Creating a Night of Music for Nightingales

The motivation behind creating the Nightingales acoustic music show was simple.

John Salib
John Salib

We’d heard from local performers we knew that musical artists have a difficult time finding gigs that allow them to do original music and not covers. There really aren’t a lot of places around willing to take a chance on an unproven vocal artist, never mind allow them to perform something no one has ever heard.

The idea for our show grew after a night out where Blair saw John Salib perform in the Song Book Series at Theatre Passe Muraille. It was the night they did their Les Miserable cover night. Pretty cool as a theme night to see and a great show that left a definite impression. And it sparked something. All of us love music and we’re very much interested in supporting local emerging talent in any form. So it got us thinking.

Chris Tsujiuchi performing music written specifically for Nightingales
Chris Tsujiuchi

Blair ran with it. It was a simple concept – all you need to do is find a venue, gather some musicians and plan the night. There’s little prep, no rehearsal time needed since everyone would know their own music, and seemed something very uncomplicated to produce. I mean, it wasn’t a film or a theatre production which are often fraught with a vast array of complexities just to get in motion and take months to bring to fruition. Definitely seemed doable. And it would help a lot of performers out with getting their music out there in front of an audience.

Again, similar to putting on a theatre production when we’d never done that before, either, this was something far outside our film experience. But so what? We never let a little thing like not having done something before stop us. We got educated. Fast.

For the first show, we were grateful for help from the multi-talented John Salib and his close ties to the Toronto music scene. Through his personal network, we ended up with 5 amazing performers for that first show on January 9, 2015 where John was also our evening’s host.

Jeremy Panda
Jeremy Panda

The performers sent in videos of themselves performing for us to preview and we were blown away by the calibre of these music artists who were just at the start of their careers. Headlining the show was the wonderful Maccie Paquette and while not an emerging artist at this point, in keeping with the purpose of the evening, a performer independent in drive and spirit and like a glimpse ahead for the others into what can be achieved by an artist’s perseverance. Rounding out the music line-up for the evening was Chris Tsujiuchi who wrote a song specifically for the show, Shayne Stolz, Katie Pereira and John himself as we took over the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

For the second show, we had a much better idea what we were doing and what we wanted out of the evening and so aimed even higher. We solicited videos ahead of time, so we could choose the performers ourselves. Based on the experience from the previous show, our expectations were high. There was never any doubt we would hear a lot of quality music and we weren’t disappointed. Even better, we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of videos we received from those who were eager for the experience and exposure.

Shannon Doherty and Peter Chadwick
Shannon Doherty and Peter Chadwick

With so many more fabulous performers to choose from, this time we made choices based on music type and attempted to create a nice flow for the evening with the line-up and it worked out very well. In addition, we put together door prizes and a couple of gift basket give-aways and even a sweets table for those who attended. We had one performer cancel very last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. Despite that, we were able to fill the vacancy and round out the line-up of Jeremy Panda (who had provided the entertainment at our opening party for the double bill show A Man of Two Minds/Lost Refuge), Edward Sayer, Kevin Myles Wilson and Shannon Doherty (who Blair has known since high school where they were in theatre together), with Peter Chadwick.

Have we become music promoters? No, not at all, we’re film makers at the core. Was it worthwhile? Absolutely. It was a great learning experience for Bony Fiddle in terms of production and promotion and a great experience for the performers. We love the music, it was fun, and anything we can create as a platform for local emerging talent we consider worth our time.

Theatre – Man of Two Minds/Lost Refuge Wraps

I couldn’t be more pleased and proud of what we’ve accomplished thus far on our journey into the Toronto theatre scene. We’ve come a long way in just a few short months and I think I’m comfortable saying we not only reached our goal, but did it well.

Desserts by Chi's Cakes
Desserts by Chi’s Cakes

What started out as just an idea to do a small, local theatre production, quickly escalated into a double bill show with a debut party. Not quite sure how it became so complex, but we have no small ideas, so I apologise for none of it.

Jeremy Panda
Jeremy Panda

Featuring Jeremy Panda, who performed live acoustic guitar music for us, and delicious catered (and Bony Fiddle themed!) desserts by Chi’s Cakes, it was a fantastic kick-off to the first night of the show at the Tranzac Theatre.  Thanks Chi and Jeremy!

Sean George, Eleanor MacVeigh, Eden Kontrimas
Make-up/SFX: Sean George, Eleanor MacVeigh, Eden Kontrimas

A big, Bony Fiddle skull nod to our amazing FX make-up team of Sean George, Eleanor MacVeigh, and Eden Kontrimas (right). The energy and attention they threw into creating the zombies for Lost Refuge added a whole other layer of awesome.

Zombies walking through the crowd and up onto the stage went over really well with the audience during each show and were a big hit. Not to mention, the team pulled off some undead miracles and created us some of the nicest looking zombies I’ve ever seen. And I can’t believe they did it for us. You guys rock!

Back Stage Operations - Samantha Willison, Marina Pratt, and Jasmine Nichols
Samantha Willison, Marina Pratt, and Jasmine Nichols

Samantha Willison, Marina Pratt, and Jasmine Nichols not only helped keep us on track, but more importantly kept us co-ordinated with their adept handling of all our back stage operations and our stage crew. Couldn’t have done it without you!

Original music and sound effects were created by Ryan Bower who kept the sound board along with Samantha during all performances. Ryan was with us from the start and working on the music months ahead of auditions when planning was still preliminary. Props for hanging in there, Ryan, even through the computer problems. Oh, and in case you forgot? No one cares about your golf, Ryan!

Although we didn’t fill the house every night, which would have been too good to be true for our first show, I consider this a huge success for Bony Fiddle and our live performance crew. Feedback from theatre goers was quite positive all around and everyone who worked on the show should feel very proud of themselves.

We even had the pleasure of being reviewed by Daniel Rostas at Mooney on Theatre and the review he gave us couldn’t have been better, especially on our first time out. It tells me we’re on the right path and doing the right thing. The cast and crew know how I feel – they’ve already requested a cast party 3.0!

It’s been a very enjoyable summer, one of the best, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. We’ve also met some amazing people that we’ll be working with again and feel like some true friendships were made not only between myself and everyone involved, but within the cast and crew, as well. It’s no easy feat to put on a show in just six months, and with everyone’s help, we did a wonderful thing here.

We brought people together and we made art.

Until next time.


Bony Fiddle Development – Film, SFX, Theatre Merge


With this season’s stage shows now complete, we’ll continue forward with our development plans to solidify all our individual areas of interest. Most important, this includes focus on the film side – the beating heart of Bony Fiddle. Right now, the separate elements are sort of loosely associated by sheer will power and some gaffer tape. Time to roll up the sleeves and get back at it!

Our next appearance will be at the Toronto Zombie Walk and Halloween Parade where Bony Fiddle is a featured Krewe in the parade. We’ll be walking in style as the Addams Family – being a “family business” ourselves, we thought it appropriate. We’re all partial to the TO Zombie Walk, Halloween and the Addams Family, so what’s not to love, right? You can see us live (undead?) and in person on Saturday October 25, 2014. The parade is always a tonne of fun, so make some time to come check it out.

Our first two stage shows were two very different birds, but that’s the way we roll. We’ll continue to explore our versatility and on the theatre side in future, we’ll be bringing another very different story to the stage. Although it’s going to take quite a bit of work before we get close to making this one a reality, what we envision for a larger theatre production is one part drama, one part romance, a dash of horror, with large side order of… werewolf.

Yeah, that’s right. I said werewolf.

Terminator SFX

Could be the film background or love of SFX that’s driving us to tackle this challenge just so we can prove to ourselves we could do it, but seems like an awesome idea. We’re on a mission to do what no theatre production has done before (at least that we know about and trust me, we’ve looked!). We want to have a real live transformation from man to beast on stage, right before the audiences’ eyes. Seriously. I can see it in my head. No camera tricks, no sneakiness, just pure mechanics and SFX to the max. I know it can be done, we just have to figure it out.

Our amazing make-up team Sean George, Eleanor MacVeigh, and Eden Kontrimas are very excited to dive in and tackle this huge challenge and bring this beast to life. Get out your clay and sculpting tools, because for this, it’s go big or go home! We’ll be meeting about it next week to see what it would take. Going to be a few years in the making I think, but we’ll keep working on it in the background.


At our core we’re film makers, so lots of film development on the horizon going into the 2015 season and beyond. Our long-neglected YouTube channel will get some love and you’ll see fresh videos coming your way. So much goes on behind the scenes that’s out of your view, so we thought it would be cool to let you in on some of that, so you can see what we’re doing in the spaces between shows. Be sure to bookmark the Bony Fiddle YouTube channel and stay tuned.


We’re already talking about a web series and while we’re not sure where that will end up, I have a strong feeling this will be in the sci-fi genre. I’m sure Sean will be thrilled. Can you just hear this conversation? “Okay, so Sean add this to your to-do list – aliens, alien technology props, figure out another language to paint on everything that would have text and maybe can you whip up a space ship?” Just kidding. I really have no idea where that’s going at this point, but starting to narrow it down. We’ll let you know!

And of course, you know I love special effects, props and FX make-up for film myself from my FX channel, so according to plan, we’ll be rolling that into the Bony Fiddle company proper going into next year. Along with a website and blog overhaul, by the end of it, you’ll be able to find everything all in one place.

Stick around and see what happens!

Theatre – Opening Night of A Man of Two Minds/Lost Refuge

It was a warm reception for opening night of the the Bony Fiddle double bill theatre production A Man for Two Minds/Lost Refuge at the Tranzac Club. We couldn’t be happier.

Our first attempt at pulling off a theatre production, there were definitely some opening night jitters, but the energy of the cast and crew was high. The pre-show was a blast where the very talented Jeremy Panda provided musical entertainment that began when the doors opened at 6:30pm at the Tranzac Club. Catered desserts by Chi’s Cakes added a touch of elegance and macabre with themed desserts, hand-crafted to reflect our love of horror while also delicious.

The pre-show launch party ended with some speech-making by Blair where he made a point to thank every, single person involved… except Ryan Bower (who later cried up in the sound booth). And then it was on with the first of our double bill show, A Man of Two Minds.

A Man of Two Minds
A Man of Two Minds

Being a comedy, you always hope the audience will get the jokes and we were relieved when the audience responded. Didn’t take long for them to catch onto the silliness and they spent most of the next 45 minutes laughing. Fantastic. Couldn’t have asked for a better audience reaction.

Zombie Contest Winner Phalyna, opening night A Man of Two MInds/Lost Refuge
Zombie Contest Winner Phalyna

The major hitch of the evening (there’s always one, right?) came when the start of the second show was delayed. Luckily, we had some time to play with as we ran our “Best Zombie Impression” contest during intermission to an initially shy crowd. After a bit of coaxing, they warmed up to the idea and we had some brave participants willing to be goofy along with us and shuffle around like zombies on stage

All the participants were great and we chose two winners who won tickets to Halloween Haunt at Canada’s Wonderland and Screemers, Toronto Canada’s #1 Indoor Haunted Screem Park. The fifteen minute intermission was extended with some further speech-making by Blair as we transitioned from comedy to drama. At the conclusion of the lengthened break, the curtain opened on our second one-act play, Lost Refuge.

Our amazing Stage Manager Samantha Willison and Sound Tech Ryan Bower, who also wrote the epic dubstep track Jurassic for the final scene in Lost Refuge
Sound Tech Ryan Bower, Stage Manager Samantha Willison

After opening with the comedy, the second performance was quite a change that appeared to catch the audience off-guard. That story dark and brooding and emotional, it was more complex and included technical FX and a full set; a contrast to the sparse lightness of the first show

Toward its conclusion when our zombie horde swarmed through the audience on its way to the stage, it appeared everyone’s attention was caught right up to the jarring conclusion. Again, we couldn’t have asked for a better audience reaction. How else should one react to a horde of zombies streaming through the crowd?

Cast of Lost Refuge
Cast of Lost Refuge
Reece Presley as Richard in Lost Refuge
Reece Presley

Both plays written and directed by Blair Mueller, the divergent subject matter of the two one-act plays in juxtaposition was intended to make for an impactful and interesting evening for everyone.

Based on the reaction of the crowd opening night? I’d say, mission accomplished. Fingers crossed for the rest of the run!



A Man of Two Minds/Lost Refuge is currently running at the Tranzac Club located at 292 Brunswick Ave, Toronto, ON M5S 1Y2 from Sept 11-13, 2014. Tickets available at the door.

Additional Information

Opening night: 11 September 2014
Running through until: 13 September 2014

A Man of Two Minds/Lost Refuge contains partial nudity, mature themes and horror special FX make-up

A Man of Two Minds - Comedy
Lost Refuge - Drama

Run time:
One hour and 45 minutes total; each one act play runs 45 minutes with a 15 minute intermission between

Theatre – Spotlight on SHOBHA HATTE, “Casey’s mother”

Playing Casey’s overprotective Mother in A Man of Two Minds is Shobha Hatte.

Shobha Hatte plays the over-protective mother in Bony Fiddle's theatre production A Man of Two Minds
Shobha Hatte

Never disappointing us with her energy and drive, Shobha brings the right mixture of crazy and concerned together into Casey’s mother. She seems just as happy to be jumping around on stage waving her cane above her head as she is to sit and have a heart-to-heart with Casey.

Shobha’s introduction to theatre began when a friend requested that she be part of a theatre production that she had written and directed. She found the experience so enthralling, that she decided to pursue it full-time.

“In my spare time, I enjoy reading and spending time with my family, but I am very excited to be part of A Man of Two Minds.”

Shobha has performed in various multi-lingual community theatre productions, the Summer Works Festival, the Fringe Festival and the Inspirato festival. She has also been a part of the Wild Sound staged readings at the National Film Board of Canada.

Theatre – Spotlight on NESSYA DAYAN, “Waitress/Vivian”

Nessya Dayan plays the Waitress in Bony Fiddle’s first theatre production A Man of Two Minds, and comes back from the dead as Vivian in Lost Refuge.

Nessya Dayan
Nessya Dayan

Nessya has a professional approach to her acting, but isn’t afraid to laugh at herself, either. We love that she took the initiative to be in both shows, and has continued to show us how much she enjoys being part of both casts.

Nessya trained at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and studied drama at the William Esper Studio in New York. Since returning to Canada, she’s had roles in several short films such as “Blindfold” and “Saints City”.

“I am looking forward to being a part of Bony Fiddle’s first production of A Man of Two Minds as well as Lost Refuge.”

Her recent theatre credits include “The Vagina Monologues”, “Salome” and “Kate and I”. She was also part of the 2014 Inspirato festival in “Day Care”.

Theatre – Spotlight on SAMANTHA LEVINE, “Rebecca”

Samantha Levine stars in Lost Refuge as the supporting character, Rebecca, opposite the powerful Reece Preseley.

Samantha Levine plays Rebecca in Bony Fiddle's theatre production Lost Refuge
Samantha Levine

She blew us away with her audition. Samantha brings a level of confidence to her character that is needed to stand up against the strong lead in this theatre production. And she does an awesome job where she much more than holds her own.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre at Concordia University in Montreal one year ago, Samantha moved to Toronto to begin her acting career.

Since her arrival in Toronto, she has participated in several independent film projects around the city, but nothing quite like our show.

“These zombies aren’t kidding around…you better watch your back!”

Theatre – Spotlight on NATHALIE BABIS, “Veronica”

The female lead Veronica in the Bony Fiddle theatre production of A Man of Two Minds is played by Nathalie Babis.

Nathalie Babis plays Veronica in Bony Fiddle's theatre production of A Man of Two Minds
Nathalie Babis

Adding an Italian accent into the mix, Nathalie caught our attention as the perfect “girl next door” for Casey. She brings the right attitude to Veronica–a mix of flirty and irritable–and her knowledge of yoga makes her character that much more impressive.

She was born in Lugano, Switzerland and has been involved in the arts since the age of 6, where she started studying and performing in the local theatre in Lugano, Pulci & Cicale, after school.

“I’m honored to be part of such a talented cast and crew! I love playing Veronica because she is quirky, funny and bubbly, but isn’t afraid to tell people what she wants and she’s willing to fight for it!”

At the age of 19, Nathalie moved to New York City to further her theatre studies where she attended The Barrow Group Acting School. After her year in the States, she attended the Vancouver Acting School for Film and TV Intensive Program here in Canada. Nathalie is a dual citizen of Switzerland and Germany and speaks fluent Italian, German and English. Nathalie currently lives in Toronto where she is successfully pursuing her acting career.

Theatre – Spotlight on ANDREW BURKE, “Jared”

Andrew stars opposite Ben and Nathalie as Jared in Bony Fiddle’s theatre production of A Man of Two Minds.

He was born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario, and has always been attracted to the performing arts. His laid-back personality compliments his role as Jared, and he seems to fit right in with the rest of cast. Easy to work with and quick to make us laugh, Andrew is a great addition to our theatre show.

Andrew Burke plays Jared in Bony Fiddle's theatre production A Man of Two Minds

“I am so proud to be a part of A Man of Two Minds. This cast and crew have been a delight to work with. Jared is a laid-back, no worries kind of guy and it is this mixed with a little desperation that leads to hilarity. Can’t wait.”

Andrew is a Graduate of the Humber Theatre Performance Program, and it is through his training that he has found a hidden passion for playwriting.

His acting highlights at Humber College include Jacques Bossuet (And the King Dances), Dudakov (Summerfolk), Sir Toby (Twelfth Night), Samuel (Tulip), and Gregor Samsa (Metamorphosis). His recent professional credits include, Alex (One Shade Less of Happiness), Frankie (Broken Earth), and Glasscock (Film School).

Theatre – Spotlight on REECE PRESLEY, “Richard”

Playing the lead role of Richard in the Bony Fiddle theatre production of Lost Refuge, we have Reece Presley.

About two minutes into his audition we knew we had found our Richard. And it was no contest. Reece brings an intensity to the character that is needed to carry this story. All the emotion, all the drama, all the internal struggle plays out from this single character and it’s easy to see Reece digging deep and making it believable, even during rehearsals.

Reece Presley plays Richard in Bony Fiddle's theatre production Lost Refuge
Reece Presley

“It’s been said many times, but great story-telling is the foundation on which great theatre can be achieved. Blair has created two very different, but no less compelling stories, and his team of talented professionals have addressed every detail in brining them to life. That makes my job as an actor, so simple and so thrilling. I am very excited to be working with Bony Fiddle on their debut show.”

Reece graduated from Queen’s University with a major in Economics, and recently made the move to Toronto to pursue a career in acting. He has listings on IMDB and CastCaller. He is currently working on a film entitled Holy Hell which is scheduled for completion in early 2015.

Reece’s previous theatre credits include: Stanley in “A Streetcar Named Desire”, Ben in “Night of the Living Dead”, Benedick in “Much Ado about Nothing”, and Tybalt in “Romeo and Juliet”.