GORD RAND Writer/director, POND LIFE (begins November 17, see listings)
Born : St. Catharines
Came to T.O. : 1989
Studied/trained : U of T/Shaw
Career highlights : Schooled in the classics, Rand's logged seven seasons at Shaw, checking into Heartbreak House and becoming a convincingly Irish Playboy Of The Western World (he showed off that brogue again in Soulpepper's Translations). Though known here for Fringe shows by buddy Ryan McVittie, he also penned the cutting-edge Orgy In The Lighthouse
Buzz : The darkly satiric Pond Life, with its contemporary echoes of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, was a hands-down hit at this year's Fringe. The remount momentum should be there, but will its cynical laughs appeal to pre-holiday audiences?
RICK MILLER Performer/co-creator, Bigger than Jesus (previews from November 16, see listings)
Born : Montreal
Came to T.O.: 2000
Studied/trained : McGill (theatre and architecture)
Career highlights : Miller's got a lot of mileage out of his Simpsons-meets-Macbeth solo vehicle, MacHomer, but he also spent a season doing classics with Soulpepper and toured with everyone from Quebec heavyweight Robert Lepage to the New Zealand company of Evita
Buzz : It's been a big year for J.C., and maybe Miller will evoke some Mel Gibson-sized controversy of his own with this irreverent multimedia blend of Catholic liturgy and Bible-thumpin', complete with action figures. With a director/co-creator like Daniel Brooks on board, it's hard to go wrong.
First theatre memory?
Rick Miller: Playing second sunflower from the left in grade 2 hit Les Tournesols. Gord Rand: Rand household, Christmas 1973. The family Christmas is an intrinsically theatrical event.
What made you get onstage?
Rand: Girls ignoring me. Miller: You can't perform architecture.
First memorable performance?
Miller: Singing O Canada in English at my French grade school - and getting beaten up. Rand: Dancing while my father played the recorder.
Why begin writing?
Miller: I had a stupid idea that wouldn't go away - MacHomer. Rand: The control.
When did you know you were good at all this?
Miller: When my mom stopped talking about wasting my master's in architecture. Rand: Women not ignoring me.
Rand: Stan Laurel and Sam Peckinpah. Miller: Peter Gabriel, Tom Waits, Frank Zappa and Monty Python.
You're the love child of two artists - who are they?
Rand: Don Knotts and Siouxsie Sioux. Miller: Robert Lepage and Robin Williams.
What's your current show about - in a single sentence?
Miller: Taking church words I learned by heart as a kid and actually finding meaning in them. Rand: A petri dish of awkward moments, interpersonal faux pas and irreversible decisions.
What does the title mean?
Miller: It's John Lennon's phrase, meaning that Christianity has become a hell of a lot bigger than Christ. Rand: It refers to a documentary about the mating habits of frogs.
Your show debuted earlier this year. What did you learn from that?
Rand: Some jokes, written when high, work. Others don't. Miller: No matter how good you think something is, it can get better.
What's new this time around?
Miller: Jesus will be there - or so he says. That, and the helicopter. Rand: Longer, dirtier and uncut.
What's your biggest challenge?
Miller: Avoiding being shot by some fundamentalist wacko. Rand: Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.
Who's the ideal audience for your show?
Miller: Anyone curious about how a crucified Jew inspired two Broadway musicals. Rand: The bored and the furious.
Who isn't the ideal audience?
Miller: See above re: fundamentalist wacko. Rand: The GOP.
You're an agent. How would you describe yourself?
Rand: A punk rock Jimmy Stewart. Miller: Speaks three languages, sings, grows facial hair on demand.
Best career move?
Miller: Doing MacHomer at the 95 Montreal Fringe instead of filming a shitty candid-camera TV show in Miami. Rand: Loving everyone and making everyone love me.
Best break in theatre?
Miller: Going from Kenickie in a francophone production of Grease to a world tour with Lepage's Geometry Of Miracles. Rand: Ryan Blakely's multiple fracture during the dress rehearsal of Stratford's King Lear in 2002.
Worst part-time job?
Miller: Towel boy at the Rockland Tennis Club. Rand: Chatline monitor.
What do your parents think of your profession?
Rand: They live vicariously through me. Miller: As long as I pay their mortgage, they're happy.
What keeps you motivated?
Rand: Anger and hunger. Miller: Fear of God.
Percentage of friends who are in theatre?
Miller: Unhealthily high. Rand: Friends?
Worst stage experience?
Miller: Shattering my two front teeth while doing an Axl Rose impersonation. Rand: Being brutally hung over and vomiting up a wig furball mid-fight. With a sold-out house.
If you weren't in theatre, what would you do?
Rand: Be rich and famous. Miller: Ask theatre people clever little questions like these.