on Louis Riel Day, celebrating the traditions of Metis jigging. She is very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Odette Heyn-Dance Projects on her first Little Opera Company show!
Rebecca Sawdon (Ababu Princess) is an independent contemporary dance artist with experience as a dance interpreter, performer, educator and choreographer. Based in Winnipeg MB, she has worked steadily since 2010, including diverse performances for Odette HEYN-Projects, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra,M-body, New Dance Horizons, and Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers, amongst others. As the Artistic Director of Sawdon Dance, Rebecca successfully self-produced and performed a 90-minute solo production, including four commissioned solos that received glowing reviews. She holds a BA Honors Degree in Dance from the University of Winnipeg, where she was awarded a gold medal for having top marks in her faculty, and is a graduate from the Senior Professional Program of the School of Contemporary Dancers. Rebecca has been the recipient of many national, provincial, and municipal artistic grants. She has toured and performed across Canada and has trained professionally in Europe. Rebecca is thrilled and grateful to be performing in Kismet, her second production with the Little Opera Company. This summer she looks forward to finding artistic inspiration and adventure while traveling through Southeast Asia.
Kendra Penner (Ababu Princess - Zubbediya) is a Soon-to-be graduate of the School of Contemporary Dancers Senior Professional Program with a BA honours degree in dance, Kendra Penner is no stranger to the professional scene. While completing her training, she has been entertaining audiences all over the world. Most recently, Kendra was the central protagonist in a multidisciplinary production of Jack and the Beanstalk. Tapping into her dancing and acting skills, Kendra delighted audiences throughout Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. In addition to her extensive travel abroad, Kendra has also spent much of her life creating a name for herself in her hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has performed in multiple WSO collaborations with the Odette Heyn - Dance Projects. She is also a sought after backup singer in the music community, having performed on Universal artist W Darlings debut album, as well as JP Hoe, James Struthers and Fred Penner and has been a professional photographer all the while. The School of Contemporary Dancers, her peers and audiences are excited to witness the beautiful, complex career ahead of this bright young performer.
Brett Owen (Dervish) is a Winnipeg based contemporary dancer and choreographer. A graduate of the School of Contemporary Dancers, Brett has performed work by Darryl Tracy, Tedd Robinson, Gaile Petursson-Hiley, Constance Cooke, Paul-André Fortier and Odette Heyn with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Brett made his Rainbow Stage debut in Sister Act last year and will return to Rainbow Stage again this summer as The Wolf in Shrek The Musical. Brett is a company member with Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers under the direction of Brent Lott.
Lara Secord-Haid (Marsinah) Praised by the New York Times for her “flinty acuity” and called “charismatic” by Opera Today, soprano Lara Secord-Haid is enjoying a diverse and dynamic career.Recent performances include, Cendrillon in Cendrillon (New York Lyric Opera), Soloist in concert (Opera San Miguel), Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw (Opera on the Avalon) Marzelline in Fidelio (Manitoba Opera), 3 Settings of Celan by Harrison Birtwistle with the Axiom Ensemble (Lincoln Center), Miss Silverpeal in The Impresario (North Shore Music Festival) and Tytania in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Opera on the Avalon). Some additional highlights of her work include Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos ( Manhattan Opera Studio) and Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica (Manhattan Opera Studio) Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (Banff Center), Giulia in La Scala di Seta (Juilliard) and The Woodpecker in The Cunning little Vixen (Juilliard), excerpts from Manon (New York Lyric), exerts from Rigoletto (Juilliard). On the concert stage Ms. Secord-Haid performed an Alice Tully Hall premier of Ritual by Alessandro Iglesias Rossi and works of John Cage with The New Juilliard Ensemble. She performed Handel's Messiah and Verdi's Requiem with the Orchestra at Shelter Rock and sang works of Granados, R. Strauss and Rimsky-Korsakov in recital. She has given recitals in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s summer concert series and performed Tyzik’s 12 gifts of Christmas in 2015 and Howard Blake’s The Bear with the WSO in 2009. Ms. Secord-Haid holds degrees from The Juilliard School (2013) and The New England Conservatory of Music (2011). She attended the Banff Center (2012), the Conservatoire de Nice summer academy (2008) and the Spoleto Vocal Arts symposium (2007).
James Magnus-Johnston (Poet) is either a renaissance man or a bohemian minstrel. Last season's stage credits include Les Miserables (Rainbow Stage) and Hamlet (Bravura Theatre). He has worked on a number of local productions over the years; highlights include Head (Shakespeare in the Ruins), Resurrection Blues (Millerfest), and The Dog it Was that Died (Dimestone Theatre Watch). He regularly performs in local choral ensembles, including Antiphony, the Winnipeg Singers, Camerata Nova, and as an occasional soloist (Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir; All Saints Anglican Church). James studied and taught singing privately through the Royal Conservatory of Music. He is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg's Theatre and Political Studies programs (Double BA), as well as Cambridge University's Economics program (MPhil). When he's not on stage, he teaches Political Studies and Economics at Canadian Mennonite University, helps run Fools & Horses (a downtown coffee shop), and lends his energy to a number of company and non-profit boards. Catch James this summer in Songs for A New World at the Winnipeg Fringe.
Michael Au (The Caliph of Baghdad) is a lyric tenor from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He completed the University of Manitoba’s Opera Apprenticeship program after studying with Mel Braun and Robert MacLaren. He is delighted to be performing with the Little Opera Company again; his previous productions with the company are Milton Grainger’s Talk Opera (the Duke of Mantua), Lennox Berkeley’s A Dinner Engagement (His Royal Highness Prince Phillipe) and The Face on the Barroom Floor (Matt/Larry) by Henry Mollicone. Michael has performed with the University of Manitoba’s Contemporary Opera Lab, with the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Music Opera Workshop and with Manitoba Opera as a chorus member. His favourite roles include the title role in Massenet’s Werther and Des Grieux from the same composer’s Manon. Currently he is studying with Dawn Bruch and focusing on French Songs by Henri Duparc and Gabriel Faure.
Elizabeth Rotoff (Lalume) has performed across Canada and in England in opera, musical theatre and recital. She has had leading roles in operas including Carmen, The Tales of Hoffman, La Clemenza di Tito, Cosi fan tutte, Die Fledermaus, Hansel and Gretel, The Medium and many more. In Winnipeg, she has performed as a soloist with the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir and Women of Note and has appeared in a variety of roles with the Little Opera Company. The Edmonton Sun stated that her performance was riveting and that she has a haunting mezzo voice. The Bognor Regis Observer (England) reported, “The range of her powerful voice, coupled with an obvious deep understanding of the poetry made a memorable experience for the appreciative audience.” Opera Today said of her performance in Lennox Berkley’s A Dinner Engagement, “She was brilliantly haughty and convincingly statuesque”. In addition to her love of the arts, Elizabeth has a strong passion for fitness and nutrition. As a certified personal trainer, fitness instructor, nutrition counsellor and triathlete, she frequently gives presentations on cross-training and nutrition to running groups (including The Running Room). She will be presenting a series of live fitness classes at the NATS conference in Chicago this summer.
Aidan Ritchie (Hassan-Ben, Ensemble) hails from a family of actor / singers, and has shared the stage with both his mother and sister, singing in productions at Rainbow Stage and Manitoba Opera. This year he has made his theatrical debut with Shakespeare in the Ruins production of Romeo and Juliet. You can catch him on screen as well in David M. Hyde's film ''Stegman is Dead'' alongside Michael Ironside and in many other upcoming productions. Aidan would like to continue to grow as a performer and actor by working with more great artists all across the globe. He is proud and thankful to be a part of A little Opera Company’s, Kismet.
Ben Townsley (First Beggar, Bangle Man, Ensemble) Ben Townsley is very pleased to be making his first steps in the Winnipeg music scene on the stage of Kismet. He is entering his fourth year at the University of Winnipeg and has enjoyed studying the arts all his life. Ben is proud to be performing beside this talented cast and looks forward to a continued appreciation of the stage.
Brent Pfeil (Chief of Police, Ensemble) has dabbled in music and theatre over the years with performances at Rainbow Stage, the Fringe Festival, and with various local theatre groups and choruses. Lately, he has performed with the Little Opera Company in the chorus of Amahl and the Night Visitors, Gianni Schicchi, and in Black Ties: a tribute to Black History Month and as Cuthbert Crow in The Snow Queen. A former production manager for LOC, Brent is looking forward to being on stage and exercising his theatrical and vocal abilities in Kismet.
Don Larsen (Jawan, Ensemble) is enjoying his return to the Little Opera Company stage, having previously sung excerpts from Kismet as the Poet in LOC’s Opera on the Rooftop production, many moons ago. Previously for the Little Opera Company, Don has sung / appeared (thrice) as Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors, (twice) as Scruples in The Impresario, Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, John/Tom in The Face on the Barroom Floor, and Marco in Gianni Schicchi. This is also Don’s 25thyear singing with the Manitoba Opera chorus, and most recently appeared in the twelve-man chorus in Of Mice and Men. When not singing, Don works as an IT Project Management consultant. Don gives a big shout out to wife, Cindy and his girls Kyra and Mckenna for helping with his rehearsal for the show and putting up with his performing in two stage productions within two weeks of each other.
Donnalynn Grills (Widow Yussef, Ensemble) is pleased to be back performing with The Little Opera Company. She was last seen in December’s Triadic Operatic performance of Michael McKay’s The Triumph of Caffeina. Her favourite roles with the Little Opera Company include Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti, the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, the 3rd Lady in The Magic Flute , Nan/the Race Car in The Velveteen Rabbit and the Announcer in Gallantry. Equally at home in opera, oratorio and musical theatre, Donnalynn has had the privilege of performing with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Rainbow Stage, Dry Cold Productions, Manitoba Opera, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Vancouver Symphony, Canzona, the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Winnipeg, The Winnipeg Singers and the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir. Recent appearances include Marcellina in Manitoba Opera’s production of The Marriage of Figaro and as an ancestor in Dry Cold Production’s The Addams Family.
Erin-Brie Warwick (Ensemble) Erin-Brie’s passion for music and theatre began at an early age. She has been a medalist with RCM and has performed as a church and wedding soloist. Erin-Brie studied theatre with the Winnipeg Theatre School and this season, appeared as Queen Summer in Merlyn Productions’ staging of Sleeping Beauty. As well, she was a Company Member with Prairie Theatre Exchange School’s 2015-16 Cabaret Company. Recently, Erin-Brie was a runner up for the James Seaton Trophy at the 2016 Winnipeg Music Festival. Erin-Brie is very excited to be part of Kismet with the Little Opera Company and thanks her family and friends for their love and support.
Jacob Brien (Second Beggar, Ensemble) is a recent migrant to Winnipeg, currently working on his Bachelor of Theatre Arts at the University of Winnipeg. He is excited to be rounding out the cast of Kismet as Second Tenor/Second Beggar in his first appearance with the Little Opera Company. Kismet is his second main stage appearance since arriving in Winnipeg last Autumn, most recently seen as Lieutenant Ian Shaw in North Kildonan player’s 2015 production of The Secret Garden. Performance highlights include: Opening Night (Michael Craig) RENT (Roger Davis), West Side Story (Anxious), Mrs. Parliament's Night Out (Alonzo Marx/Eduardo).
Lillan Mendoza (Ensemble) previously appeared in the Little Opera Company's The Snow Queen. Winnipeg Fringe Festival credits include Illuminati: The Musical and Conclave: The Musical (Joseph Aragon/Kiss the Giraffe). Recent choral endeavours include performances with the Little Opera Company and St. Mary’s Cathedral Music Ministry ensembles. Lillian is an invited cantor and soloist with the Archdiocese of Winnipeg and has performed for the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. A mild-mannered scientist by day, Lillian is thrilled to trade in her lab-coat to be part of the wonderfully talented Kismet cast. Enjoy the show! This one’s for you, Marie!
Signe Armstrong (Ensemble) is delighted and honoured to be part of the Little Opera Company’s ensemble for Kismet. During the work-week, Signe is an Early Years music, choir, and fiddle teacher with Seven Oaks School Division in Winnipeg, and a substitute violin and viola teacher with the Sistema after-school orchestra program for at-risk youth. She earned her B.Ed. at the University of Western Ontario, and her B.A. at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick while conducting the STU Singers and Nashwaaksis Middle School Choir. She would like to say an excited “hello” to any of her students and friends in the audience, a heartfelt “you're wonderful” to the production team and fellow cast-members on Kismet, and a sheepish “I’m sorry” to her pet cockatiel and her neighbours for practicing those high notes every evening.
Sofia Lukie (Scenic Designer) is excited to be making her debut with Little Opera Company. She is currently in her final year of University, completing a double honours in theatre production and design at the wonderful University of Winnipeg. Credits include; The Dance-off of Conscious Uncoupling (Sarasvati Productions), 3…2…1 (SpeakEasy Theatre), Semi-Monde, Big Love, and Vinegar Tom (University of Winnipeg). She would like to thank Little Opera Company for their dedication in supporting emerging artists, such as herself. She would also like to thank the production team, cast members, and her endlessly supportive sisters, partner, and parents. Enjoy the show!
Stephanie Porrior (Scenic Artist) is excited to be working with the Little Opera Company for the first time. She is currently working towards completing her B.A. in Theatre and Film at the University of Winnipeg, focusing on Production and Design. Her most recent scenic work includes Mr. Burns A Post-Eclectic Play(District Theatre Collective), The Barbara Blackwood Movie AKA: Doreen Brownstown Film Spectacular (SWAK Productions) and The Addams Family (Dry Cold Productions). She hopes you enjoy the show.
Robert Butler (Costume Designer) "When does a hobby become an obsession?" Robert has primarily done costuming & hair for shoestring Players (Confusions, The Quick Change Room , The Great Katherine and Annajanska, the Bolshevik Empress with "the hat that stole the show!" [Winnipeg Free Press]. Other recent credits include The Doreen Brownstone Film Spectacular. Costuming Kismet has been challenging and fun.
Katie Robinson Hoppa (Stage Manager) is thrilled to be working with The Little Opera Company. She is currently working towards completing her B.A. Honours in Theatre and Film at the University of Winnipeg with a focus on Production, Stage Management and Filmmaking. Her recent works include has been the asstistant stage manager for Evil Dead (Wasteland Productions) and The Mystery of Krummhorn Castle (White Rabbit & Kiss the Giraffe Productions) as well as stage managing Twelfth Night (University of Winnipeg). She also has production credits from the University of Winnipeg working on shows such as Big Love, The Cassilis Engagement, Semi-Monde, and Enchanted April. Most recently, she has served as assistant director and production designer for a local short film entitled Hold On showing in the near future.
Tanner Manson (Assistant Stage Manager) is currently in his second year of studying theatre production and performance at the University of Winnipeg. He has worked in a variety of aspects on the past seven shows the University has put on including Props Coordinator for Vinegar Tom, Production Assistant for Big Love, Sound Technician for Twelfth Night and Assistant Stage Manager for Semi-Monde. Tanner is also the current Stage Manager for The Winnipeg Singers 2015-2016 season. He is excited to be working with The Little Opera Company for the first time!
Grant Burr (Wazir) is excited to be part of the Little Opera Company's production of Kismet and to have the opportunity to work with a tremendous team of artists. Burr is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg theatre program. Selected stage credits include The Naked Woman (Sarasvati Productions), The Cherry Orchard (Theatre by the River and Little Echo Theatre), Shadow Spaces (Union Station Theatre), The Dog It Was That Died (Dimestone Watch Theatre) and Flood Control (Sarasvati). When he's not acting Burr plays the part of editor at The Carillon, a weekly newspaper based in Steinbach, where he lives with his wife, Karen, and his sons, Owen and Isaac.