Colin Simmons, Dan Reale working together on ‘The Dream’

August 23, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Colin Simmons and Dan Reale are Director and Assistant Director of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the massive new production of the play at Island Lake this week.

“Dan and I are really a team,” Colin told the Citizen. “I’m so glad he’s on this project. When one of us has an idea, we just work it out and decide yes or no – there’s no ego thing here – we just want the best for the show.”

It began for Colin Simmons with the Wizard of Oz in 2004, “15 years ago.”

David Nairn says he was dragged by Joy Bell to see the production at the East Garafaxa Public School, in which young Colin starred as the Wizard.

“He asked the school for my contact information to ask me to come to do Christmas Story for the Christmas show at Theatre Orangeville. That was it for me, I got the bug.

“What is the bug? I had alway wanted to be an actor when I saw Jim Carey make faces – I used to practise making faces and poses in front of the mirror. I didn’t even realize there were options besides going to Hollywood for an acting career and here was Theatre Orangeville!

“Especially in my teenage years, I was bullied as a kid. The only place I felt safe was at Theatre Orangeville and on stage : the safest place was on the stage. No one’s a freak in the theatre. It’s warm and welcoming in the theatre. Put me in a sports arena and I feel like that other kid.

“That’s what I mean about the bug – just excited to perform for people. Then, as I got older, the obsession with the actual craft took over, before i went over to creating and writing.”

For Dan Reale, the question arose, “Are you in because of your brother [David Reale]?”

And the answer came back, “Yes and no. He’s was a huge influence on me, a big part of me wanting to act and to be part of the theatre. He was very kind about not imposing his beliefs on me. He tried not to influence me and left me to try to find myself. I reiterate a lot of what Colin said. Theatre is where you are celebrated for being different.”

“David sat me down one day when I was a bit older,” said Colin, “and he said, ‘If you can do anything else and be happy and you have to do that.’ David told me, If I didn’t love rehearsing – he explained it to me that it’s a hard life. It’s the period when you’re just doing the art but to pay the bills, it’s very difficult to stay with it. 

“I was lucky enough to go to Stratford right out of college but they didn’t invite me back. There are periods when you have contract after contract and then there’s a period of nothingness.”

Dan commented, “I was lucky enough to have my brother who can survive enough just by acting, as an example.”

“Earning your living from acting or writing is such a rarity,” Colin admitted.”I do web design and graphic design on the side. My primary business is web design. I’m a nerd so I love learning new things. It really makes me appreciate time on stage.”

“When I work on the side – I’m getting my Smart Serve – there’s school and, then, there’s Theatre Orangeville,” Dan commented.

“Dan and I, we came back to work as a director and assistant director.” Colin stated, ‘I can never emphasize enough that Theatre Orangeville is a unique gem that is nowhere else. They have such great care for young artists.”

Colin and Dan both started their careers with Christmas Story in first one and then the next productions of Christmas Story, five years apart.

Recalling their connection, Colin said, “Dan I did Young Company and Jane Ohland Cameron directed Young Company. She wrote the Enchantment of Peter Pan. I was there as an acting coach and directorship.

“I was in Sheridan in 2011 and did direct in Orangeville. In my final two years at Sheridan, I said I was also interested in directing and writing. I just absorbed from the people I worked with.

“I learned so much at Stratford with two directors. I was in Shakespeare in Love and the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I did coaching sessions with various actors.

“The thing about Stratford, is there are a lot of constraints. You have be fitting for two or three shows. At the Birmingham Conservatory for my age, people were guaranteed a role.”

He told us, “I learnt so much at Stratford and then had a variety of experiences. For dollar and cents, it is the largest theatre in Canada but it’s not the be all of theatre. It made me grow up faster. There ‘s no such thing as momentum.

“Theatre is valuable. I’ve a variety experiences in different theatres. Now I think I’m mentally prepared to take on what comes.”

One thing is clear to him, “I could never take on this challenge without my time at Stratford. It made it clear that I have to stand up for myself. I am prepared that I now have confidence in myself.”

For a good turn of fortune, Dan said, “The job that I have right now was offered to someone else and if that person hadn’t turned it down, I was the next in line. Getting into school when I did [George Brown]. I graduated last April and i’ve directed and produced a show. Other than that. I’m ushering. I’m young, so, I am in no rush to get into the industry; I’m just sort-of seeing what’s next.”

“As far as me,” commented Colin, “I think I have a horse shoe up my ass. I was born into a family that could afford to support me with lessons – piano, singing, composing. I moved up to Orangeville and, then, David was at the wizard. Stratford was pure luck.” 

From Dan, “My mom was a single parent and they helped me be here. There is a lot of plus but there also has to be other support . The arts are not necessity if the family is working pay cheque to pay cheque. Theatre Orangeville helps out with that.”

They cast David Nairn as Duke Theseus of Athens.

“At the end of the play,” they told us, “the Duke is standing watching the other characters. Now at 20 years with the theatre, David will be looking at his Young Company as part of the cast performing in this amazing production.

“That’s quite a thought.”

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