A dorm room. A lockdown. A seance. Unforeseen consequences.
Toronto Film School’s upcoming production of Spirited, directed by Jonathan Whittaker, was inspired by a simple scenario put forth to this term’s 5B class of Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre students: What if you could contact someone from the past? Who would that be?
“The exercise then became how to fashion a series of vignettes written by the actors into a cohesive story and employ all the skills that they had acquired over the last year or so,” Whittaker explained of the creation process behind the 80-minute play, which was entirely written, produced, designed and soon-to-be performed by a company of fifth-term students over the course of just nine weeks.
“To that end, Spirited emerged as storytelling, dance, music, ensemble collaboration and a little swordplay for good measure – all devised from the hearts and minds of these fine young actors.”
The play, which was stage-managed by Cecelia Lee, will take to the virtual stage for a three-performance run on the evenings of Dec. 16, 17 and 18 as follows:
Wednesday, Dec. 16 – 6:30 to 8 p.m. (EST)
Thursday, Dec. 17 – 8:15 to 9:45 p.m. (EST)
Friday, Dec. 18 – 6:30 to 8 p.m. (EST)
***Click here to livestream any of the above performances***
Ahmed Almokdad – Adam, Barney, Hamilton
Ahmed is a Syrian-Canadian performer and writer from Edmonton, Alberta. He started out doing live shows, including a local rendition of the hip-hop musical In the Heights, where he led a group of student actors in the role of Usnavi. His performance earned him a nomination for ‘Best Lead Actor in a Musical’ in the Edmonton Journal’s Youth Critic’s Choice Awards. Furthermore, Ahmed has worked on various professional student films during his time at Toronto Film School. Ahmed is a self-taught piano player. He has years of experience as a lifeguard and teaches swim lessons to people of all ages.
Elliot Ammeter – Trevor, Ted, Hermione, Burr, Mercutio
Elliot is a French-Canadian actor from Brandon, Manitoba. He discovered a love for acting in high school, where he acted in productions such as John Cariani’s Almost, Maine, as well as playing the role of John Proctor in The Crucible, which he also arranged much of the music for. Elliot is now enrolled at Toronto Film School and is enjoying his time there immensely. He has been artistically inclined all his life, having taken up piano at a young age. He steadily moved to prefer guitar and voice, the latter of which he has done several years of training for, including several workshops and studying privately at the university level. Other hobbies of Elliot’s include learning languages, writing and arranging music.
Marilyn Chavela – Lilith, Poe
Marilyn is a stage actor trained in Mexico City at the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA) and currently enrolled in the acting program at Toronto Film School. She has landed leading roles in short films such as Raw and Hand to Hand. In addition, she has written and starred in several plays at the Principal Theater in Puebla, Mexico. Being of Hispanic descent, Marilyn grew up with strong values where respect is fundamental. Fully bilingual in Spanish and English, she looks forward to working on projects that promote and encourage diversity and inclusion in the film industry.
Chris Chen – Bryan, Ron
Chris is a young Chinese actor, currently studying in the Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre program at Toronto Film School. He was an actor in a high school drama club, and he acted in the student-led plays Hallows Eve and White Blood. He also participated in fairy tale benefit performances for kids, such as The Lion King, Cinderella and The Wizard of Oz. He has good stage performance experience and improvisational ability. In his acting life, he thought a good script should follow the logic including creation, shooting, background and so on. He likes to add some comedy elements, to make the whole work more relaxed and make the audience more interested at the same time. He said, “Life is the best stage, so as an actor, you should enjoy your life first.”
Micheal Hopkinson – Arne, Leif, The Darkness, Pops
Micheal is an up-and-coming actor in the industry. A fresh face to the business, he approaches acting with the same fervour that he does writing for his fantasy novels. Obsessed with all things fantasy, Micheal has often done writing for such things as in-depth Dungeons and Dragons campaigns for his friends and also for charity, as well as two full-length unpublished fantasy novels, that he aims to one day have published. An avid lover of cartoons, video games and animation, it is his lifelong dream to become a renowned voiceover artist.
Tiger Ma – Ford, Emperor Puyi, Romeo
Tiger Ma was born in China. He went to Canada to study when he was 17. Right now, he is studying Acting at Toronto Film School. He has several role experiences in his school period. For example, he acted as the lead role of Angels in America. He knows two types of martial arts, which are Wushu and Taekwondo. He has been self-training in vocal for years. He loves acting and hopes to succeed in his acting career.
Julia Marchenko – Lexi, Clyde, Tybalt
Julia Marchenko, is a Russian-Canadian actress, who was born in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She moved to Canada at the age of 4 and is fluent in both Russian and English. Julia just started her journey as an actress, but was featured in a music video, Why’d You Wanna End, produced by Kiran Yashwanth. Before her life as an actress, she went to York University for Law & Society for a year. Julia is also a graduate of the award-winning faculty in Toronto Film School. When she’s not focusing on acting, she loves to ski during the winter and builds computers as a hobby.
Kyla Shelly-Randall – Stephanie, Bonnie
From Markham, Ontario, Kyla began as a singer. She was a student at Cosmo School of Music, Michelyn Wright Vocal Studio, and Unionville High School, as a part of the Arts Unionville Music program, and chamber choir. During this time, she participated in vocal masterclasses and performed in competitions. After performing in a school musical, Kyla decided to pursue acting, beginning at Ovation Performing Arts, where she performed leading roles in renditions of Come From Away and The Middle Place. After graduating high school, Kyla began at Toronto Film School, where she is completing her studies, and performing in school productions.
Christian Vandermeer – Jimmy, Dillinger, Juliet
Born in Paris, France, Christian Vandermeer was raised in Ottawa, Canada, though he spent most of his life travelling around the world before beginning boarding school in Nova Scotia, where his interest in acting began as he performed in many of the onstage school productions. He has been doing photography for the past four years and has been skateboarding since the age of 12. After graduating from high school, Christian moved to Toronto, where he currently attends Toronto Film School and has been a part of several school productions. Upon graduating, Christian seeks to become a dynamic writer and actor, he hopes his future work will inspire others to explore their own passions.
Mégane Vermette – Vivianne, Pavlova, Harry, Romeo
Mégane is fully bilingual in both French and English, with the ability to perform several dialects. Meg grew up dancing ballet, cheerleading, and acting in stage productions, she also achieved her black- belt in TaeKwon-Do. Meg also participated in several acting workshops; Camera Acting with Robert B`ockstael (Ottawa) and Camera Acting with Jean-Pierre Bergeron (Montréal). Currently attending Toronto Film School’s Acting program, Meg has landed leading roles in numerous short films. Mégane prides herself most in her hard work, keeping herself to the highest standard, constantly having in mind her family’s motto: “Chin up, shoulders back, and get it done.”
Sebastian Zhang – Kendrick, Emperor Zheng, Benvolio
Sebastian is a new actor from a city in China called NanJing. He has just started his journey as a professional actor after five years of high school in Canada/USA. He had a chance to participate in a local Chinese TV show when he was a child and discovered his true desire. He went to Toronto Film School to train as a professional actor.
Jonathan Whittaker – Director
Jonathan is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with distinction degree in Performance/Acting Program 1978-80 and a 2015 participant of the Banff/Citadel Professional Development Program. He has been an instructor at TFS since 2014. Notable theatre credits include: Beside Myself (World Premiere), Prom Queen (World premiere – Segal Centre), Nigredo Hotel (Tapestry Theatre – World premiere – Dora Award nomination), The Big Sleep (World premiere – Theatre Aquarius), Colours in the Storm, The Team on the Hill, Jake and the Kid (World premiere – Theatre Orangeville), Les Misérables and Dirty Dancing (Mirvish Productions), Man of La Mancha (TBTB), Closer than Ever (Latimer/Follows), 12 Angry Men (Drayton) and The Dining Room (Grand Theatre). Television appearances: Murdoch Mysteries, Christmas in Love, Ransom, The Expanse (2 seasons), Open Heart (series lead), Alienated (series lead), The Kennedys, Lost Girl, Transporter, Flashpoint, Suits, The Avro Arrow and Lucky Girl. Feature films include: Kid Detective, Brotherhood, Chicago, D2K, Blizzard, Land of the Dead, Three Men and a Baby, Virgin Suicides.
Cecilia Lee – Stage Manager, Assistant Director
Cecilia Lee is an Asian-Canadian performer who brings her affinity for the wacky, her zeal for drama, and dramatic zeal to all her work! Having graduated with Honors from Toronto Film School in December 2019, she is now forging her path in the film industry. She appeared in a multitude of short films and theatre productions during her time attending TFS, including Amadeus at the Factory Theatre. Since then, she has hurtled headlong into her creative side, acting, directing, and writing her own work! One of her passions is queer representation in the media, and she hopes to contribute to the current wave of change occurring in the industry. It is with great pleasure that she joins this production as stage manager and assistant director.