Toronto rocker Kevin Drew read­ies new play A&R An­gels for pre­miere

At in­ti­mate Crow’s Theatre this month

Bayview Post - - Arts - by Mackenzie Patterson

As a found­ing mem­ber of Canadian in­die rock band Bro­ken So­cial Scene, Kevin Drew has devoted his life to writ­ing and per­form­ing mu­sic.

Now, the Toronto na­tive is mak­ing his first foray into the world of theatre, writ­ing and costar­ring in a rock fa­ble about two an­gels (Drew as Loud An­gel and Ben Kowalewicz, lead singer of Billy Tal­ent, as Soft An­gel) who use mu­sic to bring peo­ple back from the brink of sui­cide.

Drew says he first be­gan writ­ing the play in 2014, in­spired by a sense of re­bel­lion against the nature of art in the so­cial me­dia age.

“I al­ways wanted to make a film, and a few years back, in 2014, I was re­tal­i­at­ing against the dig­i­tal era of how art is slowly get­ting taken away, and I wanted, in the same way as a live show, I wanted to cre­ate some­thing where it took a lit­tle bit of ef­fort for peo­ple to go out and see some­thing,” he says.

Once he be­gan, the words started to flow out of him, and soon he had de­vel­oped a script with five char­ac­ters.

Drew says the play draws on themes and feel­ings that most hu­mans — artists es­pe­cially — can iden­tify with.

“It was sort of easy to write about be­cause it was about the fail­ures and the ac­com­plish­ments and the highs and the de­pres­sions and anx­i­eties of not only be­ing a hu­man, but be­ing an artist in to­day’s world,” he says.

The play, ti­tled A&R An­gels, raises im­por­tant ques­tions about art, men­tal health and the power of mu­sic, and Drew says the themes in the play are the same as those car­ried through­out all the work he does.

“It’s the theme of right now, and it’s the theme that I’m do­ing with the band as we tour Amer­ica,” Drew says.

“That’s the mes­sage across the board right now — not just in the play — in gen­eral, in all the work. And to those who are obliv­i­ous to that, God­speed. To those who aren’t, here we are.”

Along with ac­tors Ngozi Paul, cre­ator of Da Kink in My Hair, Mau­rice Dean Wint and Gra­ham Cuth­bert­son, the play’s cast also features Kowalewicz as Drew’s co-star. Drew says Kowalewicz jumped at the chance to be in the play and, de­spite hav­ing no act­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, has been a nat­u­ral so far dur­ing re­hearsals.

“I love that Ben’s do­ing it. I love that he’s tak­ing a risk. He’s never acted be­fore, and I sent him the play, and I said, ‘Do you want to do this with me? We could do it to­gether and we would have each other’s backs. We’d have each other to fall upon,’ ” Drew says. “When I brought him in to meet Chris [Abra­ham, di­rec­tor of

A&R An­gels], he charmed Chris so much that he for­got Ben wasn’t an ac­tor.”

Drew says he’s known the Billy Tal­ent front­man for years, and he’s al­ways been in­spired by his pos­i­tive at­ti­tude and out­look.

Drew is a Toronto na­tive whose roots are all in the west end of town. He is a grad­u­ate of Eto­bi­coke School of the Arts, and he currently lives near Bathurst and Dun­das and says he’s a fan of the neigh­bour­hood’s com­mu­nity feel and walk­a­bil­ity.

Drew says work­ing with the cast and crew on A&R An­gels has in­volved plenty of team­work — some­thing he’s fa­mil­iar with from writ­ing and per­form­ing in Bro­ken So­cial Scene since 1999.

The band be­gan its North Amer­i­can tour for Hug of Thun­der, its fifth stu­dio al­bum, in the U.S. on Sept. 21.

“The tour has been won­der­ful so far,” Drew says.

Bro­ken So­cial Scene will be open­ing for Ar­cade Fire in Toronto at the Air Canada Cen­tre on Nov. 3 and 4. A&R An­gels will be play­ing at Crow’s Theatre from Nov. 20 to Dec. 9.

Kevin Drew (right) and Ben Kowalewicz dur­ing a re­hearsal for A&R An­gels

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