Eight times a week at New York’s Stephen Sondheim Theatre, Chilina Kennedy belts out the Carole King hit, “Natural Woman”. Kennedy is, after all, playing the iconic hitmaker in the Broadway musical Beautiful. As we arranged this interview, however, Chilina’s packing her bags for a few days off, at least from her Broadway gig.
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About a year ago, Chilina decided to start a theatre company back home in Toronto. On Wednesday, March March 6th, 2019, Eclipse Theatre premieres a daring new production of the musical, Kiss of the Spider Woman. The show isn’t in a traditional theatre, however. It takes it’s bow in the historic Don Jail. Yup, with all the cells, iron bars, and even solitary confinement.
The EzTix Interview
Before we talk Kiss, tell us about Eclipse, what it means to you, and why you decided to start a theatre company.
CK: I have always wanted to be a part of a new theatre company and forming Eclipse was also a great way to stay connected to my Canadian theatre community in a meaningful way. I love developing new work and fostering new ideas and talent. I also like to support partnerships between companies and across borders.
Is this something you always expected to do?
Never! Especially as an Artistic Producer. But I hoped one day I’d be creating new work in Canada.
Your production of Kiss of the Spider Woman takes the audience out of the comforts of a theatre into a historic jail. What was it like stepping into that space for the first time?
It was magical. It was also dark and made me think deeply about what it must have been like for inmates who were incarcerated there. Mounting the show in that space was our director Evan Tsitsias’ idea and it struck me as one of the most inspired creative moments I’ve experienced.
Because I believe theatre needs to be brave and exciting and we need to take risks as theatre makers. I want to give the public opportunities to get lost in not only the story, but to also feel completely captivated and immersed in the space itself, as if it was a character on it own.
You’ve worked with, and met, some incredible icons. But if you sit down for coffee with absolutely anyone in the world, who would it be, and what would you want to ask them?
That’s a tough one. There are so many! I would want to sit down with Joni Mitchell probably. I’m a huge fan of her work and her commitment to her art. I’d like to ask her questions about her life as a whole.
Any advice for others who want to make the jump into producing and creating their own experiences?
Do it. You may not know how to do it, but do it anyway, especially if you’re passionate about a project. And surround yourself with people who are smart and good at what they do so you can learn from them.