Thanks to my good friend and co-worker, Beth Beard, I was able to join her in this event, held at the lovely Jane Mallet Theatre in the St Lawrence Centre for the Arts in Toronto. We got there well in advance, ensuring ourselves some amazing seats, and settled in to watch NOW’s Associate Entertainment Editor, Glenn Sumi, in conversation with Canadian star, Jason Priestley.
Now, first of all, everyone who was alive in the ’90’s knows Priestley for his portrayal of Brandon Walsh on TV’s super-smash hit, Beverly Hills 90210. That was the gig that turned him into a superstar, but he’d already captured my young attention in the short-lived sitcom with a heart, Sister Kate. I liked that show so much that I ended up following Priestley to the 90210 revolution, but it was in the Stephanie Beacham series where he first caught my eye.
Since his time in the world’s most famous zip code, Priestley has gone on to direct and star in a large variety of projects, including his more recent turns with the SyFy/Showcase show Haven (as recurring character, Chris Brody, and as director of a couple of episodes so far – please do more, Jason!), and his hit TV series Call Me Fitz. Priestley has also just finished directing his first feature film, Cas and Dylan (starring the incredible Richard Dreyfuss and Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany), so now it’s apparently time for him to return to the stage for the first time in over a decade. And we’re lucky enough that he’s doing it here, in the Canadian Stage production of David Mamet’s Race.
For the NOW Talks evening, Sumi and Priestley settled in amiably together for a casual question and answer period, before turning the questions over to the audience. Priestley seemed quite at ease, chatting about different periods in his career, and about how he’s been preparing to tackle this powerful new role in a Mamet play. He had us laughing more often than not, and the time flew by all too quickly.
Jason Priestley wasn’t quite done with us, however, as he’d generously agreed to stay after the show and greet fans in the lobby, signing autographs and posing for photos. There was a pretty long line up, but Priestley took his time with everyone – chatting with each person and maintaining his good humour throughout. Beth and I let a pair of women go in front of us, as one of them had spent the previous night hunting down an old teen magazine filled with photos and articles about the young superstar – and we really wanted to see his reaction to it. Totally worth letting them go first, as evidenced by the shots Beth managed to catch with her phone:
When it was our turn, we took the opportunity to chat with him about Haven, as it hadn’t come up during the Q&A, and he mentioned that one of the show’s stars, Eric Balfour, had recently texted him, asking when he’s going to get back out there to direct another episode, so we’ll see. With any luck, Haven will again be Priestl-ied again soon!
Speaking of – did you know that the guy even has his own Tim Horton’s donut?!
Anyway, suffice it to say, a wonderful time was had by all during the event, and I am definitely looking forward to catching one of the preview stagings of Race early next week!
About The Show:
Wealthy white businessman Charles Strickland is lawyering up: accused of raping a young black woman, he seeks representation from the only firm in town willing to take on such an incendiary case. Fortunately, this firm boasts two ruthless, whip-smart attorneys – one white, one black. Unfortunately, the case exposes much more than a vicious crime. International star Jason Priestley (Call Me Fitz, Beverly Hills 90210) tackles the leading role of shrewd lawyer Jack Lawson in this new Canadian production.
With his trademark crackling wit and shocking dialogue, acclaimed playwright Mamet lays bare both a corrupt legal system and a simmering racial/sexual rage that permeates North American culture, even in a post-Obama world.
Playwright David Mamet’s work was first featured by the newly amalgamated Canadian Stage 25 years ago.