Welcome back to Northern Roots Canada!
What better way to wrap up this year than with a holiday-centred interview! Today’s chat is with Shannon Murtagh and Athena So from On Its Way Musical Productions. Let’s dive right in!
Glad that we were able to make this happen! Please share a little bit about yourselves.
We are Athena So and Shannon Murtagh, the co-founders/producers of On Its Way Musical Productions. On Its Way Musical Productions is a Toronto-based theatre company striving to provide emerging professional artists with opportunities to create impactful theatre. Our company was founded in 2019 and, since then, have produced shows such as Next to Normal and various cabarets around the city. We met as university students at our school’s theatre company where we collaborated as Music Director (Athena) and Choreographer/Assistant Director (Shannon) in several productions. There, we quickly discovered how well we work together and the rest is history!
Sounds like you two are a dynamic musical duo! What was your inspiration for “Snowed In”?
Cabarets hold a special place in our hearts here at On Its Way Musical Production! We’ve done a few cabarets since this theatre company was founded back in 2019. In fact, the first show that launched our theatre company was a launch party cabaret at the 120 Diner in downtown Toronto! In these months of quarantine, we’ve been looking at different options for how to keep this theatre company alive despite the struggles of our industry. Since both our performers and audience members seemed to enjoy our intimate little cabarets at bars and cozy venues in the past, we thought, “why not recreate these performances virtually?” For this reason, we’ve actually decided to put on an entire season of virtual cabarets; to recreate those intimate in-person experiences that we all know and love!
Snowed In with On Its Way is our first cabaret of the 2020/2021 virtual season! We wanted to launch this cabaret season during one of our most cherished times of all: the holiday season! The holidays are for spending time with loved ones and spreading joy and laughter. Therefore, Snowed In with On Its Way hopes to emphasize just that! Filled with our favourite holiday classics and holiday showtunes from some fantastic musicals, we hope that you gather your loved ones with a cozy drink in your hands to spread some holiday joy in the form of musical theatre!
What have been the joys and challenges of rehearsing a cabaret virtually?
It’s been a joy to be able to create art again! The live entertainment industry has been on hold since March and it’s difficult to tell when it’ll be back. Because of this, so many artists have lost, not only their jobs, but their passions. Being able to bring back some type of “live” performance, even through virtual means, means the world to us because we are able to provide more opportunity to artists and bring the joy of the theatre back to the world in some way during the holidays! It’s also been super exciting to be able to, not only share our art with the local audience like how we were able to before the pandemic, but also be able to have audience members from overseas! So really, a virtual cabaret means we can quite literally bring the joy of theatre to the world.
With the joys of bringing theatre back into the world, come challenges too, especially with navigating this new virtual platform! Since we are so used to putting on shows in front of a live in-person audience, we now had to quickly learn how to put together a show from start to end…virtually! This really tested how tech-savvy we are! Virtual cabarets meant finding a way to meet and rehearse with our performers through Zoom, working out individual parts musically and staging-wise through Zoom, working now with video and audio editors, and even discovering how to livestream an entire show! Regardless, we are so excited to be sharing this show with you and hope you’ll tune in with us!
Do you have a favourite holiday song?
There are so many great holiday songs! Athena is a huge fan of those jazzy holiday songs; anything that gives you those cozy “listening to records while sitting around a fireplace” vibes. One song that has constantly been on repeat for her is the Ella Fitzgerald version of “Sleigh Ride” or Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song.”
Shannon loves a great holiday classic, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” We’ve made sure to fill our set list with everyone’s holiday favourites, so tune in on December 22 for more!
Those are some classics! Will they make an appearance at the cabaret? Who knows…
Finally, where can people join for future cabarets as well as watch the performance?
Our cabarets will be live-streamed on Youtube and tickets are Pay What You Can! Our first cabaret, “Snowed In with On Its Way” will take place on December 22nd at 8:00pm EST. Tickets can be purchased below and you can follow our social media platforms for more information!
Thank you to Shannon and Athena from On Its Way Musical Productions for chatting with me!
Don’t miss out on their holiday cabaret! Get your tickets here: Snowed In with On Its Way
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Until next time, remember:
rooted to your dreams.
I’m Chi-Chi Onuah, signing off for the year.