Where Performers Come to Play …

Past Productions and Reviews

Past Productions:

Feb 2008 - Playing After Dark grants Stellar Productions the opportunity to stage the Debut Production of IN-SECURITY: An Alarmingly Romantic Comedy, by T. Gregory Argall and Todd McGinnis

July 2005 - NewWorks Festival Opener
Self-Help for Dummies by T. Gregory Argall and Todd McGinnis

May 2005 - All New Production
Thunderbolts and Dunderheads by Todd McGinnis

October 2004 - Debut Production
Self-Help for Dummies by T. Gregory Argall and Todd McGinnis

July 2004 - Inaugural NewWorks Festival Opener
Gone Fishin' by Todd McGinnis

February/March 2003  - Debut Production
Point of Viewing by Todd McGinnis

October 2002 - Debut Production
Gone Fishin' by Todd McGinnis

October 2001 - Debut Production
Thunderbolts and Dunderheads by Todd McGinnis

March 2001 - Debut Production
Knave of Hearts by Todd McGinnis

Reviews and Articles:

2005 – Cast is stellar in comedy about Greek Gods,
TINA DEPKO, Staff Writer

"Thunderbolts and Dunderheads is a very entertaining play for people of all ages, especially for anyone who read myths in their English class or watched the cartoon Hercules."

When most people start their first day at a new job, they worry about embarrassing themselves at the water cooler in front of their coworkers. Iris, Zeus' new personal assistant, has much bigger concerns. One wrong message and she faces permanent termination caused by one of her boss's white-hot lightening bolts.

Iris' workplace, as depicted in the brilliant comedy Thunderbolts and Dunderheads, will make you like yours much better. You may even take your boss coffee and donuts on Monday after seeing this production by Playing After Dark.

Thunderbolts and Dunderheads was written by Todd McGinnis. It is evident from this script the talented local playwright knows the ingredients to a successful play. He starts with characters everyone knows from ancient mythology, throws a few new ones in for colour, and gives them dozens of lines of witty banter.

The play premiered in Brampton in 2001 to rave reviews. The all-new production is worth seeing again and, if you missed it the first time, take this opportunity and head to the Heritage Theatre.

Thunderbolts and Dunderheads follows Iris, goddess of rainbows, on her mission to be promoted. Rainbows aren't exciting enough for this quirky deity, so she goes to Zeus seeking more important responsibilities than chasing rain clouds.

Downsizing is coming However, Mount Olympus is trimming the fat from its corporation and Iris is threatened to be downsized permanently. Her only hope for survival is to take on the job no one else wants — personal assistant to Zeus himself. Her first morning on the job is already going bad enough when Zeus falls for a visiting Nordic goddess and demands that Iris makes her fall in love with him. Iris' scheming hits a wall when she meets Hera, Zeus' angry wife. The comedic plot is thickened with the additional characters of Hermes, Erronyus Miscellaneous and Hades.

These colourful roles are filled by an outstanding cast who work together so well that it seems this isn't their first time together. There really isn't one star, but rather each actor shares a portion of that coveted title.
William Poulin, who plays Hermes, is one of the most entertaining parts of the production. His demeanor is ideal for the envious, pushy character. Poulin's flawless execution of countless lines is impressive, to say the least.

Christine Ford, as Valkyrie, the Nordic goddess, is equally comedic. Everything about her portrayal, from her accent to her commanding stage presence, is right on. Her scenes with Zeus are downright hilarious. A pleasant surprise is Andrew Clegg, who plays Erronyus Miscellaneous. The character is the traditional buffoon, but Clegg brings more to the stage than laughs. His portrayal as the temporary god of love has the perfect combination of outrageousness and composure, making him very likable. Craig Marshall is also ideally suited for the role of the chauvinist employer Zeus. Marshall is the perfect head god with his physique, voice and attitude. His wrath will make you shiver in your seats and be thankful your boss is a scrawny geek.

Lesley Tumber, as Hera, is vengeful, haughty and pretentious — basically everything the beautiful wife of the top god should be when her husband has set his sights on another woman. The award for the best evil laughter in the history of the theatre goes to David Cairns, who is a dark and sinister Hades.

Tracy Rowland returns to the production as Iris. [She played Hera in the original, 2001 production] and she brings energy to the role, giving her character the required giddy, quirky and naive qualities…

There are some very innovative aspects of the production that add to the dramatic effect. The costumes are fantastic, with an abundance of gold and silver traditionally adorned by the ancient gods. Hermes' winged sandals and Valkyrie's blonde wig and Viking helmet are nice touches.

The set takes the audience to Mount Olympus with its cloud-covered furniture and gold columns. Props like grapes, wine glasses, a running fountain and ancient tablets complement the setting. The lighting and sound effects are spectacular, with everything right on cue.

Thunderbolts and Dunderheads is a very entertaining play for people of all ages, especially for anyone who read myths in their English class or watched the cartoon Hercules…

2004 – "Self Help for Dummies" is a laugh riot!
KATHARINE SEALEY, The Brampton Guardian

Playing After Dark has done it again. Since their debut in 2001 with the hilarious Renaissance comedy Knave of Hearts, this Brampton-based troupe has produced one solid original comedy after another and Self-Help for Dummies is another direct hit.

This show centres around a psychiatrist's waiting room, emphasis on the waiting. With the doctor missing in action, his group of mixed nuts are left to fend for themselves but as time passes, each patient's particular brand of quirks — from stress to nymphomania to just plain looney tunes — begin to boil over.

This is the show's world debut, and is written by local playwrights Todd McGinnis (who also stars as overwound self-help guru Michael Sage) and T. Gregory Argall. Both had shows in this summer's inaugural NewWorks festival at the Heritage Theatre, and the pairing is an inspired one.

The casting, too, is a parade of familiar faces from the local theatre scene, featuring not only McGinnis, but also William Poulin as Jerry Bond, David Cairns as Dr. Enbridge, Christine Ford as Mrs. Quackenbush, D.Kirk Teeple as Matt Portico, Susan McLay as Mrs. Winter and Kristy Findlay as Chastity Gespate.

This solid cast seems to have really connected with their off-the-wall characters, and Ford is a stellar stand-out as the wacky Quakenbush. See it once for the laughs, and a second time just to watch her. She's like a whole show unto herself.

Head to the Heritage for a fun evening, and feel proud that such great works are being created right here in a Brampton.

The show is directed by Tracy Rowland…

June 10, 2004 – GONE FISHIN’… AGAIN! Playing After Dark’s Hit Comedy Selected To Open NewWorks Play Festival
TINA DEPKO, The Brampton Guardian

The Boys Are Back… and they’re going FISHIN’ again.

Playing After Dark’s highly successful production of Todd McGinnis’s comedy Gone Fishin’ has been selected to inaugurate the First Annual NewWorks Play Festival at the Heritage Theatre starting July 8.

The first of four NewWorks to play at the Festival, Gone Fishin’ returns with its original cast and director. And the best news? Audiences get to see all four shows for only $20.

This hilarious and heartwarming comedy delighted audiences when it premiered in 2002 and tells the story of three estranged brothers doomed to spend a day fishing together as a condition of their late father’s will. returns with its original cast and director for a two week run.

Director and Playing After Dark Ltd. Co-founder Tracy Rowland: "We are very excited to be opening the First Annual NewWorks Play Festival. And we are very grateful to Steve Solski and Scott Lale of the Brampton Theatre Office for launching such an incredible idea in the first place. For the longest time there was almost no theatrical entertainment available to Brampton residents in the summer and the only place to see a new show was in Toronto or New York. It is so exciting to be involved at the very beginning of such a special new venture."

New ventures are old hat for Playing After Dark founders McGinnis and Rowland, whose company was founded with a mandate to produce only new, original comedies for theatre-going audiences right here in Brampton.

Beginning with works penned by McGinnis, and determined to highlight the strongest local talent available, Playing After Dark has staged four new comedies to great acclaim and audience response over the last couple of years. Indeed, two of the four shows (the Renaissance-farce Knave of Hearts and Thunderbolts and Dunderheads, a farce set among the Greek Gods of Mount Olympus) have both been given secondary productions by other theatre companies.
Gone Fishin’ was the company’s third production and according to McGinnis, seems to have captured a very special place in the hearts of those who have seen it.

"All of the shows we’ve done have been given very enthusiastic ‘thumbs up’ from those who’ve seen them, but Gone Fishin’ just seemed to strike some kind of magical chord. It just seems to have that rare combination of elements that make it stick with people the way the works of Norm Foster or Neil Simon seem to. It really is a great feeling, not just knowing that you made people laugh and have a great time, but that they still remember it with such fondness."

Of course, the other strength of the show may be the incredible chemistry of the three men who star in it. William Poulin, who plays eldest brother Peter, has been a fixture on Brampton stages for more than 20 years and is doubtless familiar to anyone who has even casually attended Brampton theatre. "Bill’s just one of the strongest actors we know," says Rowland, "And he and Todd have worked together so often they just have that kind of magic chemistry. Needless to say, if you’ve got these two in your show you’re already on your way to something great."

McGinnis and Poulin have performed together in Shakespeare, Murder Mysteries, comedies, dramas, and are both veterans of North America’s longest running play, The Mousetrap which only recently ended it’s 27 year run in Toronto.

Rounding out the cast is relative newcomer Brian Covert, who first met McGinnis and Poulin onstage in Bramalea Live Theatre’s production of The Wild Guys. His work in that play so impressed McGinnis, that the author/producer has created roles specifically for him in recent works. "Brian, like Bill, is in the front rank of actors in my mind when I’m writing a new play. When I was writing Gone Fishin’ and creating the character of Harry, the tightly-wound stockbroker, I could just see Brian bringing that character to life, and he did an incredible job. The three of us can’t wait to bring the whole thing back to life on the Heritage stage…"

2002–2003 POINT OF VIEWING Friday, February 28th, 2003
Point of Viewing finds humour in the frenzy of live TV

Play image

Talk show hosts Sincerity Weeks (Christine Ford) and Raquel Voulet (Tina Hardt) try to squeeze some information out of Floor Director Brad (Brian Covert) in Point of Viewing.

Talk show hosts Sincerity Weeks (Christine Ford) and Raquel Voulet (Tina Hardt) try to squeeze some information out of Floor Director Brad (Brian Covert) in Point of Viewing.

Switch off the TV tonight and head out to the Cyril Clark Theatre, where you can watch TV live on stage.

Point of Viewing, an original comedy by Brampton's Todd McGinnis, runs at Cyril Clark Theatre tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m., and again March 6 to 8.

Opening to the strains of Don Henley's Dirty Laundry, the action is centred around the filming of a 10th anniversary episode for a popular daytime TV talk show, Point of View.

When a screw-up destroys their pre-taped special, the three female hosts are forced to go live to air to replace it. Rumours about the future of the show and its stars add to the tensions, which explode as the cameras roll.

McGinnis explored a similar scenario in his last show, Gone Fishin' which saw three feuding brothers trapped for a day in a row boat as a condition of their father's will.

Point of Viewing plays out in similar fashion, alternating between high-energy farce and charged-up emotional breakthroughs.

This Playing After Dark production is well-cast, with Tracy Rowland as Tabitha Smiley, the show's roving reporter who is frequently forced into crazy get-ups, Christine Ford as the hard-edged Sincerity Weeks and Tina Hardt as the sweet but vacant Raquel Voulet.

The show also features great performances from it's male cast, including Brian Covert as Brad, the put-upon Floor Director who watches his show dissolve into a free-for-all, and D. Kirk Teeple, who makes a late but memorable appearance as Dr. Darren Cooper.

The show is a fresh new addition to the local theatre scene, with interesting characters and a clean storyline. Overall, this Point of Viewing is worth a look…

 October 18th, 2002 - Gone Fishin' is a trip worth taking
KATHARINE SEALEY, Staff Writer - Brampton Guardian

The Playing After Dark troupe has Gone Fishin' and it's a trip worth taking. Tonight, tomorrow and again from Oct. 24 to 26, catch the premiere run of this comedy about brotherly love at Cyril Clark Library Theatre. The show stars troupe founder Todd McGinnis, William Poulin and Brian Covert.

The trio was last seen together on stage in The Wild Guys for Brampton Live Theatre, and that history has given them a comfort zone that shows. The three have great rhythm as battling brothers, trading abuse that is sometimes verbal, sometimes physical, and always emotional. As the writer of this original comedy, McGinnis has done a fantastic job of capturing that unique ability siblings have to push each other's buttons. Gone are the gentle manners of polite company, and in their place is a boatload of emotional baggage that only those who share your DNA would ever dare delve into.

Set in a tiny fishing boat in the middle of a lake, no one can storm off or hide behind distractions. This is the fishing equivalent of showdown at high noon. As middle brother Paul, McGinnis [is] again cast as the comic relief, a jokester who will do anything to keep everyone smiling. As eldest brother Peter, Poulin plays it tough. As Harry, the baby of the bunch, Covert creates a stockbroker who would sell his soul for a good cell phone connection. Their reunion is a condition of their recently departed father's will, and so they are stuck--for 12 hours or three fish, whichever comes first--with a mysterious package, which may or may not contain clues to a lost inheritance.

With Playing After Dark's last show, Thunderbolts and Dunderheads, McGinnis produced lightening and the booming voice of Zeus on the Cyril Clark stage, and his bag of tricks is even more impressive this time around. Don't let the simple design of this show fool you; there are more opportunities for action than you could ever imagine. At a little less than two hours, this witty show about three guys in a fishing boat is surprisingly engaging. The sentimental message sometimes crosses into downright sap, but all in all Gone Fishin' is a satisfying catch. Gone Fishin' is directed by Tracy Rowland…

Gone Fishin' Cast (in order of 'appearance')

Harrison Bachman… Brian Covert

Peter Bachman… William Poulin

Paul Bachman… Todd McGinnis

CASTING COUP: The "Wild Guys" have "Gone Fishin’"

So… when P.A.D. founders Todd McGinnis and Tracy Rowland aren’t busy writing, producing and acting in theatre professionally, what do they do to relax? Well… they do more theatre, of course.

"It’s just something we love to do," says Rowland. "Getting a play onstage offers a lot of interesting challenges. And of course it’s always fun working and playing with the many friends we’ve made in the theatre community."

Last year, McGinnis jumped at the chance to perform in Bramalea Live Theatre’s production of "The Wild Guys" with two of his favourite actors in the world: David Cairns and William Poulin. Brian Covert, the fourth cast member was a relative newcomer but "The four of them just had such amazing chemistry onstage that it really made the show," says Rowland. "In fact, Brian even won the Bloom Award for Best Supporting Actor. The director, Tom Argall, picked an incredibly strong cast for that show and I was thrilled when I realized that "Gone Fishin’" might give me the opportunity to reunite a few of those friends (who just happen to be among the most talented actors I’ve ever seen) onstage."

Well, the gods of scheduling have smiled and William Poulin, Brian Covert and Todd McGinnis, Brampton’s-own "wild guys" will soon be sharing the stage again in McGinnis’ hilarious and heartwarming new play "Gone Fishin’"

2001-2002 Playing After Dark’s Debut Season is an Unqualified Success!

2001 was a great year for Playing After Dark Ltd. and its co-founders Todd McGinnis and Tracy Rowland.

The company's debut production "Knave of Hearts" surprised and delighted audiences with rapid-fire wit, flashing swords and stunning costumes. Katherine Sealey of the Brampton Guardian called it "new and vibrant…" and said it "…has the potential to become a classic, making Playing After Dark a welcome addition to Brampton's theatre scene." Award-winning Actor/Director Michael Butterworth exclaimed that the play was "…better written than a Ray Cooney farce and [McGinnis] is a better actor than Cooney too!"

Well, it was going to take something special follow that kind of welcome. But P.A.D. didn't disappoint with their next play, "Thunderbolts and Dunderheads", an insanely funny farce set among the Greek Gods of Mount Olympus. More rave responses followed, including a review which hailed the show as "another great ensemble piece" and cited the particular contributions of Paige Lancaster as Iris, Goddess of Rainbows, Brian Brockenshire as Hermes, and Christine Ford as Valkyrie.

The show was also highly-praised by Bloom Award adjudicator Roy Lewis and received several honourable mentions for performances, sets and costumes at the 2001/2002 Bloom Awards in June. But the crowning glory came in May of 2002 when Todd McGinnis won the First Ever "Bloom" Award for "Best Original Script" for "Thunderbolts and Dunderheads".

And all this in just one season!


October, 2001 "New Playing After Dark Show Offers Up Thunderbolts, Dunderheads... And LOTS OF LAUGHS!" By KATHARINE SEALEY,
Staff Writer - The Brampton Guardian October 19, 2001

Cranky bosses, overworked assistants, back-stabbing co-workers ... it's just another day at the office for the gods of Mount Olympus.

Playing After Dark's Thunderbolts and Dunderheads runs at Cyril Clark Library Theatre tonight and tomorrow and again from Oct. 24 to 27. Showtime is 8 p.m.

This original comedy follows Iris, the ditzy but sweet goddess of rainbows who decides she wants to move up the Mount Olympus corporate ladder. Her ambition, however, lands her in big trouble when she picks the really wrong day to approach the boss.

This clever production aims to show that even the Greek gods had to grapple with office politics. Most of the first act finds Iris alone on the stage, taking orders from an unseen, and cranky, Zeus.
By Act II however, she's up to her eyeballs in deities and the fun really begins.

This show's strength is its great performances, from Paige Lancaster as the tie-dyed and flustered Iris, to Brian Brockenshire, whose game show announcer timbre fits perfectly with his role as the snarky messenger Hermes.

Play scene

Hermes (Brian Brockenshire), Iris (Paige Lancaster) and Valkyrie (Christine Ford) duke it out on Mount Olympus in this new comedy.

D. Kirk Teeple is also well-cast, first as a Wizard of Oz-type voice from above, then as a not-so-larger than life King of the Gods. The play's author, Todd McGinnis, adds comic relief as the yappy Erronyus, while his wife and Playing After Dark co-founder Tracy Rowland-McGinnis plays it cool as the icy Hera. David Cairns gets to play the straight man in this mythical farce, sweeping in and out as Hades and giving weight to all the levity.

The true scene-stealer, though, is Christine Ford as Valkyrie, who commands the action with what has to be the best costume ever paraded across a Brampton stage.

From Bob, the god of booze, to defective thunderbolts and exploding fish, the jokes are fast and furious and the message never gets too deep. Many of the performers are veterans of Playing After Dark's first show, last season's hilarious Knave of Hearts, and they have put together another great ensemble piece.

Thunderbolts and Dunderheads Cast (in Order of Appearance):

Iris - Goddess of Rainbows… Paige Lancaster

Hermes - Messenger of the Gods… Brian Brockenshire (appeared with the special permission of Canadian Actors' Equity Association)

Zeus - Ruler of Mount of Olympus… D. Kirk Teeple

Hera - Queen of the Gods… Tracy Rowland

Erronyus Miscellaneous - God of Voice-mail and Awkward Silences… Todd McGinnis

Valkyrie - Emissary from the Norse God of War… Christine Ford

Hades - Lord of the Underworld… David Cairns

March, 2001- Knave of Hearts,
The hilarious new comedy by Todd McGinnis
"Playing After Dark's debut will leave you laughing"
By KATHARINE SEALEY, Staff Writer - The Brampton Guardian

"What’s that old expression about tangled webs?

It provides a fitting summary of Knave of Hearts, the hilarious new play from Brampton’s brand-new theatre troupe, Playing After Dark.

Play scene

Bumbling brothers Nigel (Joseph Madden, left) and Cuthbert Dunstable (D. Kirk Teeple, right) get the point when they challenge the swashbuckling Jack Hawkins (Todd McGinnis, centre) to a duel in Knave of Hearts, which plays until March 17 at Cyril Clark Library Theatre.
Photo by Bryon Johnson

The show was written by Todd McGinnis, who, along with his real-life fiancee actress Tracy Rowland, founded Playing After Dark. Knave of Hearts, their inaugural show, continues tonight and tomorrow, and again on March 14-17 at the Cyril Clark Library Theatre.

The play is set in the Renaissance England which gives the troupe a chance to parade around in some fabulous costumes and point swords at each other. All the ‘thees’ and ‘thines’ may put you in mind of Shakespeare, but this is more like The Bard by way of Mel Brooks.

The show follows the charming, but devious, Captain Jack Hawkins, who has an expertise in changing people’s minds to suit his latest scheme. As the show begins, he has just rescued Lord Henry Bannigan and his loopy daughters from highway men. Sensing a reward may be imminent, Hawkins is laying the flattery on thick. A reward is indeed forthcoming, but is not the one he had hoped for and instead sends him into a panic. His only hope is a wager that will either win him freedom, or land him deeper in trouble.

From there, it’s two hours of dodge and weave as Hawkins tries to balance his lies, find a loophole and avoid being either— in his own words— bedded or beheaded.

The cast is small — only eight characters— but they are an instantly likeable and well-cast bunch.

Having created the character himself, McGinnis, who is also currently starring in Toronto’s long-running production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, is logically at ease with the roguish Hawkins and he’s fun to watch, especially when Hawkin’s schemes start to fall apart. McGinnis also directed the show and has surrounded himself with some great talent.

play scene

Things get ugly when Cinders (Tracy Rowland) screws up Jack’s (Todd McGinnis) plan, but in real-life the two are engaged and together founded the new Playing After Dark theatre troupe.
Photo by Bryon Johnson

David Cairns stars as the well-meaning Lord Henry Bannigan, who always seems to be one step behind. Deborah Shaw plays Mistress Katherine Bannigan, the head strong eldest daughter and Paige Lancaster portrays Mistress Mary, her twitchy tag-a-long little sister. The majority of Lancaster’s dialogue consists of only two words, but she still manages to make the dimwitted Mary a scene stealer.

Susan McLay, a regular with the Bramalea Little Theatre, does an excellent turn here as Lady Constance Bannigan (Susan McLay), the only person sharp enough to match wits with Hawkins. Joseph Madden, as the perpetually grumpy Lord Nigel Dunstable and D. Kirk Teeple as his simpleton brother Lord Cuthbert are a well-matched comedy team as hopeless suitors.

Rounding out the cast, Playing After Dark co-founder Tracy Rowland portrays Cinders, the mostly-mute maid who always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

Like Lancaster, Rowland, has little to say during the first act, but still produces a memorable and hilarious character using only a few squeaks and body language.

Rowland, who was most recently seen as Mme. de Tourvel in the Bramalea Little Theatre production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, really gets her chance to shine as the play progresses and Cinders moves more to the forefront.

The show is well-paced, especially in the second act, where McGinnis’ has cleverly set a gentle getting-to-know-you scene against the rowdy backdrop of a classic farce chase.

Knave of Hearts draws from many theatre staples, including Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella and Cyrano De Bergerac, but ultimately it is something new and vibrant.

McGinnis has created a show that has the potential to become a classic, making Playing After Dark a welcome addition to Brampton’s theatre scene…

Knave of Hearts Cast (in Order of Appearance):

Cinders… Tracy Rowland

Lord Henry Bannigan… David Cairns

Captain Jack Hawkins… Todd McGinnis

Mistress Katherine Bannigan… Deborah Shaw

Mistress Mary Bannigan… Paige Lancaster

Lord Nigel Dunstable… Joe Madden

Lord Cuthbert Dunstable… D. Kirk Teeple

Lady Constance Bannigan… Susan McLay