GRACE CHAN * Appearing in Iron Road * Born: Manila * Came to Toronto: 2001 (debut) * Training: UBC and the Vancouver Opera Ensemble * Career highlights: A mostly operatic career, with South Pacific's Bloody Mary to show versatility * What: Iron Road, Chan Ka Nin and Mark Brownell's opera in which a Chinese woman comes to Canada seeking her father, an immigrant building the national railway (details, page 71). * Buzz: Mark Brownell, known for his non-musical scripts, provides a draw with his first libretto. But will audiences go for a story, however timely, told and sung in English and Cantonese?
TED DYKSTRA * Appearing in Hedwig And The Angry Inch * Born: Chatham * Came to Toronto: 1984 * Training: National Theatre School * Career highlights: Best known for his musical chops (Fire and 2 Pianos, 4 Hands, both Dora winners; Tommy), he doesn't sound a wrong note in straight theatre (Problem Child) * What: Hedwig And The Angry Inch, the Off-Broadway hit about a transsexual wannabe rock star (details, page 71). * Buzz: With raves from David Bowie and Martin Short, this rock musical's timing could be right. The film version wowed Sundance. And Dykstra looks damn good in a dress.
First theatre memory?
ted dykstra: Playing the bird in Once Upon A lothesline, age nine.
grace chan: Playing a singing herald in a kindergarten Christmas show.
What made you want to get on the stage?
dykstra: I have no other marketable skills.
chan: I thought the view would be better.
First memorable performance?
dykstra: Managing to act sober in front of my parents when I was really drunk in grade nine.
chan: Throwing tantrums over my baby bottle.
When did you know you might be good at it?
dykstra: The same day.
chan: When I was a year old my mother told me I was a good actor.
dykstra: Gretzky, Beethoven, David Fox, Michael Healey, Michael Mawson.
chan: I learned from various heroes, the quiet ones, not the noisy ones -- Gandhi, not Guevara.
What's your show about in one sentence?
dykstra: A kickass rock musical in which the music is actually rock music played by a real band that doesn't have any woodwind players.
chan: A healing tribute to the role of Chinese immigrants in Canadian history.
What's your biggest challenge in this piece?
dykstra: Very high heels.
chan: Singing while flying in a harness.
Last show you saw and loved?
dykstra: The Drawer Boy. Great cast, great play. Cried, laughed and was surprised.
chan: Mamma Mia! Hey, I grew up on ABBA.
How do you compete with Mamma Mia!?
chan: The show's an opera, but we don't close with a "fat lady singing."
dykstra: I didn't know I was.
You're an agent. Sell yourself.
dykstra: He's the best Dutch-Canadian actor on my roster. Please give him a job -- he's going to have a baby in July.
chan: She's a chameleon but not an ingenue. This mezzo can do tramps, vamps, britches and bitches.
Best career move?
dykstra: Turning down Les Miserables in the 1980s to do Fire.
chan: Leaving jobs as an optometrist and recording engineer to follow my performing instincts.
Best break in theatre?
dykstra: 2 Pianos, 4 Hands.
chan: Playing Bloody Mary after training in opera.
Any hidden talents?
chan: I can perform surgery.
dykstra: I'm pretty good at a Dutch shuffleboard game called Schoelbok.
Worst part-time job?
dykstra: Never had one. This is making me nervous.
chan: Cleaning sewers.
What do your parents think of your profession?
dykstra: It's all Greek to them, but they're fine with it.
chan: They're trying to be positive. They still want me to be a dentist.
Dream duet partner?
dykstra: Melanie Doane, my wife. 'Nuff said.
chan: Ella Fitzgerald. I've been told that I have that kind of voice and a black soul.
If you weren't in theatre, what would you do?
dykstra: Find out how to get into the theatre.
chan: Be as bored as I was before.
Worst stage experience?
dykstra: A summer stock season in Red Deer ("Dead Rear"), Alberta, run by an egotistical Mormon weirdo who was also a slum landlord. Guess where they put us up?
chan: My wig and false chin fell off while I was playing the witch in Hansel And Gretel. I still had to be scary.
Pleasures and piss-offs about the Canadian stage scene?
chan: Pleasure: lots of good performers. Piss-off: too few opportunities to perform and not enough non-traditional casting.
dykstra: Pleasure: no stars. Piss-off: no stars.