About Me

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
A long-time Toronto-area Actor and Singer, Jeff Madden is now focusing on Teaching acting and singing in the GTA. Jeff starred as "Frankie Valli" in both the Toronto and Australian productions of JERSEY BOYS, winning the DORA award for outstanding performance in a musical by a male actor. Jeff is busy back at school, getting his MEd at U of T's OISE.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Year in Review

As I type away this December morning, flakes of snow steadily fall onto our back deck, putting me in a suitably reflective mood. It is the perfect setting for the occasion... looking back, and looking forward.

2007 was a banner year for my family and I. Sydney grew from an infant to a toddler to a little girl right before our eyes. She now has 10 teeth, weighs 20 pounds, and has started calling Christine “Mamma”. She also throws and kicks everything in sight, recites poetry, does woodwork, and plays the english horn. Left-handed. Quite a fascinating child, really.

There was a great family Christmas get-together in Windsor a few weeks back, there was Sydney's first Halloween and Birthday parties, her first trip to the hospital, and her first scary high fever. Lots of milestones.

In August, we said goodbye to the “Grounds” at Sis’s place and moved all our belongings from her tiny rental cottage into our great new house.To my delight, we still have about 25 boxes of crap in the basement to sort through, but the upstairs in looking sharp. Needless to say, we love our place, love the location, and hope to settle down here for a good many years.

What else? Oh Yeah, I released my debut CD “Taking the Wheel”, I performed in Mack and Mabel 124 times (I wish I was kidding), and I premiered the first new Canadian musical at the Shaw Festival, (Tristan), receiving great notices for each. Artistically speaking, it was a wonderful year.By the way, the CD would make a great last minute Christmas gift, for all you music lovers out there... stocking stuffer... drink coaster... is this thing on?... hello ... anybody ... Bueller ... go to www.jeffmadden.ca ... ugh.

Christine returned to work after her year of maternity leave to begin a new position in the Niagara region, with new teammates and new clients, and did it all with her usual class and style. She’s now calling on Pediatricians, funnily enough, and is focused on promoting a treatment for attention deficit disorder.

And to top it all off, she is now 24 weeks pregnant with what I’m told will be our second daughter. Oh, for all you poolies out there, Vegas is laying 5-2 odds. Get your names and due dates in now for the pool... winner take all. And, I’m sorry, but Sausage is already taken (Thanks, Alison). You’ll have to choose another name. By the way, the baby is due mid-to-late March.

So, what’s next on the agenda? November 12th marked our five year wedding anniversary, and since we got married on a Caribbean cruise, we decided to celebrate the same way! Yes, this Sunday morning we are flying to Fort Lauderdale and boarding the Millennium, a Celebrity Cruise ship headed for the Eastern Caribbean.We’ll be joined there by both my parents and Christine’s parents, just like our wedding cruise, as well as her brother Markus. This will be Sydney’s first flight (uh oh), and of course, her first cruise, but judging from how well she handled bungee jumping and hang-gliding, she should be just fine. Oh, we’re stopping in Puerto Rico, British Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, and Haiti for those who want to follow on Google Earth or something. Once back in Fort Lauderdale, we’ll drive to North Port, near Sarasota to spend a couple weeks of R + R at a home owned by Christine’s grandparents. We’ll be back to the bitter cold in early January.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print. From the bottom of our hearts, Christine and I wish everyone a truly happy holidays. Raise a glass to a fabulous 2007 and a great 2008! Cheers, everyone.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Back at Shaw

I can now officially report that I will be back at the Shaw Festival next year, for what will be my eighth consecutive season. I begin rehearsals on February 18th (an early start), and will end my run October 5th (three weeks sooner than normal). And, if you like musicals, and if you like seeing your man Jeffy in them, Oh Boy, you are in luck! Next year I might be in three of them!!!

Wonderful Town is the big show on the Festival Theatre stage, previewing April 1st, opening May 24th and running till October 5th. This is a zippy, entertaining, old fashioned musical comedy, which concerns the fates of two sisters from small town USA arriving in New York City to pursue their dreams. It’s based on the novel and film “My Sister Eileen” and features a score by Leonard Bernstein. I’m playing Eileen. Well, not really. I have a nice little part though, Frank, a sweet young guy smitten with one of the leads (Yes, for those of you keeping score, I was Frank in last year’s show too, a sweet young guy smitten with one of the leads... but I digress...) By the way, on the left of that photo, that really blurry guy is me. It took a lot of prep to find my inner blur, you know.

A Little Night Music is the smaller show on the Courthouse Stage, previewing June 1st, opening July 4th, and running till October 4th. This beautifully artistic show concerns the fates of three mismatched couples weekending in the country under Sweden’s mysterious Midnight Sun. Based on Ingmar Bergman’s film, this is one of Stephen Sondheim’s greatest shows. I have an interesting part, playing one of five story-teller chorus members, facilitating and commenting on the story through song. (Ok, I’m a chorus boy. Whatever. Moving on...)

And speaking of Sondheim, the Shaw is presenting another of his shows, Follies: In Concert, for only four performances August 29th, September 12th , 27th and October 4th. I may be involved in this one too, if I have any voice left. More info on that show to come.

All of this means, I will be rehearsing virtually the entire season. Hooray!!! What, and quit showbiz??? I'm Taking the Wheel, after all. Check the Shaw's great website for tonnes of useful information... www.shawfest.com

Saturday, December 8, 2007

What I'm Watching

Greetings and Salutations. This just in - it’s freaking cold! Winter is here, and with it, a new blog post to fill you in on some of what’s happening in my life.

One of the good things about being between gigs is that I get to see more shows. In the past few weeks, I’ve seen three big musicals in Toronto, and a handful of movies too. I find that seeing other people’s work helps me define what I like best about my work. Sometimes, it’s a fun few hours of entertainment. But other times it can make me think, and even inspire me to work harder at my craft.

First off, I took Christine to see Dirty Dancing for our 5th Anniversary. The movie made a big impact on both of us - come on, we were only 13! - so we were both excited to see the musical based on it. However, we were both disappointed with the result. It’s not a musical in the traditional sense of the word. What it was, was a very literal translation of the movie script onstage. Which is fine, I guess, but it was very slow moving, way too long show and took itself way too seriously. My eyes got sore from rolling so much. I wanted to shout at the writer and director, “We want to see them having fun! Dancing more! Singing more! Zip it along, people! It ain’t Shakespeare!” Anyhoo, if you REALLY love the movie, this is the show for you!

Next up, I saw the John Doyle’s touring version of Sweeney Todd. Sweeney is one of my all-time favorite shows, due to its intensely powerful score, incredibly clever lyrics, and well, it’s overwhelming Evilness. In this version, the actors literally ARE the orchestra. Which is an interesting gimmick on the one hand, and certainly peaked my interest. But, also, it’s one hell of a challenge to cast it. What was lost in pure volume and power of the acting and score was made up for in ingenuity of concept and design. Overall, I’m glad I bought my ticket. Just to see this show live, and performed by such multi-talented artists was inspiring. But, I still crave to see this show done more traditionally, where the full power of its story forces you to succumb to Sweeney’s charms.

Lastly, I took in Little Shop of Horrors at Canstage. This is a quirky show to say the least -- not many musicals feature a talking and singing plant, let alone one that eats people. I first saw the movie of Little Shop featuring Canadian Rick Moranis way back in the 80s, and have had a mini-crush on the show ever since. This was the first time I’d seen it live, and was surprised at how many tuneful songs came back to me upon hearing just the first few bars. Soulful pop sounds filled the air, and the cast grew on me as the show went on. It was a bit uneven, overall, but still an enjoyable night out at the theatre.

I’ve also caught a few movies over the last month. I would say 80% of the movies I see in a year are between November and February. That’s when I’m most often free, but it’s also when the best movies of the year are released, with the studios all vying for Oscar votes. These days when I see a good movie I get a very strong urge to act in front of the camera more. It was always a plan of mine to act in film and television as well as theatre, but things have worked out so well with Shaw that there is very little time to do anything else! The drive is still there, though...

Lions for Lambs features great actors and a bad script. Doesn’t matter how great the actors are - and Robert Redford and Meryl Streep are great - if the script sounds like it was written by a high school political science student, the movie ain’t gonna fly. I wish movies like this were better! The message is a good one, however.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is much better. It’s a dark and twisted story about a dark and twisted family. It also features a great cast, especially Philip Seymour Hoffman and Marisa Tomei, but here the director and writer pull you into the story, making you think with their time-jumping and other clever techniques. It’s not for the faint of heart, however.

Gone Baby Gone is an average film, at best. It’s Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, and he does a nice job. The thing about this movie that bugged me was the ending. The last 20 minutes features a really stupid plot twist. I mean, downright ridiculous. A better ending, and this would be a very good film. Ben’s brother Casey does a nice job in the lead, as does Amy Ryan as the worst mother you’d ever want to meet.

American Gangster stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. It could have been a fantastic film, but is merely very good. These two guys are kept apart for most of the movie, as you’re drawn in to the good guy- bad guy aspect of the story. But when finally they meet, there are few fireworks to push us towards a less than great finish. But seeing these two stars at the top of their game was definitely worth the price of admission.

OK, everybody, now it’s your turn. If you have seen any of the above shows/movies and want to add your two cents, go for it! Use the Comment icon below to leave it here, or e-mail me and I’ll post your comments on the blog. Or, if there are other great shows you’ve seen and recommend, write about those instead. Oh, the fun we’ll have on these cold winter nights! Until next time, Cheers.