Awards and Accolades

Awards for Hard Core Logo: Live

  • Ovation Awards (Vancouver)
  • Best New Work (Nomination) - Adaptation by Michael Scholar, Jr., Original Music by Joe "Shithead" Keithley and Lyrics by Michael Turner
  • Sterling Awards (Edmonton)
  • Outstanding Costume Design (Nomination) - Sheena Haug

Awards for The Black Rider

Ovation Awards (Vancouver)
Best Lead Actor - Michael Scholar, Jr.
Best Costume Design - Marissa Kochanski
Best Set Design - Marissa Kochanski

Dora Mavor Moore Awards 2009
Outstanding Touring Production

Jessie Richardson Awards 2008
Outstanding Production (Large Theatre)
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role, Large Theatre (Rachael Johnston)
Outstanding Perfomance by an Actor in a Lead Role, Large Theatre (Kevin Corey)
Critics Innovation Award

The City of Edmonton's Salute to Excellence "Performance and Citation Award" 2006

Betty Mitchell Awards (2005)
Best Production of a Musical - November Theatre presented by Ground Zero Theatre and Calgary Opera
Best Director - Ron Jenkins
Best Musical Director - Corinne Kessel
Best Costume Design - Marissa Kochanski
Best Poster
FFWD's Readers Choice Award
Best Choreography - Marie Nychka
Best Performance in a Musical - Rachael Johnston
Best Performance in a Musical - Michael Scholar Jr.

Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Theatre Awards (2005)
Best Production of a Musical - November Theatre presented by Theatre Network
Best Director - Ron Jenkins
Best Musical Director - Corinne Kessel
Best Supporting Actor - Clinton Carew
Best Choreography - Marie Nychka
Best Lighting Design - Michael Kruse

Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Theatre Awards (2001)
"Outstanding Fringe Production" - November Theatre
"Outstanding Fringe Direction" - Ron Jenkins
"Outstanding Fringe Performance by an Actor" - Clinton Carew
"Outstanding Fringe Performance by an Actor" - Kevin Corey
"Outstanding Fringe Performance by an Actress" - Rachael Johnston

CBC Radio and TV - "#1 Pick of the Winnipeg Fringe 2000"

1999 New York Fringe Festival Award - "Best Direction" - Ron Jenkins


Interviews with Artistic Producer, Michael Scholar, Jr.

Praise for Hard Core Logo: Live

"You've upped the bar for Vancouver music!  You are so authentic in everything in this production!"

“The live version of Hard Core Logo is every bit as good as the movie, and does a better job of capturing the feel of the Michael Turner “novel-in-verse” that begat the movie in the first place.  …A whole new beast, a third incarnation of Turner’s original.  What’s interesting about the play is that they commissioned a real life local punk legend, DOA’s Joe Keithley to write new music.  This gives some bite to the music, an authenticity that gives the play the snap and crackle of a real live gig. The major improvement over the movie is Michael Scholar as Joe Dick. He’s obnoxious yet endearing. It got a standing O from the 200 or so people in attendance on opening night.  Who would have thought that would be happening, three decades after DOA, the Subhumans and the Rabid were rupturing eardrums up the street at the Smilin’ Buddha.”

“LOUD? FUNNY? YES. GREAT ART? DOES IT MATTER? Scholar wisely draws from both the film and the book, without attempting to imitate the experience of either.  Director Bradley Moss stages the road trip with ingenuity and a winking sense of humor. His acid trip scene is a standout: beautiful eerie and funny.  Carew delivers a scene-stealing performance as the increasingly unstable Oxenberger.  Berner provides some good laughs as Pipefitter.  And kudos to Rachael Johnston who plays countless roles and was hoot in most of them.”

“Clinton Carew is winning in his depiction of gentle-giant bassist Oxenberger.”

“FOUR OUT FIVE STARS.  Although staging a punk rock show for a seated theatre audience may run contrary to the notion of punk, Hard Core Logo: LIVE breaks through its restraints and is just as rocking as the real thing.  Naturally the play is going to be compared against Bruce McDonald’s film, but Michael Scholar Jr.’s adaptation differentiates itself in important ways from the film. Joe “Shithead” Keithley’s music, simply put, is incredible. It runs a gamut of punk genres and each of the eleven songs are engaging and memorable, most notably the catchy and hook-heavy “Who the Hell Do You Think You Are?” …Scholar, as Dick, runs away with the show: he looks like he was born to play the part. He is utterly convincing, as he marries his acting with his frontman persona and makes the role his own.

“…drop whatever you’re doing right now and get tickets to see Hard Core Logo: Live. the live version is funny, and loud (Good God, why doesn’t more theatre require me to wear earplugs?!), and above all else, incredibly entertaining. The cast is so strong, right across the board, that it’s impossible to single out any one person – though it’s worth noting the insane guitar skillz of Telly James, in the role of Billy Tallent.  In short, Hard Core Logo: Live is like a really fun, less depressing version of the film, and will likely please you whether you’ve ever seen the original or not.”

“HARD CORE LOGO WORTH A TRIP TO THE PIT.  The influence of D.O.A.’s Joe “Shithead” Keithley on the musical numbers helped to elevate the musical beyond the confines of the film version. Listening to familiar songs reinterpreted by the punk legend was fascinating. The characters played their roles almost flawlessly… Rachael Johnston stole the show with her multiple minor roles.  Her amazing duet with lead vocalist Joe Dick on the high-energy punk song “Edmonton Block Heater” stands alongside the best of the genre’s female vocalists.  The musical version of Hardcore Logo is an interesting addition to the franchise’s Canadian legacy.  Michael Turner will be proud to know that they’ve treated his work so well.

“PUNK ROCK PLAY DELIVERS.  The cast played their roles with a certain reckless grace that really set the mood for the story and centered the focus on the relationships and interactions between the characters — what HCL is all about.  The show packed the same gut-clenching punch as a real punk show (with outstanding musical direction by Corinne Kessel).  …the show was imaginative and conveyed a very grim, nihilistic sort of realism.  The overall stage show was an immensely enjoyable experience.”

“Hard Core Logo returns as a raucous stage show adapted by Michael Scholar Jr… there is an ear-shattering dynamic in the three-chord punk rock score delivered by a multi-talented cast.  Director Bradley Moss is quite at home in the sensibility of punk. He has ingeniously recreated the road trip that was the essence of the original movie, through some gloriously tacky stage tricks.  Cory Sincennes's set, with its exposed wiring and mangy environment, captures the hardscrabble, faded dreams of the participants.”

“…the very funny opening sequence, Jason Margolis’s little movie Punkerland Who’s Who, sets a high standard for the evening to follow with its earnest analysis of the Vancouver punk.  Jamie Nesbitt’s projection design, too, with its cartoon graphic sense, is unfailingly amusing and apt, along with Scott Peters’s lighting…”

Praise for “Ana” at Hive 3

“A woman stands in the centre of a room, what could be the rec room of the house you grew up in, caressing a Stevie Wonder album. The woman (Carmen Aguirre) launches into a frankly sterile lecture on the merits of analog recording, but it turns into something powerful when we learn that her mother has just died, and that this album was an anniversary gift from her mother to her father, after they’d been dating for a month. When she turns down the lights and plays You Are the Sunshine of My Life, the poignancy is palpable. How can anyone not be thinking of love in their own lives – whether that be a lost mother or father, or a romance that was once so intense it merited a gift marking 30 days together?”
-Marsha Lederman, Globe and Mail

“November Theatre presented one of the loveliest moments of the evening with a nostalgic trip down memory lane that romanticizes the vinyl LP over digital music. A solo performance that commands the audience’s attention.”
-Andrea Warner, Westender

“By contrast, November Theatre's Ana is simple, and simply elegant. Michael Scholar Jr. directs Carmen Aguirre in a sweet tribute to vinyl, the old way of recording music that captured much more than digital sound does. The audience stands around a circular white carpet as two tea candles sit, lit, on a turntable; Aguirre's warm words spin us into a beautiful tribute to a treasured album -- and the parents who first danced to it.”
-Peter Birnie, Vancouver Sun

“November Theatre’s Ana, which is about the intimacy of analogue recording—and live performance—is subtle...”
-Colin Tohmas, Georgia Straight

“November Theatre’s “Ana” was a carefully-crafted little nugget which seemed just right for the evening’s constraints of time and space.”
-Darren Barefoot

Praise for The Black Rider

A cult rock opera became one of the year’s hottest tickets.
Director Ron Jenkins, a top-notch cast in whiteface and a nimble band reveled in making cabaret contemporary, catchy and oh so cool.”
-Jon Kaplan and Glenn Sumi, Now Magazine, 2008

“It’s for anyone who likes their theatre to challenge and astonish them. This is brilliant, edgy, bold theatre.”
-Lynn Slotkin, CBC Toronto, 2008

“WE THINK WAITS WOULD BE PROUD. A popular phrase from The Black Rider concerns six magic bullets hitting the mark. It appears that the six main actors on this night certainly hit that magical mark repeatedly.”
-Jason MacNeil, Toronto Sun, 2008

“Toronto likes to think it is au courant with developments in the performing arts, but sometimes it is the last to find out about works that have achieved fame elsewhere. Such is the case with the eerie rock opera “The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets” by Tom Waits, Robert Wilson and William S. Burroughs that premiered in Hamburg in 1990 and is only now making its Toronto debut. What makes this even harder to understand is that November Theatre was the company to present the work’s English-language premiere in 1998 at the Edmonton Fringe Festival and has been touring the piece ever since.”
-Christopher Hoile, Stage Door, 2008

“DEVILISHLY GOOD. Director Ron Jenkins’s finely polished production uses every theatrical device to make this show a must-see.”
-Jon Kaplan, Now Magazine, 2008

“It should invade the dreams of everyone who sees it.”
-Robert Cushman, National Post, 2008

“All told, The Black Rider manages to wield this ultimate theatrical power — the ability to connect with its viewers in various ways through multiple means.”
-Byron Laviolette, Eye Weekly, 2008

“I was absolutely mesmerized…”
-J. Kelly Nestruck, Globe and Mail Toronto, 2008 Year End

“Stylistically, there's an awful lot in common between [November Theatre’s] The Black Rider and [Catalyst Theatre’s] Frankenstein: both are so gorgeously designed, you'll not know which way to look.”
-The Globe and Mail, Vancouver, 2008

“Giving yourself over to The Black Rider is like consenting to rough sex. It may bruise you, but you will like it. ...extreme – and seductive. Let them take you.”
-Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight, 2008

“So tightly designed and so fiercely energetic, you'll hardly notice that the play doesn't stop for intermission. So gorgeously designed, you'll not know which way to look.”
-Michael Harris, The Globe and Mail (3 ½ stars), 2008

“…Exhilarating cast. Extraordinary music effortlessly performed by six very talented actors / singers / dancers / gymnasts. A dynamic evening’s entertainment.”
-Denys Lynde, CTR (Canadian Theatre Review), 2006

“BLACK RIDER A PUNISHING BEAUTY. It was so bloody intense that I could barely take notes. November Theatre’s production of The Black Rider is so extreme, so macabre, so fucking vivid that for about the first 20 minutes I felt in danger of sensory and emotional overload. It’s director Ron Jenkins’ no-holds-barred, relentlessly thorough realization of the text that puts The Black Rider among the most memorable shows I’ve ever seen. … a punishing, exhilarating bang.”
-Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight, Vancouver, 2005

“REVIEWER GETS BLOWN AWAY BY THE BLACK RIDER. The Black Rider is shaping up to be one of the big events of the current theatre season. November Theatre’s celebrated staging of this outlandish musical-comedy nightmare is shot through with a hellish gaiety. This is postmodernism at its most playful. Musicals don’t get more intriguing than this.”
-Martin Morrow, Fast Forward, Calgary, 2004

“Nothing short of remarkable; you can't miss this visually stunning, perversely funny and wickedly Gothic musical.'ll contemplate a Faustian deal of your own to see this 90 minute operetta one more time.”
-Bartley Kives, Winnipeg Free Press, 2000

“I don't have enough superlatives to describe my admiration for this demonic confection. If you have to, make a pact with the devil to see this dark dazzle. It's worth the cost of submission.”
-Robert Enright, CBC Radio and TV, 2000

“Darkly seductive.”
-Alexandra Gill, The Globe and Mail, 1998

“…one of the most exciting shows that came to town. The Black Rider was so stylishly Mephistophelean, so darkly funny that I went twice - a rare occurrence.”
-Jo Ledingham, Vancouver Courier (Best of 2005)

“HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A TOM WAITS MUSICAL. Look up, way up. Edmonton's November Theatre has raised the bar so high with this show, that every company in town is going to be scrambling to keep up. …director Ron Jenkins pulls the show's strings-and, oh, what lovely strings. Surprise follows surprise. …songs that are dark, darkly funny or ironically sentimental… Not easy to describe, The Black Rider is much more than The Rocky Horror Picture Show, owing something to cabaret, Faust, Kurt Weill and German Expressionism. It's completely fascinating, stylish and Mephistophelean. See it if you can; tickets are going like a bat outta hell.”
-Jo Ledingham, Vancouver Courier 2005

“A big, bold, stylish Ron Jenkins production… with heightened acting and ingenious markers... hugely entertaining. The six-actor cast is zestful, sharp, and sharply choreographed.”
–Liz Nicholls, Edmonton Journal, 2004

“Very simply, it is fabulous—one of the most innovative, exciting, and entertaining shows to visit here in many a full moon. …relentlessly brilliant theatricality. Ron Jenkins’s direction is endlessly inventive and his design team constantly fills the stage with visual and aural spectacle. Marie Nychka’s choreography is terrific. My senses were just buzzing throughout this show, and the grin never left my face. The performances range from wonderful to superb. The Black Rider sets the bar very high for the rest of the PuSh Festival. It reminds us just how dynamic, original, even mind-blowing live theatre can be. Rumour is that the show is already sold out for its short run. But even if you have to scalp a ticket, try to see this amazing piece of theatre.”
-Jerry Wasserman, Vancouver Plays, 2005

“THE BLACK RIDER IS SPOOKTACULAR. The Black Rider is out there somewhere on the edges of modern theatre. [A] terrific piece of avant-garde entertainment from [November Theatre]… Jenkins effectively uses elements of circus freak show, German Weimar Cabaret and expressionist theatre pushing his performers to the limits – both vocally and physically. This is theatre to the extreme, with lots of street cred. Engaging, visually creative and delivered with great conviction, The Black Rider is extraordinary, cool and bizarre.”
-Colin MacLean, Edmonton Sun, 2005

“Vividly realized; The Black Rider is shot through with moments of fiendish hilarity and invention. It's wildly entertaining; steeped in rich language and a visual wonderland of colour and shadow that looks like something David Lynch might dream. Breathtaking and bold, at turns funny and sad, this is a must see.”
-Kevin Williamson, Edmonton Sun, 2000

“The cast is jaw-droppingly proficient in every respect... I urge you to go.”
-Steven Schelling, Westender, Vancouver 2008

“It reminds us just how dynamic, original, even mind-blowing live theatre can be. One of the coolest, strangest and best shows to come through here in many a blood-red moon. A mind-blowing must-see.”
-Jerry Wasserman, The Province (#1 pick of the week 3 weeks in row) 2008

“Best Chance To Blow Your Mind. It was so intense that it fried my emotional and sensory circuits. It's one of the best shows I've ever seen... The acting in this mounting is so refined that it would please Satan himself.”
-Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight 2008

“Insane creativity… this November Theatre production [is] so wildly intense that when I saw the show at the PuSh festival in 2005, I almost couldn’t stand it. Target Audience: Anybody who’s up for the theatrical equivalent of an evening of tequila shooters.”
-Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight, Vancouver (Critics’ Pick – Fall Preview) 2007

“Wildly original... sheer visual brilliance... a hypnotic treat. Get yourself hooked.”
-Peter Birnie, Vancouver Sun 2008

“DEVILISHLY DEEP... rivetting...”
-Stuart Derdeyn, The Province 2008

“darkly comic, fantastically entertaining, genre-defying hybrid.”
-Jo Ledingham, Vancouver Courier 2008

“A tour de force”
-John Jane, Review Vancouver 2008

“...the play has captured my imagination... downright explosive. The play had me enthralled and bewildered for the full, 100 wide-eyed and clenched-fisted minutes of it. The inventive genius of The Black Rider is in its expressionist telling; it was surely the thing that knocked me out of my seat, astonished... nothing short of impressive.”
-Deanne Beattie, The Peak 2008

“A fantastical piece of musical theatre. Fantastical and fantastic!”
-Chris Treasik, CBC Radio, St. John’s 2006

“The most technically impressive of the visiting shows [was] The Black Rider. The pyrotechnics of its presentation were stunning.”
-Gordon Jones, The Telegram (Best of 2006), St. John’s

“You cannot even consider missing The Black Rider, unless you want to miss images, episodes, techniques and music that will remain permanently in your theatrical memory bank.”
-Gordon Jones, The Telegram, St. John’s 2006

1. The Black Rider. Edmonton’s November Theatre set the bar very high for the rest of the year, opening the PuSh Festival with this macabre little musical about a young couple and the devil. Based on a German folk tale with script by William S. Burroughs, music by Tom Waits and endlessly imaginative theatricality.”
-Jerry Wasserman, The Province (Best of 2005), Vancouver

3. The Black Rider. Edmonton’s November Theatre kicked off the PuSh Festival with William S. Burroughs, Tom Waits and Robert Wilson’s wild cabaret ride through a dark German folk tale.”
-Stuart Derdeyn, The Province, Vancouver (Best of 2005)

“HOLD ON TIGHT FOR A DEVIL OF A RIDE. The most compelling, sharp-edged piece of theatre I've seen at the festival. A knockout in conception and execution.”
-Liz Nicholls, Edmonton Journal, 2000

“I have been to hell and back and enjoyed every minute of the ride. This disturbing operetta may be the Fringe's only 'must see'. Devil be damned, The Black Rider be praised.”
-Antonio Sacre, Theatre Reviews Ltd., New York 1999

“The buzz on this show is so loud, my ears are still ringing, only this lives up to the hype. It is at once dark and hysterical, grand and personal a musical that makes up it's own rules. It is no wonder that The Black Rider has thus far been the top draw at Fringe NYC. When it's gone, it will be far too soon.”
-Peter Shaughnessy,, New York 1999

“Sharp, frightening and enthralling. Pure black magic.”
-Dave Johnston, Vue Weekly 2000

“Executed Flawlessly. I just can’t get enough of The Black Rider. …cutting-edge cabaret-style musical (deftly directed by Ron Jenkins)… wonderfully rich text penned by absolute geniuses and performed by an ensemble boasting endless theatrical and musical control. …highly stylized musical loaded with Brechtian overtones and flawlessly surreal directional interpretation edging into the carnivalesque. It’s a freak show that lurks under all our skins.”
-Gilbert A Bouchard, See Magazine, Edmonton 2004

“A stylistic cryptogram that would make Guy Maddin smile.”
-Josef Braun, Vue Weekly, Edmonton 2004

“It’s a wild, wild ride… a very slick production. It’s very, very well done. It's like a dark circus. It's a pretty wild thing. The Devil’s Rubato Band do a marvelous job. Terrific group of musicians. Lovely, lovely songs that people will enjoy a great deal.”
-Bill Robertson, CBC Radio 2004

“BLACK RIDER A RARE TREAT. There’s no need to read the fine print here: The Black Rider is sure to entertain theatre fans looking for something a little different. Actually, a lot different. It’s rare to see a play this adventurous on stage in Saskatoon. The timing was perfect… the characters vividly drawn… brilliantly rendered. Indeed, a cartoon spirit inhabits this production; despite its dark leanings, it’s often quite funny. Ron Jenkins uses an anything-goes approach to create some amazing moments. Only a multi-talented cast could pull this off, and there’s certainly one here.”
-Cam Fuller, The Star Phoenix, Saskatoon 2004

“MIND BLOWING... BRILLIANT PRODUCTION… I was blown away. Vancouver may not have seen anything this original and so fully realized since Robert Lepage… a cross of Cabaret, The Threepenny Opera and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Musically, November Theatre achieves miracles with Corinne Kessel’s three-piece band. When have so few achieved so much?”
-Martin Millerchip, North Shore News, Vancouver 2005

“The Threepenny Opera on acid, or Diane Arbus meets Moulin Rouge.”
-Jerry Wasserman, The Georgia Straight, Vancouver 2005

“THE BLACK RIDER IS A DEVILISHLY CLEVER SHOW. Grotesquerie doesn’t get much stranger than The Black Rider, a fascinating example of interdisciplinary insanity. This musical treat took off and soared. Musical director, Corinne Kessel leads a remarkable trio in giving the Waits score its full due as a mix of accessible melody and Kurt Weill-style impressionism. The whole show blends the benign and bizarre, stitching pretty tunes to dark words. …a powerful piece… the first must-see event of 2005.”
-Peter Birnie, Vancouver Sun 2005

“One of the Top 10 productions of the year.”
-Peter Birnie, Vancouver Sun (Best of 2005)

“Cast members bring plenty of finely tuned energy, timing and winning pizzazz to their multiple singing roles. Part grotesque operetta and part stylized circus-cabaret. …remarkably lucid and entertaining black comedy.”
-Bob Clark, Calgary Herald 2004

“THE BLACK RIDER CASTS A DARK CLOUD OF AWESOME. A chilling, thrilling and popcorn-spilling theatre production… a spine-tingling hour… densely bizarre play. Every cast-member is terrific… Overall, The Black Rider, is an entertaining and highly original play, oozing with just the right levels of dark humour, toe tapping tunes and minimalist imagery. The small cast of six accomplish more than many productions ten-times its size. ”
-Jesse Locke, The Reflector, Calgary 2004

“BLACK RIDER HAS DEVIL’S WIMSY… unexpected brilliance. In this suave and maniacally untamed operetta, expressive meets expressionist, macabre meets mime and the mischievous lyricism of Tom Waits meets the bitter criticisms of William Burroughs. Moments of hilarity and exceptional creativity hit hard and constantly throughout, making this romp through a wonderland soaked in highly entertaining colours. It's a play not about to go away just because it's bedtime. Rocking the house with unexpected power, The Black Rider is straight from the night.”
-Paul Jarvey, The Gauntlet, Calgary 2004

“A surreal, spell-bounding and unforgettable play…”
-Yolande Cole, Beat Route, Calgary 2004

“Yet again we had a gay old time with the devil and the denizens of a dark and mysterious forest. Bizarre, discordant, fascinating, this Tom Waits/William S. Burroughs celebrates all things Beat, all things expressionistic and all those delightfully dark impulses nice people never admit to. Who needs Marianne Faithful when you can watch Michael Scholar Jr.’s take on Pegleg?”
-Eva Marie Clarke, See Magazine (Best of 2004)

“One of my favourite productions: Black Rider”
-Colin MacLean, Edmonton Sun (Best of 2004)

“The Black Rider by Edmonton’s November Theatre was my personal fave, thanks both to its terrific Tom Waits score and its vibrant production.”
-Martin Morrow, Fast Forward, Calgary (Best of 2004)

“Bleak, beautiful, melodious/cacophonous… On the whole the cast is brilliant… overall magic.”
-Alan Hindle, Only Magazine, Vancouver 2005

#1 pick on top 10 things to do this week
-Christine Cowen, TV Week, Vancouver 2005

“November Theatre delivered the piece with leering precision. The show’s music component was killer. The ‘Devil’s Rubato Band’ gave a fearsome workout that would have had Mr. Waits himself growling with glee.”
-Penelope Mulligan, Discorder, Vancouver 2005

“IT’S BLACK, BEAUTIFUL. …beautifully directed… a triumph… Think of a bizarre-world cross between Cabaret and The Threepenny Opera. …a wonderfully decadent atmosphere. The cast is uniformly strong. A terrific musical trio adds immeasurably to the proceedings. …a strange Brechtian romp.”
-Adrian Chamberlain, Times Colonist, Victoria 2005

“The Black Rider has yet to miss its mark.”
-John Threlfall, Monday Magazine, Victoria 2005

“A Coo-coo clock on acid.”
-Andrea Dupuis, The Martlet, Victoria 2005

“...amazingly strong performances… a lesson on ingenuity and resourcefulness that I haven't witnessed since William Head prison's production of The Elephant Man.”
-Jesse Ladret, Brand X Media, Victoria 2005