This production was inspired by 1960s Italian cinema and films like Federico Fellini's film "La Dolce Vita" and William Wyler's "Roman Holiday". We meet Betty: an all American girl next door with dreams of working in the fast-paced world of advertising. After a job loss and a devastating break-up, Betty is recruited by a foreign art curator to seek out the works of elusive painter Andrea Bertolini. Betty has never been to Italy and struggles with the language. After a miscommunication in a cafe, she meets a man named Bertolini. Ecstatic that she believes she has found the artist she was looking for, Berto offers to take Betty to Rome himself to his artist’s workshop. In their journey they stop at the Grand Prix, museums and galleries. While walking through Rome, Berto's friends invite him and Betty to a swanky party. Drunk on wine and the excitement of her journey, Betty is ready to confess her love to Berto in front of the Trevi fountain, when his friends call him by his name “Guido.” He is not Andrea Bertonlini, the artist she was looking for. Feeling deceived, Betty storms off to find the real Andrea Bertolini. She eventually finds herself in an artist’s workshop where an eccentric woman is feverishly painting away. Mistaking Betty for her scheduled model, the woman demands Betty pose for her next painting…nude. The session is interrupted by Guido, who is the son of the artist - the elusive Andrea Bertonili. Embarrassed by her various mistakes, Betty storms out of the workshop with her clothes in hand, but not before a paparazzo has captured scandalous photos with the notorious playboy Guido Bertolini and the nearly nude Betty. Betty becomes an overnight celebrity model because of the photo, and is sought after as a muse by artists and designers, eventually becoming a staple in high society. Guido, on the other hand, having fallen for Betty, is feeling guilty for misleading her and seeks her out in the cafe where they first met. His attempts to win her back are less than successful, as Betty is overbooked by her agent and reluctantly leaves Guido. Guido’s days become plain and monotonous and love-lorn for Betty; until one day she finds him sulking at the Trevi fountain. Betty confesses her love to Guido, and the two kiss in front of the fountain.
Photos by Chris Hutcheson
Coming off the success of The Silent Goodbye, Knox and Anna set to challenge themselves with La Dolce Vita. Anna was primarily responsible for the script, with Knox acting as a dramaturg. Anna’s goal was a story that embodied a vintage cinematic feeling and transported the audience to another era. While the writing came easily, the challenge was translating certain sections of dialogue to Italian. Anna had been taking Italian lessons, but needed help. Through performer Robbie Fenton Knox sought the expertise of Emma Ferrante with translations and pronunciations for the actors.
Anna made her debut as the lead role of Betty. Rehearsals were divided between the ensemble and dance acts run by Knox, and the scenes with Ann and Robbie, who played Guido. Knox would come in after the two leads rehearsed a scene and give notes and direction. Dance rehearsal proved to be a challenge, as the dancers struggled with quirky choreography that was often very fast and requiring coordination. Moreover, Knox would hit a variety of scheduling hurdles with the dancers as rehearsals progressed, struggling to get everyone in the same room at the same time to sort details unblocking and spacing.
Another hurdle was also in props and sets, as the demands proved to be very ambitious. Knox would attempt to build the horses of the Trevi fountain with cardboard and spray paint, as well as sourcing supplies for one of the most prop heavy shows High Society Cabaret had had to date. Moreover, she would style most of the cast, sewing costumes until the last minute before opening the show.
“I remember being in the midst of a run and realizing that the audience was laughing at all the right moments! One night when "Betty" was describing her ex-boy friend, the audience were uttering sympathetic tones. Seeing this show that I had written in its entirety was extremely gratifying!” - Anna Jaeger
Wednesday May 2nd, 2018; 8pm
Thursday May 3rd, 2018; 8pm
Wednesday May 9th, 2018; 8pm
Thursday May 10th, 2018; 8pm
Revival Bar, 783 College Street, Toronto
Script: Anna Jaeger
Italian Translations: Emma Ferrante
Group Choreography: Knox Harter
Director: Knox Harter
Producer: Knox Harter
Costumes: Knox Harter
Props and Set: Knox Harter
Promotional Art: Adam Tupper
Media and Marketing: Knox Harter
Video: Charlie Quinn
Video Editing: Knox Harter
Early Bird $20; Advance Standing $20, Advance Seating $30, Admission at the door $40