Musical theatre artists sing Carole King, James Taylor
Elenna Mosoff, a Toronto producer and director, has her feet in two theatrical worlds.
She is associate director of Acting Up Stage, which is known for its modern musical theatre productions, and also a founding member of the Mission Business, an experimental interactive theatre company.
In the past few months, Mosoff, 30, has been juggling work on Tapestries, for Acting Up Stage, and ZED.TO, a Mission Business production.
Tapestries, the music of Carole King and James Taylor, will be performed at Koerner Hall on Nov. 26 by musical theatre headliners such as Cynthia Dale, Josh Young and Jake Epstein.
The Machar chapter of Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW) Toronto has a block of Tapestries tickets. The evening is a fundraiser for CHW projects in Israel and Canada.
While preparing for Tapestries, Mosoff was also co-producing ZED.TO, a sci-fi story about a pandemic told through four theatrical experiential events.
One event took place at the end of September during Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, Toronto’s all-night contemporary arts festival. The pandemic story culminated this month at the Evergreen Brick Works.
Mosoff’s involvement in these radically different productions has been challenging, she says, but she credits her mother – Arlene Solomon – with keeping her calm. “My mom tells me to lie down and take a break.”
Mosoff became involved in theatre in elementary school. “I was a high-energy kid. My Grade 4 teacher saw theatre as a way for me to channel that energy. She introduced me to the drama club.”
After graduating from the York Region’s arts high school in Unionville, Mosoff studied comparative religion at the University of Toronto, where she directed several student musical productions.
She received a full scholarship for a master’s degree in fine arts in directing from Ohio University. Through this program, Mosoff had the opportunity to work in New York City and London. “It was amazing to be exposed to other theatre traditions,” she recalls. “I saw where experimentation in theatre was going in other places and I was able to find my own niche.”
Mosoff is working closely on Tapestries with Raza Jacobs. “He’s a brilliant composer and musician,” she says. “He reinterprets the music, to give it a new contemporary sound.
“We get musical theatre performers to sing the music of non-musical theatre.”
Mosoff’s role is to co-ordinate the production. “I take the pieces and string them together to create the flow.”
She also adds “dramatic thread through the music” with sound bytes. “The music is woven together through personal reflections about the songs. You’ll hear actual recordings of people from different generations.”
Last June, Acting Up Stage won multiple Dora Awards for the Toronto performing arts for Caroline or Change, Tony Kushner’s acclaimed musical about an African-American maid working in a Jewish home in the Deep South during the ’60s.
“We won for the best musical production and best male and female actors in a musical, says Mosoff. “It was really fun to sit at the awards show and win.”
ZED.TO has also received accolades. “It was voted the most innovative presentation at the 2012 [Toronto] Fringe Festival, and ZED.TO’s screening clinic was “written up as one of the top 10 Nuit Blanche projects,” she says.
“Three thousand people went through the ‘decontamination’ maze we installed in a church. We worked for 24 hours straight. It was exhausting, but exhilarating.”