Bridget Ryan is well aware that hosting Citytv’s Breakfast Television makes her a local celebrity. “You wouldn’t even believe how many times someone comes up to me and punches me in the arm,” she says. “I’ve actually had someone give me a noogie.”
She’s still getting used to it, to say the least. “I’m still uncomfortable with the whole idea of being ‘known’ [by fans], because the side that is out there is just one side of me,” says Ryan.
After weekday mornings, Ryan and her “really great camera guy” Jason Carter are common collaborators, from making music videos for Christian Hansen and the Autistics (Ryan as director, Carter as cinematographer/editor) to incorporating Carter’s visual art designs into Ryan’s musical theatre shows. Last April, they released a children’s book together, Who Is Boo: The Terrific Tales of One Trickster Rabbit, written by her and illustrated by him.
Ryan, who has a BFA in musical theatre and a pedigree of performing artists, puts it this way: “I can only think creatively. It’s the only life I know.” This July and August, in addition to their morning show routine, they will both exhibit new works in the same novel space – the Youth Emergency Shelter Society’s (YESS) Armoury Youth Centre.
In July, Carter will set up his Year of the Rabbit installation of carved soapstone rabbits – and some live ones – in conjunction with Alice’s Playlist, Ryan’s musical about Canadian music in the ’80s.
Ryan’s summer of performance art doesn’t end there. In August she will repurpose the Armoury’s second floor into a 123-seat theatre for the Fringe to stage five original plays, including, Stuff: The Ballad of the Porter, about hoarding.
Ryan will also be producing a version of Side Show for the Fringe (August 13-22), a wild Tony-nominated Broadway musical about conjoined sisters rising to stardom upon leaving the sideshow business for vaudeville. She is considering casting some of the kids from YESS in the musical. “One thing I know for sure is that I wouldn’t be half the person I am today if I wasn’t raised in theatre and knew what it felt like to be part of a cast, a community.”
And while the schedule is at times overwhelming, Ryan’s resolve is simple: “When you do what you love, you’re never tired. When I feel tired, I’ll quit.”
Ryan’s hare Band Cabaret and Carter’s Year of the Rabbit double-bill runs from July 14 to 24, 2011. (rabbitintheyard.com)